Spiral BLB bulbs: alternatives to B&S & mounting for 8x12s

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by singerb, Dec 7, 2009.

  1. singerb

    singerb Member

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    So, I've always been thinking that a UV exposure unit would be too big, bulky, and expensive, and so I'd resigned myself to using the sun. But an annoying weekend of underexposed prints (Cyanotypes) and the prospect of limited sunny weekends during the winter has me looking at other alternatives. Specifically, I came across the spiral CFL BLB bulbs that B&S sells here. I've read a lot of threads on this forum, and have just a few questions and confirmations before I go down this road; most people seem to use the classic bank of tubes, but there are some people reporting good success with these spiral bulbs as well.

    1) Alternatives. The ones at B&S I linked to are $24 a bulb, while I've found what appear to be similar bulbs at higher wattages for lower price (about $10) here and here. Is there any downside to the cheaper ones?
    2) I'm only printing up to 8x12. B&S recommend using 2 bulbs for 8x10, and other threads I've read on the board have suggested that this should probably be ok. Thoughts?
    3) Mounting. Again, based on other threads I've read here, I'm thinking that two basic clamp work light fittings such as these should be fine if I just clamp them to something about 4-6" apart and put the print about 6" away? Most of what I do is 6x6/6x7 contact prints, with the occasional 4x5/4x6 and 8x12, and due to space factors (and significant other acceptance factor) I'm not likely to go any larger. This is the primary reason I'm interested in this solution, as two clamp lights are easy to store out of the way, whereas a large wooden box filled with tubes is not so easy.
    4) I'm only doing cyanotypes at the moment, but am looking into the next process, probably kallitypes or some other iron-silver process. Any considerations with either process that would make this exposure method ineffective?
    5) And last but not least, any safety considerations with these bulbs? I'm assuming not, since they mainly seem to be sold for use at parties, but it'd be nice to be sure.

    Thanks in advance for your help.
     
  2. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Why not using 24" BL fluorescent bulbs instead of spiral bulbs? With 8 to 10 24" bulbs you'll have a pretty large exposure area (there was a thread about design and placement, see the posts in alternative processes or contact printing forums...) in case you decide to switch formats later. The initial cost is slightly higher (due ballasts) but self-ballasted spiral bulbs are notorious for burning out (at least in my experience), so you'll be spending less in the long run. (24" fluorescent lamps have at least 3000h life, actually more - when used with clean current and electronic ballasts. I'm still using the same bulbs since 2003 w/o any noticeable speed decrease and/or spectral distribution change.)
     
  3. singerb

    singerb Member

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    The problem there is that then I have to store a roughly 20" x 24" frame somewhere, which would get an emphatic "no" from my better half (nor do I want to try and store it either, in our current place, truthfully). For me, space and cost are larger concerns than having a "perfect" design.
     
  4. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Loris pretty much covered everything ... consider the cost of materials you will waste trying to get it right using natural UV. If space is a concern some have had some success using the bulbs attached and the keeping the unit in a cabinet or drawer (look around at the space you have try to 'see' if there is some space you could use). Also, if you want to print 8x12 you will need x amount of space just by the nature of the print - if you have smaller negatives I would suggest starting with these, small prints can have a special quality all their own (I really like 5x7 contact prints). Using 2 sprial bulbs not sure you will get the coverage you need. However, it is your work and you have to decide if the quality is 'good enough', but I think you will end up being disappointed - oh and there are smaller long blb bulbs you could try and fashion a light box out of ... not sure but maybe 18 inches. If you are really serious about the alt process you will find a way or resign to wait until space and cost are less of an issue.

    Good luck.
     
  5. singerb

    singerb Member

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    I'm not wedded to the idea of only using two bulbs. It's possibly that I could manage something like a 2x3 grid of bulbs, for example. I would think that putting reflectors on the bulbs would increase efficiency vs just a bare bulb, where you must lose some amount of light out the sides.
     
