Azo & 3-D effect - Urban Legend?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Kirk Keyes, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    I've held finely-made, beautiful Azo prints in my hand in which the guy sitting next to me claims to see a 3-D effect in it. I look at the print and I don't see it. It looks like any other well made print on a good B&W paper to me, but nothing that I see as being three dimensional.

    I'm skeptical of this so-called "3-D" effect that people report that Azo has. Perhaps it's an optical illusion that some peoples brains process, and others can't.

    Let me hear your anecdotal stories and convince me one way or the other.
     
  2. zone6

    zone6 Member

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    I print on Azo and can see the effect. I don't know that I would call it 3D, but it definitely has a certain atmosphere about it that I don't see in regular enlargement papers.
     
  3. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think there's a kind of "tactile" quality to contact prints that some people call "three-dimensional," but I don't think it's specific to Azo.
     
  5. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    I agree, David.
     
  6. Jed Freudenthal

    Jed Freudenthal Member

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    The 3-D effect is based on of aerial perspective. Thus, the aerial perspective must be clearly present in your subject (usually a landscape) and secondly, the photographic process must be able to 'reproduce' it. In the Netherlands, we often experience this because of climatological conditions (small waterdroplets in the air). In the US, I rarely observed it, the way it is in certain parts of Europe.
    The 3-D effect is observed in portraits, still lifes etc. too. This has already been described by H.P Robinson in his photographic manual of 1869. (reprinted 1971 Under the direction of the Eastman House). Robinson calls this :'roundness' in contrast to space in a landscape. I must add that the quality of the 'roundness' depends on the quality of the light. And that again depends on the composition of the atmosphere in the case of natural light.
    Although, the processes are somewhat different. Both processes are based on the interaction of light and the atmospheric constituents. Leonardo da Vinci was the first to describe this.

    Jed
     
  7. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I've been struggling with this too; I see it the effect on other papers at times, and not all the time on Azo.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think the "3D" effect may be a result of the high resolution in contact prints. While it is commonly accepted that we can see details down to 10lppmm from "normal viewing distance", resolution finer than this seems to contribute to what for lack of a better description can be called "3D effect" or "clarity".

    It's not specific to Azo, but since is the most common contact paper in recent years it is easy to think so. But look at any old albumen print, collodion paper prints, or even platinum prints from when there were still commercial platinum papers made.
     
  9. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Ahhh, that indeed may be the cause Ole, now that I think of it. I'm comparing a 4x5 contact print to an 8x10 enlargement from the same negative. Quite the difference in the appearance and I think its independent of the paper each is printed on.
     
  10. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I think that Old and Alex are right about this. The greater sharpness is something that our eyes see in a special way, even though we may not be able to resolve the detail. This is one of the advantages that well-made contact prints have over both enlargements in the dark room and high quality inkjet prints.

    However, as a carbon printer accustomed to making prints that have very great physical relief, and a 3-D presence that can not be missed, the tactile qualities of most silver papers, AZO included do not impress me much.

    Sandy King
     
  11. Jed Freudenthal

    Jed Freudenthal Member

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    The 3-D effect is not specific for AZO. It depends on the photograpnic technique you are applying whether you will see it or not. A high defintion procedure is important to get it. When the defintion is high, you will observe it on enlarged photographs and not on contacts. I observe the phenomenon on 16x20" prints, but the 4x5" contacts are too small to see the phenomenon.
    With the lenses of the first part of the 20 th century, however, one might see the phenomenon on contacts of say 13x18 cm. Again, the appearance of the 3-D phenomenon depends on the photographic procedure they were using.

    Jed
     
  12. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Well, to define this then, regarding what Ole, Alex and Sandy are referring to, I would suggest comparing the same print on one of my coatings on Baryta and another on Strathmore. The Strathmore is less sharp. If, as Tom states in his reference above there is some degree of depth in my Azo type paper (Thanks Tom), then the effect is not sharpness related.

