B&W reversal process

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Murray@uptowngallery, Dec 28, 2004.

  1. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    I am interested in ways to get enlarged negs for contact printing starting with smaller negs (say 4x5 enlarged to 16x20 or 20x24).

    Interpositive or other copy processes sound like the most common way, but that seems like one more 'generation' to deteriorate the image.

    Scala enlarged onto film got my interest, and this led to the general method of reversing b/w.

    I'm on to dr5's website, but wonder if anyone with experience with this can comment on feasibility.

    Doing it yourself would seem to be the way to go for control, but it sounds like a big hassle, chemistry-wise. Sending to a lab sounds like 'good luck' on esthetic choice - you get what you get.

    Comments, experience?

    Thanks
     
  2. Wally H

    Wally H Member

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    As well as the chemical systems mentioned already, I believe Photographer's Formulary also makes a kit of chemicals for this process...
     
  3. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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  4. jarred_mccaffrey

    jarred_mccaffrey Member

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    I was looking into reversal processing about a year ago and I got a hint of arrogance too from the way the doctor presents himself and his service. He regularly shows up plugging his services based on his own closely guarded secrets and experience with reversal processing. I have not seen his results in hand, and I don't doubt he offers a high quality service which is the result of quality formulas and great quality control. That said, I have a strong suspicion that the reason his methods are held so close to the vest is that they are really not all that special. He's done his homework and knows how to process whatever film you send him, but I truly wouldn't be surprised if a working artist could do his own homework and experimentation, as we all do when refining our process and materials, to get results of similar high quality based upon tweaking classic reversal processing formulas.

    It would be interesting if several APUGers collaborated to refine reversal processing formulas and times for several common films--not to replicate the dr5 process, but to offer an a knowledge base for the working artist who needs a quality starting point for reversal work. The doctor appears to claim a monopoly on this sort of processing via his "secret" formulas. With so much knowledge about the film medium out there, there's no reason for us not to explore this area and flesh out the knowledge base for the working artist who needs to do his own processing for creative reasons. I suspect the only reason this hasn't been done already is most artists are working with negative processes.
     
  5. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Hmm, most of us have 'negative attitude?' :O)

    Thank you.

    These replies do burst some of the bubble of mystique...

    I am prone to making things more complex than necessary. Does my thinking make sense? That is, reverse original negative to make a transparency, then enlarge it onto larger film to desired contact print size. This seems,to me, to eliminate one generation of copying/reproduction that the alternative would require (negative to interpositive enlarged to negative).

    My simplified comparison above does assume both options are viable. I'm still impressed/amazed that reversal doesn't destroy or seriously alter one's tonal range.

    Murray
     
  6. jarred_mccaffrey

    jarred_mccaffrey Member

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    While you can get the full tonal range which paper can express using either slides or negatives, negatives give you much more room for creative expression in the darkroom and an exposure fudge factor in the field (lattitude). I don't know the numbers off the top of my head, but the picture looks something like this. Paper can represent X stops of detail to the viewer, slides hold about X+1 or X+2 stops of information, negatives hold somewhere between about X+3 and X+5 stops of information.

    While slides can be used to get similar results on paper, you'll have to expose nearly perfectly in the field. What's that? You want to dodge and burn to pull in extra information from shadows and highlights? Well, if you're using slides, what you see is basically what you get, but if you're using negatives you'll probably be able to squeak out some extra selective detail with creative dodging and burning. Ultimately, the extra information that negatives hold gives you more room to work the image after it's shot.

    That said, transparencies and projections are a spectacular way to view finished work. Transparencies have a much higher contrast range than reflected (paper) prints. I've been toying with the idea of printing onto transparency materials and viewing my final product as a backlit transparency. I don't know that this would be saleable in the traditional art world, though. :-(
     
  7. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Actually it's simpler, enlarge the negative onto the larger film which is then reversal processed to make another negative.
     
  8. Alessandro Serrao

    Alessandro Serrao Member

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    Happy new Year to you too!!! :smile:
    It's not the point of being good or excellent or whatever at your work, which certainly you are but...
    ...it's the form of your answers that I don't like. I'm not discussing your abilites here (nor I would in any other places) but I'm a kind of person that values form very much and to me form is sometimes substance. You can give something important to photo communities without being that arrogant I think... but that's the way of human nature: you can choose...
    Happy New Years to everyone here...
     
  9. jarred_mccaffrey

    jarred_mccaffrey Member

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    Hello Dr. Wood,

    First, congratulations to you for offering the services you do. This is a great niche you have found which I'm sure is very valuable to all the slide shooters out there.

    Please don't read my personal skepticism as negativity. You, myself, and everyone else in the APUG community--we're all artists and are all on the same team here rooting for the work that we create. I am sure you are offering a great service with great results. Your hard work and research should be rewarded, and I'm sure it is being rewarded through your business. My own problems come from how you have presented your services. While they are outstanding, I am not yet convinced you've invented the light bulb of the photgraphic world--at least not from reading your web site. What seems to be most likely is you have refined, researched, and worked the kinks out of a system for positive development based on chemical fogging, rather than light exposure, and careful selection of development techniques. This is no easy feat for sure and it is to be respected and applauded (I would pat you on the back if I could), just that would not be a light bulb per se. Rather, I currently believe you have mastered, truly mastered, a previously known positive development process and it's application to today's in production film mediums.

