Tag Archives: ansco130

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


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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

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ilex seminat

admittedly i might have a few too many lenses.  i don’t have curio cabinets full of them, or 4 shelves piled high but i am always a sucker for a cheap lens that might be interesting.    the merriam-webster online dictionary defines interesting as holding the attention.  its usually the cheap unwanted lenses that hold my attention.  i bought a speed graphic camera as my entry to large format photography back in around 1988 from an old camera store called e. p. levines.  i bought it back when it was still on lincoln street in boston

before it moved to 23 drydock in south boston.

back then it was kind of an unloved camera, every photographer back in the day had and used and sold one, and i was picking it up.  i was more than happy because not only could i use shuttered lenses ( it came with a tominon 127 in a polaroid press shutter ) it had a curtain shutter so i could use the camera with enlarger lenses, and cheap unwanted barrel lenses.  i still use the tominion and while over the years folks who know lens design and much more than i do about optics have told me that the lens does not cover a 4×5 sheet of film, i have used it for decades and never had dark corners or problems.  maybe i lucked out?  i’m not sure, but i do know that because there have been so many unloved polaroid mp-3 copy cameras flooding the online auction site over the years and people don’t believe the lens can work well with a 4×5 camera, the lens is an unloved lens as well.

so over the years i have bought and used barrel and enlarger lenses with this speed graphic.  if you are wondering what a speed graphic is or what i am talking about, its one of those old fold-up  newspaper cameras press photographers used back in the day.  they look like this

and the curtain / focal plane shutter makes them a great camera for playing around with.  you can fashion a lens out of pretty much anything, from a 5 and dime magnifying glass (cheap magnifying glasses) to a 18th century brass barrel lens that cost as much as a used car (brass lenses on google shopping ) …  i tend to shy away from things that cost very much money, but over the years i have bought these unloved lenses and years later they are loved which brings me to the ilex seminat.

i bought this lens more than a decade ago, before the soft lens gold rush had really started.  people really weren’t buying old brass lenses because no one really  cared much about how they might give a nice soft image if shot wide open, without much effort.  people hadn’t been bitten by the wet plate photography bug yet, so no one really needed a super fast large format lens so their portrait subject didn’t fall asleep during the exposure.  i’ve photographed portraits with slow lenses, and paper negatives and counted to 45 or 50 or longer than that.  while my subject was able to sit still and hold a pose, without a victorian head clamp, i am not sure how easy it would be to do on a regular basis, and if the subject was a kid, forget about it.  a guy on ebay.  he starts all his auctions at .77¢ and has a flair for selling great stuff.  anyways, the lens cost, i don’t know $40 or 50$, shipped to me from sunny california and it arrived a few days later.  ( sorry i don’t have a photograph of my particular lens but it looks kind of like this but mine is in an old ilex general shutter.  it was described as being elusive or mysterious, the seller described it to a T—elusive.

i usually don’t stop the lens down, i don’t see much of a point in stopping down a lens unless it is some sort of documentary project where some sort of context and extreme detail is required.  in that respect i live my photographic life by the HABS/HAER code. you might have heard of HABS, back in december 2015 a position opened up in washington DC to be one of the few photographers who work on HABS Documentation jobs full time.  the photography is straight ahead photographic documentation, no soft lenses, everything exposed at f22, descriptive views, architectural history/descriptions, and the images aresometimes used together with measured drawings ( tape measure measuring a structure and doing detailed renderings, elevations &c ) and a technical research paper about the building, its historial significance, the builder, style &c ….  while with the seminat i could stop down to f22 i don’t really use it for HABS work, i have modern coated lenses that do that job well, the seminat is for other”stuff”.   i like to put the shutter on TIME so i can just do a long exposure and not deal with short exposures.  i don’t have a lenscap so i use the focal plane shutter in the speed graphic.  it takes a little while to learn how to focus with this lens to get the most out of it.  while making portraits with it works great, and it does give a nice diffuse image i like photographing outdoors or through a window and letting the f3.5 and lens design do their things.

ilex seminat wide open



garage floor and tree



multi hour retina image
reversed tinted with photoshop


leaves and branches and sky

seminat as a close up lens on a 5×7 camera.

seminat on a 5×7 camera.

over the years i have done research on the ilex seminat, there really isn’t much written about it at all.  i’ve read old photography magazines+ads on google books, sometimes they are there and available to look at (usually they talk about the cinema lens ilex sold with the same name)  but very little if anything is written on this seminat.  sometimes just buying a cheap lens on a whim works out.  it might take a little playing with to figure out what the lens is good for and what it can do, and usually, if you don’t want it, you can put it up for sale for about what you paid for it, and get your $$ back, unless of course you bought things ahead of the curve and in that case you will be getting the loved price for your formerly unloved lens.

