B/W darkroom in my VW camper...need ideas

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Chuck (CA), Oct 21, 2004.

  1. Chuck (CA)

    Chuck (CA) Member

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    I'm coming back to the B/W darkroom...home DR is doing fine...now my challenge is developing while on the road...I need someway of developing my B/W film while on the road in my VW Westfalia (Westy) camper....

    I'll be using onboard water...

    Need ideas and product recommendations....I have all the standard developing equipment and misc stuff (changing bag, decekoping tanks etc)...

    BTW: 120/35 format....about 10 rolls per week!

    I like doing business at Freestyle and have all their current catalogs...feel free to email me chuckphoto@earthlink.net or PM...

    Thanks as always!
    Chuck
     
  2. sparx

    sparx Member

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    I'm afraid I have no suggestions but I just wanted to say that is such a cool idea, and in a veedub. Fantastic.
     
  3. Daniel Grenier

    Daniel Grenier Member

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    But why, Chuck? When I had my 72 Westy (orange too), way back when, I had the same idea to develop on the road. After thinking it out, I really saw no reason whatever to justify the hassle of doing so. I'd just wait till I got home to your "real" darkroom. Much less trouble.

    My 2 cents' worth.
     
  4. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    If you'll be doing just film all you need is a changing bag, a developing tank, chemicals and some dryer gizmo. I think a hair dryer (in low temp setting, high flow) can be a make do.
    Which developer are you tempted to use?

    PS: I forgot Measuring cups/graduated cylinders/ syringes
     
  5. Chuck (CA)

    Chuck (CA) Member

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    I have the equipment covered...what I was looking for is recommendations for chemicals that will reduce development times and wash times...I'm headed into some pretty remote CA and OR areas ...ya...things would be easier in my home DR...but...being on the road is my NEW way of life...love to travel in my Westy...anyone want to go :smile:?

    Would like to here from anyone that has done this....

    Thanks
    Chuck
     
  6. rjr

    rjr Member

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    A Agfa Rondinax would be just fine - everything you need to process a roll of film on the street,
    available in 120 (Rondinax 60) and 135 (Rondinax 35U) for a dime or two (really, I paid 1EUR for my
    35U at ebay.de).

    It is a daylight loading tank, you won´t need a changing bag, no thermometer, no scissors, it is very
    economical (150/200ml developer!).

    I love my 35U and use it regularly, but messed up a film when trying to figure the 60 out...

    A hair dryer on the road? NEVER trust the electric installations, even (or especially?)when using a
    camping place it is a safe guarantee to bust a fuse!

    No, there is room enough in a Westfalia VW bus to install a small drying cabinet - we had a small
    cabinett in ours, take out the boards, install a hanger, done. Or hang a Jobo Mistral drier into the
    roof - I guess you have that collapsible top on your bus? You don´t need the fan, just hang the
    "plastic bag" up there and the film in it, it will keep the dust from the film.

    Are you going to try standdevelopment on the Autobahn? ;-> Movement is sufficient to wash clothes, so
    it might be good for a roll of film - we usually throw our clothes in a plastic container (our
    "moroccan washing machine"), fill it with hot water and soap, close the lid and after 300km the
    clothes are clean.
     
  7. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    Great idea. Just fill the tank with developer, find stretch of bumpy road, and you've got auto agitation. Rig a piece of PVC pipe to the van's heater for drying film conveniently as you drive.
     
  8. pwitkop

    pwitkop Member

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    This seems like a really cool idea, I'm a big instant gradafication person, especially if you're going to be on the road for a while. The challange seems to me to be washing most of all, specifically water usage. How much of an issue that is varies with how much water you can carry, and how near you are to a water supply. Tempering water could be done with hot water from the stove, and an electric cooler plugged into a lighter socket, or a power inverter. Drying wouldn't seem like too big of an issue to me; I develop at home and dry my sheet film in a tupperware bin with lines strung inside it, and the top kept cracked to allow air flow, for sheet film you could hang inside a dry cleaning bag. Waste water could be kind of an issue if you're away from plumbing for a while, but your wash water should be able to be dumped anywhere (it'll only contain trace amounts of anything), fixer can be re-used quit a bit, probably a couple gallons of working solution would do you until you got home and could dispose of it, and is easy enough to carry. Used developer and stop bath could be carried until you're near a drain to dispose of it in, acctually stop bath can be re-used too. I'll be very interested in hearing your results and/or experiences of others who've done this, as the only things keeping me from doing a couple month long road trips are money and time.

    Peter
     
  9. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    Cool idea- best of luck.
     
  10. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    I saw an article in Pop Photo, must have been about 1970, where the guy had a whole darkroom in his VW. I don't remember why. Little enlarger, trays, the whole bit.

    Seems like Rodinal or HC110 would be good developers. Easy. Won't go bad. You need something that will work at different temperatures. And definitely some way to dry negs, because you will have lots of dirt. Tight box to store negs, with desiccant if you go somewhere humid.

    Happy Trails and
    Watch for Loose Gravel
     
  11. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    to minimize te need for washing, some hypo clearing solution would help... I guess
     
  12. Chuck (CA)

    Chuck (CA) Member

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    Is there a WASHING AGENT that does not require constant running water....guess I'll have to check into Motel 6 once a week to do laundry, film developing/contact printing, computer work...:smile:

    Thanks
    Chuck
     
  13. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I'm certain that you can come up with a fill and dump washing method that is just as thorough and efficient as running water. Perhaps more.
     
