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Tuesday, 22 June 2010


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I had no idea you were such a Simpsons fan.

I made a makeshift safelight from an LED car breaklight DIY kit, 590nm LED:s and a couple of white 35mm canisters. I've only used it a few times so far (this pesky 'work' thing keeps interfering) but I've have had no problems with it so far.

Construction here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jannem/4472121849/in/set-72157623726554140/

I wrote about it here, with more pictures: http://janneinosaka.blogspot.com/2010/03/pinhole-camera-ii-daa-a-ark-room.html

"One thing I've pretty much promised myself is that if I have to work in color, dang it, then I'm at least going to use the minimal amount of saturation I can get away with." - Some guy who apparently fertilizes his lawn every three hours with Miracle-Gro...


"Boy am I happy my writings aren't generally available on the Internet so that smart alecs can quote me to me." - Adam McAnaney

When my son was little, it was the only thing we could watch and both be equally entertained. It's been his favorite show pretty much his whole life, and since we've always lived in pretty close quarters, I've at least *listened* to every episode...because I can hear the TV from where I work at the computer. [g]


Not Miracle-Gro--it's the dog's area. Fertilzed regularly with rain-disintegrated Lulu poop. It grows about twice as fast and considerably greener than the rest of the yard.

And yes, I desaturated that picture from the camera JPEG, -12%. [g]


Why not just use a normal light and filter it? I live in the UK and Lee Filters will supply filtration material to any wavelength you need in either solid or flexible form. I'm sure in the US a similar company exists (Rosco?). Then you could have multiple filters for different sorts of papers. Filters made for stage lighting are fairly impervious to heat, so fire safety is not a big concern.

Ponce da Quirm DID find the fountain of youth, but subsequently discovered that the water needed to be boiled before being drunk. "Eric" by Terry Pratchett

I've been using the wide-angle version of these for a couple of years:


I have a pair of reds and a pair of the "amber" (which are more yellow than amber). I'm also using my entire basement as my darkroom, which means I can locate them on opposite sides of the basememt about ten feet away from my wet bench, reflecting off the white walls. Even at that distance they are considerably brighter than my old OC safelight, but I haven't had any fogging.

It's a cutie! Make it work...

So how many of these little light bulbs would you recommend I buy and where should I put them? (And if that isn't the perfect set-up for a snarky reply, I don't know what is. Heh, heh....)

Chinese-made? Shouldn't it be called OptiLEAD?

I tested amber and red Festivals a few years back. The red was safe "forever" with any paper. Amber wasn't after 5 minutes with *some* papers. I didn't have any MCC at the time, so can't say how long your Adox will be happy under amber.

Since red worked so well and was still bright enough to see easily in, I ordered more. Now there are 8 of them waiting in a closet for the day when I move where basements exist. My plan is to place 4 on each side of the darkroom, in track light fixtures, facing up where they will bounce off a white ceiling. Expecting an evenly illuminated space to work in, rather than pools of safelight in a cave.


If you're not already aware, Kodak has a rigorous safelight test here:


I'll be interested in what you find.

That's definitely an option. The problem with "color filters" is that they often pass other wavelengths in significant amounts--not enough to affect the color appearance, but enough to register on photo materials. This is also a possible danger with the LED safelights. As I say, more on this anon.


Eight?!? Either your darkroom is spacious indeed, or you're going to need sunglasses!


I presume ordinary pull shades are not sufficient for your purposes, but you might want to take advantage of an old darkroom trick: you build a frame for the window shade such that the edges and the bottom run inside a wooden track, enclosed on three sides, if that's clear. Like a frame. The pull for the shade is a long cord that runs through a small hole in the bottom track. This way you can open the shade normally but let zero light in when the shade is closed, even in daylight. The top can be covered with a valence or by two slats through which the shade passes. I've known several people who used this arrangement successfully.


I didn't realize that sodium vapor lights were not held in better regard. My Osram Duka tested fine, but my Thomas Duplex required extensive hooding and extra filtration, tests OK now though.
So if this or other LED can do the job it sounds like a real step forward. Of course I print color most of the time so my needs are a little different.
And Mike, thanks for editing and properly categorizing my comments, you make me sound better organized than I really am.

