I miss color photography

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Wayne, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I miss color photography.

    I used to do 4x5 chrome-ilfochrome printing but gave up a few years ago when prices skyrocketed with my debt and my income simultaneously plummeted.
    Next year should see my income stabilize or rebound ever so slightly, and I've been bitten by the bug. I was out for a drive through the dying fall colors and was overwhelmed with longing to get back into color printing. Gawd I miss it!! I'm still a long way from being able to drop hundreds of dollars on supplies like I used to, but I want to start picking away at it in small bites. Looks like I can get started for about $125 for 10 sheets of film/ 50sheets paper, and chemicals. And I may need to add a film developing tank. I should have just about everything else I need.

    I used to love the smell of acetic acid but can not tolerate it even in small amounts. I use citric with B&W. I have drums but want to develop RA-4 paper in trays. I've read a) that citric acid should probably not be used (PE) and b) that stop isn't absolutely necessary, and c) some people (one, anyway) have used citric acid with no problems. Acetic acid could be a deal breaker for me but most chemical smells (even Ifochrome bleam and rapid fix) don't bother me that bad. I have a good exhaust fan behind my processing sink. Anyone here get by OK without using a stop bath in trays?

    I was VERY encouraged that RA-4 paper is incredibly cheap by Ilfochrome standards. Great news! Color negative film isn't cheap though, bad news! Oh well not much I can do, I need to buy film, and it seems that is by far the most expensive part of this. Why no 50 sheet boxes anymore? No no, don't answer... ;-/

    What system do you recommend for developing the 4x5 negs? I can't afford and don't want a Jobo or other fancy schmany system for developing color 4x5 film. I used to have a daylight tank for developing chromes (I quickly learned to leave that job for a good lab) but its long gone. I've read about the 4 taco method but I don't have a reel film tank large enough, and I'd prefer to do at least 6 sheets at a time. What is my most economical and functional option-maybe a sheet film daylight tank, and maybe a used one? I am on a VERY tight budget here. Are trays too awkward for C-41? I have an aquarium heater so I can maintain temps in trays or tanks. I may end up having a lab do the first couple dozen negs, it might actually be cheaper and less wasteful.

    Film choice. I've never shot negative film except as 35mm snapshots. Will Ektar 4x5s on RA-4 be just as difficult/contrasty/hypersaturated as chromes on Ilfochrome, or will I revel in wider latitudes beyond my wildest dreams?

    Heres what I'm thinking. A box of Ektar to start. Arista C-41 developer if I do it myself. Arista paper with Arista RA-4 developer. I'll have some leftover chemicals and paper but maybe I can splurge on a second/third box of film before they expire.

    Oh, and what is the capacity of the Arista RA-4 chems? They don't give capacity. I'm sure I won't exhaust them anyway but it would be nice to know for the future.

    Anything I forgot? I'm super excited about printing color again.:smile:
     
  2. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Do your lungs a favor and stick with drums. RA4 chem might not seem that harsh compared to Ciba, but you can't easily get sensitized to it.
    Either Kodak RA/RT or the direct Arista substitute work superbly. I use 2 min times. Fuji Crystal Archive Type II works superbly for Ektar, though
    being able to tweak contrast via masking is helpful, just as in Ciba (though you need to mask far less often, and only need a very weak mask
    when you do). It is cheaper to print this material than most black and white papers, and yes, easier than Ciba, though the learning curve will
    still exist. If you want that deep gloss Ciba look you gotta put out quite a bit more money for the Fujiflex Supergloss product, which is only
    avail in big rolls at the moment. The regular cut sheet paper is avail up to 20x24, however. The most important trick at this point is understanding that Ektar needs to be balanced for the lighting conditions at the time of exposure. Don't expect to salvage it later, despite
    what the Fauxtoshop geeks tell people. Have on hand an 81A filter for overcast skies, and maybe an 81C for deep blue shade.
     
  3. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    I'm with Drew - unless you have very good ventilation, use drums. The blix gives out some serious smell which can lead to sensitization in some people. Since you already have issues with acetic acid, better be careful.
    Ektar and Fuji color papers make a killer combination. You can try citric acid, but I think just a good wash between dev and blix should work fine. Kodak's literature says stop and wash are optional. Obviously, skipping them will reduce capacity of blix. I had a roller transport processor which did not use a stop - it just squeegeed the print between two rollers and went straight into blix.
    I don't know capacity of Arista chemicals, but unless you are running high volume, you are not likely to hit the limit. I just replenish the loss from carry-over. Kodak's j39 document lists 16 to 40 8x10 prints per litre in trays.
    Have fun!
     
