Weighting Edges of Darkcloth

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Greetings.... I'm making a darkcloth or two. The only issue is how to weight the ends or edges. The best-sounding suggestion I've heard is to use brass bead chains. Can't find 'em though. Have tried numerous fabric stores, hobby shops, even a couple curtain wholesalers. Anybody know where to find such a thing? -jeff buckels (albuquerque)

-- Jeff Buckels (jeffbuck@swcp.com), May 08, 2001


Brass bead chains like those pull cords found on old timely lamps or dog tags? Maybe an Army Surplus store would have them. Doesn't sound as if it would be heavy enough. You can buy drapery weights and sew them into the 4 corners of the dark cloth to weight it down. Mine have worked well for about 20 years.

-- Joe Lipka (JoeLipka@Compuserve.com), May 08, 2001.

If you're not a fishman, go to the local tire store, where you'll find a bucket of all shapes and sizes of weights they've taken off tires, take 4 that suit you. Now if you're in California, you must comply with Proposition 65 since lead is carcinogenic. Be sure to print a warning on your darkcloth that says:

This photographer is utilizing substances known to the State of California to cause cancer.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), May 08, 2001.

Having been with three different friends when the weighted ends of the darkcloths caught in the wind & broke the groundglass, I don't use weights. I find wrapping the darkcloth around the camera or using a small bit of Velcro works well.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), May 08, 2001.

When I made my darkcloth I used fishing lead that comes in rolled strips of various thickness. It is soft lead used to twist around the fishing line and is easily found at Walmart etc. I have found that one piece about 6" long sewn into the hem of the corners works well and doesn't damage the groundglass as it is long and rather soft. But I also use velco closures at the bottom edge and that also helps control wind problems at the camera end of darkcloth.

-- Bob Finley (rfinbob@aol.com), May 08, 2001.

I went to the hardware store and bought some large washer's and my wife sewed them into the corner of my darkclothe, two to each corner, if the wind blows them hard enought to make them fly high enought to hit the camera, it is past time to pack up. Pat

-- pat krentz (patwandakrentz@aol.com), May 08, 2001.

Jeff, I cut the small weights from the corners of my cloth after almost taking my eye out when the wind whipped the cloth around my head! Replaced them with a few strips of velcro and have had better success - still got two eyes! Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), May 08, 2001.

I made my darkcloth out of an old black t-shirt. I cut off one arm of the shirt, and then cut the shirt open on that side. In use, simply put the shirt over your head as normal, except that the inside is out, and the remaining sleeve in the back. In use, simply pull the shirt over your head and cover the camera. Use velcro to close the shirt under the camera. Now you have a darkcloth that will not fly in the wind, since it is connected both to the camera, and to your neck. In addition, when not in use, simply wear it over your sholders.

-- Oyvind Tryti (otryti@online.no), May 08, 2001.

Jeff, I agree with Tryti. For 8x10 I use a black tshirt where the waist part of it fits nice and tight around the camera (med sized tshirt). My head goes into the hole for the head and my arms fit into the arm holes. Essentially you are wearing the t-shirt through its head. This can be modified a bit by inserting an elastic around the waist part of the shirt to snugly fit around the camera body. This may seem silly, but it blocks out all the light completely without having to take a large cloth. The loupe stays inside the t-shirt throughout the entire time.

Since I've started with the t-shirt, I don't use my my darkcloth anymore.

-- Dave Anton (daveanton@home.com), May 08, 2001.

Jeff: I gotta agree that the weighted corners can be a bit risky in the wind. Mine didn't hit me in the eye or break the ground glass, but I got a nice lump on my forehead. No more weighted cloth for me. Incidentally, it wasn't a sustained wind, just a quick gust that was here and gone. If you want to weight it, try a roll of solid core solder sewn into the length of the seam. It is easier to just use hook and loop fastener tape or clips. I still haven't tried the black T-shirt, but it sounds like a good idea.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), May 08, 2001.

Boy, what a response! Guess I hit us where we live this time! -jeff buckels

-- Jeff Buckels (jeffbuck@swcp.com), May 08, 2001.

I made my dark cloth out of 2 pieces of fabric- one of the light blocking fabric used for curtains and the other a piece of black corduroy. Sewn together, the cloth has enough weight on its own to avoid getting blown around too much. Also, the corduroy seems to do a pretty good job of keeping the cloth from slipping off the camera. No weighted edges or corners on my cloth and I don't have any reason to change that. If you find you have problems keeping the dark cloth in place during use, an A-clamp or two can make all the difference in the world.

-- David Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), May 08, 2001.

Hi Jeff, yes, corners weighted with lead will add an element of adventure and risk to your picture taking - as I have found. I wonder why some kung foo kind of fighter hasn't caught on to the weighted dark cloth as some kind of destructive weapon? Stiff material and tiny clamps is what I say; although, I think I will try the black t-shirt method soon. Good luck, David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), May 08, 2001.

Hi Jeff, I also made a dark cloth, weighting the edges with small cloth bags filled with lead shot (~1 oz.). The bags had velcro hooks on them for ease of removal, and the lead shot bags deform if they were to hit the GG (never happened). The front edge of the cloth has elastic at the top and velcro at the bottom to hold the cloth snugly on the camera. I've since taken the weights out, finding that the velcro and elastic alone are sufficient. I'll shortly try the T-shirt.

-- Graeme Hird (goldeneyephoto@hotmail.com), May 08, 2001.

Hey Guys: y'all need to visit the friendly fabric stores more frequently even if you have no intention of making dresses for your daughters. For weighing curtains, tiny lead strings wrapped up in thin mesh that look like a sausage can be inserted into a hem in the cloth. Fasten the mesh at each end of the hem so it all stays in place. The bad news is that wind that can topple the tripod mounted camera will show no respect for the weighed cloth either. The good news is that it should be impossible for the weights to damage the GG and a fairly strong wind to lift the cloth.

-- Julio Fernandez (gluemax@ora.auracom.com), May 08, 2001.

Kevin, FYI-

Lead does not cause cancer. It can damage the nervous system, and diminish critical brain fubction - with high enough exposures, of course.

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), May 09, 2001.

Kevin FYI: Do not foget to put the same sticker in your car. It has a lead containing battery. Yea, people are known to develop cancer from driving them cars with lead batteries. Its a major cause of death in fishermen who handle the deathly stuff. Danger lurks at every corner, don't y'all know? Let's all vote for a chemical-free world, then we shall have nothing to worry about. Know what that is? a vacuum, Ooops!

-- Julio Fernandez (gluemax@ora.auracom.com), May 09, 2001.

Lead IS listed by the State of California as a substance known to cause cancer "or reproductive harm." Any state which can't keep the lights on must know what it is doing. This will drive the studio photographers out into the sunshine.

-- Kevin Crisp (KRCrisp@aol.com), May 09, 2001.

I used fishing leads for mine.

Prefer a great number of small pieces. Few bigger would spare time while seewing, but could dammage the glass.

-- Dominique CÚsari (cesarigd@club-internet.fr), May 09, 2001.


Do you have a pair of athletic pants? How do you tighten your pants? Do the same to your dark cloth, and you will have an adjustable "BITZ" dark cloth working on all formats. You don't need any additional weights. Cheers,

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), May 09, 2001.

Howdy Jeff, I like to use some of those small Airline type Scotch bottles around the perimeter of the darkcloth for added weight. The weight works well and if the wind whips up and it catches me in the eye, I have instant medicinal multifunction cloth for relief. Just remember to add the disclaimer, ONLY TO BE USED BY PERSONS ABOVE 18 YRS. OF AGE. Good luck!


Moderation questions? read the FAQ