I'm a new colour photographer now

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Michel Hardy-Vallée, Sep 2, 2007.

  1. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    A few weeks ago I decided it was time to give a rest to my old Vivitar condenser enlarger (converted to a cold light source), and by the same token get away with alignments problems, light leaks, necessity to change light sources between 120 and 35mm.

    So I found on the local classifieds a nice Vivitar (again?) VI with Dioptic Light Source. With it came a Unicolor drum, a roller base, and all sorts of other darkroom goodies. Including a Linhof copy stand that's sturdy enough for a 4x5. Oh, and that 50mm Minolta CE lens people rave about, too. But I digress.

    The main pull for the enlarger setup was the price (100$ !), the fact that it was new, and the fact that it would be sturdy enough not to suffer from any severe alignment and/or focus shifts problems. The dichro head was just going to be an extra sweet: cold, diffuse light, and no filter swapping.

    But then I realized I could do colour: all the stuff was there, I only needed paper and chemistery. After a few adventures at the photo store, I eventually laid my hands on a Kodak RA-4 kit, and got me some Supra paper. It was the first time I opened a yellow box in my darkroom. Sigh. Got me a Print Viewing Filters kit as well on ebay. Apparently it's a discontinued product now?

    Well, a few hours later, many tests, and not too many mistakes, I have printed TWO (yes, one finger two times!) 8x10 with a nearly correct colour balance, and proper exposure. I kept temperatures constant in a water bath, and processing was a snap with the rolling base.

    I also witnessed metamerism firsthand: curse these newfangled economy fluorescent tubes! I decided in the end to use my quartz-halogen lamp as a reference.

    I was glad to be successful with B&W printing so far, but now I'm also free from drugstore prints with colour. I've always been unsure about printing colour. I thought it would be too much trouble, too finicky, etc. But if you can print B&W, you can print colour too. Doesn't mean you're good immediately, but it means you can learn properly.

    Man, I love that.
     

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  2. Mick Fagan

    Mick Fagan Subscriber

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    Congratulations, you have opened Pandorra's Box!

    It really is a pleasure to get colour prints exactly cropped and printed to your satisfaction.

    Mick.
     
  3. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

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    Yay! Now you just need to learn that c-41 isn't any harder to do than B&W film processing :wink:
    I'm very lazy. There's a photography shop about 20minutes away (via public transport) that sell a room temp RA-4 and I just haven't gone to buy it. I have a box of 8x10 colour paper I bought when I was doing colour at uni so I'm more than halfway there.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Congrats on becoming a new colour photographer!

    Personally, I only photograph old colours...if they were good enough for me dad, they are good enough for me.:wink:

    Have fun!

    Vaughn
     
  5. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    I had a similar experience recently - I bought a Tetenal RA-4 kit, mixed it, poured it into my Durst printo (which I originally bought to process large batches of mono). Within a shot time I was making colour prints!

    It was one of the best things I have done in the darkroom - with the long shelf life of the chemicals it is ecomonical too - probably a lot more economical than inkjet.

    One of the things that struck me - just how easy it is.

    Matt
     
  6. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    I've always contended RA-4 is easier then B&W. RA-4 from a good negative is either right or wrong.
     
  7. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Do you think I could still be a traditional colour photographer if I take analogue pictures of new colours? I hesitate between being a new traditional or a traditional new.
     
  8. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    That's my experience so far as well. In fact, even the material setup is a bit less involved than B&W for the simple reason that there is less stuff to wash, and all I have to do is fill/start the motor/drain. If it wasn't for temperature control, I'd have nothing to do.

    Of course, I'm lazy enough that I won't bother (for now...) going down the road of masking &c for bad negs (besides, who want to print a bad photo anyway?), but then I never make bad negs :D
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Temperture can be pretty easy. My fish heater has it's own controller. So I turn it on and go have breakfast -)
     
  10. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    welcome to the 20th century! I think you'll find that colour is substantially better than b&w.
    cheers,

    jdc
     
  11. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Hmm... A hot fish breakfast, it will remind me of Nova Scotia, yum!
     
  12. Matt5791

    Matt5791 Subscriber

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    That's exactly what I was thinking - you could spend a lifetime mastering mono, but colour is much more right or wrong.
     
  13. OPTheory

    OPTheory Member

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    Thanks for the post Michel! I'm kind of in the same situation as you - I bought a huge amount of darkroom equipment from a guy that had "gone digital" for a really cheap price. I literally have a thousand feet of color paper (fuji, agfa, kodak) sitting in my freezer but I've been reluctant to get started with it. I've heard that the RA4 chemistry doesn't last very long and I'm somewhat of a sporadic printer so shelf life is quite important to me. Any suggestions for someone just getting started?
     
  14. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    First, you should read through the Kodak J-9 Publication about RA-4 in trays/drums:
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/j39/j39.jhtml

    According to them, developer can last for about 6 weeks in properly stoppered bottles; 8 weeks for blix. This is for mixed solutions. I think unmixed blix can last very long (maybe a search in the APUG archives can yield the right answer), but not developer.

    Kodak gives you the exact measurements for mixing only part of the stock solutions. What I decided to do was to mix the whole developer kit (otherwise I would have needed to measure fractions of mL), but only mix 1L of blix at a time. My 8x10 drum needs at least 2oz of chemistry for each step, so I calculated that I can process about 64 sheets of paper with the developer. Given that I may need 3 to 4 sheets to make a proper print, that gives me about 16-20 final prints, depending on the number of mistakes. Within 6 weeks, if I develop at least once a week, or if I commit to less frequent, but more intense sessions, I should be able to use all the developer without loss. As long as you're committed to printing regularly, or in decent-sized batches, you should be OK with chemistry.

    I also decided to use a stop bath. In my makeshift darkroom, I need to multitask all the time (check the temps, measure, start the rollers, etc), so with the stop bath I have some reassurance that I have some spare time after development, should I get caught in another task.

    I use everything one-shot, even stop bath (it's cheap, so why not). The neat thing if you have a timer with an outlet plug (like a GraLab or any decent enlarger timer) is that you plug the motor base into it, set the time, and then multitask as you need to. Of course, if you have a Jobo unit, then you're already set.
     
  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    What the heck, we'll just call you a "Transitional"...which I think means someone who can't make up their mind...:tongue:

    Color (or colour) printing is rather easy...especially with a processor -- though I can go thru a lot of paper messing around with 2 or 3 units of Yellow or Magenta! The challenge is not so much in the printing -- but more in the seeing. Too many photographers going out and just finding nice colors -- rather than using color as a true element of the image.

    Vaughn
     
  16. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    Technically, the term is "Canadian." Which I also am.:wink:

    Talk about metamerism! I have all the possible light sources in my house: quartz halogen, economy fluorescent, tungsten, and day light in daylight. There was a photo that just looked great under halogen, but as soon as I got away from it, I could see a huge magenta cast. Eventually I tamed it down, but I must say I liked the particular colour the print had when I could not see the magenta cast, under the halogen lamp.