Tag Archives: dry plate tintypes

retina FILM print

yeah i know photo paper + retina print but i have made retina film prints before and even retina glass plate images too !

 

 

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

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

 

retina print

porch

 

today i made with ilford film  ( it seems  )

a retina print tinted.

 

you would think paper is so slow it would take a huge exposure for paper and none for film but this film was exposed for at least an hour.  unlike the color film or plate experiment it was not 1-4 hours …. and the results were OK but not like a super exposed image, unfortunately the sun sets early in the fall !

NEXT TIME i’ll do this in the am or early afternoon so i get more sun !

anyhow

here is the tinted ( photoshop! ) retina print

tweeted

inverted and colorized

Posted in Misc. Also tagged , |

emulsive

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

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

recent email: hey, why don’t YOU do wet plate?!

just got an email today and someone asked:  why don’t you do wet plate photography?

i had to think for a little while, not long and my answer was: because i really don’t need to.

==

i was as a broke college student in the 1980s.  i took photography classes through the end of their numbered courses ( i think “photo 5” was the last one ) so i did 2 directed studies my last 2 semester ( last year ) of college.  in these self-designed classes i made an emulsion from scratch buying ingredients from chemical suppliers and i taught myself how to make, coat and develop dry plates.

there were photography books, mostly art history ones, some “how to identify a process” books, things like “keepers of the light” but no internet, no close knit community to ask questions and learn from, and no  one i knew had any idea or ideas of what i was supposed to do … i had a 1904 photography annual picked up at a book store that i used to thumb through from time to time.  it had recipes in it for developers fixers, old ads for cameras and supplies as well as recipes for emulsions … i bought small quantities of the materials i needed and pots from a 2nd hand store  and  mixed the few items together.  i had taken chemistry classes in high school so i was careful and didn’t blind myself … i cooked up an emulsion and it worked OK i guess, but it was expensive and time consuming (and something i had to do in the middle of the night when my room mates were asleep ).  that was when i learned about liquid light ( made by rockland colloid ).  it is emulsion in a bottle, and it ended up being what i used instead of my home brewed emulsion … and the man who answered the phone there was extremely helpful person  (he STILL answers the phone and he STILL is extremely helpful!)

i read about historical processes and binding agents used to stick things to glass  … and i bought a variety of things to experiment with.  i used collodion, varnish, albumen, cement and glues ..  none of them worked, or worked the way i wanted them to work.  i eventually realized the emulsion was gelatin based so i bought some unflavored knox gelatin and it worked great.  i coated plates not by free pouring but with a paint brush (foam) and got a thin coat which sometimes worked best.  i coated large and small pieces of glass, mostly window glass i found on the street on “trash day”  sometimes an image on each side and eventually made contact prints of the images  eventually i got bored with the whole making prints on glass thing, and drifted away from it but over the years i have  kept doing it in one way or another.  now it is 26 years later and i am still making dry plates and probably by the end of the year i will give up store bought ready-made emulsions and photo paper+film.  i suppose i could switch over to wet plate making.  there is less hassle ..  just plates collodion, a silver bath, developer and fixer.  its a simple process compared to dry plates.

but i don’t mind making dry plates, they are fun, and i don’t  have to process the plate immediately and feel rushed.

so, i don’t do wet plate, because  …  i’m having enough fun as it is ..

===

these days it is not like 1987, you don’t have to do everything in isolation because now,

there is a website dedicated to making emulsions from scratch.  its called “the light farm”

http://www.thelightfarm.com/

there are great people there who are helpful, and know their “stuff”

i don’t really remember what emulsion i made in the middle of the night, september 1987, but i know which one i am going to make next ..its a sea water emulsion and it should be a lot of fun ..

Posted in photographs 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.

