Tag Archives: cyclone

late summer photographs

just a taste of what i have been doing lately.

it includes using a cyclone #3 and empire state …

as usual, i have been off the beaten path, i ended up in west greenwich at the plain meeting house

and also found myself at the abandonned and partially redeveloped lonsdale mill complex.  i’ve been to both places

before, but its been months.  i also found myself at home photographing closely.


cyclone #3, caffemol C + faux dektol

tinted in PS

trailer truck along building, overcast sun peeking through

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i thought i posted a link to this but i guess it got away from me.

i was interviewed by emulsive.org a little while ago about film and emulsion and what i am up to. in case you don’t know about emulsive org what i am up to here is the link what’s emulsive.org ?  feel free to go there, its a pretty interesting site

well worth the click !

I am John Nanian and this is why I shoot film

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for some things, thin paper seems best

its been a week or two since i mixed up the emulsion,and started playing with it.  i’ve come to the conclusion that this emulsion works likes thin smooth paper like the butcher paper that i use thick velum paper i sometimes use for bottled emulsion paper negatives and cyanotypes don’t really provide a good negative for me with this emulsion, maybe it is because i don’t use photo grade gelatin, maybe its because i didn’t coat the paper with gelatin first like a sub layer so the emulsion sits too far in the paper, i’m not sure what it is, but the next coating sesison i do, i will coat more thin paper.  i do have some thicker sheets coated, i actually double coated everything to give me better contrast.  i get OK contrast but some of the images just don’t work well.  i have some that worked well, but my success rate is not very high with thick paper.

ive been doing small test sheets, in a 35mm camera to get an idea of iso, and how the images look.  the emulsion is starting to get white and black speckles in it  so i have to use it up before it goes bad, and then i will probably use up my bottled stash and make some more fresh emulsion soon after.

a few photographs from my efforts



tree in the wind, 25 seconds


4×5 thick paper negative

same emulsion long exposure. the emulsion loves sunny windows

same emulsion long exposure. the emulsion loves sunny windows

trees and umbrella crop from a larger negative

trees and umbrella crop from a larger negative

80+ seconds hand held 35mm test frame

80+ seconds hand held
35mm test frame

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a few more paper negatives

as i wait for single coated paper to flatten out so i can coat them a 2nd time  i have a few paper negatives exposed the last few days in a cyclone, and processed yesterday.

i scanned 8 and have worked on a few ..  i added color sometimes, or not they lean off center.

paper negative

paper negative

railing and trees

railing and trees

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what did i mean by paper negative test?

i recently mentioned something about a paper negative test.

i suggested bracketing exposures and judging your negatives …

here, i have uploaded 3 images


the first

not photoshopped

cyclone #3 maybe f11

as the caption reads ..  it was taken with a cyclone #3 which i guess is around f11

light meter was set to iso 6 and it suggested  5 seconds

i count fast …  so i counted to 6.

the developer was 2 day old dektol, it is cold in my darkroom but the image appeared at around 20 sconds

so from previous experience, ( making prints in dektol ) i let it develop out fot at least 1 minute.

the negative looks ok.  there is a roundness to it because the lens has a big hot spot,

the edges are light the middle of the negative is dark.

the inversion ( #2 )

straight inversion, of a straight scan

f 11 6 seconds 15 year old polymax rc

the inverted positive looks OK

( kodak paper has writing on the back so i don’t bother contact printing kodak paper negatives )

the center of the image is light, the sides are dark, the background blown out.

this is expected.

today was an overcast day

this was about 145pm

the sky has a lot of blue light but where i was ..  was filtered a little so my meter gave me

a false reading.  for the deck where i was it was OK, the wood, the deck chairs and flower pots

seem to be OK exposed  …  if i was to multiple expose or burn in .. while making the exposure

i would under expose the sky and trees

with a little PS – love

it doesn’t look much different ..

i adjusted the woods a little bit, evened out a little bit the roundness and brightness / contrast

brightness, lightness burning in selective contrast

cyclone might have needed a few seconds fless or the woods maybe dodge out ..


