Tag Archives: caffenol-c

paper negatives

some people hate paper negatives.

they have trouble with them because they don’t realize how they need to be exposed and treat them like film.  they develop them like regular prints, and think that a “beefy” paper negative will print great like a “beefy negative”. photo paper is not film, it isn’t sensitive to the same light as film and its sensitivity changed.

what does this mean ?

in a simple way of putting it is  film is panchromatic, so it is sensitive to red, green blue light.  think of it as being  sensitive to all light …and unless you are using color film, light is light.  photo paper is sensitive to blue light, and sometimes to green light.  different times of the day, different light conditions (shade, open shade, bright sunlight, cloudy day &c) different amounts of blue light are around, so even though it might seem “bright” it might not be …  this might not make much sense.  but you can do a little experiment.  if you have a “hot light”  the old fashioned ones that use tungsten bulbs make an exposure with that bulb as your light source, and then use a different light source, maybe a CF bulb that has mostly red in it …  and make the same exposure with your paper…  you might notice one negative “better” than the other.  its also the reason at least with multi contrast papers why you can use filters to adjust the contrast of the image … anyways, photo paper might be fast in one light condition and slow in another, AND different manufacturers use different light sensitive emulsions on their paper so they will have different “speeds” too.  you might see speeds listed on the box of paper, they are not the same as film speeds, but only relative to the paper.   as a point of reference, regular photo paper typically has a iso ( asa ) relative to film about 6, sometimes as high as 25 if you plan on shooting paper negatives, its best to do exposure tests .    bracket exposures, like you would for film, and take notes if that is your sort of thing.  years ago there were oodles of papers on the market, and i did paper exposures for maybe 15 different ones these days there aren’t as many so it might be a little easier.

developer  …

you should develop your paper negatives the same way you develop your prints ” to completion”  …  don’t pull the print out of the developer when “it looks right”  because you won’t get a good print, just like you won’t get a good negative.  contrast comes out first then the mid tones afterwards.  a beefy negative or a thin one … i guess it all depends on what the negative will be used for.  will you make a contact print with it ?  will you scan and invert it ?  will you make a sun print with it? if you plan on contact printing your paper negatives thin ones sometimes work best, too dense it is hard for the light to pass through and you will get a thin positive print.  if you plan on scanning and inverting, a dense negative might suite your needs ..  i guess it depends on how good your photoshop skills are.

sun prints are a bit different.  it takes a long time for the sun’s light to pass through the photo paper.  i have waxed the negative with paraffin and made it somewhat translucent and light passed through a bit easier.  i can’t help you there, you have to experiment to see what works best for your situation.

 

 

why do i like paper negatives ?

photo paper is cheap compared to film, and it is instant compared to film.  i find exposing paper negatives whether they are negatives i coated by hand with liquid or home made emulsion or in a box to be more fun … there is a sense of the unknown sometimes … with film, you pretty much know what you are going to get  … also, i would rather make a long exposure than an instant one …  while instantaneous fraction of a second exposures have their place portraits of fidgety kids, maybe pet photography, large groups where everyone seems to be moving, sports, science / nature photography there is a thing about long exposures that almost makes a scene or person come to life  …  but that is another entry for another time.

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it looks like i am off the good – stuff

after 15 years, or actually more like almost 18 or 20 years … i am not using ansco 130 developer to process my prints, paper negatives, film or work as an additive in my caffenol c developer.  for nearly 2 decades i have used this lovely glycin based developer, at first mistakenly thinking it was GAF UNIVERSAL and then making it my developer of choice.  would buy 8 gallons at once, mix them and use them as i needed for a year …  then 6 when i stopped printing as much, and then 4 when i started processing everything in caffenol ( or sumatranol ) …  well, last year it looks like i bought 4 gallons, and i just ran out, over a year later. …  the developer lasts about a year as a stock solution and it was no longer clear, but brown.  rather than shell out the big bucks and buy 2 gallons at a time for 25$ plus shipping, i decided to do something really old-school.  i mixed up a gallon of dektol. dektol, D72, the developer made famous by  kodak …  and it seems to be working fine.  i have split processed prints with it and i have added some into my caffenol c  ( instead of caffenol 130 i think i am going to call it Dcaffenol )  …  and i have developed out some paper negatives that look nice too.  not bad for 6$ plus maybe 1$ for gas.

i’m also using it to reformulate a reversal developer, so stay tuned !

 

 

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recent work

i haven’t posted here in a few months for a variety of reasons.  but i am here again with a handful of photographs … as seen in a few other of my blog posts, i have been having fun making trichromes.

they are FULL color photographs made using separation filters ( RBG ) and panchromatic black and white film.  about 30 years ago my uncle ( a professional photographer in western massachusetts ) told me about making trichromes  but i didn’t have access to a color darkroom, so i never made any.  NOW, since i am able to compile the images using photoshop i am making them often.  i even have a polaroid 500 portrait camera and i have started to make portraits and stereo tri chromes.

here are a few images ..  they don’t have any hidden meaning, they are just fun. oh, in case you wanted to know the vital statistics …  they were all taken with expired black and white film which was hand processed in a combination of coffee based developer ( sumatranol ) and ansco 130.

