Liquid Light issues. Help needed!

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Robert Kennedy, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    In my quest to do some dry-plate photography, I have hit so many roadblocks, from the inavailability of glass less than 2.5mm thick, to coating issues, that I am going mad.

    I am seriously doubting that dry-plate is even POSSIBLE the way I am doing it.

    Here is what happened.

    Yesterday I ran two experiments.

    I coated two 2.5mm plates which I cut short. These seemed to fit the plate holders I have as long as they had a gap between the bottom of the plate and the bottom of the holder. I subbed them with gelatin, just the way the instructions tell you.

    At the same time I had two sheets of .007 mylar I subbed with gelatin and coated. They were going into a film holder, in the hopes that this would work instead of glass.

    All 4 items spent the whole night drying in my paper safe. They were dry to the touch this afternoon. I loaded everything up, and went home.

    I immediately went outside and started to expose them.

    I discovered though that the emulsion had MELTED!

    On all of them! It was oozing out everywhere, and was very liquid. Worse yet, it was sticking to the dark slides!

    Now, here is the thing...

    Liquid Light ALLEGEDLY needs 140F to melt. While it is hot here, those plates and sheets NEVER got above, at BEST 103F. More realisticly they never hit 90F.

    What is going on! I have ruined ANOTHER plate holder, and need to clean the hell out of my sheet holder now. It takes me 20 minutes to heat up the LL in the darkroom in a crockpot, but two seconds outside and it runs like hot honey!

    I am literally at the end of my rope here! I just recieved an old, maybe 80-90 year-old glass neg I bought, and this thing, which was sitting outside in a metal mailbox, and was hot to the touch has an emulsion as solid as the rock of Gibraltor. It is also MUCH thinner than anything I have managed so far.

    Can someone PLEASE help me here? I just want to coat my own film!
     
  2. John McCallum

    John McCallum Member

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    Wish I could help you Robert - but I admire the tenacity. Don't give up keep at it!
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    robert:

    i am not sure what the instructions that come with the emulsion say, but i usually coated the glass 2-3 times. after that, i've always waited 2-4 days to make sure the emulsion is fully dry/bonded with the gelatine before i shot the plate, or i printed on it. i've had both processed and unprocessed plates in a hot studio ( 100º+ ) and they never melted.

    try letting your emulsion "cure" for a few days before you try to use it, maybe yours isn't really dried out.
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    black also increases the temp of what is inside of it. Knowing the heat of Tucson, and the color of the film holders, it doesn't take long for the temp to rise in that holder. Think about a black interior car in the heat of Tucson. How long before the temp inside of it is higher than the temp outside without A/C?
     
  5. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Robert, bubba, my friend, you have to harden the gelatin before you can take them out, specially in AZ where you are, I still remember feeling squishy asphalt under my feet at this time of the year.

    I was reading about making dry plates for holographic applications and one of the things they stress is that the gelating has to be hardened before use. They use potassium alum for about 8 hours, I dont recall the concentration I will look it up for you. I guess if you use the little bottle that comes with the Kodak rapid fixer you can acheive the same results. I think the dry plates for holographic apps has a good chance if you make some alterations. I have a PDF if you want it. Let me know and I will e mail it to you.

    Hang in there bud, suffering is good for the soul.....:smile:
     
  6. matthew

    matthew Member

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    I would search the net for info about the old dry plate processes. I remember a site that walked you through the whole process of coating the gelatin and then sensitizing it. Sorry, I don't remember the address.
     
  7. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    The alternativephotography site, has a primer on how to do dry plates with liquid light, I think this is what Robert is using as a guide. This might be the site you remember. If you have not checked it out lately, do so, it has some very interesting article by Mike Ware, if alt printing is what you like.
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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  9. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    Well, the issue is NOT extreme heat.

    I had those holders outside for maybe 3 minutes between the darkroom and home. Another 5 for exposure at most. And some of that was spent looking at the goo oozing out from BEFORE I put them in the camera.

    Those holders were not at 140. Even after being in an A/C environment for 4 hours, the liquid light was still VERY mushy. Runny jello mushy. Not good.

    I have been using primarily the Liquid Light instructions and a bit of the Ware instructions. I have not used a hardner, so I am going to try that. I got some of that Formulight stuff from PF.

