Making your own film

Discussion in 'Silver Gelatin Based Emulsion Making & Coating' started by Photo Engineer, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Here is an update on film emulsion making and coating.

    I have made 5 attempts to make an entirely new type of emulsion which have failed utterly. This method was intended to duplicate the ammonia digest emulsion previously posted but without the ammonia. It didn't work. I have another type in the wings to work on but as of now, the SRAD (Single Run Ammonia Digest) posted below with some modifications is the best. Runs still peg it at about 40 ISO when ortho sensitized.

    As for coating it, I have observed better results at my leisure here than during a workshop. I have now isolated the problem. In the rush of giving the workshop, the film and plate coatings are used within 24 hours to fit it into the course. It turns out that this introduces micro reticulation into the coating as the hardening is not complete. It also allows for more frilling especially on glass plates.

    In addition, the contrast varies comparing ones done here and ones done in workshops. The latter are considerably lower than what I get here at my leisure. Well, in the haste of the workshop, the ammonia-silver 'digest' is given 3 days or more, but in class it is given, at best, 2 days. This lowers final contrast considerably.

    So, long and slow is the deal with the 'real formula' posted below to get optimum contrast and speed.

    Now, about coating. I think that the film will have to be coated at about 25% greater silver per unit area than I currently use. I'm working on that.

    In addition, it will probably be impossible to get useful coatings on 120 size film. Sheet film of 6x7 and up is possible with probably 11x20 being the largest practical size. The smaller sizes will be sharp enough, but grain will probably be bad. From 4x5 up, the grain and sharpness will be quite good.

    If one accepts a speed of about 12, then you will have fine grain and good sharpness in plates and films down to about 6x7.

    I am giving the plate coater a good workout and it seems to do well. If it works out, this plate coater will simplify all plate coatings. I'm currently working on a method to allow one blade to do all sizes of plates, but that may not be possible. Right now, I can do only 4x5 plates.

    I have tried to answer most of your questions in one post here.

    PE
     
  2. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

    Messages:
    1,399
    Joined:
    Sep 12, 2004
    Location:
    13 Critchley
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Thank you for continuing with this posting about your emulsion experimenting Ron. I read all these threads. I don't understand most of it, but with each post a bit more sinks in and cures before it evaporates:smile:.
     
  3. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,561
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kodak told me they would be in the film and chemical business for some time to come due to steady and strong demand as a digital input medium. Paper is the problem area.
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ok Curt, I'll concentrate on paper, and when I kick off to a happier place, I'll gladly take all of the film formulas with me. Then, in another few years, you will have to come up with your own.

    Seriously, the poll earlier was divided about 50% AZO, 25% Enlarging papers and 25% films/plates. I'm trying to split my time accordingly.

    PE
     
  5. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,561
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    PE, if I have to come up with my own; I won't. I'm not so stupid as to think I can solve the problem of reinventing film.

    Seriously though I did write to Eastman Kodak Company and they told me that film and chemicals are in strong demand and they were out of the paper production part of business. Therefore in the near future it appears that paper is a problem area. Either someone will work to produce it or it will end. That's the evolution of civilization and it's heroic to hold the doors open and I applaud you for all of your work as I have read everything you have posted here with great interest.

    History has shown that even with the formulas or instructions for the making of something it doesn't mean that just anyone can do it. If I had a good emulsion formula even with a science degree would I have the equipment and conditions to make film?

    All of the materials are available to make a light bulb, how many people can make them at home? How many can make enough to sell on a consistent basis with a consistent quality?

    Then there is the reality that if I am busy making film and paper when do I do photography? If I were younger I might have a better outlook but the older I get the more realistic I become.

    I'm quite aware that the magic in the tray is the result of many many hard working individuals who get up and go to work all day long so many others can have an Art.
     
  6. 3Dfan

    3Dfan Member

    Messages:
    218
    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    That's counter-intuitive to me. There are plenty of 1-hour places like Walmart and Ritz that seem to be making their money printing digital photos on real photo paper. I'd expect that paper (at least color paper) would be the last thing digital would kill off.
     
  7. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

    Messages:
    4,351
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2005
    Location:
    Montréal (QC
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Kodak still sells color paper, which the 1-hour labs gobble by the ton. It's their B&W papers that they have sacrified on the altar of commerce.
     
  8. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    San Clemente, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's probably time for your workshops to adopt the approach that television cooking shows use. While demonstrating the entire process, also bring some pre-aged digests and coatings. Then participants can see what optimum results will look like and also take home their own work to finish after appropriate aging.
     
  9. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

    Messages:
    4,561
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Now that's the best solution I've heard so far. Thanks Sal!
     
  10. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    Yep, thanks.

