Tag Archives: photographs

making color where there is only black and white

i’ve been toying with tri chromes, or tri chrome-esque photographs for a few years now.  i first learned about trichromes after reading and seeing the photographs made by the russian photographer before world war 1. (http://mentalfloss.com/article/29615/100-year-old-color-photos-pre-revolution-russia )

i knew this process existed, even before i saw those beautiful russian photos when i visited an uncle and he told me you can take 3 black and white negatives, one with a red filter, one with a blue and one with a green and print them on color paper together and make color photographs.  i never did this until a few years ago, and i was hooked.


i’ve even thought about buying an big old rickety camera that takes 3 exposures at once, but i’ve settled on an old polaroid camera called a portrait land 600 that takes 6 exposures at once on a sheet of 4×5 film.  its a passport camera and was given to me by my friend whitey, a collector of fun-stuff, and great photographer to boot !   well, this entry isn’t about making trichromes using black and white film, or black and white separation negatives in-camera but something i have been trying to figure out for a couple of years:  how to take a regular black and white photo and turn it into a  color one.  i figured it wasn’t one of those things that was super hard, after all ted turner colorized all those classic movies, but it was something that i couldnt’ figure out until today.

i frequent dpug ( digital photo user group ) and have posted the question there but i always got complicated answers.  i made the mistake of doing the 10 day free trial for afinity photo ( i didn’t get it, long story short, no customer support ! ) and didn’t get it, BUT i did manage to see interesting videos on how to do stuff, and one was a technicolor photo effect.  affinity doesn’t work completely like photoshop, and i have been using PS since the 90s, so i was looking for hints …  it was extremely complicated making layers and nesting cmy adjustment layers.  the guy made it look really easy though.


today i watched youtube photoshop tutorials for doing similar things.  one guy just gets rid of the blue layer and adds a green one it was kind of fun.  another guy showed how to make SIMPLE separation negatives. so i took what i needed from affinity ( what levels to put the cmy levels ) and the simple separation files and this is what i did … sorry i don’t have charts or graphs &c but it is pretty simple, and i have done it with b/w files and it was fun to turn them into color photos …


you open your image file and get your channel / layers dialog box, and click color channels.  there is a little arrow and click it

and use the ” channel splitter ” it will give you 3 identical files labled red green blue  and for each one go to mode and change

them each from grey scale to rgb.  go to hue / saturation  for each file and click “colorize”

red put the top slider at 180 (cyan ) for blue put the slider to 60 ( yellow ) and for green put it to 300 ( magenta ).

now select the whole image edit>copy  and file new and go into the channel palette and drop each file

into the individual color channels r -g-b and at then … there you go, you have a color photograph

or, sort of a color photograph


trichrome technique

centerville mill

Posted in technique and style Also tagged , , , |

this is a great piece of writing !

The Last Photo


i’m a little late to find this, but i did and i am posting it here.

i’ve made a lot of last photos, looking back at them they kind of make me feel sad.

but life goes on ..

Posted in photographs

recent cyanotypes

just made a handful of cyanotypes lately using paper coated and left in a light safe in a humid basement for the last 7 or 8 months.  the paper was not the best but it worked (sort of) made some photograms ( some i watercolored ) i made a contact print with a waxed rubbing and tinted it in photoshop and i also converted some digital images into black and white negatives on xerox paper and waxed and printed them.

i have some more negatives to print and cyanotype paper to use up before i mix new.


rubbing waxed negative

rubbing waxed negative

4 screwdrivers

photogram, watercolors

3 nails

photogram, watercolors

semicircle of stuff

photogram, watercolors


waxed paper negative


waxed paper negative

metal wire brush

photogram, watercolors





as usual most of my work is on imagekind ( jnanian.imagekind.com )  feel free to browse.  through the end of september

i will be donating a portion of every purchase ( 70% ) to relief efforts in louisana.



Posted in alternative process photography, images on hand coated paper, technique and style Also tagged , , , , , , , |

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




Posted in Misc. Also tagged , , , , , , |

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


Posted in film development technique Also tagged , |

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 , , |

tri color again, this time coffee

can’t not take photographs of my favorite drink








all gone

Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, Misc., photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , |

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  …

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

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


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

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


Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on hand coated paper, liquid emulsion, Misc., photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , |


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


Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on glass and metal, photographs, technique and style, using vintage equipment Also tagged , , , , , , , , |


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 …

Posted in alternative process photography, film development technique, images on hand coated paper, liquid emulsion, Misc., photographs, technique and style Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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 !

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

7×11 portriats

made a handful of 7×11 portraits and i can feel for those photographers
who had slow materials and kids that couldn’t sit still.  it was still fun …

Posted in film development technique, photographs, using vintage equipment Also tagged , , , , , |

semi centennial stand, what’s that ?

a semi centennial camera stand is a camera stand on wheels.

it can slide up and down ( counter balanced with springs )  and many portrait photographers
had their cameras on them since they used big bulky large format cameras that weren’t portable.

according to “the photographic times and american photographer”

a book i found in google books edited by wi lincoln adams in 1890
( volume xx, published by the photographic times publishing association in ny )



( a link to google books )

info on the the semi centennial stand can be found on page 181 –
it says: ” the semi centennial camera stand invented by e.c. fisher and sold by c.h. codman & company,
is worthy description in this column. it is called ‘ the camera stand of the future’
and twelve reasons are given why the professional photographer should adopt it.

they are as follows:

first, because you can lower the camera within thirteen inches of the floor,
this being lower than any other stand will admit of.

second, because you can raise the camera as high as you wish.

third, because it is the only camera stand using rubber wheels as casters,
therefore it is perfectly noiseless.

fourth. because it has one of the best turning castors in use.

fifth, by the use of its coiling springs and key, you can make it counterbalance any weight of camera, from 8×10 to 14×17 inclusive.

sixth, because you can quickly adjust your camera up or down with perfect ease.

seventh, because it is very strong and rigid.

eighth, because it is simple in construction and will not get out of order.

ninth, because it is thoroughly made, of neat design, light with no heavy weights.
it is an ornament to the studio.

tenth, because with ease of working you will make better work. you never look down upon the sitter, but squarely in the face.

eleventh, because it was invented by a practical photographer, and has been perfect in all its points.

twelfth, because every stand is warranted perfect in all respects.
the stand when packed ready for shipment, weighs ninety-five pounds, and the price, boxed is twenty-five dollars.


Posted in Misc., using vintage equipment Also tagged |