    I have HEARD that old LL can go "soft". I bought this bottle a year ago and from a store so who knows how long it had been there. IIRC when I used it a year ago, it was about twice the ASA of Ilford MGIV. Possibly a bit fast? I used the last of the bottle for this experiment and have a large bottle ready to go for actual use. Maybe that will work better.

    With hardener of course.

    Anyone seen LL go that bad?
     
  10. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Obviously I dont have the answer, but a couple of comments that might help. If the holders are black, they might absorb more heat even if it feels cool to you. I know I have felt my holder get somewhat hot in the period I take them out of the bag and leave them for a few minutes in the sun while I meter. Obviously I stopped doing that.

    The other thing, gelatine, being an organic compound can break down over time. You say you have had this bottle for a year, I am willing to bet this is the problem. Try a new bottle, hardened and unhardened and see what works best.

    Good luck.
     
  11. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    robert -

    call rockland colloid and ask for bob.
    he was very helpful when i had trouble, maybe he
    can help you troubleshoot.

    his # is : 1-845 359-5559.

    good luck!

    -john
     
  12. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

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    It has been some time since I was into making my own glass plates and emulsioning them; but I doubt if this technique has changed very much over the past fifty years!

    1. The use of glass for the support will need to be substratized, which as you will be aware is a form if sizing.

    Any alkyd colour, or plain based primer. A couple of coats of oil based polyurethane, which can be sprayed or painted may be used when a colour base is not required.

    Each type of support will require it's own method and materials, but the above will cover, glass, stone ceramics and some hard grain woods.

    The substrating must be thoughly dry, best left overnight, before the liquid emulsion is applied by spray brush or glass rod. It is important for the emulsion to be left for at least twenty -four hours before use. However do not leave it too long before using, as it will not keep it's sensitive properties well.

    There are a number of manufacturers for these emulsions and each specify their own method for application. The Black Magic of Cachet's allow you to add the hardener to the sizing solution which has a chrome alum effect, this will ensure quick and positive adhesion of the emulsion to the base support, in your case, the glass slides.

    The authority in the UK is Dr Mike Ware, a chemist who can be contacted on his site at, mikeware.demon.co.uk

    I hope I have renewed your confidence in the project, it is a fascinating procedure and well worth the effort. Your first real success will be retained in your memory for all time!
     
  13. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    How about writing a short article Stan? Like Robert, I cannot find any infromation or details, other than the alternative photography article which uses liquid light. If you know of any other methods, I for one would welcome your expertise.
     
  14. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    jorge

    there is a book called

    Silver Gelatin: A User's Guide to Liquid Photographic Emulsions

    it is pretty much the bible for using liquid silver emulsions ( and making emulsions too ). for a while it was out of print in the usa, and only avail. in the UK, but you can get it from amazon.com again.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...002-7714865-3637629?v=glance&s=books&n=507846

    using polyurethane as a "binder" works well, but the problem is that it tends to yellow after a while.
     
  15. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Thank you J for the info! I will get it now. I think Clay and Kerik are nuts trying the wet collodion method, wayyyy too hard, and cant see myself carrying 12x20 plates in the field, not in my little car...:smile: OTOH knowing the quality of their work I am sure some nice prints will come out of their efforts.

    in any case one must be prepared for eventualities....dry plate sounds good to me..:smile:
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    jorge -

    the book is really good. it even has a section with formulae for emulsions &C ..
    you are forgetting one thing. with wet plate you have to develop the plate when you are still in the field in a portable darkroom :smile:
    as soon as the collodion has turned into celuloid, you've pretty much screwed the pooch <g>

    dry plates are a little easier, that is for sure -
     
  17. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

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    Yes, SOME polyurethane will yellow with time but not all. The oil based variety is the best and should remain plain or colour stable.

    There is no substitute for trials in this field. Specific probems are not always easily settled through discussion, as there are so many variables which makes these processes so customized and fascinating. It is often difficult to make a second copy to match the original.

    I do not profess to be an authority, or even up to date with so called modern methods of alternative processes. There are excellent sources of information, both in book form and on line for any of the recognized methods.

