Author Archives: jnanian

i am a freelance photographer in rhode island, usa. i use a variety of cameras ( film and digital ) and even shoot hand coated paper negatives and glass plates. i use caffenol developers... roast my own instead of using instant coffee and i sell silver recovery units. ( silver magnets ).

silver magnets and trickle tanks

If you do darkroom photography you might end up with fixer and wonder what to do with it. Should you toss it down the drain or try to recycle it ?

If you decide you want to try to recycle it, I have two items you might be interested in. One is called a Silver Magnet, the other is a Trickle Tank. Both do similar things but they are quite different

The Silver Magnet is a small device you submerge in a container ( non metalic ! ) of spent fixer. It can’t be fixer that was used once or 2x, or even fixer that “hypo check” said was “spent/used up” but it is fixer that has at least 50 parts of silver / million ( .5 g / L ) or more silver. This means if you do the “clip test” 2x the “clear to film base” time for a scrap of film in daylight, or using a silver saturation test kit to determine the amount of silver in the fixer. You plug the magnet in, you submerge it in the container and the silver electroplates onto an electrode. There is some silver left afterwards, but some of it is extracted

The “trickle tank” is a bucket that slowly drains into a 2nd bucket filled with steel wool. The silver is removed from the spent fixer, by trading steel wool “ions” for silver “ions” and by the end of the operation very little silver remains. Unlike the Silver Magnet, any used fixer can be dumped into the trickle tank, even wash water, and it is “scrubbed” so a level that is very small.

Trickle Tank
$240 + shipping
Posted in Misc.

leaf and water

leaf and falls
i slept last night and wasn’t still. I closed my eyes and saw a leaf
it floated down the stream, not too fast or slow
it bounced off of rocks got stuck in tidal pools and hung up on twigs
the water flowed faster and it was gone

Posted in Misc. Tagged , , , , , |

Its been .. forever

Yeah I know it has been forever since I wrote something here. I have a few excuses, but the long and short of it is that my life was turned upside down and I never got back to this.

Im here now, Im not sure when the next tine I post again will be .. no time like the present…

I ended up going back to school. I’m not a spring chicken ( in my 50s ) so getting the cobwebs out took time. I went to my local community college thinking I was going to get an associates degree to be an X-ray technician or diagnosis sonographer ( CCRI ). great program ! I went to Tufts University and Boston University, and maybe it was that I cared more beause I was a returning student ( READ: OLD ) but the classes I took ( advance Algebra, Anatomy, Physics,English X-Ray … ) were fantastic and the teachers were absolutely amazing. My path changed and I ended up going to Lesley University ( ) and I am finishing my first year. Its not easy but worth ever penny. The teachers are fantastic and I couldn’t be happier with what have chosen to do. I should have probably gotten my MFA back when I was in my 20s but Im that much more experienced now, and it helps.

Posted in Misc.

Xerox Internegatives

A few recent sun prints using inexpensive Xerox Transparancies.

Chepiwanoxet from the shore

Usually when people make digital negatives they use fancy printers, spend hours and days profiling their printer and image to look great. I don’t have a fancy printer or the skill to do fancy profiles, so I just invert in photoshop, and take the file to my local copy shop. Film transparencies are about 75¢ each and do what I need them to do.

green point
Green point from teh shore

Posted in technique and style Tagged , , , |

What to do …

For years I have had a camera and while I have always known what to do (push button send out or process myself) I have never really known what to do. I have spent years, decades really, learning different thing but none of them really have helped me figure it out.

I’m still wandering, and I am still confusing people with my photographs. I’ve been told to stop doing so many different things, and to concentrate on just making portraits, or photographing buildings, or other stuff, but unfortunately I can’t.

Sometimes I try, but there is always something pulling me to do the other things, telling me to do these other things. I am not sure how other people do it…

Posted in Misc.

riverside / near wachemoket

sometimes i go under the bridge and look to the other side

this time i looked across the river to wachemoket

makes me wonder what life was like without the bridge

to riverside

there was the train too, but the jacknife bridge is UP all the time

jacknife bridge

and the power plant that was keeping the lights on

rivers edge

Posted in Misc.

some of the buildings and structures in boston

i lived in or near boston for around 15 years.  and while it has changed a lot since i left ( 1998 )

it is still very much the same.  while i love new construction and modern architecture i also love

the alleys, 19th century and 20th century architecture.