  4. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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  5. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I just use the chem one-shot in the drum, and even bother with replenishment, and mix just enough for a daily work session. If you have good temp control and are running the drum level, it doesn't take much per print anyway. If you can't tolerate even 1% acetic acid, a plain generous water rinse would probably suffice.
     
  6. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Thanks, especially for the Ektar tips. I'm guessing that just learning what the Ektar can and can't do, and adjusting my expectations for this process will be the hardest part of this. I don't mind less gloss/less contrast/less saturation than I'm used to, in fact I want it (although the gloss will probably be hardest to part with and I definitely can't afford Fujiflex now). BTW I presume you mean i CAN get sensitized to the blix (you said can't)?

    I have the drums to fall back on if I can't handle the trays. I've only had trouble with acetic acid once. I used to print in a rental darkroom and there would always be trays of stop bath and it never bothered me much, and when I was young I loved that smell. But the last time I went there, some 5-6 years ago, the acetic acid smell really got me. Maybe someone mixed it wrong or spilled some glacial, or maybe I just can't handle it a anymore. I haven't been around it since that day. I had switched to citric years before, so maybe I'm just spoiled. Ilfochrome bleach is nasty but never hit me like that did.
     
  7. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I will have fun!

    I also have an ICP42 processor that will do RA, but it needs new rollers and I probably won't get that up and running unless I want to print a lot. If I can even get rollers.
     
  8. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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  9. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Crap. I just blew my whole color budget on film. Ten sheets just wasn't enough. 20 sheets, well hell, I figured I could blow that in one good day. So I got 30, which guarantees me at least a couple days of shooting.

    After that though, I'm screwed. :tongue:
     
  10. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You might find that Ektar is just too saturated for some subjects, in which case you can downshift to Provia 400, or simply make a
    contrast reduction mask (though there are some distinct tricks to relearn in comparison to Ciba masking). But until you actually start printing,
    it's hard to know exactly what to expect, and it takes awhile to "read" color in negs on a lightbox, so might help to have a contact sheet or
    med res scan, just to evaluate the contrast, color, etc. Ektar is best suited to where you want a clean chrome-like look, although you do get
    information about a stop wider (in both highlights and shadows) than with a typical chrome film - but still need to expose it carefully like a
    chrome. I won't forgive serious exp errors like an amateur color neg film will, but the reward is much better color reproduction.
     
  11. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Three words: roll film back. Seriously. Modern film are so good you are unlikely to notice much difference unless you print very large, crop severely, or both. Roll film makes color affordable. Of course you can run into problems with having a short enough lens or even bring able to use it in some cameras if you do have it, but you can always carry a few holders for the shots that demand a wide angle and the shortest thing you have us a 90 or whatever.

    I want to get back into RA4 but find drums a huge PITA so I hope I can do trays.


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  12. DREW WILEY

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    Sheet film is a helluva lot easier to print from. But I have recently done a number of CAII prints from a 6x9 rollfilm back using Ektar. Mixed
    results, but basically, much better image quality than using an actual MF camera, which is partially attributable to having a full complement of
    view camera movements available. ... but obviously not quite up to 4x5 neg quality. Pretty hard to detect the difference until you get up a
    20x24 or so print size, and even pushing your luck at that point, it still looks crisper than a 6x9 chrome would. Can't go into many details,
    though in certain instances I did resort to some conservative masking tricks. But yeah, it you need to soften the financial blow to the learning curve, this is a good way to do it. It is also a good approach if you want an affordable batch scan to preview the film images, and the reason for this is that you're far more likely to get a reasonably accurate look from an economical scan using roll film than much smaller
    35mm film. I've seen a helluva lot of misinformation about Ektar simply due to not recognizing this specific distinction. Likewise, you can
    cipher things out on a contact sheet a lot better with 120 roll film than with 35mm. Frankly, my favorite species of Ektar is 8x10 film... but
    at the price of that, I can't afford to gamble or experiment a lot. With 120 film, I can.
     
  13. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I can see that 4x5 or even larger would be a lot easier if you're doing masking. Since I've never done masking though I'll take the lack of dust problems in return for the film size any day.

