Temperature and Black and White film shooting.

Grandpa Ron

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Aug 9, 2018
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I am planning a two month trip out west mostly in the Rockies. I seems like an opportunity to try my hand at some turn of the last century black and white photography. I restored a 1910 Seneca 4x5 view camera, found a nice 1960's vintage Wollensak lens and have had some success shooting locally. This is not an attempt to imitate Ansel Adams, I will leave that to the experts. However I would like to get a few decent pictures.

One thing that I cannot find much information on, is the effects, if any, of ambient temperatures on cut film. There is lots of info on cold storage and development temps but I could not find much information on shooting in 90 degree heat or 60 degree heat or more importantly the fact that the film will be setting at whatever the ambient temperature is. Obviously I am not going to leave it in a locked car trunk but it will set for days in a travel trailer at whatever temperature the weather man brings us.

So I am curious if what others do when the take their view cameras into the field for days at a time.
I've never heard of any field adjustments based on ambient temperatures.
If it is HOT, the cut film "might" sag in the holder, but I don't know.
I would say for 4x5 you should be OK. If you were shooting 11x14, different story.
Personally, below 95F, I would not worry about it. I wouldn't.

Are you using 2-side or 1-side film holders?
If 1-side, just lay it flat and keep the film on the top side.
2-side, I would store vertical.

What I would be concerned about is loading/unloading the film holders. When I am hot, my hands get sweaty, and you really don't want to put sweat on the emulsion. So maybe a pair of cotton or surgical gloves, to use for that.
To combat hand sweating: Use a BIG changing bag. The more air you have in the bag, the more air to absorb humidity from your hands. And have a fan blowing on you, to lower your body temp.
The only thing to avoid would be sudden and large temp changes. Like going from the freezer straight to the camera and trying to take a shot.

Film is/was stored and shipped unheated or un-air conditioned ever since film was invented. You are not likely to see any effect.

4x5 film is 7 thousands thick polyester. Pretty stable up to around 210F. I hope it’s not that hot where you’re going.

Think about all those old Speed Graflex cameras at sports events in the hot sun all day back in grandpa’s day. I used to take mine out camping for days in the summer, never had an issue.
A long time ago, mostly the 1960's and 70's, I shot a lot of 127 slide and 35 mm photos. Summer at the beach and winter in the snow, I never gave any though to the temps. These were roll films taken to the drug store for processing and picked up a week later.

Now, decades later I am trying my hand at photographing with an old view camera. I though it prudent to inquire, just in case there was some issue that might be overlooking.


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