 

if you cross your eyes the image is 3D

 

if you cross your eyes the 3D image appears

 

 

 

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working with lumenized prints again

i am never quite sure what to call sun prints using regular old photo paper.  with plant materials and the same paper they are called lumen prints, with a pinhole camera stashed in a tree for 6months they are called solargraphs, long exposed in a camera they can be called retina prints  but what are contact prints called ?  they aren’t POP prints ( printing out paper ) where they are developed with water and toned+fixed.  whatever they might be called, i’m doing them again as part of a new project …

these prints are part film, part lumenized, part inverted negative and soon to be part cyanotype.
(i have to coat some paper )
this is a triple image, so please click on it so you see all three

 

negative, inverted positive, luminized

30 year old film, split processed coffee and ansco 130

 

negative, positive, lumanized print

 

 

this one is 4 images, not 3

springtime flowers

4 lumenized prints

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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.

Posted in film development technique, technique and style Also tagged , , |

recent events

found some coated plates in a box!
5x7s ready to expose, can’t wait  🙂

my only problem is, should i make cameraless images, or glass negatives, or ambrotypes ?

i hate having to make such fun decisions 🙂

i’ll get things prepared, and maybe do all of these things.  my hand made old fashioned tintype developer seems to still be active
so who knows, maybe it’ll do the trick !

i’ll post the results if they happen.

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Trichromes with film

so far i have posted a handful of trichromes i have made but using digital technology

…  that is making b/w images using a digital camera ( not film ) and assembling them
in photoshop.  none of them have been using film which would just be a few added steps
exposing / processing and scanning .

the results are pretty much the same as with a digital camera, except you get the signature of the lens.
so, instead of my nice sharp nikon glass, i get soft german glass from my ancient 1930s rolliecord.

and instead of an instant image, you get a film made image processed in coffee and print developer  .
grain, tonality film base, stuff people love to try to emulate with a variety of digital programs, instead of
just breaking down and exposing the film in the first place ( something that i think is kind of funny)>

 

trichrome fun

 

schmutz on kitchen window is my main filter ( except for the RGB ) that is

thrichrome fun

 

 

espresso maker

trichrome fun

 

 

in addition to the 3 views 3 negatives approach i have fiddled around with just taking 1 negative scan
and making 3 duplicate files each with 2 color channels removed for the most part …
and i assemble the 3 black and white images in PS again to make a tri chrome
i did this and posted it on DPUG.org and someone mentioned that i was sort of just toning the
image using the color channels, which i had never thought of like that before …

narragansett bay

trichrome fun

 

 

 

 

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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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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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new dry plate tintypes

for a little under a year i have been playing with dry plate tintypes+ambrotypes.

my glass plate history began back when i was in a directed study photography class at tufts university.

the photography department ran out of numbered courses ( photo 1, photo2 &c  ) so after photo “5” i designed my own classes ( 2 directed studies  )  where i made and used old school silver emulsions.  i had bought a photography annual at a bookstore and thumbed through the pages and came up with what seemed like a simple recipe.  i bought silver nitrate from the photographers formulary ( i think it was them, it was a long time ago in 1987- )
and some gelatin and mixed up a batch in the middle of the night in our kitchen using pots + tools purchased at goodwill, so i wouldn’t contaminate any of our actual cooking tools …  it worked OK, i guess, it turned black in room light at least, but it wasn’t the best of emulsions.  rather than spend all my money on emulsion making stuff that sort of worked, i opted to buy rockland colloid’s liquid light.  it was already made and was a emulsion that worked …  so i started teaching myself the art of making dry plates  //  there was no internet or workshops or peer to peer groups back then that could help me learn.  it was all by trial and error and i eventually made
some great plates.  the next semester ( spring 1988 ) i continued with making giant glass images and printing them on photo paper.  it was a lot of fun, and some of my best images were made that year.  unfortunately, i have lost some of the giant plates ( i moved around a lot between 1988 and 2014 ) or they were damaged ( fell and broke into a thousand pieces ) but i never stopped making glass images.  between 1988+93 i made maybe 20  small images, and eventually i slowed down and stopped. until last year … now i have started to make bigger ones again using the rockland emulsion and their tintype/ambrotype kits.

