Friday, 7 May 2010

How to make a changing bag.

A changing bag in photography refers to a light-proof portable container with 'sleeves' which allows for work with photosensitive materials when a darkroom isn't available, for instance loading film onto spools, or into a developing tank, retrieving damaged film, or even reloading pinhole cameras. These bags can be purchased for somewhere in the region of £10 to £30. Or you can go for the very cheap, very simple, DIY option.

You will need the following: 3 black bin bags, a fairly light-proof coat (stick it over your head and stand outside to check), sticky tape, rubber bands, and scissors.

The steps are:
  • Put one bin bag inside another, and square them up nicely (a single bin bag is not particularly light-proof, but two together are).
  • About half-way down the bags cut a slit each side, around 10cm long - these will be your arm holes, and be sure to cut through both bags.

  • Use sticky tape to stick the two bags together at these openings - this will help to keep the holes in line. 
  • Take your third bin bag, cut the bottom off and cut it in half. These two pieces will be used as sleeves.
  • Insert the sleeves into the holes on each side, and tape from the inside (turn it inside-out to make this bit easier). Once turned back out, it should have a good shape to it.


  • Place the coat into the bag 'head-first' and put the coat sleeves through the bin bag sleeves.


  • The changing bag is now ready to use. Put the paper/film/camera in via the bottom, and then fold or scrunch it up and seal it with an elastic band.
A group of us went out with the bag to work on our street pinhole photography. Working with a changing bag involves a bit of fumbling, but with a bit of practice we were able to reload quite quickly and hence take several pinhole pictures in one outing, and no paper was fogged!



The other part of the day with the 'Working with Light' group, was spent discussing last week's inspiration film and lecture, followed by a quick workshop Q&A on using a light meter. Further technical assistance with pinhole work, exposure reading, lighting and so on, is scheduled for following weeks and also available on request. 

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