Is it really true that...

Discussion in 'Silver Gelatin Based Emulsion Making & Coating' started by dwross, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Is it really true that no one wants to discuss emulsion making any more? Photography has changed so much in the last five years it's staggering and the discussions here certainly reflect some of those changes. It's not just the technology, but also philosophy and some of the expectations we have for our craft. Those of us who started out when chemical photography was the only option might as well be from a different planet. That's fine. Same is true of just about any craft where digital has made big inroads. But, does that mean the handmade product has become alien? Hope not.

    Anyway, I'd love to see meaningful discussion here again. Kinda strange when silly-season topics get an order of magnitude more discussion than actual emulsion making, but the withdrawal that some people are admitting to because LFF is down is both telling and encouraging. Seems to me there still are people who want to "talk real". Hope so.

    It should be said, for those who might be new to APUG, or to chemical photography -- emulsion making (paper, film: sheet and roll, dry plate) has thoroughly left the realm of theoretical, and/or "primitive". The discussions can be about actual making and using, just as any other topic on this forum.
     
  2. jorj

    jorj Member

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    Maybe the people that are interested in emulsions are already knee-deep. Or that there's enough information out there now. Dunno.

    But I'm playing with dry plate medium-format tintypes, so at least someone's still experimenting...
     
  3. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Denise

    I am very interested in talking about emulsion making and how to work with it. My problem is that the workflow I use is a complete digital one to make negatives which is not appreciated here.

    I wish it wasn't so, DPUG is not relevant to me , after the Sandy King attack so I do not go there.

    We are working with some very interesting projects that do involve scratch process but unfortunately for me making the neg or pos is critical and the way I do it is not a topic for here.

    Bob
     
  4. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Denise I believe that quiet a few members are still interested in emulsion making but have never actually done it. This makes discussing the topic a littler harder then say discussing a 35mm Bumby lens for the 500th time. Still I would welcome any meaningful discussion about the handcraft part of photography especially emulsion making and such.
     
  5. MDR

    MDR Member

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    Bob you coould talk about the negs in disguised terms, say enlarged neg with this and that density instead of digital negative and the positive handmade part doesn't seem to be a problem on APUG. To much knowledge and information is lost due to in this case stupid rules. It seems that we all benefit from this topic as it helps keep the medium alive.
     
  6. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I think this would be very hard to do, since my working methods include critical, density readings within the info palette of PS as well that would be very difficult to just say put some density here and make sure there is density there. People that want to understand this method of working, would need a working knowledge of LAB, CMYK , RGB and of course greyscale and get to understand when one colour space is more important to be in than the others...

    I am waiting for the day that the rules are relaxed in this area, but to be honest am quite happy just talking about the darkroom side of my life and not piss off the powers to be with my digital hybrid approach here on APUG.



    QUOTE=MDR;1557052]Bob you coould talk about the negs in disguised terms, say enlarged neg with this and that density instead of digital negative and the positive handmade part doesn't seem to be a problem on APUG. To much knowledge and information is lost due to in this case stupid rules. It seems that we all benefit from this topic as it helps keep the medium alive.[/QUOTE]
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    But there is an active community of emulsion makers here; PE and friends at the George Eastman House are regularly scheduling emulsion making workshops, talking about the procedures and tools needed - and sharing results of glass plate negatives and AZO-type papers that they are making.

    I enjoy seeing their posts and following along in my mind, but I continue to work with prepared and packaged, ready-to-use supplies.
     
  8. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I'd add to Bob's comment, Sandy King's contributions here and on DPUG are greatly missed.

    Denise, you've been making a very great effort to encourage others to begin emulsion making and leading by example. I know from over a decades experience myself that it's a practical proposition.

    Maybe the way to encourage people is to get them into alternative printing processes first, Kallitype, Salt prints. Albumen prints etc, then into more simple emulsion making. Just a thought.

    Ian
     
  9. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    It is so encouraging to see the thoughtful responses. jorj: Excellent! Good luck (and hope you show and tell here.)

    Bill: Actually, very little work has been posted here for quite a long while. And that, mostly liquid emulsion*. (*I've nothing against LE.)

    Is it perhaps that we've moved beyond the current title of the sub-forum ("...making and coating") People don't feel that it's about the art of the materials?? Maybe don't feel free to share the inevitable warts and wrinkles of the learning process?? I'm fairly used to being set upon by the "it's not good enough and never will be" mentality of a few posters here. It can be intimidating for the less bold among us and the unfortunate paradox is that shy folks are very likely some of the best artists.