the last few times i went to boston i photographed the skyline, and a handful of buildings

using the camera i was given when i was about 15 years old.  ( pentax k1000 )

mine has been used steadily since the early 1980s and even fell out of a backpack

when i was running to catch a bus …  the baseplate slammed so hard on the concrete it separated the prism

and top plate from the camera enough that i had to put duct tape on it so it would work right

eventually i brought it to a camera repair shop and now it’s 15 years later and good as new .


off state street

alley and air conditioning brackets

off state street

federal reserve south station

twin buildings


Posted in photographs Tagged , , , , |

the millpond

sometimes i just leave

i drive and don’t know where i will end up

i expose some film i put it away and eventually

find myself with processed film ..

last spring it was rainy and cold and i drove on a sunday.

i usually take back roads and find someplace interesting

this is the millpond and the lookout




near pond

Posted in Misc.

boston cambridge

sometimes i drive to boston with a camera

i stop at alewife station and take the T into the city

about a year ago there were demonstrations on the boston common

and i parked at the garage and took the T in …

a weekend or 2 later i drove and parked in the city and wandered like old times.


T stop

view of the skyline

Posted in photographs Tagged , , , , , , |

ARAX60 !

it seems that i have been asleep at the wheel for the past 8 months but i assure you i haven’t !

its been a really strange new year ( to say the least ) and i have handfuls of stories to tell  …

i bought another ancient rolleicord ( i never can afford rolleiflexes ).  i had one for a while years ago

but sold it to a friend and regretted selling it almost as soon as i dropped it off.  its funny, my first MF camera

was an old kodak reflex that was my uncles, i used it in high school and when my cousin needed it i sent it back …

then in college i scraped my $$ and went to an old camera shop a few miles away called “king arthur’s camera shop”

and bought a used yashica mat 124G  and LOVED it.  well i loved it until i ran out of money a few years later and sold it to

a good friend along with armloads of 120 film.  yup i regretted it soon after she drove off! fast worard a few months ago

and the MF bug bit me again …  i got another ancient triotar lensed rolleicord but IDK it didn’t have a flash sync so i sold it to

someone in NYC for the exact price i paid ( i tend to do that ) and found me another rolleicord through the

photrio classifides …  it had a flash sync and has been a lot of fun to use.  its a rollicord V   as much fun as it is,

i LOVE not having to look DOWN all the time.  left is right , right is left  its not hard to figure out but i’d rather just look and not have to think..

i was bitten by the keiv bug…

well, not really the keiv bug but the ARAX bug.

keiv cameras have a rich history in the soviet union.  based on western or eastern europen brands they did their own thing

and they were OK ..  but here in the west i guess OK isn’t good enough !

then there is ARAX …  these guys got the best of the keiv cameras and rebuilt them …  fixed the light leaks, fixed the mechanisms

that might have been flawed …

i had my sights on an arax cm, basically refered to as a “hasselbladski” because it is a russian copy of a early hasselblad. i scoured ebay

and for sale listings and eventually realized thatwhile it is a great camera, well, with something that sophisticated,

there are usually things that go wrong,  so instead  … i settled on a arax 60  and to be honest i couldn’t be happier !

i was sooo close to ordering it right from the arax factory, but i found a seller here in the states who i knew and he was as excited

to sell it to me as i was to buy it !  he sold it to me with the original standard lens and some close up “tubes” … but i had heard about

the mythical qualities of the sonar lenses …  so i ended up getting some nice deals on a pair of sonar portrait lenses …  not sure

if i can say they are mythic, but they are nice and do the trick !

i’ve made some portriats with the camera and some general photographs and can’t be happier with the results.

not to say i won’t use my rolleicord from time to time but for now the arax 60 is doing the trick !


new brutalist detail
arax 60

almost torn down, hand colored arax 60


Posted in Misc. Tagged , , , , |

new year old post, maybe ..

well, its 2018 ..

and i have gone back to my roots, sort of.  for a handful of years i did my best to become a better printer

by printing virtually anything i could find.  i would expose film at the wrong shutter speeds and exposure settings

and process in a variety of different ways.  there was a liquor store box i found on the street, all in tatters and it had handles and it became

a reservoir for all the negatives i had to print.  i filled it to the top with this processed film, as well as anything and everythng else i cold find and

was translucent enough that i could get an image on paper with it.  lids from take out containers found on the street ( litter ) junk i just collected ..  like

shards of broken glass, things i coated with fiberglass resin, plexiglass i heated with a blowdryer and let cool in weird shapes  anyhow  the images made

had a certain look to them.

