Category Archives: film development technique

this includes using coffee based developers, roasting coffee for developers, hand processing film

limited success with home brew tintype developer

for a few weeks now i have been experimenting with various reversal developers to make

silver gelatin tintypes.  i abandoned my old stock of liquid emulsion for an unopened bottle

of liquid light i had bought maybe six years ago and never used.  i did a test coat on white paper exposed it in a camera as a paper negative and it looked great, so i figured i wouldn’t have much trouble coating metal and paper as tests as tintypes.  i followed the instructions on the rockland colloid site and coated thin, but my imges were barely visible.  im thining i’ll coat thick again.  i seemed to have the best of luck with thick coated plates since the emulsion wasn’t ag+ ,,,

i don’t have plates to post becausr, they are’t post worthy. …

i don’t plan on giving up my quest to make thest tintypes with less than wet plate danger

i have had my fun wi collodion over the years.  first as a college student, then afterwards, and while i don’t mind using it, i would rather use a less sensitive, material, and not have to cart my darkroom around with me,

i do know of collodion dry plates and could probably make them but id rather keep things simple and not deal with collodion …

 

more to follow  …..

 

 

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recent images

photogram

photogram

 

photogram

photogram

 

photogram

photogram

 

photogram

photogram

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the plates were still wet

the plates were sill wet, so i made some sumatranol 130 into a reversal developer / monobath
and made some photograms.  they are still hanging too ( all rc paper ) and ill scan some tomorrow …

the recipe i got from the cyclopeida was just an extremely weak developer.

it wasn’t anything fancy, just a weak, washing soda ( sodium carbonate ) rick developer and without much of a developing agent
not sure how it was supposed to develop anything seeing it wouldn’t really turn a sheet of paper black in room light,

more to follow as the adventure continues ..

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colorized providence

part of a show i will be part of in providence.

i thought i would hand color a few for fun

excessively contrasty negatives are great for colorizing !

 

colorized

colorized power plant

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pine branches and needles

today i was cleaning up the darkroom a little bit

actually, i was looking for an unprocessed paper negative ( eventually found it )
and while i was putting things away, i came across a pine branch.  got it in the spring
never got a chance to use it until toda …

lumen print with hand coated paepr

this is a series of crops from the scanned original

 

pine branch lumen print, 7hours

 

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safari

a month ago we went on a safari

downtown, in the heat, and the midday sun.
we loaded the demlar box ( 4×5 plate camera )
some hand coated 4×5 dry plates
and some film

we had some laughs, took some snapshots
photographed some strangers even

and headed home

the plates were processed in coffee and ansco 130
this one was contact printed on old kodak polycontrast rc paper
i added some water color, and texture with paper towel
and then some extra contrast and extra colors with PS

 

saturday at india point

weeds danced in the lakes of summer sunlight

 

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4 glass plates … then 4 paper prints

the other day i processed a handful of glass plates.

i scanned them &c

 

photograms/ cameraless

5×7

 

yesterday i decided to make contact prints of the glass images.
they were thin so it took a little coaxing but they came out OK …

 

ilford paper

glass negatives contact prints

 

im getting more glass today …  i will probably coat them sooner rather than later.

 

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more glass and metal coated

last night with the radio keeping me company
i heated emulsion and scrubbed glass and
coated 6- 5×7, 4- 4×5 glass plates  1 – 4×5 metal sheet, and 2 trimmed small ones for 35mm and MF.
they chilled and now are drying out in the dark ..

i hate waiting and wish SGE would dry out quicker, but it doesn’t …

 

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dream

they say you dream in black and white

and when you awake your brain puts color to it all.

see previous upload for information

 

i awoke and saw it all in color …

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coating plates … how to

i haven’t’ coated plates with hand made emulsion yet, that will happen soon enough …

but i have been coating plates on and off since the mid 1980s …

there are a few different ways to do this, some are easier than others

the first steps are all the same.

you have to wash the plate to make it chemically clean.  you can see if your glass sheet if clean by running water on it
if the water doesn’t “hang”  you are probably OK …  i wash my plates with a scrub brush ( plastic ) and washing soda.  i have a wood drying rack that i put them on so they drip dry.  i also just have them lean against the wall of the darkroom sink.

once they are dry you can coat them with a sub / or binding agent.  glass doesn’t really have anything for the emulsion to anchor to so an intermediary layer of something works.  depending on what sort of emulsion you are using you use a different binding agent …
i only use silver gelatin emulsions now, so my subbing layer would be  …  clear unflavored gelatin.  you can get hard bloom photography grade gelatin, its the same stuff used in the emulsion  …  or you can use cheap store bought knox gelatin.  i have only used knox  …  and it really never let me down.