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  15. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Ilford method of 5 changes of water works for me.... I give it 7 just in case.

     
  16. Chuck (CA)

    Chuck (CA) Member

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    Where are ALL the combat photographers when you need them:smile: I'm not that old :smile:
    Wonder how they developed their film in the field?
     
  17. g0tr00t

    g0tr00t Member

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  18. lee

    lee Member

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    Where are ALL the combat photographers when you need them I'm not that old
    Wonder how they developed their film in the field?

    most did not they mailed the film in to the company they worked for. Time Mag has/had a huge darkroom dept that took care of all the work after the shooting.

    Some of the guys I have met talked about using the motel rooms where they stayed.

    lee\c
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 22, 2004
  19. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    The combat photographs in the days of yore shipped their film back to the publications lab for processing and printing. Remember the incident with Capa's film from the D-Day invasion? Today's combat photographers use d******.

    I don't want to rain on the parade, but I can't really see any practical need for a travelling darkroom unless you are permanently on the road. Years ago, I used to sleep in tents when traveling and camping and I shot with a 4x5. I carried a changing bag to load and unload holders. That worked okay but it did not involve the complex set of problems you will need to solve.

    I have a 28 ft travel trailer I use for weekend and longer trips and I considered putting in a darkroom or, at least, taking along the film developing equipment and supplies. The problem always came down to two things, space and light. Virtually all the RV's, whether monster motorhome/buses or large fifthwheel trailers are designed for actual living within a minimum of space. Storage of items is a big problem on smaller RV's and the openness of designs on larger RV's makes for a lot of outdoor light to be let inside.

    My trailer has a lot more space than your VW camper but it becomes awfully small after a week or two with myself, my wife and our dog living in it. The items we need for normal activities of daily living take up a lot of the space. My camera equipment--and I take lots of equipment when I use the trailer--takes up a lot of room. All this necessary stuff needs space for storage when not in actual use and there's just not a lot of it. After some contemplation, I decided to abandon the idea of a traveling darkroom. I can do a better job at home without the hassle. My solution was Ziplock bags. Fill them up with exposed film and wait until later to develop them.
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think Brett Weston had a darkroom van that he used for loading his 11x14" holders and processing film. You might see if you can find any info on it.

    Permawash will cut your wash times substantially, and you can use 5-7 changes of water in place of running water. I think during a water shortage Ansel Adams determined (using a residual hypo test, I'm assuming) that 7 changes was good enough for fiber based prints. The setup was 7 trays in a long sink (stacking would be the obvious way to save space), and the system involved periodically dumping tray 1, moving the others up, and filling it with fresh water and moving it to position 7.

    If you wanted to try to print in a van, you could look into a slot processor.
     
  21. joeyk49

    joeyk49 Member

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    I'm thinking that a UHaul type trailer with a used Fuji/Noritsu 1hr processing lab should work out. Use the back of the vw for storage and napping while the machine does its thing. This way you can also set up a processing biz while at each locale to help cover the costs of your own developing...

    Just kidding...I think...
     
  22. rjr

    rjr Member

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    Chuck,

    in "Entering Germany" Tony Vaccaro talks about his Army time in the late WW2 - he enlisted as a photographer and accompanied some infantry troops (IIRC).

    In one chapter he talks about how he processed the films he took with his Argus - he used a tent and dunked the film in steel helmets.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...104-3712838-2959949?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

    Ok, back to topic.

    No, there is no washing agent that may be used in place of water. IIRC there was research on super stabilisators in the early 1990s, but it was a dead end.

    I use the Ilford method for washing films, it is safer/more archival than flowing water. Actually this is the "Agfa method", they recommended it since the 1950s for the Rondinax.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/unicolor/ilfwash.pdf

    If you need to speeden up the drying process, you could use ethanol - dunk the reel in it for a minute, let the emulsion soak the ethanol and hang it. it will be dry in a few minutes. Perhaps you should rewash it later when you are back home... just to be sure. That method usually was applied by press photographers who didn´t care for archival processing... but for speed.

    Tetenal has a ready made bottle of this stuff - "Drysonal". Expensive Ethanol. ;->

    To cut washing times you need to speeden up fixing. Use a two bath fixing (>always fresh fixer, always "clean"), keep fixing times short (double/triple clearing time) , add a soda bath (20g sodium carbonate per liter) after that and you may save a bit on the watering step.
     
  23. Chuck (CA)

    Chuck (CA) Member

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    I'm only doing FILM DEVELPOPING (developing what I've captured and insuring my negs are in zone) before I leave..lots of good ideas...please keep them coming....Thanks...Chuck....
     
  24. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Actually you don't need fresh water to rinse in. The navy would rinse their film in sea water and then for the final minute use the precious desalinated water. You can use just about any water source, short of dirty water, to rinse with. just remember to do a final one minute rinse or 1 fill and agitate before you are done. Other wise the fill the tank 7 times works great.
     
  25. Jeffrey A. Steinberg

    Jeffrey A. Steinberg Member

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    If money is no object, get a Jobo ATL-1500 and mount it on the table near the fridge.
     
  26. John Cook

    John Cook Member

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    This website shows the product of a very clever inventor. He sells a tabletop studio, film and print darkroom, all in a 3 foot by 5 foot stainless box. Perhaps you can learn from him.

    The site takes a long time to load. Wait for it. You won't be dissapointed.

    http://thzig.freeyellow.com/