I need your help

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Photo Engineer, Nov 18, 2005.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Today, I passed another benchmark, achieving ISO 100 speed with a paper negative using one of my own homemade emulsions. It was only sensitive to blue light. I expect higher speeds in the near future, assuming this was no fluke and I can repeat it.

    Having done that, I now am faced with a perplexing problem and a question for everyone out there. It was posed to me by a very reputable person in an exchange over my work on emulsions and the workshop I mentioned in another thread a while back.

    Here is the question:

    "Why would you want to attend a workshop to learn how to make and coat emulsions when there are products like Liquid Light that you can buy"?

    I answered as best I could, but hearing from you all would be a great help to me.

    Disinterest and negative opinions are very welcome.

    Thanks.

    PE
     
  2. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    More tools in the tool box.

    Better understanding of the craft.
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Why would anybody want to go through the hassle of learning pt/pd printing when you can just make brown prints with a computer?

    These are two enterily different things, coating a paper with a gelatin emulsion is different than coating with liquid light. As I understand it, LL is a whitish emulsion where you have the color incorporated. Making your own paper will let you take advanatage of the paper color, paper texture, will allow you to tone and obtain different looks. IOW you cannot do many things with LL that you can do with regular papers and in your case with home made papers.

    OTOH you will be wasting your time trying to explain to anybody that asks this kind of question, you might as well respond "yep, you are right" and move on.
     
  4. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    Just like anything else in photography the more you are able to do yourself the more control you have over your images. If one were to become proficient at coating their own emulsions, he/she may be able to achieve certain results that are not available in the consumer market place. If it ever became possible for someone to coat film emulsions at home than it may revolutionize the way we create images. Imagine if there was an emulsion kit that had numerous components which allowed one to create films with different speeds or extended sensitivities to different light wavelengths (ala Techpan). I know I'm dreaming here but just imagine!
     
  5. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Daniel, that is NO DREAM. I can do it now. I want everyone to be able to realize the same dream.

    PE
     
  6. Daniel Lawton

    Daniel Lawton Member

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    PE I think your work in this area is very intriquing and definitely goes beyond coating paper with Liquid Light. Just as Robert said, being able to work with emulsions would be another tool in the box and possibly a very important tool that could give a photographer as much creative control as the developing/printing process.
     
  7. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    We COULD go back to 1880 something to be self suffcient photographers, but throwing out 125 yrs of progress isn't a desirable thing. Somehow, if we can move forward and free the photography from dependence upon technological monoliths, we win.

    But we only do that if we can learn selected 'artisan' skills.

    You know, a couple more beers, and this'll make sense.

    Do I need to get a cheap food processor on Ebay ?

    .
     
  8. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    My initial response is positive excitement because I love all the tinkering and process. But then nasty old reality kicks in. The cold fact is with a family to care for and a home that's falling down around me and employment demands the number of hours each year I can devote to my passion is ___ The readers here can fill in the number. We all have to make decisions about how to use those precious few hours we get to create. Some folks build their own cameras. Some build dream darkrooms. Bottom line is we choose the things that we think will bring us the most satisfaction to consume those precious few hours. For me I'm afraid it won't be making paper negatives. I'm very glad that this trail is getting blazed though. It may be instrumental 100 years from now in keeping the traditional crafts alive.
     
  9. JG Motamedi

    JG Motamedi Member

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    I for one would love to learn how to make a homebrew 100ASA emulsion. Reasons? More than I can count; but doing it for the enjoyment of it is the best I can think of.

    Anyhow, who wouldn't want another kitchen gadget in their house marked "not for food"?
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    A food processor for emulsions?

    How baroque.

    I use a potato ricer or just a plain old pen knife to cut it up. Sometimes a teaspoon.

    PE
     
  11. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I'm kinda mixed. On the one hand, it is something like a technological breakthrough (on a personal scale) and I can almost feel your excitment coming through the wires. I am excited for / with you. On the other hand, the pragmatist in me is thinking "geez, we've gotta have at least ten good years left yet before it comes to this".
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I like it!

    But then again, that might just the "mad scientist" in me...
     
  13. athanasius80

    athanasius80 Member

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    Why do it? Because I can.
     
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  15. 127

    127 Member

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    Because it allows you to "own the process" (in a conceptual way rather than a legal way).

    I designed and built a camera out of MDF. One of the first test images is on the wall - because _I_ made it. It's not a great camera, but thats not the point.

    The "easy" thing to do is get a digital point and shoot, but that turns the whole process into "magic" in a very real way. There's a box with a button, and a picture comes out - how it does it is beyond comprehension. How can they take credit for that image?

    Transparency and ownership, are the joy of the film camera - particularly LF. You can show a five year old how it works. There's no "magic box", and the image you make is your own - not the work of a software developer on another continent.

