Tag Archives: traditional photography

magic bullets ? conventional?

the other day i poked my head back to apug after a month away and have been having a conversation with someone about magic-bullets and conventional photography.

back in the olde days a magic bullet was made by melting down religious icons.  the silver was used to kill werewolves.  in photographic terms, a magic bullet is a cure all, a combination of materials ( paper, chemistry and film, and technique ) used to make perfect photographs.  its almost like something a photographer can do to make their photographs better, without trying.  for a long time magic bullets were sold by kodak tri x and d-76, kodabromide and dektol come to mind.  these days a magic bullet might be a vintage lens, large format camera using film or a digital camera.  if you boil it down to its essence, a magic bullet is what makes the person comfortable behind the camera, the darkroom, infront of their computer.

merriam webster describes conventional as something that has been around a long time ( paraphrasing ), something that is considered “traditional”

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conventional/

i guess all photography is conventional …  seeing no matter what is done with camera, someone has probably done it before, i suppose it might be nearly impossible “unconventional” …. unless one weaves modern technology into and creates hybrid images.

 

 

Posted in film development technique, technique and style

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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back, waaay back

if you have been reading my blog you probably know i have been making chemical free photographs for a few years.  you probably know i have designed and sold a handful of cameras that make chemical free photographs and you probably have seen handfuls of scans of these images.  some are made on photo paper with a piece of film or object ontop of the paper, like either a contact print or a photogram ( or rayogram )

others have been made using a camera with the lens open for anywhere from 25 or 30minutes to a few hours.  i’ve used paper i’ve coated myself with liquid emulsion glass i’ve coated and even metal plates …  today i rummaged through my pile of film and film holders and i loaded a sheet of vericolor III into one of my self made cameras and exposed it for around an hour, maybe more, maybe less.  the film was originally a pretty high iso (asa) film compared to paper.  its iso 160 ( around there ) where paper is anywhere from iso 3 or 6 to maybe around 25  depending on the light.

i figured it wouldn’t need a ton of light to get a good exposure.  i set the camera up and got a nice full contrast scene, some lights, some darks and some inbetween tones … i took the film out of the camera and scanned it

 

long exposed film

 

after i removed the tone in photoshop the image had a beautiful soft copper tone to it.

inverted, desaturated contrast-tweaked and a little brownish tone added

 

i have a lot of color film i can’t get processed so this will be a great way for me to use up my film.

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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 , , |

Tri Color

decided to make my first tri color image today

this was made using a digital camera

but i plan on using up my film making color images from black and white

its a lot of fun

there are handfuls of tutorials on the web that show this

the main trick is the images have to be exactly the same size and align perfectly  or it will look
a bad  …

 

you take each image with a red green and blue filter
and drop them into a color file’s channel’s
and after each negative is dropped on ontop of the other

you have something that looks like this

( or better, this was taken with filters that didn’t cover the lens, of a terribly backlit subject )

plants on shelf

 

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

recent images

photogram

photogram

 

photogram

photogram

 

photogram

photogram

 

photogram

photogram

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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  …

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

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

 

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

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 , , , , , , |

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 , , |

its been a loooong summer

i haven’t posted here since the spring  …  and since the summer is over

and the cooler weather is here it will make it easier for me to do some more work and post it here.

i was in france over the summer and made some retina prints while i was there.  not many, 2 of them.
i also exposed a handful of film and a few memory cards of digital  – stuff. while i used the digital camera
i had plans to create paper negatives and either silver prints or cyanotypes with some of the images i made.

my fall will be busy, things to do besides photography, but i will try to make something every day  ( meals don’t count 🙂  )

 

Posted in Misc., photographs Also tagged |

retina prints

for a few years now  have been making contact prints, and camera prints with just photo paper.

it started off as an experiment because i saw how easy it was to make cyanotypes, and i saw some absolutely
beautiful lumenprints by a photographer named bruce over on apug.  he made contact prints with plants and a heavy piece of glass on top
it was left in the sun, and the plant sort of bakes into the paper.  the print appears like a photogram, and through coaxing and toning
the image can be preserved.  they are something to behold …  i took a different route ..

instead of putting plants under glass, i just leave them on top, i don’t mind air spaces and depth and shadow.  i also put negatives on the
paper ( regular old photo paper ) and glass on top or in a contact frame  …  and in both cases images appear, but they can’t be preserved
seeing the plants or film didn’t bake into the paper …  so i scan the images to preserve them.  i also use cameras to do this sort of thing to.
instead of a small pinhole and leaving the camera open for 6 months i use a regular lens and leave the shutter open from anywhere from 30mins
to 8 hours.  again the images can’t be fixed, so i scan them.

today i loaded my graflex 3A postcard slr with a sheet of 5×7 paper and left the shutter open for about 30mins.

plants and windowbox

 

i inverted it to make it a positive image

 

windowbox and weeds

 

and a little while ago i added colors to the negative

weeds and windowbox

 

 

 

Posted in alternative process photography, Misc., photographs, technique and style 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 , , , , , |