U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: pinhole negatives without electricity?

Re: pinhole negatives without electricity?

Hi Judy,

About 20 years ago a group of us - students and artists - spent 2 weeks
walking and camping along a river in far western New South Wales (Australia)
painting, sculpting, making cameras and taking photographs. (The Lachlan R.
for the Aussies on the list).
We all made pinhole cameras from scratch out of anything to hand (from mud
and sticks to some very handy cardboard!) and tray processed our negs in a
portable darkroom I made specially. (The darkroom is pictured, in situ, in
the first and second editions-but not the third- of Eric Renner's 'Pinhole
Photography', Focal Press). The portable darkroom also spent 9 months 'on
the road' across the top end of Australia. It's the only way to work out in
the field IMHO.

Both TRIX and lith film negs were tray processed in the little darkroom, by
feel, sitting under the shade of a tree, and washed in the ocean, river,
stream etc with buckets of water. No one - including the non-photographers-
seemed to have any problem with all that. We used both Dektol which works
great, and HC110 -which I hate but it's liquid and concentrated and has a
quick process time (with dilution A I think). I reckon the negs looked fine
and they printed well. A thermometer would have been useful but, being me, I
winged it with respect to process times. I like surprises.

To prepare our print papers we pitched a special print tent (of canvas -
it's a bit thicker than nylon). We coated paper with cyano and vandyke
outside, by moonlight, and hung the coated papers in the tent to dry
overnight. The dry papers were gathered up before sunrise for printing that
day. The negs were printed on timber boards with glass over the top. That
can be done all in daylight, by placing the negs on the coated paper with
your back to the sun, using your own shadow. Washing can also be done in
your shadow.

Anyway it all worked just fine, but since it never rains here anymore
(seriously) I couldn't do that now -the river is empty and the streams don't
flow. BIG sigh.

I hope this account is of some use

cheers Catherine

From: "Judy Seigel" <jseigel@panix.com>

> A friend of mine who has taught many workshops on pinhole and camera
> obscura, now contemplates something trickier: teaching in the countryside
> of South America, in places without electricity.  For the prints she'd use
> the same precoated cyanotype squares she's used in children's classes all
> along-- they can be exposed by sunlight and developed in water.
> The catch is making the negatives. In the US, even if she's not in a lab
> or regular photographic setup, it's easy to turn a room, a closet, or
> other space into a "darkroom," and expose & develop black & white photo
> paper to make a paper negative by pinhole camera.
> But "in the field", that is, literally outdoors, not. Friend asked me if I
> knew of an emulsion "fast" enough to make an image by pinhole camera that
> could be coated in, say, heavy shade, ie., without a darkroom.  That
> struck me as a contradiction in terms. (Yeah, I thought of Terry K's
> vaunted "rex" emulsion, but didn't recommend it.)
> I figured a pinhole neg wouldn't be feasible by handcoating, but negatives
> from a digital camera could be printed on a "portable," that is,
> battery-operated inkjet printer.  True, that requires some access to
> electricity for recharging and more expense for the printer than, say, a
> shoe box and a piece of tin foil, but odds are she'll have some access to
> electricity at night, even if not "in the field."
> In any event, I promised I'd "ask the list," where there may be better
> knowledge or experience. Suggestions would be very welcome, also any
> experience or advice about battery-operated printer for negatives.
> (One suggestion I got already was "take spare batteries." Definitely!)
> with thanks in advance for info or advice,
> Judy