    Please do not take personal offense as none is intended, but what comes across in your presentation and defense of your process here and on other web boards across the web is "you'll never guess what I did and I'm not telling". While I believe you are a master slide developer, analogous to a master printer, I'm not yet convinced you have a new process. I believe it is well within the means of many dedicated artists to master the positive process (although not without much work) and I personally wish to encourage other artists to do so if it serves their needs. Understandably, it is to the benefit of your business if the process at least appears to be beyond the reach of us all. If you have truly developed a new significantly different process, do you have a patent for your new process? Would you be kind enough to provide the patent number so we can better understand your technique from bits of information recorded there? Your patent gives you all the legal leverage you need to prevent others from replicating your services commercially.

    I am still open to the possibility that you have made a new photographic discovery and I hope that you have. Given that we are presented with an unprovable theorem as your secrets must, very understandably so, remain secret, I have a technical question. You mentioned up to about 12 stops of visible density range on the positive depending on the emulsion. This is the visible range on the film, but in terms of recorded information, does the dr5 process store any more recorded dynamic range compared to negatives of the same emulsion processed in typical developers? Essentially the question I am asking is, do films processed in dr5 hold more or less actual recorded information versus their negative counterparts? This is easily tested by shooting step tablets under controlled conditions and processing in both dr5 and conventional negative developers. Have you ever tried this for comparison?

    In terms of a business model, I would suspect that most of your customer base would not develop on their own even if they had the formulas handed to them. Slide shooters tend to be commercial shooters who need fast turnaround, rock solid consistency, and minimal drain on their personal manhours. Those that soup their own tend to be relatively low throughput artists who need special controls for creative purposes and their own critical quality. I would guess that your real concerns in divulging secrets should not be the closet artists who are now souping slides based on your research--they may or may not have sent the work to you anyway because of their special needs and frequently budgetary concerns. Rather, the real concern is rival businesses setting up shop and providing services to the big commercial shooters at discounted prices using your processes. Again, a patent should provide you legal tools to prevent this. Also, you may even be able to make out and expand by licensing your processes to other shops, perhaps many shops, in the end. Have you thought about writing a book and selling it to the "soup your own" artists? You may find a whole new set of customers who never would have tried you before reading your book because of their particular needs. Revenue (book sales) and advertising all rolled into one, plus the altruistic benefits of contributing to the permanent knowledge base of the photographic community. A book would likely not hurt your sales with typical slide shooters for reasons already mentioned above. There are lots of ways to leverage this and get the most out of it. Fiscal concerns and fiscal security are obviously of utmost importance, but your research doesn't need to go with you to your grave in order to secure your business.

    Thanks a lot for helping me to understand your process. Best of luck in the future. I suspect I'll have to send some film your way pretty soon to find out what I'm missing. I can't wait to see some projected dr5 4x5s. I won't hold my breath, but should I ever see your book in Barnes and Noble, I'll be sure to pick it up.

    Thanks again,

    Jarred
     
  10. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I tried Liam Lawless's reversal method last night, and I am hooked. I think I'm going to send a couple of negs to Dr5 just to see what they will look like, but the reversal process as outlined at unblinkingeye.com by Ed Buffaloe in the "Less Is More" article worked very well for me. (Why Ed didn't use the pseudonym Les Ismore for the author I don't know.)

    They only thing I would add to his instructions is maybe to not bleach in a white tray. I got lines on one neg that I am sure are from light reflecting off of the raised ridges in the bottom of the bleaching tray. I'm not sure why bleach would be affected that way, but it definitely did it.

    And pouring the sodium sulphite clearing bath into the used bleach was almost as thrilling as seeing that first Azo print, but I guess I'm partial to cheap chemical thrills.

    Best,

    Will
     
  11. Helen B

    Helen B Member

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    Jarred asked: 'Essentially the question I am asking is, do films processed in dr5 hold more or less actual recorded information versus their negative counterparts? This is easily tested by shooting step tablets under controlled conditions and processing in both dr5 and conventional negative developers. Have you ever tried this for comparison?'

    I've tried it, and I found that, though the dr5 process produces good results for a reversal process, I can still get more information using a negative processs.

    As always, I will make the disclaimer that my testing was not exhaustive, it was tailored to my technique and my requirements and other people may well find that dr5 suits them better than the negative process. It is certainly good to have the dr5 process available, and there is no commercial equivalent that I know of.

    Home-brew dr5 equivalents have one advantage that goes beyond the cost and time comparison: the process can be tweaked to your exact individual requirements. Reversal processing offers the opportunity to tailor the density range and graininess to an extent beyond that offered by conventional negative processing (but perhaps not unconventional negative processing). The second development enables this - it does not have to be a conventional developer because it doesn't need to do the billion-fold 'amplification' that the first developer does. The technical possibilities are endless - but they are subordinate to the ultimate aim of producing the 'right' image.

    I would encourage anyone to try the dr5 process at least once, and to discuss their requirements with the good 'doctor' so that they try the optimum film/EI combination for their purposes. Personality aside, David Wood deserves commercial success for his venture and I hope that it thrives.

    Best wishes,
    Helen
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 4, 2005
  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    If your goal is to make direct positves from enlarged negatives, there is a very good article in unblinkingeye but it involves light fogging. I once tried the Kodak direct positive and it was very good, and it uses a chemical fogging instead of light fogging.
     
    Last edited: Jan 4, 2005
  13. Murray@uptowngallery

    Murray@uptowngallery Member

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    Thanks for all the info, all.

    I agree with the patent vs no-patent argument. It is also costly (in my opinion) to patent things.

    I also am a patent site browser...not to commercially violate things, but because I am curious. Some things may be best unstated.

    Murray