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  1. #1

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

    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. #2

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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. #3

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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. #4

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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.
    Mike C

    Rambles

  5. #5

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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. #6

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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.
    Mike C

    Rambles

  7. #7

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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 Brownman; 12-08-2009 at 06:40 AM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: misstype

  8. #8

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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. #9

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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. #10

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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%...)

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