  6. photomc

    photomc Member

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    singerb, take a look at this article over on unblinkingeye.com by Sandy King. It should give you some ideas and is filled with good information about UV light.
     
  7. Brownman

    Brownman Member

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    Hello,
    This is my FIRST post on APUG! Im replying now becasue this is the very same subject that led me to APUG a little less than 2 years ago. I guess my turn to share something...

    singerb, l live and work in a small flaParis, France so it just goes that like you, my main consideration for an exposure unit is space.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 8, 2009
  8. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    If you have space for a table to coat paper then you have space for an exposure unit with 24" (60cm) fluorescent bulbs... You can use the top of the unit as a tabletop / workbench. I think you don't know what you're missing; you have to think about how you can obtain/build and create space for one, not think about how to avoid one. (I'm talking about a proper exposure unit with 24" fluorescent bulbs.)

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  9. Brownman

    Brownman Member

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    Hello,
    This is my FIRST post on APUG! Im replying now becasue this is the very same subject that led me to APUG a little less than 2 years ago. I guess my turn to share something...

    singerb, l live and work in a tiny flat in Paris, France so it just goes that like you, my main consideration for an exposure unit is space. I bought 4 pcs of OSRAM UltraVitalux (300w) e27 mount lamps; Rigged 2 bulbs with a homebuilt lampadaire (the other 2 are backups) hanging from our bathroom celing in a simple pulley setup. I also fabricated a 'roll-in, roll out' exposure table with 60 X 80cm lightbox and drawers that keep all my supplies. When im not printing, i just replace ordinary the uv osrams with household bulbs in the sockets and pull up the rig (gives our batrhroom a retro-industrial ambiance). I've only done cyanotypes, vandykes and tricolor gum with these setup. Hope this helps.
     
  10. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Brownman, what's your standard exposure time with cyanotype? (I will assume you're using non-pyro in-camera negatives, 1A+1B traditional cyanotype where A is 20% and B is 8%...)
     
  11. Brownman

    Brownman Member

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    Hello Loris,
    Im not home at the moment and dont have my notes with me. That very same bathroom is under siege by the heating guys so have to move out temporarily. Anyways, if i remember right, I get around 8 to 10 mins exposures with New Cyano and more than twice that time (15mins) with traditional 1A + 1B. I use Lanaquarelle and FAW 300lbs. papers that i ALWAYS do presoaks in diluted household HCL. I print large mostly (whole 56 x 76 sheets) so they are enlarged negs but have used in camera 4 X 5 negs as references for calibration.
     
  12. Brownman

    Brownman Member

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  13. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Full sheets? That's pretty large indeed! I would like to see how they look like.

    Your printing times are slow (about 1 - 1.5 stop) compared what I experience with 60cm BL bulbs (and "bone dry paper"), BTW...

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
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  15. singerb

    singerb Member

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    Ok, so I've read some more and priced out some options, and here's what I'm thinking. I'm going to try the 2x CFL spirals and work light clamp reflectors, and make some tests to check exposure across the print. If it works up to 8x12 or 8x10, great. Even if it only works up to 4x6 or 5x7, that's still fine since it will let me make consistent small prints, and I do like my 6x6/6x7 MF contact prints. And if I need to expand it later, I can add more bulbs and some sockets, and build a grid of some sort, and I'm only out the cost of 2 reflectors (which are cheap).
     
  16. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    1. I have a lot of respect for B&S, but in this case, their prices are a bit high. I bought a set of spiral BLBs from one of the wholesale lighting houses on the internet that have worked out fine for me. Actually, my local Home Despot is now carrying spiral BSBs.

    2. I build my UV printer following the traditional 'pizza oven' design. I used six bulbs on six-inch centers. This may be overkill for the size prints I'm making, but I know that I don't have problems with uneven lighting.

    3. I used plastic lamp bases (from Home Despot). By making the lamp array permanent, I eliminated the variable of setting up lamps each time that I print.