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ansco 130

about 15 years ago i used a can of what was called GAF UNIVERSAL DEVELOPER.  it was propping up a broken window sash in a loft i was renting.  it was an old can, a red can and it seemed to be full of developer powder.  i mixed it as it said on the can and made 5 gallons of developer.  it was a HOT summer that summer, and   i had to do my best to use up the developer before it went bad in the summer heat i didn’t have AC, it was a brick building, and my space was under a black membrane roof, so i shot hundreds of rolls of film and processed+printed as often as i could, usually in the middle of the night because it was the coolest time of the day.  the bricks retained heat, but that was OK at least the sun wasn’t up.

i had never used a universal developer before.  i had only really used dektol, selectal (soft ) and sprint print developers.  and for film, well, i had used sprint film developer ( which i still use on occasion ) DK50, and Tmax RS.  i used the DK50 when i was the darkroom person for a portrait photographer in providence that was a few years before, and i had used tmax rs a, a few bottles worth, but i didn’t like it, not to mention it stained my film with a green metalic fog.  so i used this GAF stuff.  it said “1:6 films 6 minutes, 1:1, 1:2 prints”  so i used it, and used it, and used it. and eventually ran out of developer.  it made nice films that some told me were “snappy and crispa friend and printer told me about xtol soon after i ran out of the GAF stuff, but it wasn’t the same.  it didn’t really give me contrast i liked, and was kind of BLAAAH.  so i went back to sprint developer for a few years after that.  i used to talk to jc welch at equinox photographic on the phone once in a while when i was buying oddball photo things and he suggested that the GAF universal was probably ansco130.  its kind of a long story but agfa turned into agfa ansco after ww2, and eventually just ansco, and eventually gaf , so it seemed like it might be true.  the problem is that the developer numbers were not the same between agfa, ansco-agfa, ansco and gaf, so it is still to this day a mystery what this developer might have been.  i was happy to use ansco 130 though, and it became one of the only developers i would use for the next 10-15 years.  i started small and only purchased a gallon at a time, so i could process film with it, and see how it seemed to work.  the films looked good.  i was still using the dilutions on the can of GAF UNIVERSAL because the ansco 130 packaging said nothing about being a film developer.

i wrote in a few threads on apug.org and maybe photo.net about it.  and might have converted few people here and there.

ansco 130 is a simple formula but a great developer

water ( 750ml )
metol (2.2g )
sodium sulfite (50g )
hydroquinone (11g )
sodium carbonate (78g )
potassium bromide (5.5g )
glycin (11g )
water to make 1L

i’ve used it as a film developer lots of different ways … replenished it, used it as a stand and semi stand developer  in a unicolor drum, in trays, in small tanks …  it really never let me down.  it does work with sheet film the best though.  with roll film i have to dilute it instead of 1:6 usually to 1:10.  and instead of 6 mins as recommended on the can of GAF i usually extend development to around 8-8.5 mins.  years ago i was in touch with the good folks at the photo lab index ( morgan / morgan )
and when i asked them about the developer, they put me in touch with their chemist, a person by the name of jerry katz.  jerry and i were going to do the same sort of work up with ansco 130 as he did with nearly ever developer in the index.  together we were going to work on an article for publication with text and photographs of grain structures &c, but unfortunately  jerry passed away a few months later, and i was never able to follow through with our plan.


a few photographs

35mm film ansco 130 1:6 @72ºF for 8mins


120 film, mamiya folder (post war), ansco 130 1:6-8mins


tmx, 4×5 sheet, 1:6 tray shuffle 8.5 mins,



currently i use ansco 130 to make prints, and i have reverted at least half way back to using it for films.  for 7 long years, or maybe 8 years i converted my film processing to using caffenol c film developer.  i have always put in a small amount  – 15-20 cc – of stock ansco 130 developer to boost the contrast  and smooth out the  rough grainy patches i used to get by using straight caffenol c.  but these days, instead of developing in straight ansco 130, or straight sumatranol 130 …

i developer for half the time in ansco ( so it is 4 mins ) agitate normally, and then 4 mins constant agitation in sumatranol 130 …  it is my own version of a split developer, and it seems to work great

rolliecord + expired film + split develop ansco 130 + sumatranol 130


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how much exposure, is too much ?

