New Mobile Dark Tent for Working in the Field

November 20, 2015  •  2 Comments

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I had posted a photo of my homemade dark box on Facebook that I use in my Sprinter while in the field and my photo friend Kimberly Anderson commented and inspired me to get a tent.  

I plan to use the new tent when I either need more space than my current mobile dark box provides or if I am going to be working in a location in the field for a while and for those times when I would like the extra working room.  I think when I am making my prints in the field, this is going to be a really nice addition.  

This tent fits into my work moving forward as I will be simplifying as I spend more time out exploring and off the grid.  I do literally mean off the grid with no electric, water, etc.  I will be creating work that is simple and honest.  I plan to work with paper negatives a lot because of the simplicity and wide range of creative options when off the grid.  I can use the same chemicals to develop the negatives as I do for the prints and that is a benefit when you are hauling all of your supplies with you. 

I have been using my homemade dark box for years now and I even recently made it a printing box too by adding a low watt light bulb to the top of the box and powering it with my solar-powered inverter.  I made the dark box from a cardboard wardrobe box and I reinforced the inside with thin plywood from my local hardware store and then made it light safe by using red fabric and window darkening material that I roll over me and clamp into place.  

I have used this dark box for wet plate in the field on the back of a pickup truck and I have used it many times to develop large format contact prints while on the road in my Sprinter van.  

I am looking forward to the new opportunities with the tent because it will be a lot more comfortable to work in when I am in one location for a while.  Just the thought of being able to stand up and work while making prints is motivation enough for me to get this new tent.  I went with the Clam BigFoot XL for a few reasons.  First, Kimberly suggested it, and upon review, it made a lot of sense to me.  It is made of very durable materials, the size of it will make for very comfortable working conditions, and it even has stakes to anchor it when working in windy conditions.  

I frequently work in the mountains, so this will be a very necessary option to have.  The center height is 80 inches (203 cm) and the floor is 90 inches (2.28 meters) x 90 inches (2.28 meters) providing about 56 square feet (5 meters) of working space.  The total weight is about 35 pounds (15 Kg).


My initial plan to make the tent light safe is to cover the windows with red film.  I suspect there will be light leaks around the zippers and I will cover the majority of the zippers with black Gorilla tape and the part that I must leave uncovered so that I can operate the zipper to get in and out of the tent will be covered with an opaque light weight black material that I use for covering my windows in my Sprinter van.  When light leaks occur in the future I will repair them with black Gorilla tape and use a black rubber marine spray paint, both of which I keep on hand with me when I travel.  

I will post some photos and a video when the tent arrives and I get it out in the field. 

I look forward to your comments below.

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Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Tim, check out this on youtube:

the guy does palladium printing and stuff in his tent. Might give you some additional ideas. R.
Dan Dugan(non-registered)
This looks really great. There is a video on YouTube with a fellow converting a Eskimo pop up. The clam looks to be higher quality. Plastidip spray would likely give a better light proofing. You could even set it up as a camera oscura for massive paper negs!
And you can go ice fishing too!
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