    PE
     
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  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well - one of the best ones I've seen is on a 9x12cm contact print on POP, from a glass plate negative developed in Pyrocat-HD. It's small, but when you look closely at it it has a "prescense" that is very difficult to get in enlargements.

    And BTW - the taking lens was a 150mm Heliar. :smile:
     
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  15. Jed Freudenthal

    Jed Freudenthal Member

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    You are right; the effect is not sharpness related ( whatever sharpness may be). Let me explain it in the following way. The way we see/estimate 'distance' is because of a change in color, hue and value of the objects in the world around us. A tree on 100 meters distance is bluer than a tree on 50 meters distance, and the value or luminosity will change. Similarly, a landscape at the horizon will be almost white. Or mountains at a distance blue (Blue Ridge Mountains). The phenomenon is called aerial perspective. The question in photography is how to deal with photographic methods with this phenomenon. One has to understand the phenomena to adjust the photographic approach, if the objective is too have the effect in the photography. It is some physics. Not difficult to understand, but complex because of the complexity of the nature of the atmosphere and the interaction of light with that atmosphere.


    Jed
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Jed;

    I can change the apparent depth of a photographic print simply by increasing or decreasing the amount of gelatin in the coating. The grains seem suspended in deep gelatin, where they appear painted on with thin gelatin. This is another possible source for an 'illusion' to form in a printed photographic image.

    It may also be why there is no depth to a digital print. Everything is painted onto the surface.

    But, I'm sure there are loads of other explanations.

    PE
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've seen this effect with contact R-prints made from 8x10" color transparencies, so I don't even think it's particularly a B&W effect, so much as the edge sharpness and smooth tonality one gets by removing the whole optical system of enlargement (whether by projection or digital) from the process.
     
  18. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    This seems to be a plausible explaination of some optical effect. Especially when made in comparision to Sandy's comment on Carbon prints, which have an actual bas-relief to them.

    So is the Azo emulsion actually thicker than most other papers out there?
     
  19. williamgregory

    williamgregory Member

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    "However, as a carbon printer accustomed to making prints that have very great physical relief, and a 3-D presence that can not be missed, the tactile qualities of most silver papers, AZO included do not impress me much.

    Sandy King"

    Sandy, what is "physical relief" ?
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Kirk;

    Products vary all over the place. I can't single out any one of them and say yes or no. The Azo type I coat is a standard 10% gelatin coated with a 5 mil blade. I have done this many times at Kodak. So, there is nothing particularly unusual about this formula.

    PE
     
  21. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I'd differ with you on that Jed. I can get the 3-D effect easily on a 4x5 contact print. I can also see it on a 4x5 Polaroid Type 55 print. I'm using lenses made in the 1940s, either a Commercial Ektar or a Dagor Series III.
     
  22. Photo Engineer

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    Well, if Alex sees it on Polaroid, you have to remember that Polaroid products are on the thin side in terms of gelatin, and the silver stays close to the surface, so this dispels my idea about gelatin depth being a factor.

    PE
     
  23. sanking

    sanking Member

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    William,

    Carbon prints are comprised of pigmented gelatin. The shadows are thicker/higher than the mid-tones and the highlights, giving the print a real hill and valley look, especially prominent when the print is viewed with light from the side. The physical relief is quite real, not just appearance. This quality is highly distinctive and unique to carbon prints.

    I would add that the actual relief appearance of carbon prints varies a great deal depending on a number of factors. I tend to favor working procedures that accentuate the relief effect.

    Sandy
     
  24. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    It's All In The Mind, You Know! (Neddy Secombe and the other Goons)

    It's Helpful - I think - to go back to the seminal 18th century work on Stereopsis (i.e. the differences in points of view of our two eyes) by Charles Wheatstone FRS (1802-1875) and Sir David Brewster (1781-1868).
     
  25. radiantdarkroom

    radiantdarkroom Member

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    From my experience I notice the 3D effect in a B&W negatives, it does have that wow factor that is hard to duplicate in a print. I wonder if this somehow analogous to how holograms work.
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Tom;

    It is all in the mind. I have around 6 - 8 hours of Goon shows to prove it!

    PE