    Ian: I was an albumen printer for years. A simple silver gelatin emulsion is MUCH easier than albumen - cheaper, too. Heck, a not-so-simple emulsion is easier than most "alternative" processes. The supposed complexity of emulsion making that has become part of the meme of this forum is perhaps part of the reason it never really gets off the ground (?? -- just a thought).

    Bob: The way APUG has been going... I can't imagine anyone censoring you over talking about the negatives you use with your emulsions. I'd love to see what you'd do with good digital negatives and AZO-type paper. I'm going to be pushing the envelope that way myself because I'm pulling inkjet negatives into my color photography research.

    MDR: I hope you're right!
     
  10. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Perhaps now that the perceived existential threat to commercially available black-and-white films and papers has eased, maybe so has the panic? And with that some of the doomsday-driven interest in DIY at the emulsion level?

    Lots of people have said that if doomsday ever came, they would just learn how to coat their own. But it now appears that doomsday never came. Not that there aren't lots of other valid non-doomsday reasons to do it. Just that the panic-driven one might now have subsided.

    Just thinking out loud...

    Ken
     
  11. MDR

    MDR Member

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    I think you're right, but for me making an emulsion or an alt process print is more than just a last resort if Kodak fails, it's another tool that helps me create a vision. Some images are better served with commercial emulsions and some with homemade stuff imo. I also believe that photographers should have a basic understanding about the tools they are using. Take painters quiet a few make their own paint, or potters that make their own clay or at least know a lot about the product they are using compare them to photographers and it obvious that photographers know very little about their medium.
     
  12. momus

    momus Member

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    If someone has to discuss matters in a disguised manner, something is very wrong here. Rules or not, that is just plain wrong. Isn't this America? So the PC police are going to dictate what words can be used by people? Someone had better come to terms w/ the results of their actions. Seems self defeating to me. You can't learn anything by restricting people's vocabulary. That sort of thing never works.
     
  13. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I think this might be a part of it. And I feel like I've seen more threads on it in the last couple of years than in the first ones I was here.
    Count me as one who would love to try it, but who doesn't have time to take a class or put enough time into it to really know what I'm doing.
     
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  15. Pioneer

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    This is quite timely. I started pulling together things to begin doing some emulsion making in early spring but as summer approached other things interfered. Now fall is here and winter is quickly approaching. Time to get back to it again. Maybe by next spring I will be ready to make some pictures.

    I think I have most of the equipment so it is now time to begin picking up the materials. I will have to head back to the Light Farm to refresh my list.
     
  16. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    I recently brought up a thread on LFF about coating Dry Plates by hand, thinking that since the subject hadn't really been addressed there would be great interest. It landed with a quiet thud. But, I wasn't surprised. Since learning to coat plates I've perty much lost interest in using commercial film, which has been to my benefit. I would have no problem making my own emulsions if I could justify the labor and time that is required. Cost wise it seems to be about the same a using Liquid Light or an equivalent.
     
  17. Michael W

    Michael W Member

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    This bit is worth highlighting as I have also noticed an upsurge in nonsense threads on this forum in recent times. I wonder if it's the Facebook effect - where people feel compelled to post some irrelevant drivel everyday, under the impression perhaps that they are keeping the place lively. I would prefer to see less threads, but on more interesting and relevant topics, dry plate coating among them.
     
  18. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Hi DannL,

    Welcome to APUG! Would you consider re-starting your coating thread here? I do hope you also consider making your own emulsions someday. $-wise, homemade is a lot cheaper. Time-wise, of course you are right. Every step of d.i.y. does add time to a process.

    I've come to think of all this as Slow Photography, done for all the reasons gardening and real cooking are done. I'm on the same page as MDR. Knowing your materials and process adds a whole new layer to the experience. Also nice to know that a paper or film will be available for as long as I want to make it, not for as long or short a time as some commercial interest decides they want to.

    Pioneer: I hope you have a great winter of emulsion making!
     
  19. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    Academically interested, yes. Have time for; hell no! I can barely keep up with developing and scanning the photos I take on film that I don't need to manufacture myself, and I'm waaaay behind on printing. Adding another very-time-consuming process step is just not going to happen, especially when it's not going to get me quality anywhere near as good as commercial film stocks.

    I do quite enjoy reading the threads about it that pop up here occasionally though.

    Probably one day I will try carbon printing to see what the relief looks like, but that's probably about the limit for me smearing goop on stuff.
     