    I keep wondering why I bother with sheet film even in black and white anymore, for my personal work anyway, but there's just something about the view and that big negative.

    I'd like to have a 6x9 back but happened to find a 6x7 one so that's what I shoot. That's fine - I'd most often end up cropping a 6x9 to 6x7 anyway. Maybe some day I'll get a 6x9 but since I don't have a graflok on my current camera it either has to be one of the Calumet under the GG styles or wait for another view camera anyway.
     
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  15. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Thanks for the comments. Damn, shoulda remembered I have roll film backs before I ordered. That's OK, I do love sheet film. With today's film costs the holders will get some use, I'm sure. I can probably even buy 120 locally.

    Are you saying I can get Provia 400 in sheet film?? I haven't found any Fuji sheet film currently available, unless I order from Japan.

    Ditto on the trays, Roger. I sure hope it works for me.

    I've got an Epson 4990 which I barely know how to use. I suppose I can use that for evaluating the negs before printing, but I've only done straight scans of chromes. I don't have PS, but I do have GIMP. I don't really know how to use that either. I'm only inclined to learn the bare minimum of digital technology that I need to facilitate my analog.
     
  16. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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  17. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    I know about Portra but the guy at Freestyle successfully talked me out of buying any. But that isn't Provia. I originally planned to buy Portra 400 but decided that Portra 400 and RA4 might be too much of a shock to my system too soon. Although I look forward to doing less snappy and punchy prints that was possible (or practical) with Ilfochrome, I'm afraid a small part of me might be expecting that look. I thought Ektar would make a smoother transition so thats what I ordered today. Plus I wasn't able to find a whole lot about people using Porta for the kind of photography I do, though I am interested in trying it anyway.
     
  18. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Oh since we were talking about RA4 I thought that was a typo. No, unfortunately not only is Provia 400 not available in sheets it has been discontinued in all sizes. :sad: There were a couple of threads here about it. Great film that I will miss a lot as it leaves no slide film on the market faster than 100 except for the (sometimes reported to be) problematic German 200 stuff. I continue to buy 35mm Provia 400 from remaining stock as I can afford. :sad:


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  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Now I understand the Fuji comment!


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  20. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Ahh....and having never shot Provia even when it was available, and having not bought any color materials in 5 years, I had forgotten Provia was slide film not negative! :laugh:
    Drew must have meant Portra. I'm interested in hearing more about how the Portras (esp 400) work for printing outdoor non-portrait work. I am intrigued by them.
     
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Ah, I knew what he meant so didn't even catch that and had to scroll back. Yeah certainly had to mean Portra.


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  22. StoneNYC

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    I didn't catch that just like Roger, I read "Portra400" hah! Anyway I think ektar100 would be a better bet for non-portraits and closer to slide, but feel free to experiment. Why don't you shoot 35mm and test it before jumping up.


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  23. lightwisps

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    I really miss Ilfo Chrome Chemicals. A very kind gentleman sent me some from Greece but I am desparate for more. I have every thing from 8X10 to 20X24 inch paper and can't use it. Rats!! If anyone has some chems, let me know. Thanks, Don
     
  24. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Hey Don!

    I feel that I've failed you....

    It's finding the time to get up there that's tricky...


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  25. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Did I say Provia?? Well, I obviously meant Portra 400. Now you know how senile I am. I make these posts to quiet my mind between spurts of
    equipment sales, which hit hard intermittently all day long, and the flies are still usually buzzing around in my head in between. Occupational
    risk when you're multitasking. But yeah... Ektar is the way to go if you're accustomed to slides and Ciba. It's just way easier than Ciba once you learn its own personality. And to do that properly, just take it a step at a time, expose it correctly on location, and ignore 99% of the BS about it on the web, which is generally more related to someone having problems with their scanner than with the nature of the film itself. I started making a parallel transition to color neg work about a decade ago when I correctly ascertained that Ciba was on its way out. Of course, I knew how to do commercial quality RA4 work like portraiture all along; but getting it up into the league of Ciba quality and beyond had a significant learning curve, and even more, required the evolution of these products to advance further along. Now today, even if Ciba was still around and actually affordable, I wouldn't go back to it. But do expect to lose some money on the learning curve itself.
     
  26. Wayne

    Wayne Subscriber

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    Has the jury come back on whether Arista RA-4 paper is Kodak or Fuji? I know the jury says the Arista RA-4 chemicals are very similar to Kodak in results