Posted in 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 , , , , , , , , , , , |

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

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

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 …

 

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

dream

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 , , , , , , , , , |

success !

i made a handful of nice tintypes today, and ambrotypes using the dry plate method.
and  i am looking forward to making  photographs like this …  it took a lot of testing and tweaking on my end.

first i skimped on the amount of emulsion needed to make this work.  i have coated plates for years and i used to be able
to get a great image enlarging onto a skimpy skim-coated sheet of glass.  tiny bit of emulsion goes a LONG way …
…  not with this process !
i coated my plates with a THICK layer of emulsion.  i actually DOUBLE coated my plates.  once coat with AG PLUS  the emulsion that
is recommended to use for this process because of its silver content and probably because of its viscosity …  the second coat was with Liquid Light VC.
when the VC is heated it STAYS LIQUID for a long time, and it is easy to work with.  AG PLUS is thick but it also cools down fast and gets clumpy
it was all good though.

I am in the midst of making a cold bench / cold table that is flat  / level and very cold to chill-set my plates and make them even better.

when i can get the kinks out of this website i will post a few of my plates, but right now all i have are words to show for my efforts.

 

if you have any thoughts about doing this sort of dry plate tintype, it is worth the effort and time  …  and believe what rockland colloid says when they
suggest you use a lot of emulsion and rate it at about asa 1.

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

silver gelatin tin types, another day ..

i got the kinks out of coating plates and metal the other night.
it seems my water wasn’t hot enough to melt the gelatin completely ..  so i turned up the hot water heater
and within a half hour my bottled emulsion was as runny as water.  i poured 4 small plates 3 4×5 tins and a 4×5 glass plate.
it was easier than it has ever been … and today i had a lot of things to play with to try to get the kinks out of my
shooting and developing.

until today, my images have been hit or miss.  no real rhyme or reason why they came out or didn’t come out.  i guess
you might call it luck.  today i made 6 exposures using black paper negatives, and most of the metal plates i coated yesterday.

the way i mixed the developer was to dole out what i needed and not have it all mixed up at once.  i had 1L of stock dektol, and the other ingredients  – 2 tbs of the white powder and 15cc of the liquid and 2oz of dektol to mix and get  8oz at a time as needed THAT was my problem…

the first two …  nothing worked  …  30+ seconds exposed in the back of an agfa sure shot ( it seems f13 )

i poured out a little straight dektol into a tray and put an exposed paper in there, then in the magic developer, and it worked.

i did this with a few plates, and they worked, and eventually i mixed the dektol with the magic developer …

the reversal additives ( powder and liquid ) were not strong enough to counteract the dektol, and i got negatives not positives when
i exposed my last sheets of paper..

later on, i mixed the rest of the dektol and powder and liquid and made 330cc of stock developer so i wouldn’t have to deal with mixing small amounts.  i later exposed 2 plates.  i used a cyclone 3 …  but its small aperture proved to be too much and they didn’t come out as i had hoped.

i’ll use a faster lens the next time around, so my exposures are short and easier to deal with.

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

metal liquid light coffee

continuing my experiments with emulsion and coffee

i coated a metal plate, and left it in my retina camera for 4 hours
and processed it in sumatranol 130

instead of a negative image that usually happens with the retina / in camera POP prints
it came out GREEN like the last reversed image …

i boosted the levels with PS and removed the green cast

retina print

porch

more to come !

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

reversed ( positive ) silver gelatin images

im working on a project again ( i started a long while ago but life got in the way )
of making silver gelatin tintypes.  i have the rockland colloid kit and i am excited to use it again.
the first times i tried it, it really didn’t work well, but this time it seems to be doing what it is supposed to do.  my first
images were on a piece of metal and a sheet of RC paper.  unfortunately the emulsion isn’t dry yet, and it seems to take longer
than i had hoped!       the metal one is tiny, and i think i am going to strip it down again, recoat it, and make another image
the RC print worked great, BUT it’s tacky and not ready to scan.  the trick is a thin coat  …  which isn’t as easy as it seems
metal plates ( and paper ) are cold, so the emulsion cools down fast and begins to set as soon as the heated emulsion touches it
so heating pads are important …  i’m not good yet, but someday  …

there are some great silver gelatin tintypests on FLICKR …  and they give me hope !

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