i add a packet to warm water and let it dissolve.  then i pour it on the plate and put it someplace flat to set-up.  some folks put hardener in their sub layer, i have never done that.

anther binding agent could be clear poly urethane.  i have never used it  ( min wax ) but some do and they have had successes …  others suggest that it might yellow over time.  i’ve never used that so i really can’t comment.

i do know what DOESN’T work …

albumen doesn’t work
collodion ( either photographer’s collodion or pharmacy “flexible” ) doesn’t work
rubber cement doesn’t work either

as i write this, i realize i only used the albumen and collodion when they were not fully dry.
i have never tried to use them when they were dry, and knowing that there are collodion+gelatin emulsions that exist
i haven’t heard of a albumen gelatin emulsion though …

so i guess the jury’s out still on albumen and collodion …

once there is a sub layer there are a few different ways to coat the plate.
FIRST  …  you have to warm your emulsion and turn it into liquid.  i used to heat up a whole bottle and pour it off
but since then i have learned to squeeze out some emulsion into a warming container and have a small amount liquify.  heating and jelling
emulsion ( from what i understand ) can lead to a fogged emulsion.  once you have it in liquid form  …

one way is by total submersion into a tray of emulsion.  i haven’t done this, but from what i understand you can put some sort of covering on the back of the plate ( tape or something similar )  and dunk the plate in the emulsion, pour off the excess from a corner and put the plate someplace flat to even-out and set up.

another way is using a paint brush.  i like using japanese brushes to coat paper but they tend to leave brush strokes.  brush strokes on glass plates can be nice if enlarged on or shot through a camera, depending on the look you want …  i also like using cheap foam brushes.

this next way i was never able to do until this year, i always had trouble down the line and it never worked, but i have been reformed.

folks who write on http://www.thelightfarm.com and http://www.apug.org and mark osterman at the george eastman house have opened my eyes to another, easy and practical way to coat plates.  you need to have a warmish plate so i use a heating pad if my darkroom ambient temperature is coldish  …  and you need a cold level surface.  i use a pizza stone that cold from the freezer.
i have a small glass bottle i pour from, and another container to pour off / drain into.  i hold the plate level, and pour a large puddle of warm liquid emulsion onto it … and i tilt the plate to get all 4 corners ( like one would do if coating a wet plate ) …  and i use my finger to make sure
the whole plate is covered before draining it off into the second container.  after the plate is drained, i put it on the cold pizza stone to set the gelatin.  if the plate needs a second coat i pour on a second coat.  i usually coat maybe 4-10 plates at once, so by the time i am done with the last one, the first one can get its second layer.

i leave the plates flat and level to dry and after a day or so they are ready to expose.

when i process plates i use a coffee based developer and a strong developer.  i pretty much only use ansco 130, and use a 1:2 dilution to kickstart the development, and i put it in the coffee developer to finish.  i don’t rush it, and i agitate the tray  or with a gloved hand agitate the plate by rock it in the developer.  i don’t  use a stop bath but a water bath ( cold ) …  and while i never use hardener for any other process because it tends to be difficult to wash the emulsion and paper free of chemistry, i have a hardener fixer bath.

cold temperatures, an alkaline developer and a hardener in the fixer keep or help keep the emulsion from lifting off the plate.  in years gone by i would get perfect images on the emulsion, but they would lift off the plate, and wash off.  since i started using a cold stone, cold chemistry, alkaline developers and hardener i haven’t had this happen yet…

maybe  …  just a little bit, but not anywhere as badly as it could be.

5×7 and 8×10 glass plates on the horizon !

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hand colored work, from dry plates

i am kind of stuck in hybrid mode these days

part of me is stuck in about 1890 and the other part in 2013 ..

