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Thread: Safelights

  1. #1
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    Safelights

    As mentioned in another post I am setting up my bathroom to be a temporary darkroom. I plan to start with contact prints from the 120 film I use in my pinhole camera. I made heavy curtains to block window and door and these work well. Equipment is a bit harder. Down here in NZ, the land that time (and fashion) forgot, it seems I can't get much in the way of film photo gear. No one had developing trays so I am improvising with plastic food containers. The only other thing I need is a safe light.

    I thought I could just buy something suitable. Seems not. Local sights often list things they don't actually stock (much to my annoyance). One place lists a Paterson light with red and amber filters but they don't have it in stock. They apparently have a LED one but want close to $200NZ for it ($160US) which seems a bit steep to put it mildly. Other places have safelight incandescent bulbs but they are close to $80NZ. The only other ones I have found are professional type lighting setup (over $500NZ and up).

    There must be a cheaper/simpler way? Or even somewhere that will sell something at a reasonable price and ship to New Zealand?

    I will only be doing black and white but I am not sure what paper I will be using. Again I will probably be limited by local choice and price. I can certainly make something if I know what it is I need to make. Maybe a 15w bulb with a suitable gel as a filter if anything such filter is available?

    Simon

  2. #2
    Administrator Tom Persinger's Avatar
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    you could try a red led headlamp (campers/hikers use them) they're usually pretty inexpensive and can be found at a good outdoors store. I've found that if you can get a red "party bulb" a decent distance away from your photo paper, and pointed away from the work area you can use one for a safelight -- they're inexpensive and often easily found. i'm sure there are other options, but those are the first two to come to mind.

  3. #3
    500+ Posts Isis's Avatar
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    Kitty litter tray make good developing trays. Red LED will work maybe a couple of cheap ones from the bike shop. Best to test for fogging to be sure. Look at Ebay for actual darkroom gear in Australia.
    Regards Shane
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  4. #4
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    Buying from Australia for us in NZ is actually not any cheaper than buying from the US or UK oddly enough. I'll experiment and do some fogging tests and see what I can work out. I can get coloured theatre lighting gels so I am thinking a 15w bulb in a housing with enough layers of red or orange gel might work.

    I did look at kitty litter trays but then found some food grade containers that are the perfect size for 8 x 10 that even have a ribbed bottom to them. They were cheap (about $4US) and came in different colours.

    Simon

  5. #5
    500+ Posts colray's Avatar
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    I use Cinemoid red /orange theatrical lighting sheets .

  6. #6
    A dimmer on an improvised red incandescent safelight lets one adjust the light output until it is safe.

  7. #7
    500+ Posts jon.oman's Avatar
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    Try this link, the red one should work. Just point the bulb towards the wall/ceiling.

    http://www.superbrightleds.com/morei...lobe-bulb/438/

  8. #8
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    I ended up getting a 12 LED lamp here (http://www.surplustronics.co.nz/shop...t-159.246.html) and have wired that up with a voltage regulator so I can dim it right down. With the white bathroom walls I can point it away from things and get a nice, dim glow to see by. My bathroom/dark room should be ready to try tonight so the first thing I will do is a safelight test. Will report back after that!

    Simon

  9. #9
    Administrator Tom Persinger's Avatar
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    sounds great Simon! keep us posted and good luck!

  10. #10
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    Well, I rushed home (after realising I had no paper developer and stopping to get some) and did some tests. My bathroom darkroom works well. No light leaks. Everything set out nicely, running water! I did some test strips to see how well my contacting printing setup worked. I have a 15w bulb suspended about 500mm above a wooden base. My first test was using much too long exposure times. In the end I found exposures of about 1 sec are correct. I will try to get a 7.5w bulb or make a diffuser so I can have more control over exposures. I will look out for a second hand enlarger though so this is just temporary.

    The developing went well considering it's been years since I did it. Very cool seeing the image come in and it happens so quickly. I guess it gets slower as the developer gets used more? Having got that working I tried a safelight test. In total darkness I did another test contact print with a 1 second exposure. I then covered the print with black card and turned on the safelight. I turned it up to maximum brightness and let it reflect off the walls. Each minute I moved the card over a little and did this for 10 minutes. I then developed the print. I can't see any change across the image. I might try it again with a strip of paper pre-exposed for a second and no negative to see if I can notice any change.

    So I think that means the light is safe for 10 minutes even on maximum brightness. I don't run it that bright though and it takes me far less time to do contact prints. I still use my changing bag for getting film into my developing tank so no light involved there at all.

    Simon

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