Adams Retouching Machine Instructions?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by Changeling1, Sep 14, 2005.

  1. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    I bought a vintage Adams Retouching Machine for next to nothing some time ago. It works fine and is built like a tank. Does anyone know where I could get instructions on how to actually use it and is anyone using one now? The company in Colorado seems to have gone out of business even though I've seen some very high-tech versions of the machine here and there. The one I have has a light inside, magnifying glass, leather negative platform/holder that vibrates at various speeds.
     
  2. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I use one and if you would like info PM me. State what you are using it for and if you are using pencils or dyes.


    Michael
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm using one as well. Do a search and you should find a few threads on them. You might search on "adams machine" or "neg retouching" or "negative retouching."
     
  4. Charles Webb

    Charles Webb Member

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    There is an old thread awhile back that touches on the Adams machine.

    They are very easy to use, with any film that has the "tooth" incorporated into the base of the film. Most of your retouching will be done on the base, not the emulsion side of the film. Film without the "Tooth" will require something to get the lead to adhere to the slick base. In the old days we used "Retouching Varnish" as none of the films available had the tooth necessary to hold it to the negative. Retouching can be done on the emulsion side of the film, but was seldom done during the 50's through
    the 90's, because it is very difficult to make your retouching blend in without ever touch of the pencil showing in the final print. So the retouch work should be done on the base side so that when the negative is printed the emulsion grain is focused sharp. However the base where the retouching has been done will be (due to the thickness of the film and emulsion) slightly above the actual point of focus and thus be rendered somewhat diffused and out of focus. This helps to blend the retouch pencil marks to nearly invisible. If you can see the retouching in the final print you didn't do it correctly, usually to much pressure (Heavy hand) or to high a speed on the vibrator. Dyes can be applied to either side, but it is still best to use them on the base or non emulsion side. Good retouching can not be seen by a viewer of the print.

    Your Pencil should be sharpened to a sharp taper approximately 1 1/2 to two
    inches long. I am talking about drafting leads being held in an adjustable
    collet type lead holder. I know of no professional retoucher ever using wood pencils etc. A good lead to practice with on a negative that prints well on a 2 grade of paper is an HB. To sharpen properly simply fold a piece of 220 grit sand paper in an envelope at least two inches deep the tape the sides with masking tape. Also make one with 400 to 600 grit for your finish sharpening. Take the blunt end of the lead into the 220 grit envelope and pump it up and down while rotating it in the envelope. Use the fine grit the same way to finish your pencil tip. The lead when done this way will be as fine as a hair you wish to eliminate. The extremely fine tip will break very easily, this is your insurance policy from too much pressure. Go slow, let the machine create the stroke. It will take practice and experimentation to
    find your favorite leads for your negatives. My description here is how we did it in the dark ages. Truly wish I could have bought my machine at todays prices rather the major bucks I paid years ago.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've learned a lot by reading old retouching manuals from the 1940s and 50s. You can learn how to make retouching fluid and other supplies if you need to, as well as the basics of sharpening pencils and what kinds of retouching were typical for the period (softening facial lines, bringing down hot spots, etc.)
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    if you find coursebooks from the new york institute of photography, there is a retouching class they taught.

    i sold my adams desk this year with both the adams manual and the nyip course. both explain very well the technique. when i used mine, in 17 years i never switched on the motor. some find it useful, i found it easier to do it without. i always heard that you shouldn't process film to be retouched in fixer with hardener. it might be a fable, but my mentor said that fixer changed the negative and made it viturally impossible to retouch.

    good luck!

    - john
     
  7. Changeling1

    Changeling1 Member

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    Thanks everyone for the all the info!