    4. I use my setup for palladium/platinum printing.

    5. I understand that black lights are commonly used for parties, but there's a difference between one bulb to make shirts glow, and a bank of lights that will produce a palladium print in 5-6 minutes. UV light can be dangerous - it is a known cause of cataracts. That's one of the primary reasons I opted for the 'pizza oven' design for my UV source.
     
  17. totalamateur

    totalamateur Member

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    I'm guessing that you could get faster times with a higher wattage bulb, like these

    http://www.1000bulbs.com/105-Watt-Compact-Fluorescent/

    As far as I know the BL CFLS just have a filter, their not specifically engineered for a higher production of UV light (yes, they do emit more as a percentage of total light, but I think the higher wattage bulb would work just fine.
     
  18. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Not quite correct, most fluorescent blubs will emit "some" UV but not enough for printing with (they will however fog your paper). The BL and BLB bulbs produce UV light in the range of 315-400 NM, which IS the range needed for printing alt process. 10-12 20W bulbs will be more than enough, and was mentioned - DO NOT look directly at these bulbs, the damage is not something you want to live with...plus a pair of glasses that block UV is not hard to find.
     
  19. totalamateur

    totalamateur Member

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  20. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Indeed, if we could buy the BL and BLB tubes with 100 watts it would be possible to construct a great printing light with just a few tubes.

    Sandy King
     
  21. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    My setup is very similar to Louie's. I bought six 13-watt spiral BLBs at Canadian Tire (a low-end hardware big-box store) at about $7 a pop. Screwed them into plastic lamp bases, attached to a board in a 2x3 array. The whole thing is suspended at the top of a large Rubbermaid storage pail and fits IN the pail for storage.

    I don't do alt printing very often, so I can't comment on the longevity of the bulbs, but I can say that this option cost me about a third of what I would have had to pay to get a similar set-up going with "long" bulbs.

    I generally do 6x9-inch Van Dyke prints and the exposure time is about 7-8 mins in my set-up.
     
  22. Don Dudenbostel

    Don Dudenbostel Member

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    spiral tubes work great

    I do some cyanotype printing but mainly Pt/Pd and purchased two of the B&S higher wattage bulbs and mounted them in two work reflectors as you described. I print up to 8x10 and while it worked OK I found I needed to rotate the print frame every minute or so to make a more even exposure. I decided to buy a total of six and mounted them in a bamboo storage box that I bought from a local importer. A wooden box would work fine too. I used ceramic sockets and did two rows of three bulbs. I allow the bulbs to warm up a few minutes to stabilize the output and place my contact frame about three inches from the bulbs. The illumination is very even and my exposures for Pt/Pd run an average of 4-5 minutes and cyanotypes are about the same. This works perfect and the cost was reasonable plus the size is very compact and easy to store.
     
  23. singerb

    singerb Member

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    So, I ran my first test with the work reflectors and bulbs today. I found that up to 4x6 was easy with the two reflectors, and I'll be able to get good prints at about 2x the time for direct sunlight. 8x12 will take a little more experimentation; I exposed one for 20m, and it was horribly underexposed compared to the 4x6 I exposed for 25m. I'll continue to experiment with the placement, but I think up to 5x7 or 6x9 could work very well and easily with this setup.
     
  24. Philarte

    Philarte Member

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    I'm suprised no one has yet tried UV led lamps. I just bought a pair on ebay. it's just as big a as a regular light bulb but is composed of 80 leds emmiting UV light. I haven't tried it yet but it seems to be the best alternative to bulky spiral or tubes.
     
  25. konakoa

    konakoa Member

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    "I'm suprised no one has yet tried UV led lamps."

    I have! :D 552 of them in a home-made 15" x 20" box. Easy to store away, quite thin, very low heat while it's on. However, even with that many LEDs in my box, it's about a half to a a third as fast as printing with sunlight. But, on the plus side exposure times with the box are very consistent.
     
  26. donbga

    donbga Member

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    What are you printing and what are your exposure times?

    Thanks,