Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Ambulance For A Wet Plate Darkroom?

After reading and researching the work of Jack Lowe in Great Britain both online and in the new Black & White photography magazine, I found another wet plate darkroom option. Jack uses a adapted ambulance named "Neena" for all  his wet plate darkroom work.

Ambulance? They are available for sale? News to me!

I did a search found 3 for sale in Calgary. The one in the pictures below is from 1996 and is available for $5500 obo. There are also newer model 2007 and 2008 for sale for $12900. This might be a possibility. The only down side that I can see is that I would have less room for working and storage. The HF3535 will take up lots of room. I could not shoot out of the back of this baby like I could in a cube van either as written for in an earlier post. Also can I stand in these things? I am 6 foot 2.5 inches. If I cannot stand then this idea is a non starter.

The ambulance does have all those wonderful built in cabinets and the like that could be very useful. It is also a heavy duty professional quality vehicle. An option might be to try it for 4 or 5 years and then upgrade to a larger cube van if it does not work out. I wonder if these ambulances can haul a small camping trailer? Do they have some kind of ventilation system? Water? Electric? Having all those doors (2 on the back, one on the side) that would allow for easy access with plates, holders etc is a HUGE bonus as well. This units might be an ideal choice for wet plate photography.

What is the legal deal in owning one of these? Flashing the lights must be illegal. Might help get you through traffic jams thou :). You could get to that next shooting location very fast, just kidding!:)

Note* Kijiji Calgary also has a $9500 1996 and a  $13650 2009. There seem to be a ton of these things available. I probably could get something good at a reasonable price. There are another 6 available in the Edmonton area. They are EVERYWHERE!

Check out the video links below for  tours of a ambulances. Maybe storage is NOT a problem, these vehicles tend to have tons of lockable pro quality, heavy duty storage cabinets all over the place.

Note* From the video it looks like I will probably not be able to stand in the back which is a real downer. I wonder if there are higher roof/lower floor models?

Update* From what I have been able to find out online it seems that most if not all North American ambulances are 5 foot 6 to 6 feet inside. Too bad, not sure this will work for me, everything else seems pretty awesome. Can you do wet plate from a sitting and or tilted head position? That might be very uncomfortable on a long project. Maybe I can buy a cheaper ambulance (under $$6000 CAD) and give it a try. Later upgrading to a fully standable cube van. I really like the heavy duty build of these things, they seem so bullet proof.

Update** It seems some of these ambulances have an exhaust fan system which should be a health benfit when I am using it as a darkroom. Not sure how the exhaust fan runs, on battery? Does the engine have to be running?

Here is a link to all the buttons and gadgets in a partially converted ambulance.

1996 Ford E305 Ambulance $5500 obo, Calgary