(rewind )  as a kid i was given a microscope.  it was a lot of fun seeing how things looked enlarged in an eyepiece.  i had premade slides gotten from

the hobby shop, bug parts plant parts to0.  i took tweezers and rubbed plant parts on slides to look at the pollen sometimes and was taught how to do a

blood smear ( i think that is what it is called ).  i got a telescope a few years later.  it was a 3″ reflector gotten from edmond scientific ( i still have it )

nothing extremely fancy  but it was fun to look at the moon and once in a while get a chance to find a planet to look at.

( fast forward a little  bit )  i’ve always been a cloud gazer so looking at coffee grinds or coffee foam became a fun distraction.  friends would say

“whats my coffee say”  and it was fun to tell people random stuff i saw in the coffee.  its just like looking at clouds, and if you have an active imagination you can

see just about anything.

(2018 )  well its 2018 and i have come full circle back to where i started but not really.  i’ve used up all the mistreated film and rubbish i printed years ago, and while i could

revisit my past directly i found it more fun to revisit it indirectly.  lately i’ve been using my iphone a bit more and having a lot of fun making other worldly photographs.  ive combined

my interests in stargazing and gazing into my morning coffee ( and apple cider and pint ) and found the same sorts of things i used to find in the darkroom.  im reminded

how everythng is the same but different, and how somethimes things that are different might be the same.

i don’t have much of the imagery from the 90s scanned / digitized.  they were what i referred to as “hybrid prints” singular images, from a series that has been part of my

method, with and without a camera.  the images i have started to make these days rhyme well with those and hand colored film work ive done the past few years


















Posted in technique and style Tagged , , , |

peroxide reversals part 2

well, as seen by my last entry i was able to get it to work a couple of weeks ago
so i attempted yesterday to do it again.  so inbetween “stuff” i had to do

i devleoped out a sheet of hand coated paper,  …  nothing  on it so i didn’t waste any
effort reversaing it  …  then i put some matt rc paper in the cyclone and exposed it

i counted 10 and the processed paper looked great, or at least as expected..  into a citric acid stop
then rinsed in running water for 2 seconds then into 250cc 3% big lots peroxide with 2 heaping teaspoons of citric acid …

after 3 hours  … nothing  …

knowing heat speeds things up ( well, sometimes ) i made a water jacket with hot hot water …
2hours later, nothing  …

changed the peroxide out for fresh and more citric acid  …  i checked it at midnight ( so after 14 hours )  … … nothing ,,

at 830am ( 22 hours of bleaching ) i swapped out the old peroxide, added the rest of the quart i had and 3 heaping teaspoons of CA ..
made another water jacket …  and if by the time i can make it back to review  … nothing has happened …

i’m probably going to return the peroxide to big lots ( 3 remaining quarts ) maybe it is “stale” ?

this whole thing is kind of frustrating to say the least …

more to come soon ..

Posted in alternative process photography Tagged , , |

peroxide based photographic reversals

im back at attempting to making direct postive reversals again.

there have been a number of different ways to do these over the years,
some use toxic chemistry ( sulfuric acid dichromate bleach ) some use a somewhat dangerous process
( wet plate ) and others are rather finicky ( silver gelatin ferrotypes ).  there used to be a direct postive paper made by ilford
which was a single step, use normal photographic chemistry ( reglar old developer ) and it would develop a postive, instead of a negative,
these days when one says direct positive that is what comes to mind first …  the good folks at galaxy have come up with their version of direct postive
( not sure what is in it, probably sulfuric acid ) i havne’t tried their chemistry yet but from what it seems in their website/video it seems pretty fun and easy.

there is another reversal process that uses permanganate instead of sulfuric acid …

i’ve tried a few of these processes ..  the ilford paper is by far the easiest …  the permanganate one worked OK but i messed up the PH of the clearing bath.
i love making silver gelatin tintypes, but it is a finicky process …

a few weeks ago ( maybe a month ago ) joe van cleave posted a video that was reposted on ( neé apug ) that detailed
his experiments with a reveral process he discovered someplace online, and through conversations he had with the person who posted it.

the process uses hydrogen peroxide and citric acid as a bleach, no clearing bath and if you go to joe’s website ( strongly recommend lots of fun stuff there ..
he is a paper negative artist, afghan camera user and an avid typist ! )  you will see his 3 videos and the images he has made with the process.
be advised he uses STRONG hydrogen peroxide, about 15%, which can be purchased at a variety of places,it is not the weaker less concentrated hydrogen peroxide
you might find at your local pharmacy.  i am kind of a scardie-cat when it comes to concentrated chemistr.  its not that i don’t have good lab-technique, or
a rubber apron, gloves or a respirator, its just that if i can get away WITHOUT using peroxide that strong, i’d rather do that.  it is one of my reasons
not currently doing wet plate photography …  if i can do without collodion i am good with that, and if i DID do wet plate work, i would definately use
speed fixer instead of the traditional Potassium Cyanide.