  20. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Starting up a personal research-project on wet-plate these days, need to get the book first, then read, then figure out where to get the chemicals, after that, the materials (plates) and after that, the actual photographic equipment.

    My impression is that wet/dry-plate is gaining popularity, specially for portraits etc (for potential buyers and clients).
    A lot of the photographers I know, would like to try it out, but the biggest issue is getting hold of the chemicals in these days of "war on terror" in every country in the western hemisphere. :/
     
  21. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I just wish I had more time. At least then I could dive headfirst into the topic and maybe learn something cool and useful. But I don't have it. Can barely find time to process film anymore, let alone proofing and printing.
     
  22. Bill Harrison

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    emulsions

    Folks, With all the interest in cooking over the past 30 years, it is now impossible to go out to eat and find a restaurant able to serve what we can make at home for 1/4 the cost..... It's a lot more planning and work, prep thru clean up.... Same is true for emulsion making and like cooking, the more you do, the better & faster you get. Of course we won't starve, because it's not food, AND we CAN just keep using film, now that it's clear it will not die. Think of it as brain plasticity training, now that science has made it clear, if you don't use it, you lose it... I'm having a very interesting time learning calotype (checkout the calotype society on flicker) which is not for the faint hearted. Carbon is the visual opposite in image quality & wet plate somewhere in between if you print in albumin with the glass wet plate. The added learning that comes with the exposure to the history of the times when a particular style you may be interested in was being practiced is clearly a bonus, especially if you like to get decked out in period uniforms and gowns.... It costs a few bucks to get started, but in the long run, less than LF & ULF once a year with Ilford ($ching-$ching, due to buying for a year) Kodak ($$$) and to a lesser extent Acros and now Adox is back.. The more of US that do honest to goodness hand made work the more the market will grow ($$$ in our pocket) and the more interesting people in the field there will be to share information with.... It's a shot in the arm waiting to happen for all areas of photography. Even digital if you wish to mix ... there's room for all the varied purists to play well with others. Thank you Light Farm, Ostermans, Sandy, Artcraft et al, and to those about to become a part of a slow growing sand-box of fun.
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    As a printer for others who constantly is putting images on gallery walls, my interest is to make hand made colour prints that will have the ability to achieve a level of permanence that current inkjet and RA4 technology could only wish to achieve.
    Its the reason why I have one of few large commercial wet labs in Canada.

    Also I think the prints look pretty cool...

    The more this envelope is pushed the marketplace will have to take archival issues into their buying practices. I am changing my complete business model to push these historical prints.

    I only cringe to think the damage that has been done with the current crop of art stars placing ink:munch:et an RA4 into the hands of collectors with huge influence
    and legal friends.

    These types of prints do have a very limited lifespan and I believe its only a matter of a few years before we start reading up on the lawsuits that start happening
    worldwide...... here is and example.... FIDDILE STICK, STOMPWINDER AND FLUXMATTER LAW FIRM HAS JUST SUCCESSFULLY SUED JAMIA/FLAVOR OF THE MONTH ART STAR FOR 50 THOUSAND EUROS.... due to complete collection of dye coupler prints fading off their walls..

    Its only a matter of time..:munch:
     
  24. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

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    A class is not needed and the time required isn't that much. If you could make a cake from scratch, you can make and coat an emulsion.

    Actually, it's a fine activity that you can do in stages. For example, precipitate and ripen. Stick in the refrigerator and walk away for a week. Wash, then refrigerate and walk away and so on. A work flow like that may or make not make a noticeable difference in the final product but you can work that way with just fine results. Most of the hardware supplies you need that you might not already have in your darkroom can be bought at any dollar store.
     
  25. dwross

    dwross Subscriber

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    Thank you, Bill, for including The Light Farm on your list. I love the phrase "slow growing sand-box of fun" :smile:. It is indeed that.

    And Jason (above) is spot-on. So many things are far more about organization than actual time. It really comes down to priorities and what stokes the fire in your belly. No right or wrong answers there, of course. But, sometimes excuses should be recognized and acknowledged.
     
  26. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    Emulsion making has been high on my to-do list for several years now, but has never quite bubbled to the top. If I can manage to quit my day job, ship my kid off to college, and get the cleaning fairies to take care of the kitchen, I'm there! :smile:

    The one-day seminar at the Light Farm a few years back was enormously inspirational, and I'm sort of embarrassed that I never got around to following up on it, but one of these days. I wonder if there aren't a lot of people (well, "a lot" in relative terms) in a similar position, hanging back from saying anything because we have nothing to add to the discussion yet.

    -NT