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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    What makes a good dark cloth?

    I'm going to have my wife make a me a dark-cloth for use with my 4x5 cameras...monorail and to a lesser extent, speed graphic. I have never had a proper dark cloth before so I thought maybe you could give me some pointers on what makes a good one, that way I don't have to make a prototype before I get it right. I'm thinking white on the outside, black on the inside, with velcro tabs for wrapping around the camera's back standard, and maybe some pockets or weights sewn in the corners? What do you think? Does anyone have any patterns?
    f/22 and be there.

  2. #2

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    My wife made me one 28 years ago,I've used it ever since then.BUT it's way to heavy for my 5x7 ,she used two layers of corduroy material,one black and one white.Try finding a lighter light proof material

    Mike.

  3. #3
    winger's Avatar
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    My mom and I used some black fabric (we just kept holding fabric up to the light at Joann's) and some silver stuff that's for ironing boards. The silver is usually the side people see. It doesn't get too hot under it, but my hair gets messed up.

  4. #4
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    I made my own: I went to the fabric store and found a decent black fabric that when I held up to the outside window, was nearly light tight. I bought 2-yards, folded it over to make a square and sewed it together. Then I sewed a white piece of fabric to one side. The result is not only a dark cloth that is light tight for looking through the ground glass but something I can now use for exposure measurement (true black (II) and true white (IX)) as well as a reflector for more or less light. It measures 1-yard by 1-yard, keeps me cool when the sun is out and can easily be rolled up in the backpack.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  5. #5
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    I bought 2-yards, folded it over to make a square and sewed it together. Then I sewed a white piece of fabric to one side. The result is not only a dark cloth that is light tight for looking through the ground glass but something I can now use for exposure measurement (true black (II) and true white (IX)) as well as a reflector for more or less light. It measures 1-yard by 1-yard, keeps me cool when the sun is out and can easily be rolled up in the backpack.
    What do you do to keep it attached to the camera? On my few outdoor excursions, I have used an oversized tshirt with the neck stretched over the back of the camera. I found it necessary to do that as opposed to just draping it over the camera, because when I just draped it over the camera a lot of the world was still visible on the sides and below the camera. I'm thinking that I need a design that really allows me to wrap it around the camera for maximum benefit.
    f/22 and be there.

  6. #6
    Worker 11811's Avatar
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    Duvetyne.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duvetyne

    It is also called "Blackout Cloth", "Black Cloth" or "Commando Cloth."

    It is a lightweight, black, cotton, twill cloth that has been sueded on one side. If you can find the heavyweight version it is opaque. If you can only get the lightweight fabric, you can double it up.

    We use it in the theater where I work to make black covers for scenery and things. I use it at home in a double layer to black out windows in the darkroom.

    I also use it for black backgrounds when photographing objects. It is black-black and it just "eats" light.

    You can probably find it at any photo supply or stage supply vendor. Freestyle sells it for $9.00 per yard.

    http://www.freestylephoto.biz/260110...ck-Out-Cloth-1
    Randy S.

    In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni.

    -----

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/randystankey/

  7. #7

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    That would be the stuff to use, just sow a light white layer of cloth on top.

  8. #8
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    What do you do to keep it attached to the camera? On my few outdoor excursions, I have used an oversized tshirt with the neck stretched over the back of the camera. I found it necessary to do that as opposed to just draping it over the camera, because when I just draped it over the camera a lot of the world was still visible on the sides and below the camera. I'm thinking that I need a design that really allows me to wrap it around the camera for maximum benefit.
    The cloth is actually large enough to wrap all around my camera and held under with one hand. In situations where I need it to be more steady, I use black electricians tape which is always in my bag, and tape it to the tripod/camera. Some people use velcro to hold the cloth on but I don't like the look of black tabs on my wood camera.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  9. #9
    23mjm's Avatar
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    I recently made my own--I had the BTZS darkcloth and didn't like it. I went to Jo Anne's fabric and got 1 1/2 yards of heavy duck cotton in natural and black rip-stop nylon. Just sewed them together, works well, BUT the black nylon I chose for the inside is really too slippery, it doesn't stay on place. I am thinking seriously about just getting black duck cotton and sewing it over the black nylon. I use Velcro strips sewn down one one side to hold it together around the camera. Oh yea the size is 4 ft X 4 ft and it seems about right for me.

  10. #10
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    Weights are nice until the wind really picks up, then one has weights swinging around -- danger to GG and oneself.

    Might make it big so that if and when you go to 5x7/8x10 you can still use it.

    I carry a couple of clothes pins to attach it to the camera -- nothing too well attached, if I accidently yank on the darkcloth, I rather it come off than topple or move the camera.

    Might use water resistant or waterproof outer layer for over the camera while waiting for the rain to stop -- or for use as emergency rain jacket (for over your head and camera pack while hiking back to the car.)
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

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