I have used my bicycle's backlight as an emergency safelight with no problems. Maybe one day I'll replace the white LEDs in a headlamp with the red ones, or even invest into a toy night-vision scope to try it with some red-sensitive stuff...

I've been using the red Optiled for several years in my bathroom darkroom. I haven't officially tested it yet, but it's not so horrible that it's caused any glaring problems. I've been meaning to order an orange one for a bit.

I take advantage of sodium vapor street lamps outside my apartment.

Without a darkroom at home, I print there only rarely. When I do, I wait until it's dark out, turn out all the lights, close the white shades, and use the glow, mostly from sodium vapor street lamps, for dim, safe illumination good enough to see where I'm going.

For seeing detail and for around the enlarger (in a darker corner), I use an inexpensive red-LED headlamp, which follows me to the windowless bathroom for processing. It's typically on my head or strapped to something and pointed at the ceiling.

Not all sodium streetlights are the same. The older low pressure sodium streetlights were monochromatic at around 589nm--safe for most paper. But in many areas they are being replaced with high-pressure sodium lamps, which emit a more pinkish, broader-spectrum light, presumably less darkroom-friendly.

Eight?!? Either your darkroom is spacious indeed, or you're going to need sunglasses!


Even though the 627 nm red puts out 45 lumens compared to the 590 nm amber's 36, it looks less bright to our eyes. At least it does to mine. Also, the basement darkroom I have in construction drawings for our retirement house is 9'-6" by 16'-8" with dry and wet sides. Considering how bright a single red Festival Festoon appears in my current, convert-it-every-time-it's-used 4' by 5'-6" downstairs bathroom, I didn't think one every four feet on each side firing up would be too much for the eventual *real* darkroom. Your concern will not be ignored, however. I'll make sure those track light fixtures include individual switches, so some safelighting can be turned off if necessary. I have no intention of wearing sunglasses in there. :-)

"all safelights are unsafe for certain levels of illumination combined with certain durations of exposure."

Another way to put it--at least according to my understanding, and though it may be simplistic--is that a safelight represents a compromise between seeing and (not) fogging, achieved through a combination of wavelength (color) and intensity (brightness).

The rub is that wavelengths that the human eye is more sensitive to will also more readily fog paper; but because such light is more efficient for seeing, it can be used at lower intensity, which forestalls fogging. On the other hand, wavelengths that paper is less sensitive to also tends to be harder to see by, and so needs to be brighter, which in turn increases fogging potential.

We're looking for a good compromise (for a particular eye, paper, room size, etc.). The upshot is as Mike said: Test, because you never can tell, and because no one solution is best for all situations. (I tested my streetlight safelights, of course.) The point is that there are two needs to meet, and two basic variables with which to do it (OK three if you throw in spectrum width).

I use a single Red Optiled bulb and haven't had any trouble with fogging. However it is quite bright and I have ended putting a cardboard shroud (kind of like a one sided lens hood) on it to stop the light falling on the enlarger easel. It wasn't a fogging issue, I simply couldn't see the image to focus.

Hmm, I tested my Thomas safelight some years ago with Ilford and Forte papers and, with amber filters and the hoods black and open one notch on the chain, it makes plenty of light and took 15 or 20 minutes to produce fog. Now you've got me nervous because I've been using the new Adox paper and forgot to re-test.

The thing, really, is that I don't particularly ever care to have light coming in that window. It's the typical small ground-level basement window, right up at ceiling height, and on the end of the room with the bed (so light in the morning is bad), not the end with the desk (where any view offered might be of use). So any extra trouble to let me easily switch from covered to open just isn't worth much to me.

I do wish I could have it open for air (on days of suitable nighttime temperature) without letting in light in the morning, but that's a more difficult requirement (I could, of course, use a big darkroom door vent built over the window for that; that would be inconvenient for opening and closing the window, though).

If I had an ordinary upstairs bedroom, a scheme for opening and closing completely opaque curtains or shades would be much more important; I wouldn't be nearly as happpy keeping an upstairs window covered all the time.

Wait a minute...How do you see to load the paper when you print in a dark room?

Somebuuny hadda make a smatazz comment

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