    I'd probably try it, but they don't travel well. They must be refrigerated or they spoil. Emulsions will change rapidly at room temperature and this is one of the major problems. They are like food items on the shelf at a store. Imagine taking a trip across country by train or plane and carrying a steak with you.

    Now, I know that steaks can be packed in dry ice, but before you suggest this, I have to tell you that a raw emulsion cannot be frozen. That will ruin it too.

    I will try to arrive early to Montana and make one in advance.

    That is about all I can do.

    PE
     
  11. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

    Messages:
    1,492
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2005
    Location:
    San Clemente, California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    That'll work. Also, given how much it's scaling back, perhaps EKCo has a surplus refrigerated delivery truck or two it would like to sell you at a bargain price. :smile:
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,972
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    that is kind of funny curt -
    they told me that they were going to be in
    the paper film and chemical business for the forseeable future
    (when they consolidated their south american concerns)

    then in 2 weeks they announced they weren't making paper anymore.
    - it was a big-wig in rochester + PR firm on the west coast that i spoke with ...
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I remember getting the first box of Type "C" paper in 1958 or so. It was deliverd directly from Rochester in a refrigerated truck owned and operated by Kodak. It was the Kodak green with the Kodak yellow turned up page logo that they used in those days.

    Oh, most of you don't know this. In house Kodak vehicles are green and Kodak security uniforms and guide uniforms are green. This harks back to the old days when Kodak used a green and yellow trade dress.

    PE
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am new to all this, as preparing my own exposure material always seemed to me somewhat beyond the horizon. However, in these days I thought making myself familiar with existing and emerging possibiities could be wise, and, who knows, even creative.

    I have no practical experience yet, and was only doing some reading in this forum - thank you, Photo Engineer, for getting engaged in this, it appears to me that your assistance is invaluable.

    My following practical questions may seem a bit outdated by others, but if there are answers in this forum, I must have overlooked them. They are meant for me to understand the practical dimensions of such an enterprise:

    1) how do you coat? I understand you mostly work with orthochromatic emulsions under redlight, but what is the physical procedure of coating? Just pouring on a leveled substrate? How do you spread?

    2) on which substrate do you coat? Only glass, or also some form of acetate?

    3) Are there problems with siver nitrate bought from a noble metal supplier?

    4) I understand that active gelatine is not easily available in these days. Does the addition of the additives mentioned by Photo Engineer provide a substiture for this, raising the ISO to similar levels as with active gel.?

    5) how do you "shred into noodles(?)", and wash? How complicated/sensitive is this procedure?

    6) I think it might be very helpful not only for me, but also others if a corpus of available literature on the subject could be established. I would go to any length getting books/articles, also by international foreign lending via scientific libraries. I would think it is very necessary to get as much an overview here as possibile, and then see how the available information could get adapted to provate/household procedures/facilities.

    The only literature I so far read on this is "primitive photography be Alan Greene", some 19th century literature available on the net from Stanford Uni. - but this is all pre-gelatine/film - and a book in German, I think it was by Eder.
     
  16. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lukas;

    I'll try to answer you as best I can.

    1. Coating can be by brush, spray, dip or blade.

    2. I use any hot press paper at about 100 pounds weight (IDK that value in metric) and also use uncoated baryta. You can coat on fixed out, washed outdated photo paper as well.

    3. Analytical grade silver nitrate, which comes in flakes, is just fine.

    4. You cannot add these ingredients (allyl thiourea for example) to an emulsion make but a better effect is gained by adding sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate at about 100 mg/mole of silver and heat treating as described elsewhere.

    5. You can use a potato ricer on the cold emulsion, or you can use a knife and cut it into tiny pieces. It works just fine. You wash until the wash water shows no cloudiness to a drop of silver nitrate test solution (the kind used to test for fixation of paper).

    6. The book "Silver Gelatin" is very very good, but assumes that you know that you should be using active gelatin. There is a paragraph devoted to this, but it is not sufficient to explain such a broad topic. It is out of print in the US.

    The books by Baker and Wall are good starting points, but the books by Baker are far more modern and accurate than those by Wall. Eder was a well respected author at the time of Wall and Baker. I usually don't mention his works as they are harder to get in the English speaking world.

    PE
     
  17. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you very much for these answers.

    "blade coating" seems what you do. I'll have to learn about this.

    I remember when I tried to prepare the base for an oil print, I distributed the gelatine on the paper with a comb. It worked nicely, but in good light.

    I am surprised you use (white!) paper. Does this not create a lot of flare? It is film we talk about? (Though, after all, the first negatives were paper negatives!)

    I assume that sodium thiosulfate helps to get speed. What about the gold salt? I read elsewhere that this is near essential.

