Keeping time in the dark...

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by Ian David, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Quick query...
    When you are processing film in absolute darkness (eg sheet film in trays), what is your preferred method/device for keeping track of the time?
    (I have recently been considering trying to get hold of a Gralab 300, but wonder if the luminous numbers are a bit bright for film processing.)
    Thanks for your thoughts
    Ian
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I use some cheap($1)digital countdown timers. I set one for developing, one for stop, and a third for fixing. These are super dim, but I still keep them up on a shelf away from my work, and still convient to reach. Some folks use metronomes, and count the beat-I tried it, but lost count(I got no rythem).

    Rick
     
  3. DeBone 75

    DeBone 75 Member

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    I use an old microwave with the element and light stripped out. It has a green led that does not seem to fog the film. It sets about 6' from the trays. At first a kept a dark red filter over it but found I really don't need it. I guess the area may be big enough for it to have no effect.
     
  4. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    I have never developed film in trays but I suppose you that their is some timer out their or ditial watch that would beep ever minute or thirty seconds or so.
     
  5. vdoak

    vdoak Subscriber

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    I use an MP3 player with a few tunes overdubed with the time every minuet and at 15, 30, and 45 seconds. Free Bird gets a lot of play in the darkroom.
     
  6. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Usually, LED displays on timers, or the luminous dials on GraLabs will not fog film. If you have problems, usually rigging a shade to keep the direct light from the timer display off the developing film while still allowing you to see the display works fine. I used a GraLab for years with no problems.

    In my darkroom in the states I use a Zone VI Compensating Developing Timer (no longer available) with a red LED display that can be dimmed for film developing.

    In Europe, I use a combination of cheapo oven timer (without lit display) and metronome. I set the timer with my total developing time minus 15 seconds and start it at the beginning of development. The metronome, which is always ticking seconds in the background, becomes my timer for agitation (so many times through the stack every 60 seconds which translates to so-and-so many seconds per flip...). The timer goes off with four beeps every second, allowing me to count the remaining 15 seconds, get the stack in the right order and transfer it to the stop. For the stop and fix, I just count seconds from the metronome. I often use a loudly-ticking quartz wall clock instead of the metronome. The clock is a bit quieter...

    BTW, I like Victor's idea of playing "minuets" on his MP3 player... Developing by hand in trays is kind of like an old-fashioned, formal dance in some ways (Just kidding Victor :smile:)

    Hope this helps

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  7. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Wow. You take beer showers, don't you? Ingenious!
     
  8. Wrobel Photographic

    Wrobel Photographic Member

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    I use a Gralab 300 when developing sheet film in trays. With the small amount of room I have, the timer is usually less than two feet away from my trays and I have never experienced any fogging of the film (Fomapan 100). I'm not sure if different films will react/fog easier than others but that might be something to look into as well.

    Tim
     
  9. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    No, I count to myself when processing paper. For me it's a little harder to squeeze in time between trays for other than moving paper. I just grew up with the same grandfather clock for eighteen plus years so my ear has been trained. Tested myself once. Off by 12 seconds over a space of ten minutes.
     
  10. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    My darkroom is pretty small too, my Gralab 300 is between 2 and 3 feet from my trays, hasn't been a problem.
    I process with hangers in open tanks more often than trays, and I cover the face of the timer sometimes when I'm loading the hangers, but it's more from paranoia than an actual danger.
     
  11. DBP

    DBP Member

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    Three basic cheap methods - a small talking kitchen timer, counting (for short intervals, not sheet film), careful selection of music for length (see Hudson Hawk, 1991).
     
  12. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    My Gralab is about 12 inches from the paper and I go eight minutes testing the paper before I see a coin. I wouldn't sweat the glow-in-the-dark facings of a Gralab.
     
  13. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I use the Gralab too and it doesn't stay real bright very long, made evident if you have to slip out of the darkroom into the light and then go back into the dark, the dial is so dim you can barely find it. My timer sits a couple feet from my developer tray. The plugs on the timer and the alarm are useful.
    Dennis
     
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  15. AshenLight

    AshenLight Member

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    I have an inexpensive kitchen timer that supports 3 independent times. I think I may have gotten it at Target but you should be able to find something similar on-line.

    Ash

    PS: Found it on-line: http://www.jr.com/polder/pe/PDR_891_hy_90/
     
  16. jmcd

    jmcd Member

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    I also use the Gralab with the sweeping green hands, and as mentioned above made a cardboard shade for safe measure—I can look directly at the clock face, but because of the shade it cannot glow directly onto the film. It is a great timer.
     
  17. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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  18. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Electrically downstream from my shaded gralab 300 face time is a home brew 555 IC timer that is curently set to chirp a sonalert buzzer for a part of a second every 30 seconds.
     
  19. rphenning

    rphenning Member

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    I use a kitchen timer with gaf tape on the 5 and 10 minute marks. It's pretty caveman but it works.
     
  20. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    Timely thread, was logging in to ask same question as i use a Novex timer for exposure and a kitchen timer for the trays, i thought the Novex may have been putting out too much light, answers all here, thanx.
     
  21. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the responses so far - very interesting and useful reading! Looks like the Gralab is pretty popular, although I do like the idea of dubbing times over some appropriate tunes.
    Glad the thread has been useful to you too, whitefella!
    Ian
     
  22. Craig Swensson

    Craig Swensson Member

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    appropiate tune? how bout `tie me kangaroo down`- no sheep jokes either please!
     
  23. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    I am not sure I would feel comfortable listening to Rolf Harris in the dark!
     
  24. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    I am not sure I would feel comfortable listening to Rolf Harris in the light! :wink:

    Hey, Ian, how about trying a $25 talking countdown timer from Tricky Dicky's?
     
  25. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Thanks Kevin - I haven't inspected Mr Smith's wares lately. How often does the talking timer talk (ie would 10 or more minutes of it be annoying, or is it just each minute or so)?
     
  26. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Hi Ian,
    It's a lady and she has kind of a Japanese/American accent. She talks only every minute down to the last minute, then every ten seconds down to the last ten seconds, then 10, 9, 8...1. She really doesn't talk enough to be annoying.