Going on the road

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Kevin Omura
Kevin Omura Senior Member • Posts: 2,326
Going on the road
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There was something about film processing a while back. I was hunting for a few photos to post to that thread but can't find it now.

The pix will be familiar to those of us who had to go on the road for various newspapers before digital became mainstream. When I first started at the paper we actually took a 'portable' darkroom which consisted of film processing, a big film dryer, a small enlarger to make prints and a drum transmitter to scan and send photos via the telephone.

Below is my custom colour film processing kit. All of those components fit into that blue Rubbermaid tub which I used as a water bath to maintain the temperature of my developer and bleach. We shot colour neg film and initially used Unicolour liquid chemistry until airlines banned us from travelling with it in our carry on. We then switched to a 2 chemical powder who's brand name escapes me. Hiding in the bin is the heater/temperture controller. Also missing from the photo are the two plastic bottles that held the mixed chemicals. Sometimes I could seal up a hotel bathroom for film changing but typically we used a film changing bag.

The rectangular white piece is a mini light table which I would use to edit negs, A lupe, stop watch, funnel, hole punch, thermometer, scissors, and cassette opener were also very important pieces. The bungee cord secured the lid to the tub.

This museum piece is what I used to transmit photos back to the paper, it is a scanner and transmitter. Negs or slides could be scanned one at a time. Photo information could be added to each transmission via the keyboard. Images were transmitted analog via pings over standard telephone lines. You could send B&W photos in one transmission or colour which took 4 times longer because you transmitted each separation. It took about 30 minutes to send a colour project! Back at the office you had to have a Leafdesk which received the incoming photos (acoustic pings) which in our case were printed out on a laser  printer which then went to the back shop.

The Leafax was a heavy brute, and slow. My road kit was a lot nicer when I switched over to my laptop and Nikon Coolscan. Pix no longer went to the Leafdesk but we used a Telefinder BBS to receive the incoming JPEG files. Considerably faster than the Leaf granted the Leaf was considerably better than setting up a darkroom, enlarger and making prints that had to then be drum scanned!

Today life is so much simpler, er well more labour intensive for the photographer who is now a one person show instead of having a photo editor, darkroom tech and themselves on the road.....

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