    I know of four types of liquid emulsion that are available world wide:

    Formulight, (Silverprint VC)
    Rockland (Liquid Light)
    Bergger (EL3)
    Cachet (Black Magic)

    The Rockland is probably the most versatile and controllable as far as speed and density are concerned.

    Jorge.
    Thankyou for your proposal, but in my opinion the subject of alternative processes does not lend itself to a short article. I think the forum, for specific question and answers on the subject is the way forward, which is already well catered for on APUG.

    Stay enthused.
     
  18. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    I look at like an early version of Polaroid. You generally know what you have before you leave.
     
  19. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    Clay,

    I am interested in learning wet plate also. Did you attend any workshops with John Coffer or the Ostermans? And are youmaking your own collodion?
    I have read that Merk (pharmacutical) makes a collodion that is suitable, but have also read that only by making your own can you get the results you need. If you are making your own I would be curious about where you are getting your materials for the collodion.
     
  20. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

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    Robert.
    I failed to mention two other factors for getting the emulsion to stay with the support.
    Should the emulsion not be fresh, or if it has been stored at the wrong temp. then it will not dry in the time suggested. It is a bit similar to old paint, but with paint you can add a drying agent to speed it up.

    The other matter I failed to mention earlier is that the support, in this case glass, needs to be treated with alcohol, isopropyl, acetic acid or stop bath, or even white vinegar. After so treating, wash off with warm soda water which will remove any trace of wax or other surface that will be detrimental to the coating.
     
  21. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    O.k. I am hitting this again.

    I have abunch of 1.3mm plates coming in. Actual vintage plates that I am going to strip down and reuse. I also have a supply of 5" square 1.3mm glass.

    I've also gotten a some formulight hardener from the good people at PF.

    Here is my question -

    It says I can harden the gelatin with this stuff. Harden the emulsion before applying, harden in development, and of course I am using a hardening fix.

    That is a lot of hardening going on.

    While the prospect of my emulsion being harder than the arteries of 67 year-old smoker who has been on Atkins for the last 50 years is nice, I want to do this right.

    I figure hardening the subbing layer is a no-brainer. Easy to do. And since the emulsion goes over it, not too much of an issue.

    Now, I think I will want to harden the emulsion as it is poured on.

    This is the tricky part. Apparently I can treat only as much emuslion as I need, as you can't "reuse" emulsion that has the hardener added.

    What exactly does this mean? Do I have a time limit during which I MUST use the liquid emulsion that I have added hardener to, or, as long as I keep it hot and liquid, can I use this stuff? Does the hardening only happen when the emulsion sets?

    I want to reduce waste as much as possible here.

    Also, would it be wise to harden in development or just save it for fix?
     
  22. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    I hope that you are aware that anything over 140 ºF will ruin your gelatin. The heat breaks it down and it does not set as well as it should. Perhaps this was the problem.

    Once you add hardener, as long as the gelatin has not set, it is still usable, once it has harden, it no longer can be re used. IOW, you cannot re melt it and use it again.

    As long as you keep the gelatin from setting, without overheating it, you are fine.
     
  23. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    My authoriyt on this kind of thing (Dr. E. Vogel, in "Taschenbuch der praktischen Photographie", Berlin 1904) doesn't mention hardening developer but instead a hardening step between stop and fix.
     
  24. paxette

    paxette Member

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    possible source for glass

    If don't mind cutting the glass and, if you have a five and dime/dollar store/discount type store in you area check their out their selection of frames. I found really cheap ($1) plastic frames that use glass that is about 1.5mm thick (using the ruler/eyeball method). They also had the frameless style (the kind with the four metal clips) with glass that hovers around the 2mm mark.
     
  25. kevin klein

    kevin klein Member

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    Robert

    The first thing I thaught when I read of your problem is that you put the plates in a paper safe to dry, they need to dry in open air preferably with a fan moving the air around. The paper safe probably confined the moisture and did not allow the emulsion to dry properly.

    Try again letting it dry this time in the open. You might try an experiment and coat a few small plates and let them dry in the light and test them for hardness to see what they will do.

    As for subbing, I have never subbed for gelatin emulsions, all I do is wash the plate well with dish soap,rinse,and dry with paper towel. Some times the edge will come up a little but nothing bad enugh to force me to sub.

    For those looking for plain collodion for wetplate, Mavidon Medical Supply has it too.