Wednesday, September 17, 2008

5x4 Contact

Originally uploaded by BobSingleton

This is the print I wrote about a few days ago.

Now obviously its not that great but the detail and tone on the Chinese pot is very promising.

I think that all that is needed is a new set of papers with very careful double sensitisation and I will soon have a good print.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Further Developments

This is a second attempt at the image published yesterday. This is using the same acetate negative but this time exposure was by actual daylight and this one has also been washed and fixed.

One of the first things noticeable is that the image is a different colour, exposure to sunlight or in this case thick overcast cloud light has produced a much cooler image.

Another thing which is obvious from the print above is that the sensitivity of the paper is not constant everywhere. Since making this print I have carried out other experiments including exposing a sheet of paper to sunlight without an intervene negative. What is clear is that variations in the dryness of the paper produces differences in contrast, speed and colour so if the paper is not uniformly dry you get a patchy result.

The sensitiser has been applied with a foam brush and therefore it is possible that the silver has not been laid down evenly. I have undertaken a number of trials taking additional care on this point.

I have also undertaken trials where I have double sensitised the paper by allowing the first coat of silver nitrate to soak in and be absorbed before applying a second coat.

My first attempt at a coating procedure was to dampen the brush and make horizontal strokes across the paper and then repeat the procedure making vertical strokes and then to brush away any puddles.

What I have found is that if you leave a puddle to dry surprisingly that area it is lighter than the remaining areas whereas you might have expected this to print darker. Obviously there is some sort of leeching effect going on here which needs more attention.

The problems with making negatives on the Epsom led me to try using my laser printer. I also had another look at the Van Dyke curve I had applied to the original negative. It is obvious that the albumen prints lack contrast and the Van Dyke curve whilst darkening the highlights does have the effect of reducing the midtone contrast. I therefore abandoned them and tried a more contrasty curve of my own. The result of this was the image of the Church below.

This print shows good detail. So much so that the scan lines of the laser can be seen. So I decided to see what you get with a 5x4 pyro negative.

Now there are some exposure problems here but we are getting somewhere. The detail in the leaves is a great improvement.

For the time being I have decided to stick with genuine contact prints with no intervening computer negatives.

I have made a further print using a negative which was given extra development time in the pyro(to increase density and contrast) and used daylight exposure and double sensitised paper. The print is drying at present and I will post it tomorrow. I had an exposure issue with it and the coating is patchy so it is no final answer to my technique problems but the subtlety of tone is finally there and there is good detail.

With the acetates I solved the registration problems by taping them to the paper. I am loath to do that to a "real" negative so exposure control by peeking is not possible. I am using a standard contact frame not a fancy split back affair.

I will make a further batch of paper (my third) incorporating what I have learned so far and size the paper for 5x4. I will publish the results here.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

At last a result

Janets Fosse take 2
Originally uploaded by BobSingleton

Here in Lancashire the weather has been terrible. The idea of putting a contact frame out in the sun has been scuppered but the lack of sun so I had to use plan B.

This example started life as a 5x4 negative shop on FP4 and developed in HD Pyrocat. The inter neg for the contact print was made on overhead projector film on the epson R2400. This turned out to be a bit of a phaf because the film is so thin that the printer hated feeding it.

Very little Photoshop was done. I had read a bit about Vandyke prints which are similar but gelatine based and seen some examples of the curves used so all I did was flip horizontally invert and apply an S curve pushing up the highlight end so that the shadow areas of the negative (the clear bits) get some more ink and print darker on the neg.

Sensitising the paper was fairly straight forward. The books all say that you must use the paper soon after sensitising so since my garage is only dark at night I started mid afternoon.

I painted the albumen paper with 12% AgNO3 solution using a foam rubber brush (£1.99 for 20 in Bookland) rather than try floating paper and thus risk loosing all my silver nitrate solution. I am using a recipe that includes a smidge of citric acid in the sensitiser.

It took far far longer to dry than I ever expected and at 9pm I had to resort to holding the paper in front of a fan heater.

Exposure was by my grow light. This is a daylight fluorescent bulb in a reflector. The test strip coloured up nicely in 15 mins at 7" but there was a serious hot spot. Lifting the lamp to 24" evens out the light but this print took 1hr as a result.

The exposure was judged simply by looking at the edges. The sensitised area was slightly bigger than the neg and so the paper should turn black (well a brownish purple) when done. After an hour it wasn't getting much darker and since one stop darker doubles the exposure I gave up and washed the print.

The scan is from the washed but not toned or fixed print.