What is a darkroom paper safe?
A paper safe is an accessory used in photographic darkroom printing. It’s main purpose is to store and provide easy access to enlarging paper while printing. Inside the safe, the paper can be kept without it’s protective wrappings, which speeds up access and improves your workflow. Not having to fiddle with flimsy cardboard boxes and plastic bags every time you need a fresh sheet saves time and decreases fatigue. Furthermore, as boxes wear down, they can start leaking light, ruining your pricy stack of paper, while a paper safe will provide reliable protection.
A darkroom paper safe is extremely simple in construction and use. It is essentially a lightproof box, usually made of a composite material like ABS. The most popular design has a clamshell lid, but there are also drawer styled models. Some units like the Premier above come with touch fasteners or other latches to prevent accidental opening. Like developing trays, paper safes come in different sizes to match the dimensions of common enlarging paper.
In addition to storing stacks of enlarging paper, a darkroom paper safe can house any light sensitive material – film, sensitized paper or plates. Of course, if you house anything that may not be safelight safe, do clearly note so on the lid. It’s easy to forget you’ve placed those few sheets of Tri-X 8×10 along with your paper and promply ruin them by opening under the red light.
Convenietly, a darkroom paper safe can also be used to transport unprocessed film or paper. For example, many color printing darkrooms have automatic RA-4 processors, but often times they are housed in a separate room due to ventilation or noise issues. This may necessitate taking your exposed paper across a lit hallway or another room, and the best way to do this is with a paper safe.