recently i have been hand coating metal and glass plates with liquid emulsion
some were exposed and developed in a special developer to convert the negative image to a positive
( tintypes and ambrotypes ) with wet plate images this is done with collodion spiked with certain salts
which then bind with silver nitrate and are developed …this sort of thing was invented in the late 1850s early 1860s …

what i am doing was invented 20 years later.  instead of the silver nitrate ( and salts ) being suspended in a slowly drying
celluloid ( collodion ) that needs to be processed into a photographic image right away when still “wet”, i am using the silver-stuff
that has been suspended in clear gelatin.  they are called DRY plates …  it is the same silver gelatin liquid that i coat on paper ..
the same emulsion you can make yourself if you want  ( it really is easy enough for a college student to do ..  i did as a 20 years old at least )
and it is really easy to purchase from a store in a bottle  ( liquid light, black cat, se-1 &c ) …
in around 1900 someone discovered a way to invert the image to make a positive …  street photographers capitalized on this making instant portraits and post cards  ( developing tank under + attached to the camera ) …  and you can still do this today with the rockland colloid tintype kit

that is what i am using at least because the recipe for the developer is an unknown …

some plates are tintypes i made, some ambrotypes

and some are hand colored ( using photoshop )

 

 

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success !

i made a handful of nice tintypes today, and ambrotypes using the dry plate method.
and  i am looking forward to making  photographs like this …  it took a lot of testing and tweaking on my end.

first i skimped on the amount of emulsion needed to make this work.  i have coated plates for years and i used to be able
to get a great image enlarging onto a skimpy skim-coated sheet of glass.  tiny bit of emulsion goes a LONG way …
…  not with this process !
i coated my plates with a THICK layer of emulsion.  i actually DOUBLE coated my plates.  once coat with AG PLUS  the emulsion that
is recommended to use for this process because of its silver content and probably because of its viscosity …  the second coat was with Liquid Light VC.
when the VC is heated it STAYS LIQUID for a long time, and it is easy to work with.  AG PLUS is thick but it also cools down fast and gets clumpy
it was all good though.

I am in the midst of making a cold bench / cold table that is flat  / level and very cold to chill-set my plates and make them even better.

when i can get the kinks out of this website i will post a few of my plates, but right now all i have are words to show for my efforts.

 

if you have any thoughts about doing this sort of dry plate tintype, it is worth the effort and time  …  and believe what rockland colloid says when they
suggest you use a lot of emulsion and rate it at about asa 1.

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almost there …

im getting better at covering the plates now that the water i use to melt the emulsion is BURNING HOT.
using old spent emulsion is great for learning plating technique but lame at getting images on the plate that
look  like tintype images.  these images are on the plates, i even have one on glass but it didn’t scan well.
the problem is they are faint.  i’ll be coating new plates tonight or tomorrow and will get shorter exposures
and better results.

these aren’t bad for what they are …  but leave a lot to be desired.

wonky site won’t let me upload images …

hopefully i will be able to soon  …

 

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silver gelatin tin types, another day ..

i got the kinks out of coating plates and metal the other night.
it seems my water wasn’t hot enough to melt the gelatin completely ..  so i turned up the hot water heater
and within a half hour my bottled emulsion was as runny as water.  i poured 4 small plates 3 4×5 tins and a 4×5 glass plate.
it was easier than it has ever been … and today i had a lot of things to play with to try to get the kinks out of my
shooting and developing.

until today, my images have been hit or miss.  no real rhyme or reason why they came out or didn’t come out.  i guess
you might call it luck.  today i made 6 exposures using black paper negatives, and most of the metal plates i coated yesterday.

the way i mixed the developer was to dole out what i needed and not have it all mixed up at once.  i had 1L of stock dektol, and the other ingredients  – 2 tbs of the white powder and 15cc of the liquid and 2oz of dektol to mix and get  8oz at a time as needed THAT was my problem…

the first two …  nothing worked  …  30+ seconds exposed in the back of an agfa sure shot ( it seems f13 )

i poured out a little straight dektol into a tray and put an exposed paper in there, then in the magic developer, and it worked.

i did this with a few plates, and they worked, and eventually i mixed the dektol with the magic developer …

the reversal additives ( powder and liquid ) were not strong enough to counteract the dektol, and i got negatives not positives when
i exposed my last sheets of paper..

later on, i mixed the rest of the dektol and powder and liquid and made 330cc of stock developer so i wouldn’t have to deal with mixing small amounts.  i later exposed 2 plates.  i used a cyclone 3 …  but its small aperture proved to be too much and they didn’t come out as i had hoped.

i’ll use a faster lens the next time around, so my exposures are short and easier to deal with.

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metal liquid light coffee

continuing my experiments with emulsion and coffee

i coated a metal plate, and left it in my retina camera for 4 hours
and processed it in sumatranol 130

instead of a negative image that usually happens with the retina / in camera POP prints
it came out GREEN like the last reversed image …

i boosted the levels with PS and removed the green cast

retina print

porch

more to come !

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