next exposure will be tomorrow …

maybe i will try 6 seconds and in camera dodge out the sky

the developer might be a little easier to work with too …

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dektol paper negatives

i am a little rusty at making paper negatives with anything but ansco 130 with the 130 i used to leave a tray out till it turned black and was still active  and use it as a 2nd bath along with a tray of fresh developer.  since  dektol doesn’t have glycin in it it doesn’t have the same long lifespan as ansco130 so when it turns black i spike it with a capful of stock solution.  i haven’t nailed the right exposures with the paper, or the right split yet but it is fun putzing around trying to start over again using a new developer with past experiences i learned from another.  sometimes they can be just transfered (i did this with 1 developer it should and does do the same thing with another) and sometimes it is just totally different … (i did this with 1 developer, and my contrast with the new developer is too much) luckily i have shelves full of paper and a few packets of dektol so i don’t think i won’t learn the the technique with the new developer.


yesterday i burned a few paper negatives and processed them in fresh dektol maybe 1:1.5

i split processed the paper in a tray of sumatranol –

harsh outside light soft inside light

split D + sumC



toning down the dektol, used caffenol c as a 2nd bath


cyclone + 10-15 year old polymax rc

split dektol and caffenol




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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 …


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

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more glass and metal coated

last night with the radio keeping me company
i heated emulsion and scrubbed glass and
coated 6- 5×7, 4- 4×5 glass plates  1 – 4×5 metal sheet, and 2 trimmed small ones for 35mm and MF.
they chilled and now are drying out in the dark ..

i hate waiting and wish SGE would dry out quicker, but it doesn’t …


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dry plates … in color

color images made from dry plate negatives


hand colored image from hand coated dry plate


conimicut point

colorized dry plate

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tiles and lumen prints

i have been making lumen prints for a while now they are created by putting things onto a piece of photo paper and leaving it in the sun.  the sun makes a photogram or prints a negative or both.
i have made these lumen prints with cameras as well, leaving the camera open for an extended period of time, sometimes 3/4 an hour, sometimes 6 or 7 hours.   sometimes i even use cameras i made by hand, the largest camera i have made was 12×16″, i have sold a few too.

recently i started to coat plates with photo emulsion again.  i did this years ago as a student, but i made darkroom or in camera exposures to be
developed out using developer, and traditional darkroom chemistry.

two of them looked like this:


from glass plate

lumen plate








lumen plate

exposed in a cyclone #5









a few days ago i decided to use some water color paper/ velum i have coated with a few layers of photo emulsion.  like with the plates
the emulsion was old, expired and given to me by a friend  ( thanks winger ! )   i put a clipping from the

flowering forsythia bush on the paper
and left it in the sun for an hour, or hour and a half.  i scanned what i could of the image and inverted it in photoshop and the image looked like this:




1-1.5 hour exposure








i replicated it a few times and made some tiles:



photoshop duplicated








most of the images you find here are available on imagekind printed on paper, or canvas.


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Cyclone #3 Camera

many years ago i bought a cyclone #3 camera on ebay.  at the time, i was buying old falling plate cameras, removing the shutters, cleaning them, and reselling them.  i worked on and sold many of them, mostly long format box cameras, some with variable speed shutters, some with just and instantaneous speed ( 1/30thS sometimes faster ).  the design was simple and worked very well.  in the days before roll film, glass plates were loaded up inside the camera in metal septums after the exposure, a button was depressed and the glass plate would fall to the front of the camera on a rail, and the next plate was ready to expose.  after i stopped fixing and selling them, i bought one last one, one that took 4×5 plates, the cyclone #3.

a few years ago, i stripped the dried, mottled broken leather off the wood box.  i took a paper towel and made it wet, and scrapped it right off.  i cleaned the cobwebs out of the inside of the camera, removed front plate where the shutter was, and put a drop of oil on the shutter.  the camera was ready to use.

i put sheets of 4×5 paper in each of the 8 septums and went out and made some exposures.  i processed the paper negatives in old print developer to control the contrast, i’d scan or contact print the results, it was a lot of fun  …  i hadn’t used the camera in over a year and picked it up again the other day.   i loaded it up with 4×5 film and made some exposures.  soon after i cut 5×7 paper in half and used a enlarger filter ( #2 ) to cut the contrast a little bit.    i went to the cove near my house and photographed the marsh and the beach weeds.


paper negative grass

the point

marsh near the point

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