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Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Mike A, Mar 19, 2005.
Can you provide a contact for more info on sandys workshop?
Jay, that sounds awesome. I have made some prints with The Bostick and Sullivan's tissue and enjoyed the process but did not get hooked. I obviously do not know what I am doing and have never seen a real Carbon print, but I definetly would love to go through the same experience that you had. I have a feeling that carbon has a great potential but the learning curve is quite brutal.
Your comments sparked my interest. I will contact Sandy for further information.
I have never seen a carbon print "in the flesh". I have seen optical references to the process on a video made to demonstrate the bromoil process. Even then I was struck by the detail and the overall appearance but thought that technique was required beyond my abilities at that time. I hope you can take your current enthusiasm further.
I also received Sandy's prints. One 8x10 and one smaller print. They seem to be from the same location. I just had some questions about them. I guess these are more to Sandy than anyone else.
I am curious to know whether these are printed from digital negatives or not.
If so, I cannot figure out why one looks too contrasty and the other looks just about right. I am just curious to know how many factors involved in adjusting contrast in carbon printing.
Also, are they printed on regular fiber-base matte paper? Or what kind of paper are they?
Now, I am really trying to figure out some logistics to go to Montana this summer. I just posted another message, but if anyone would not mind sharing a room with me at the workshop, let me know.
There are several processes that fall within the term "carbon prints", and I'm not sure which of those processes Sandy is going to cover in his workshop. There is, however, a fellow (whose name escapes me at the moment) here in the SF Bay area who does what I would call color carbon-pigment transfer prints. That process involves first doing color-separation negatives, and then printing those onto the transfer media. The color-separated images on the processed transfer media are then transferred to the final paper substrata, similar to the dye-transfer process.
While very expensive to produce (he said his typical expense to produce a 16x20 or 20x24 print was $700-$1,000, excluding time involved), the prints were absolutely stunning. They were like looking at 16x20 transparencies.
I just received a sample from Sandy as well. The relief in the image is amazing. The shadows rise above the paper.
Can you confirm those figures ?
I took a short trip to Florida and this is my first chance to answer mail.
My presumption is that the print you refer to as having too much contrast is the small one? If so, my purpose in sending the small, contrasty print was to demonstrate the amount of relief you can get with a medium to very high relief tissue.
The prints were indeed made from a digital negative, but the negative was calibrated for one of the tissues and not the other. You can probably tell (by the color) that two different carbon tissues were used for the two prints.
The things that determing contrast in carbon are:
1. The negative.
2. The tissue. More pigment gives more contrast and vice-versa.
3. The sensitizer. Weaker percent solutions give higher contrast images than strong solutions.
All three factors must be evaluated together in determining printing time and how contrast will be controlled.
Originally Posted by rbarker
While very expensive to produce (he said his typical expense to produce a 16x20 or 20x24 print was $700-$1,000,
IS THIS TRUE???
I will be teaching what is known as *monochrome* carbon transfer printing. This method involves, 1) sensitizing a sheet of carbon tissue, 2) when dry, contact printing the light sensitive carbon tissue using a UV light source, 3) wet the tissue and mate it with a final support paper and leave in contact under weight for 15-30 minutes, and 4) developing the print in warm water, during which you strip the tissue away leaving the image on the final support.
Carbon transfer dates from the middle of the 19th century. It is very different from direct carbon processes such as Fresson and gum bichromate. I also have done in the past three-color carbon and carbro printing but the complexities of color carbon and carbro are well beyond the scope of a five day workshop when most people will be starting from scratch.
A few color carbon printing services have been availble in the US in the recent past, but at this time I am only familiar with one or two persons with the skills required to work the process. It is very labor intensive and requires a tremendous amount of skill and familiarity with the characteristics of the materials, and these days there is no source of color carbon tissue so one must make it.
This process was the key method for making color prints in the early 1930s (maybe a little earlier?). I was called "Wash-off Relief". Les can probably shed more light on this. The process used B&W negatives with color-separation filters to produce three "color separted" negatives. Each negative was printed on to a matrix material that, when developed, produce a printing matrix. The three matrices were then "inked or dyed" with the primary colors then rolled on to a paper base (of course, carefully aligned). I still have one that was done in 1938.
The wash-off relief method of making prints was pretty much as described above, but it has nothing at all to do with three-color color and carbro printing. Wash-off relief was a precursor of dye-transfer, and involves most of the same type operations. The final image was a dye image.
Three-color carbon and carbro printing also used separations, but instead of matrixes that were inked up and dyed, the separations were used to make separate cyan, magenta and yellow reliefs that were assembled together in register to form a permanent three-color image. The image is made up of a pigment, not dye, image. Color carbon and carbro are the most permanent color printing systems every devised, whether in its early1900-50) or late (Ultrastable, Evercolor) versions. Wash-off relief and dye transfer prints don't even come close to color carbons and carbros in terms of permanence.
Roy, Bruce - sorry, I have no way of confirming the costs of the color process. I can, however, confirm that it wasn't a typo, as that was the range of hard costs he mentioned in his presentation. He indicated that sometimes the transfer of one of the color reliefs (to borrow Sandy's term) wouldn't transfer properly, so he'd have to start over (excluding the separation negs). I was under the impression, however, that the intermediate media, containing the CMY carbon-pigment image components, was similar to a graphic-arts film, but more expensive. Thus, any glitches in the process were economically painful. As I recall, he said it might take him 40 hours of darkroom work to produce a single print. But, they were knock-your-socks-off beautiful.
Bear in mind that there is really no single carbon look since carbn prints can be of any color, be found on glossy, matte surface and water color papers, (or even glass or metal), have considerable relief or none at all, and have very high or very low Dmax. You can also see considerable variation in the look of silver gelatin prints as well (matte to luster to glossy surfaces, for example, and different colors from toning), but the range of possibilities is not nearly so great as with carbon.
With regard to the Bostick and Sullivan tissue, it is designed more for printing speed than to give high relief. Dick Sullivan looked at a lot of vintage carbon prints and found that a high percentage of them did not show much relief so he decided that look was not very important for him. And for that matter, most of my own carbon work has been with tissues that produce relatively low relief. However, there is no question but that the ability to give high relief is one of the most distinctive characteristics of the carbon process, and one that can not be found in any other photographic printing process.
Hi Sandy and Ralph
I took a course 8-10 years ago at Maine workshops with a fellow from California who's name escapes me. The workshop was quite mickey mouse as the equipment was hokey to say the least. Pin registration equipment was a three hole punch( I am not joking) as well the separations were not adequate and late for this course. I was truly dissapointed.
The teacher (who's name I forget) was very competent and his work was stunning back then and if he continued I am sure it is very good.
The basic principles of Ultra Stable Printing is quite simple but as Sandy points out very very very time restrictive. I moved away from this process as I operated a small commercial lab at the time, and getting the
materials at that time were next to impossible.
A good friend of mine, John Bently, daily prints these colour prints and as I have stated before on other posts I do not think there are better colour prints in the world than these prints I have seen.He is good friends with a gentleman by the name of Todd ( ) from the Seattle area, who John has told me makes incredible prints as well.
This process that Sandy does in Black and White and what John does in Colour IMO are of the utmost importance , and if more workers learn the process , maybe the materials would become more available.
Sandy. are the materials for colour more available? ( my friend John tells me that they are still next to impossible to get. The separation stage to me is obtainable but the black, yellow , magenta and cyan tissues seem to be the problem?
No, the Ultrastable color materials are no longer being produced, unless production resumed very recently. Some people may still be making Ultrastable prints from remaining stock, but production ceased several years ago so there shold not be much of it remaining. It is quite possible, however, that three-color carbon tissue will be available in the near future from Bostick and Sullivan. Dick Sullivan is very keen to produce the tissue and apparently has a very high end color lab interested. Unfortunatley all previous attempts to revive color carbon have failed, including the Ataraxia project that, from my understanding, had quite a lot of financial backing. It is quite simply a very, very complicated process to control.
The color printer on the west coat you are thinking of is Tod Gangler. He printed with Ultrastable while it was available, but I believe he is now working with color tissue that he makes himself. His work is outstanding.
You are right his name is Tod, I think Bostick and Sullivan would be a wonderful choice for the colour tissues, I assume you are speaking of cyan , magenta and yellow and the black being the tissue you are using now??
As a commercial venture to sell to others,I would not be interested but from a personal project point of view I would be extremely interested in this colour methodology. My initial ventures into this process were not productive , but now I would be very interested to make these prints if the materials were available through a good vendor like Bostick and Sullivan.
All the prints I have seen are on rag paper with multiple hits on various parts of the image . Putting the images on paper of course is harder but the results speak for themselves. The colour reproduction is faithful to the 8x10 transparancies that originally shot and processed in a bus in Mexico.
Good luck with your workshops
That is correct. I am talking about the three-color cyan, magenta and yellow tissue. Not sure about the K. Traditional color carbon and carbro processes, which used continuos tone separations, did not use a black printer. Ultrastable did, I believe because of the requirments of half-tone negatives.
I should point out that the Ultrastable process, unlike traditional color carbon and carbro processes, gave prints with very little relief. Almost none, in fact. For that reason along I never seriously considered working with the materials, even though Ultrstable prints coule be very beautiful in other respects, and are very, very permanent.
For the ultra stable process the k is needed, John and Todd are using it.
You mention the carbon process requires continuous tone negs, we have talked about some possibility in the past of trying a neg system togther which by the way is very close at my end.
My question is could it ever be practical to produce con tone negatives (lets say like the seperation negs required for dye transfer) and apply this to the colour process using the three colours and the k????( I am under the impression that the colour carbon pigment process requires a seperation negative with either stocastic or fine line screen to make it work.
Would high quality con tone negs be viable for this colour work?
I am doubtful but maybe you have different view.
I am certain that the color carbon pigment process (but *not* Ultrastable) will work with continuous tone negatives. It remains to be seen what kind of tissue Bostick and Sullivan will produce, but I am strongly inclined to believe that it will be developed using inkjet separations, which function much like continuous tone negatives. I have made many color carbon prints with in-camera continuous tone separations so this is not an issue from my perspective. Regular carbon tissue only will print very well with fine line screen imagesetter output, because I have printed a few negatives of that type, and probably with stocastic negatives as well, though I have never actually printed one.
BTW, talking about going back in time, I have just purchased a one-shot 5X7 tri-color camera from the 1930s and plan to use it at some point in the future to make some in-camera separations for a portfolio of three-color carbon prints based on period technology. I bet it has been a long time since anyone did that! But the main question is, why would anyone be stupid enough to attempt to make color carbon prints from in-camera separations when one could make digital ones from color transparences?
This is exciting as I think I can control the negative stage quite easily with the Lambda unit and film.(though time will tell)
I will be using continuous tone film and If you have any suggestions on reading material that would help me in refreshing myself in tri colour printing it would be greatly appreciated.
Regarding buying old technology and making images the way you suggest, I think the idea is a good one and I wish you all the success in making true period prints. A good print is a good print no matter what process you use.
Have a look at Colour Photograhy in Practice by D. A. Spencer. I particulary recommend the 3rd edition by Pitman Publishing Corporation, published in New York and London in 1948. Earlier and later editions of CPP are useful but this one is the best IMO.
Bear in mind that much of the older literature focuses on three-color carbro rather than three-color carbon. For various reasons, the most important being that there is a finite point to development with carbro and not carbon, it was long considered that more consistent and repeatable results were possible with carbro printing.
Thanks Sandy, I will get the book
Sandy, thanks for commenting on the B&S tissue. I noticed that using 1% and even 0.5% potassium dichromate increased contrast to match my negatives that are developed in Pyrocat HD and print well on AZO gr3. Still I felt I was missing D max. Maybe my negs are too soft for carbon, or maybe B&S's tissue is of low Dmax for the reason that you have mentioned. Tissue was sensitized in water.
I remember being fascinated looking at the print at an angle while it was still somewhat wet. The relief was amazing but it was all gone once it got totaly dry.
How thick a relief do you think you can get with your formula?
Also, are you happy with the results you are getting with digital negatives for the Carbon process??
I was able to get really good Dmax with the B&S tissue. From what you say, i.e. that your negatives printed well on AZO #3, I think you are right in that your negatives appear to be a little soft for carbon.
The kind of relief you see when the B&S tissue is wet is a hint of what I am trying to get with the dry image. The actual height of the raised shadows is not really all that great, maybe 2-3/1000 of an inch, but that height gives a very real dimensional effect.
And yes, I am very happy with the results from digital negatives. Print quality is for all practical purposes as good as with in-camera negatives, and the digital negatives are much easier to print since I do all of the tonal corrections on the file before printing the negative.