Improved dark cloth

Discussion in 'Talk About Large Format Gear' started by Alan Clark, Aug 25, 2016.

  1. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark New Member

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    Ian has asked me to comment about a dark-cloth my wife and I concocted a few years ago.
    I began large format photography with a large square dark-cloth that was unweildy, impractical and relatively uncontrollable in a wind. I put up with it because I thought it to be just par for the course. Then one day I saw another photographer with a much smaller but very cleverly designed dark-cloth. It was formed into a bag at the back so his head and shoulders fitted inside and kept it in place. The front was open but fitted over the camera front, and its front corners were tied together under the front of the camera, like an old granny would tie her shawl under her chin.
    The advantages of this compact design were plain to see, so I enlisted my wife's help. We started with a metre square of thin black slightly stretchy cloth and I stood behind the camera whilst she tucked and folded the cloth and used a pile of safety pins to fabricate the shape I had in mind. Once I had used it and modified the shape until it seemed to fit the bill, my wife cut out the folds, and stitched things together to make a neat and permanent job. I have used it for quite a few years now and find that it works vey well, even in a wind.
    If anyone wants to make something like this I suggest you get hold of a sheet of cardboard about 10 inches wide, and about 30 inches long, a roll of masking tape, some suitable cloth, a pile of safety pins and a willing helper. Begin by setting up your camera in its working position on its tripod, and rest the card on top of it. If it is 10 inches wide it should just fit across the camera. Fold 2 or 3 inches of the front end of the card over to make a 90 degree angle, angled down so it fits over the camera front, and tape the card (to itself, not the camera,). Now stand behind the camera at a distance so you can see the screen clearly, and with the card balancing on your head. Now get your helper to fold the rear end of the card over behind your head. This will give you some basic dimensions for the dark-cloth.
    Your helper can now drape the dark-cloth over the card, manouvre it into position, and start folding and tucking and pinning the cloth into shape. At your head end the bag sides need to flare outwards so they can fit over your shoulders. So viewed from the rear the bag will be trapezoid in shape, narrower at the top.
    The front bottom corners should extend forewards. Mine originally had cloth tape at each corner, but now I have them permanently safety pinned together, so they meet under the camera's "chin". And the sides should drop down low enough to be fixed together, with tape or press studs under the camera back -should you find this neccessary, in practice.
    Be prepared to regard your desigh as a prototype. Alter it or add bits to it after using it for a while.
    In use, I find mine very simple to set up. I simply drop it over the top of the camera, and pull the front into place around the camera front, then stick my head up in the back.

    Alan
     
  2. Isabel

    Isabel Active Member

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    Is it possible to see a photo - somehow I seem to be a very visual person ;)
     
  3. Alan Clark

    Alan Clark New Member

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    A drawing might be more helpful. I will get onto it.

    Alan
     
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  4. Stephen Batey

    Stephen Batey Well-Known Member

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    There seem to be a few focusing cloths about that aren't the older rectangular type now. Linhof list the Paramo cloth I use, and Mike Walker seems to have something similar on his site.
     
  5. Mathieu Bauwens

    Mathieu Bauwens Active Member

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    I used the Walker dark cloth, but with the design of the chamonix camera, it was just uneasy to operate, you have to open the cloth to access the focus button and all the back control. Better to stay with the older rectangular type.
     
  6. Ian-Barber

    Ian-Barber Administrator Staff Member

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    Thanks for that information, especially as I have my eye on the Chamonix 045N-2
     

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