thanks to the internet i have found a handful of people making their own dry plates ( glass negatives ) but there aren’t many who use this old process to make positive images.  most people who make tintypes or ambrotypes do the WET plate method.  they use collodion that has been treated with salts and then a silver nitrate bath, to sensitize the plate, and then a developer and cyanide based fixer ( or speed fixer if they want a colder toned image )  there are some great photographers who do this process seemingly effortlessly.  while i have played with collodion back in the day ..  not to make wet plates but as a potential material that the silver gelatin emulsion could stick to when i was teaching myself the whole dry plate process, not knowing then that if i waited for the collodion to DRY it probably would have worked, but i was using it WET still ..  hindsight is 20/20 it seems !  …  anyways …  instead of collodion and cyanide fixer, i opt to use the more finicky less popular dry plate tintype process. and enjoy it a lot …

after the 1870s when silver gelatin emulsion and dry plates became the new mode of photography, people devised a way to turn the images into a direct positive, much like photographers were doing with wet plate images …  singular images, no negative, and what appeared to be a positive.  street photographers started to use pre coated metal, glass and paper plates in cameras and process them in a special developer that both developed the image as a negative slowly and bleached it and fixed it and as a result, the processed plate ( glass, metal or paper ) was a direct positive.  sometimes these cameras  ( like the mandellette post card camera ) appear on ebay.  they have chemistry tanks under the camera.  the photographer stuck his arm in a long sleeve and took the exposed plate and dipped it into the chemistry and at the end into a bucket of water …
ive found recipes online in old journals ( much like the annual i got my emulsion recipe out of ), but i haven’t gotten great results from them.  the rockland kits come with a special tintype developer so i have used that until recently.  my developer went bad after the summer ( it doesn’t last as long as other paper or film developers ) so i had to try to concoct my own recipe.

first my developer was too strong and the reversal part was too weak and i got a NEGATIVE image on my metal plate.  at least i knew my emulsion was good, it was coated onto the plate in april !

then i did a very long exposure ( 4 mins ) on an dull overcast day and changed my developer a little bit and it worked pretty well.

i’ve got to tweak it a little bit more and hopefully it will work great.  it is pretty simple, based on a vintage formula but i add in my own little bit coffee developer
because, if metol or hydroquinone can do it, caffenol can do it just as well  …

strong developer no reversal

test image metal plate

 

 

successful reversed ferrotype

emulsion too dense, didn’t clear

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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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using a cyclone

from time to time i get asked what kind of camera i have or use or like or like to use or …

my current favorite is a cyclone #3.  it is what is called a magazine camera, or a falling plate camera.
if you google “cyclone camera” you will probably find an advertisement for it over on flickr.  i don’ t know the guy
so i’d rather not hot link to his site.  it was a box camera that had 2 speeds, as they all seemed to have, I ( instantaneous) and T ( time )
the I speed was maybe 1/50th S  F maybe 13?   i don’t know they were pretty simple and are still a lot of fun!
basically the way they work is there are sleeves that sheets of glass with emulsion used to go in, they are called septums.
my #3 has 8 septums, i think it is missing 4 of them but they don’t appear without a camera, and i really don’t need ANOTHER camera.
you can put a piece of black cardboard in the septum and then either film or paper if you coat your own glass plates like me, you can load them without the cardboard
and WITH glass plates.  the slide in vertically one after another, then the blank and then the back which has a big bedspring to apply pressure to the septums.
you make your exposures and jiggle the knob and each exposed septum FALLS to the floor.  thats where the name comes from.
i used to buy smaller formats  of this style of camera.  they came in all sorts of different sizes, landscape shapes portrait shapes, ( long and skinny ) and
sometimes had elaborate shutter controls and apertures.  the #3 is pretty simple … i aperture and 1 shutter speed and T …i also have a #5 that i recently started to use
it has 3 apertures, and the exposed plates can be retrieved from the bottom of the camera  …  it is smaller too, sort of dainty if you can call a wooden box camera dainty.

anyways i started using the #3 a year or 2 ago and really enjoy how it works.  the lens has a sweet spot, i think, at around infinity ( joke )
its big and clunky and seems to work fine, except once in a while the septums get jammed and i have to wack the camera …  and people sometimes stare.
funny thing is, no one asks me anything when im using the camera.

i tend to coat paper myself using bottled emulsion.  i use liquid light a lot, and coat paper 2 coats.  the last batch i did was in the spring, and i just started to use it.
they turned out OK, sort of.  i also am using 10year old polymax fb paper.  its probably way older than 10 years old seeing it was all given to me about 13 years ago by a friend in portsmouth nh.  it was thelast single weight paper made by kodak, and it seems to hold up well.  even if it didn’t i would use it seeing it is kind of foggy, and less contrast is always good when shooting paper negatives.

 

burning bush behind

 

i also went into providence …

tower

i went again today, but the paper is still drying on the line ..

Posted in Misc., photographs, technique and style, using vintage equipment Also tagged , , , , , , |

stack of dry plates

i have a stack of dry plates…

some were scanned, some were left out in the sun to make cyanotypes or lumen prints and some are being printed in the darkroom.
a few days ago at 9-30 i went into the darkroom and began making contact prints.  i stopped at about 1-30 to get to a pre-ordained appointment.

some of the prints i painted with watercolors, some i left as is ..

 

printed dry plate

 

 

printed dry plate

 

Posted in alternative process photography, images on glass and metal, liquid emulsion, Misc., photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , , , |