How did Charles Jones get such silver blacks?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Bosaiya, May 25, 2005.

  1. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    I've been in awe of the work of Charles Jones for some time now after stumbling upon Plant Kingdoms at my local library. His blacks are so rich that they look like tarnished silver.

    If you haven't seen his work, there is a good representation here: http://www.nielsengallery.com/db/CharlesJones/e0504.html

    and specifically here: http://www.nielsengallery.com/db/CharlesJones/longpod.html

    His process is described as "gold-toned silver gelatin" and I know he worked on glass plates. Is anyone doing any work like his these days? I've looked around online and met with no good results. I've seen other people doing gold-toned silver gelatin but it never looked like his.

    How would one go about reproducing the effect these days? Any good tips?
     
  2. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    The Web images don't look that special to me. The tonality and printing is excellent, but anyone with a MF camera and patience could do the same with standard materials.
     
  3. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    doesn't look extremely special to me, maybe the GOLD TONING is the key here
     
  4. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    The web images are just that: web images. You're right, they don't look terribly special, but without a good way to pass the book around I'm not sure of a better method. I figured someone might have seen the book or one of the prints.

    If it makes any difference the photos were made in the late 1800s.
     
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  5. Woolliscroft

    Woolliscroft Member

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    Are they platinum prints?

    David.
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I think someone in the gallery made a mistake in the description, these look to me more like albumen prints than "silver gelatine." I might be wrong but I thought silver gelatine paper was not invented until the early to mid 1900s.Gold toning of Albumen, kallitypes, salt prints most times produces a bluish black tone that might be what you are looking for.
     
  7. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Not that I'm aware of.

     
  8. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    The info comes from book, which is probably where the website got it from. I'm not aware of the historical timeline of the processes, but there wasn't any hesitation on the part of the author in describing them.

     
  9. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    I thought silver gelatin papers, even ones sensitive enough to be enlarged by gaslight, where common commercial products in the late 1800s.
     
  10. psvensson

    psvensson Member

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    Another idea: if the prints are really old, the shadow areas could be getting a silvery sheen because of sulfide attack. I guess it's regarded as a defect, but it can look really interesting. This shouldn't be happening if it's really gold-toned, though.

    Maybe one of the chemistry wizzes here can tell us if there's a way to acheive this purposely. Halochrome toner is supposed to do this with the entire image - perhaps it doesn't have to be used to completion?
     
  11. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    try to look at theese - at the bottom especially..

    http://www.edelmangallery.com/barilR2.htm

    I know it isn't what you're asking about, but seeing the images in your link, I thought:
    this could be a combination of selenium and tea toning - which gives this "split tone" to the image..
    hard to do though! requires a lot of practice, as tea is not just tea..
     
  12. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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  13. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    The hibiscus is gorgeous as far as the blacks go!

    I've been experimenting with tea lately, myself, oddly enough. I'd not considered selenium first. I just may have to try that!

     
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  15. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    I have the book and I don't see where it specifically says the prints were made in the late 1800's. Jones died in 1959 at age 92 and worked around plants at least through WWII. The book speculates that the photographs were made 1895-1910. The book also says that "it is not known where or when Charles Jones created his extensive and highly focused body of work". It may be possible that many of these prints were made later than the date suggested. The author states that "the photographs, which were gold-toned gelatin silver prints made from glass-plate negatives".

    Anyway, an interesting book and so apparently was C. Jones. Again from the book "by the late 1950's, Jones and his wife were still living in Lincolnshire with no electricity or running water. He was a Victorian outcast who could not reconcile himself to the realities of living in a modern age".

    Jim
     
  16. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Surely 1895 would be considered the late 1800s? Certainly they could have been made later, and my memory put the dates a decade earlier than the book said and for that I appologize.

     
  17. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    Perhaps the glass plates were exposed in the 1895-1910 time period and later printed using silver materials and then gold toned?
     
  18. rhphoto

    rhphoto Member

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    I don't think what you are seeing has much to do with toning. The subtleties of toning are not going to be that dramatic in a web scan. No, I believe the thing going on here has more to do with the film emulsion. At that time, all that was available (I'm pretty sure) was color-blind film, i.e., blue sensitive only. Photographs of vegetables, and other things that have a red component are going to have a very dark rendition in the print. And the blue sensitive film also produced very high contrast, and this is apparent in the short toe of the film and resulting deep blacks. This is not unlike litho film, or copy film. High contrast, blue sensitive only. Similar prints by Strand were made a few years later, and the fruit in his still lifes has the same look, with deep blacks. Remember, the actual visual reflectance capability of any salted paper is limited. There's no reason to believe the papers in use then had better d-max or anything like that. It's about the scale and the relative curves of the glass plate and paper emulsions. Certainly it might be hard to duplicate these results using modern materials, but I don't think simply gold toning is giving the great blacks you see in this work.
     
  19. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    That ws my suspicion as well, I've seen plenty of gold-toned prints but none looked like those. Maybe I just haven't seen enough of them, but it struck me as interesting.

     
  20. Gim

    Gim Subscriber

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    The book is vague and only "speculates". A couple of years would not make much difference. But in "my mind", the prints that were found could possibly have been printed later. He would not be the first person that went back and reprinted old negs or plates. There is so little information I would not bet on anything. It is some what of a mystery..his work...his life. He apparently had no interest in marketing himself. This would be a good study for someone.

    By the way, I purchased this book "special value" $7.98 on the Barnes & Noble discount art rack a couple of years ago. They had a whole stack of them and I consider it one of my best book purchases. I have not looked at it for a while...so thanks for bringing it up. It will be my bedtime reading tonight.

    Jim
     
  21. Grunthos

    Grunthos Member

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    I second that. As soon as I saw the photos, I figured that it had to be a blue sensitive or color blind film. The black tulips were the giveaway here. I've been considering doing a series of portraits with a blue filter over the lens to see if it is possible to get that vintage look with modern films. This could be interesting.

    Grunthos
     
  22. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    If these really do date to the period that you believe then the negative emulsion was most probably orthochromatic.

    In my experience, there is no way to filter a panchromatic film and have it behave as an orthochromatic film.
     
  23. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The filter most often recommended to mimic orthochromatic results with panchromatic films is the Wratten #44, a cyan filter. Obviously this won't be a perfect emulation, and there are obviously different spectral responses among orthochromatic films, but it's a starting point to try and find something you like. The B+W 470 is such a filter. You could also try some of the ortho films currently being made.

    Lee
     
  24. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I remember seeing a show of his work at the Chicago Botantic Garden. A similar digital show was going on next door and his was just so much better. But I'm not sure of any technical details or even if they were original prints. You might try to call the Garden, 847-835-8215. You might get lucky and find someone who knows. www.chicagobotanic.org
     
  25. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    I went to the library to look for the book, and found it.
    The prints are gorgeous, very well made and reproduced. So i'll speculate about them:
    - The [ictures are gorgeous, very good use of light
    - They were made in glass negatives and most probably contact printed
    - The papers Mr Jones used were either hand made or old-style papers
    - He goldtoned his photos (it says in the book)
    - The reproduction is excellent, but I wonder how much of that "efffect" comes from a savvy use of inks?



    But there is.... using a cyan filter (cuts down the red)
     
  26. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Using a cyan or blue filter on a panchromatic film is not the same as using a orthochromatic film...it may depart from a truly panchormatic rendering but it does not alter the inherent panchromatic emulsion characteristics to the point that it in anyway approaches a truly orthochromatic spectral response.