    Who is the author of "silver gelatin"? Do you mean the book by Reed and Jones?? I thought this was just about using "liquid light".
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The book by Reed and Jones has an entire section on emulsion making.

    I do coat on film support and glass plates. Film support is hard to come by and plate coating is rather messy and difficult. I'm learning though.

    Gold sensitization is a good way to increase speed, but at the expense of contrast. I want to get high contrast first before I move on to lower it and increase speed with gold. Gold also increases the tendancy to fog during the final sulfur + gold treatment. You have to be very careful.

    Blade coating is only needed if you wish to totally eliminate brush strokes, but it too has some pitfalls.

    PE
     
  19. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    A question which continues to bother me, even though I will be able to start with practical experiments only in some time, is that of coating. Apart from that I am not quite sure I understand how blade coating functions, I have been thinking about my regular work of sizing paper with gelatine.
    I do this with a foam brush after placing the wet paper on an even surface. When the gelatine begins to get stiff, I hang to dry. So far so good, but the paper after applying the gelatine develops round or oval bubbles every once in a while, particularly when I coat larger formats, which, if I don't succeed of getting ridd of them by gently lifting the paper, create visible uneven spots in the coating.
    How do you coat gelatine on paper, particularly in difficult light or even in darkness? How do you make sure the paper stays absolutely flat?
    And, how is it possible to coat gelatine on acetate, as it is done with commercial films? There is, for instance, overhead foil, but how does one make the gelatine stick?
     
  20. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Lukas;

    The foam brush entraps bubbles in the gelatin and coats them onto the paper causing defects. You can get rid of them by the following sequence.

    1. Filter the melted emulsion.
    2. Degas the emulsion with a vacuum (optional)
    3. Degas the foam brush by saturating it with emusion and then squeezing out the emulison several times under the surface of the emulsion to prevent entrapment of more bubbles. (or use another method such as a brush or tray dip)

    I don't coat in total darkness. I avoid pan emusions for the time being.

    Coating on acetate or estar requires a subbing layer to facilitate adhesion.

    You will never be able to make a film with a brush or foam brush that has no defects. You can only do this by the dip method or the blade method. This has been my experience at EK.

    Hope this helps.

    PE
     
  21. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Photo Engineer,
    thanks for this answer. However, I think I expressed myself wrongly. You are absolutely right about degassing the foam, I regularly do this. The foam brush works well enough for sizing purposes, but I would bever dream to try to coat a light sensitive emulsion with it.
    But, as I said, I coat gelatine on wet paper, because dry paper as i know it starts to buckle as soon as water - or gelatine - is applied to it, and this makes it impossible to distribute it evenly. However, I notice often enough that even wet paper lifts from the surface in a sort of flat, round, well, what I called "bubbles" of maybe 2 or three " diameter. This is not air cught in the gelatine, but paper, well buckling from the surface even though it is wet.
    Do you see these problems also?

    Blade coating works with an absolutely straight metal blade held at even distance from the surface to be coated, maybe be a wire wrapped round it at each side, right? I presume you have to move this slowly and regularly over the surface, maybe forward and back to or three times. ithink this is what I will try (I might try it even for sizing, if only just to get the feeling). But how to prevent the paper from buckling?

    I cannot help thinking of dipping as a mess. I never liked this as a sizing method, either I got "noses" from gelatine running down, or, when I drew the paper over a round tube to sipe of surplus gelatine it got other defects, the gelatine gets cold, and, and, and...
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wire wound rods work well, but also are messy. There is a company in Rochester that makes them. I have posted the URL elsewhere.

    The coating blade is designed to keep the paper flat. That is the main purpose of the blade. Another aid is a heated vacuum plate to hold down the film or paper.

    In all cases, you have to keep all of the coating equipment hot enough to prevent the gelatin from setting up during the coating operation.

    PE
     
  23. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

    Messages:
    266
    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2005
    Location:
    Pakistan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This sounds truly encouraging. Where can I get/how can I make a coating blade? I have no idea of its design. And what about a heated vacuum plate?
     
  24. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The formulary sells the blades, and I have posted pictures of them here. I have posted the URL of the company that sells the wire wrapped rods.

    For the heated vacuum plate, you are on your own. To get one made would take a lot of fabrication at a metal shop and I just cannot afford to do it.

    PE
     
  25. rmazzullo

    rmazzullo Member

    Messages:
    263
    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2007
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    books by Baker and Wall...

    PE,

    Can you please tell me what the title(s) and full author's name are for the 'Baker' books?

    Thanks,

    Bob Mazzullo
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,772
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Bob;

    "Phtographic Emulsion Technique", by T. Thorne Baker. There are two editions. I have the second edition which is better than the first.

    PE