how much exposure with negative film, is too much.

should you over expose your negatives?  should they be thin or dense?

when i first began developing my own film, i never would leave the developer on the film for the last few seconds of development.  for example, if it was to be processed for 8 mins 30 seconds, i would invert / agitate at 8 mins and get rid of the developer after that.  my film was usually thin, but not too thin to print with a #3 graded paper, or a contrast filter under my enlarger head.  i would always make sure in a portrait that the whites of the eyes were white and everything else fell into place.  if it was a different scene, i would make sure there was a black and a white in the image and everything seemed OK after that.  i never photographed where the light struck things, never looked for excessive shadows or brightness, i just made exposures.

it wasn’t until years later that i was told that my negatives were terrible, that i  began to process my film fully, and eventually go overboard the other way.  rather than thin film i began to process my rolls and sheets in a paper developer to get what used to be called a “snappy negative” or a “crisp negative”.  when told i should use developers like xtol ( which i have used off and on ) i decided it was hard for me to get the contrast i wanted so i stopped using it.  i eventually started using coffee developers ( caffenol ) but the negatives were a bit thin and reminded me of xtol film, so i started to put ansco130 in there to boost the contrast.  ( haven’t stopped )  when i was visiting family overseas in france i processed a bunch of film in my father in law’s basement with him.  it was a moonlit night, the area we processed in was not completely dark …   i used washing soda and vitamin c sourced at a pharmacy and “el gringo” coffee sourced at a grocery store.  the developer was black and i shuffle developed it for 15-20mins, and the film was hung up to dry.

the next day when we returned the film was so dense you couldn’t see through it.  not even with a light bulb behind it …  when we returned to the states i contact printed the negatives not with an enlarger bulb or room light, but a 300 watt light bulb on RC paper.  the same set-up i use to print on silver chloride papers.  the prints came out more beautiful than i could have guessed.

so to answer my question …

there isn’t any such thing as too much exposure.  as long as you can project light through the negative you won’t have any problems.

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More tintypes

i loaded up a graflex series d plate holder yesterday
and filled it with 6 coated plates.  i exposed them heavily
hoping my dead emulsion would like extra light
and it did.  f3.8 @ an average of 3-4 minutes each exposure
noon-time-light ( heavy blue ) snow reflecting the light as well …

they were developed in my home brew reversal .. part coffee, part ansco130, part sodium carbonate, part magic
and i processed them this morning.  unfortunately i forgot the hardener in my old fashioned hypo, so some of the emulsion frilled and lifted
but i’ll re-use the plates.  the images were light, and some were coppery, and they are drying as i type this   …

i’ll warm up and pour some fresh emulsion in the next few days and see what happens next.  my developer works well ( tested it with regular paper )
it might just be my emulsion is old and not worth the bottle it is solidified in.

more to follow  …

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using a box camera

box cameras usually have one shutter speed and a OPEN setting for time exposures.  sometimes it can be difficult to make photograph
when there is a vast difference between light and dark in the view.  with only 1/50thS ( around there ) as the only shutter speed, how do you
make photographs that need less than 1 second worth of light, but more than 1/50thS of light ?

years ago i remember a trick a wonderful photographer, teacher named les mclean published over on APUG.ORG.  the thread and questions had to do
with photographing a waterfall or landscape or something with movement.  les used the example of a waterfall he photographed in the thread and said
it was made with 10 or 15 or 20 exposures ( sorry i don’t remember the exact number ) instead of one long exposure.  by splitting up the time between
exposures he was able to show movement and other things with his final image that a single exposure couldn’t do.

les’ time exposures got me thinking, why not do this with a box camera and see what happens.  it shouldn’t be hard seeing 2 /50th second exposures was about 1/25thS and 4 would be something like 1/10S and so on …  so i did just that.

5 1/50thS exposures


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5×7 glass

rather than expose 6 5×7 emulsion coated glass plates as ambrotypes or glass in camera negatives
made contact prints and photograms with them.

2 bath developer.

1 bath fxer ( with hardener )

finished plates are drying now.

very little frilling, no sub coat ..


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fruit and other things

there were some bananas on the counter

snow outside

a flying cage

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