    Making your own film is just one step further - if I make my own film, put it in my own camera, then print it in my own enlarger onto my own paper then I am the master of my kingdom!

    Ian

    P.S. Congrats an making the 100! Keep up the great work, and thanks for keeping us informed of your progress - I'd love to attend a workshop!
     
  16. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Congratulations!

    To answer the queastion:
    To further integrate my self with the materials, the process and therefore the results. Why would a ceramist make his own clay, or glaze -- it is known throughout the world that American Standard makes the best clay and store bought glazes and stains are by far and away the most consistent.
     
  17. PhotoPete

    PhotoPete Member

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    Because the process is important.
     
  18. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    This sums it up in a nutshell. Artists have always sought ways to gain more control over craft. Mark Rothko could only achieve the colors for his field paintings by grinding and mixing his own pigments and glazes. In sculpture, every new material opens up entire new avenues of creativity. Dan Flavin with Flourescent lighting, Serra with Cor-ten steel, Judd with his aluminum and plexiglass minimalist constructions. Acrylics revolutionized the world of painting in the 20th century just as oil based pigments did the same in the 15th century.
     
  19. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Brad, you have a very good point, but consider this....

    Most of the emulsion makers are getting rather old to put it mildly. Quite a few of them will not be around in ten years to teach this type of workshop.

    So, when it 'comes to this' there will be no one left to throw out the life preserver to those out there needing the help.

    PE
     
  20. magic823

    magic823 Member

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    Because products that exist now, probably won't be available in the future. Because understanding a process gives you better control of the process. Because its fun!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2005
  21. big_ben_blue

    big_ben_blue Member

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    Making one's own tools and "stuff" free's us a bit more from the "predigested" world we live in where any- and everything comes preprepared and shrinkwrapped; or in other words - we become a bit more independant and free (from the keepers of business and industry who give us what they think we want if we pay for it).
    And even if I never ever actually going to make my own emulsions, it's nice to have the KNOWLEDGE for just in case (there's all of a sudden noone around to supply me with film and paper).

    But there's one thing which gives me some grief however. Yes, I would LOOOOOOOVE to attend one of the workshops; but I don't think I'll be able to atend one in the forseeable future though. one the other hand, and while really ony a compromise any way you look at it, why not coming up with a how-to-do cookbook of sorts (like the selfpublished ones they offer on alternativephotography.com) for all the people in a similar situation as me?

    Cheers,
    Chris
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i would love to learn this sort of thing.
    i have coated my own dry plates and paper using liquid light
    since about 1986/7 and if there is a product out there that
    is faster than asa .5 or 2 that's great!

    wish i could make it to workshops &C, but family obligations &C make it hard for me to do that sort of thing...

    congratulations by the way!!

    -john
     
  23. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Thanks for sharing your achievement with us - and Good For You! sounds like a great opportunity for a workshop.
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Chris;

    I'm going to work on what you suggest as well, but it all takes time. Just getting the workshop together is taking a major portion of my time.

    I've already been asked off-line, about doing the same thing in color. I believe I mentioned this in another thread as well. Yes, that is also doable, but probably only with a dye bleach material for technical and cost reasons. Doing conventional chromogenic color requires some pretty expensive chemistry and equipment.

    Thanks to all for your thoughtful answers.

    PE
     
  25. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    Yes. I'd be interested in both a workshop and the recipes.

    I managed to make an emulsion from scratch about a dozen years ago. It worked but was prone to fog. I'd like to know how to make one that wasn't and also one I could coat on glass.

    Is your emulsion suitable for making glass dryplates as well as prints? An handmade ISO 100 plate would be a dream come true.

    Joe
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Joe, the AgBr/I with a speed of 12 - 25 is stable and takes about 1/2 hour to make. It repeats over and over and over, and can be kept for months in the fridge. OTOH, I have only made the 100 speed one time. Got to repeat it like any good scientist.

    It was foggy, so I have to fix that, and I have no idea how well it will repeat. It takes about 2 hours to make and it requires an extensive 3 day or more workup. I have to simplify that before it is ready for the big-time. It is not a nice prep. I got it from a textbook from the 40s and 'fixed it up' a little. Even so, it is not user friendly, but then you should see some of the formulas from that era. Boiled emulsions, heated to 95 deg F for over 8 hours? You gotta be kidding me.

    These emulsions can be coated on any suitable prepared surface including glass, estar, acetate and paper. (Or your front door?)

    I was going to repeat it today, but was diverted for some mundane tasks related to daily life. I'll keep you posted.

    All of the formulas will be released to the workshop attendees. After that, who knows. The publication of a book seems attractive. Samizdat!

    PE