so the other day i went to big lots and got a few cheap quarts of hydrogen peroxide ( 89¢ each ) and i headed over to whole foods
to get some citric acid.  and i made a few exposures and attempts. first i was unsuccessful.
i was using coffee developer with a little d72 powder ( home mixed ) to boost the contrast and shorten development time.  the negative looked great.
into the weak citric acid stop bath, short rinse with water too, and into the hydrogen peroxide ( about 1/2 cup ) and citric acid ( abou 1 tsp ) bleach ..

it is supposed to take about an hour but it didn’t do anything and by the end of it all, even after i waited a couple of hours, and then turned the lights on to fog the paper
( part of the process ) nothing happened.

i did a 2nd try, and still, it didn’t want to work.

so  …  i consulted someone who i knew would have a clue.  he’s a photographer in california ned lewis,  he’s a brilliant photographer a goes by the handle NedL ( on ipernety, photrio ).
i know he would know what was going on, he’s the guy who discovered how to fix lumen / retina/sun prints and he’s a paper negative artist who makes calotypes
( like the original fox talbot process ! )
has also been working the past week to get this 3% system to work, and he has had fantastic results.

he thought that maybe there was carry over from the sodium carbonate rich developer that was killing the bleach.  makes sense to me.  so, i changed my print developer
and mixed up some sprint print developer great developer, great chemistry, great folks !

and  ..  i exposed a 3rd paper negative and it worked great !, so i exposed another one.

instead of beng on a tiny scrap of paper stuffed in a 35mm camera, i put a 5×7 sheet into a graflex 3a and photographed the
dining room window.  it took forever to bleach ( i had a 2nd 5×7 exposure n the same bleach bath ).  1 change of bleach, and about 6, maybe 8 ( i left and came back so i don’t
know exactly when it happened )  the paper negative was completely white, so i turned the lights on, fogged it and redeveloped it and it came out great. ( the 2nd one not so great bt that’s OK )

about a 8 hour process

ned and joe’s peroxide reversal

basically here is how it works:


you expose a paper negative and develop it in print developer,

you short stop bath it in a little bit of water and citric acid

and then put it in about 1/2 cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide with about a teaspoon of citric acid.

( there are actually gram measures and real volume measures he and joe use but im just tinkering to see if it works )

with joe’s recipe the print bleaches to white in a short amount of time, with NedL’s it takes about an hour, maybe a little longer.

after it is bleached so it looks like a white piece of paper you expose the print to light ( joe and ned both have the kind of light, time and filtration )

you redevelop in print developer, and it turns into a postive print ..  stop and fix and there you have it !

stay tuned !


Posted in alternative process photography, Misc., photographs Tagged , , , , |

back to the 1920s

ive traced my roots in photography, to the 1920s i think. my values seem to revolve around people like the dadaists and rusian constructavists and surrealists more than

the new traditionalists of today. while some of my contemporaries seek untouched lands they can transform into an emotion filled black and white or color terrestrial view, or a portrait that shows honesty, i have veered left into what has been a fun ride.

while i enjoy looking at terrestrial views and i love making portraits lately, at least i have found a new interest in sketching ( doodling? ) on paper and transfering that drawing onto hand made photo paper.

the drawing is made on regular old thin xerox/copy paper, and waxed with paraffin to make semi translucent. the receiver paper is made with an under coat of hand made emulsion ( see previous posts ) and a top coat of foma liquid emulsion …  they are not developed out in the darkroom but left in the sun so the image on the paper burns itself into the photo paper

the dark image with white lines is then scanned and sometimes inverted, sometimes left as is, and color added to give the image dimension. in my days learning how to render and architectural drawing this would be like doing a sketch and adding watercolor to the top.


enough talking about it …

here is one i did recently  ..  another is being exposed as i type this ..


tinted in ps

sketched, waxed printed

Posted in alternative process photography, liquid emulsion Tagged , , , |

late summer photographs

just a taste of what i have been doing lately.

it includes using a cyclone #3 and empire state …

as usual, i have been off the beaten path, i ended up in west greenwich at the plain meeting house

and also found myself at the abandonned and partially redeveloped lonsdale mill complex.  i’ve been to both places

before, but its been months.  i also found myself at home photographing closely.


cyclone #3, caffemol C + faux dektol

tinted in PS

trailer truck along building, overcast sun peeking through

Posted in photographs Tagged , , , , , , |