A Christmas quandary.

I picked up one of those pinhole kits for my daughter (she isn't reading this) which includes a pack of paper, some photo chemistry, etc. etc. The paper needs to be loaded into the camera in the darkroom, or under a safelight.

It occurs to me that this means that only one photograph can safely be taken per foray out of the house, since there is only the one envelope of paper, meaning there's nowhere to store the exposed photographs, other than trying to remember to put them at the opposite end of the packet than the one they came from.

The squares of paper are 3.5" x 3.5".

I don't have any LF equipment, so I don't have any of those 3-part boxes.

What I do have is a Paterson Universal Tank and a large changing bag.

I also have access to the usual range of household items, including duct tape.

Should I be thinking about using the processing tank (with the core inserted but not the reels) as a rather inelegant "paper safe"?

Or is there another solution that can be implemented between now and Christmas morning, preferably without any festive retail experiences?

  • \$\begingroup\$ Photo paper comes in a lightproof bag inside cardboard box, usually. Make sure to hold onto those bags for times like these! \$\endgroup\$
    – OnBreak.
    Dec 21, 2019 at 23:50

2 Answers 2


While some care is needed to avoid accidental light leaks, light-proofing a container enough to safely store film or paper is not a colossal effort.

Something as simple as duct tape over a few suitably sized paper envelopes is easily more practical than lugging a Paterson tank.

Black construction paper can make envelopes, or use a maker to darken a typical lighter coloured paper envelope. Apply duct tape and maybe a layer of kitchen foil if you want to be extra paranoid. Two or three such envelopes should keep your material safe from the light.

Or just use the envelope the film/paper came in... A bit of care with a 'marker card' [or two] that you can easily feel the difference between it and the photo material lets you easily maintain a 'queue' of light sensitive material, without having to lug extra boxes or containers.

Take from the top of the pile, put the exposed stuff to the bottom. Be careful not to turn things over by accident...

Add a few extra marker cards to the stack as bookmarks, and you can even sort your exposures for different development times if you're trying to get really fancy. The important thing is to just not overload your box/envelope with to many/too thick of marker cards such that you risk compromising the light-tightness.

And in all honesty, keeping track of one box while you're fumbling around with your hands up a changing bag can be easier than a bunch of them, and is faster than swapping things around multiple times for a single reload.

In short, remember: Layers are your friend when it comes to making something light tight, and you can also make use of your changing bag with a bit of care as the final layer of safety.

Store your film/paper in the first few light tight layers, and then stow them off to one side of the changing bag that you wrap up as a neat little package when you're out and about. Use care with how you're transferring things in and out of the bag, and think about not only keeping the light out, but also keeping the dust out too!

  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks, I think the "marker card" idea wins. \$\endgroup\$ Dec 22, 2019 at 7:58

You have the changing bag and one envelope of paper. All you need is another light tight envelope or box, old cheap 4x5 film box from Ebay or thrift store or ? check with a local school or photo club for a free one.

You just change the paper in the changing bag, put the exposed one in old box and load the new one in the camera from the envelope. All of this takes place inside your light tight changing bag. Your bag will need to be big enough to hold the camera, envelope and box and deal with the open camera.

Close everything up before you pull your arms out of the bag.

The dev tank will work but it is bigger.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.