Mimicking an ambrotype/tintype positive with normal film - ??

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by holmburgers, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    What got me thinking about this was a very underexposed negative that I took on Ron Mowrey's AZO emulsion; made at the Rochester workshop and coated on melinex film. Not knowing the speed really, I had to guess, and the result was the thinnest neg you can imagine!

    But, it exhibited a positive image against a darkground quite well, exactly like an ambrotype or a tintype; which are effectively just underexposed negatives.

    Most people are familiar with the phenomenon, particularly with a film like Delta 3200 or something. But I'm wondering if there's some way to really accentuate the effect with normal medium/slow speed films; TXP320, Delta 100, etc.

    Are there some kind of "tricks" you can employ in the developer, or do you have to rely on gross underexposure? That latter's not an ideal solution since it might ruin your tonal scale.

    I know that collodion folks often, or at least historically, would have had 2 different developing & exposure schemes. 1 to produce a good negative and the other 2 produce a good positive. I wonder if we can gleem anything by comparing two such recipes...

    Now imagine if you could get a good "positive" developer in a monobath. Jeez... you might be able to set up shop on a streetcorner and start producing one off positives for folks!, assuming you also found a nice way to mount the film.

    Looking forward to your input!
     
  2. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    I'd think it would be hard to accentuate the effect. You need a thin image to make an ambrotype/tintype work. If you experimented with any type of film, you probably could make it work. You might try painting the back of the film base black, too.

    Peter Gomena
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    if you make a glass plate ( dry plate ) using black glass
    and then carefully bleach +weak fix the image you might be able to do this.
     
  4. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    thanks guys,

    What about full exposure, and weak development? IDK... just throwing that out there.

    I was thinking that you could mount it with the base facing out for protection, and to see it in proper orientation, and then put something dark behind it. Imagine coating emulsion on obsidian!

    john, are you talking about taking a full neg and then reducing it?

    I'm hoping someone with some collodion expertise might chime in; I'm really curious about the differences between an otherwise identical collodion emulsion, but the 2 different developing procedures.
     
  5. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Unless you use a film with an extremely clear base, I would think viewing the image through the film base would show more base and fog density than you would like. You have some variables here to experiment with - film (or other substrate), exposure, development, developers, bleaching, final mount. You might experiment with liquid print emulsion on black glass or plastic, if you can find a way to make it stick. Transferring an instant film emulsion to a black backing might work. You're just going to have to roll up your sleeves and try it!

    Peter Gomena
     
  6. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    You're right Pete, you can only do so much in your head; gotta get the hands involved.

    However, this isn't something I can afford to investigate at present, unless it just happens by happy accidents. You're probably right that the base won't be that pleasing to view through, though ambrotypes are seen through their base, only it's glass.

    Who knows, maybe we'll hit on an idea if we gab enough.. :smile:
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey holmburgers -

    the way the gelatin tintype plate worked is just like you are talking about
    the emulsion was painted on a black surface ( blackened tin, black glass )
    made the exposure and then bleached it +fixed it.
    rockland colloid's process works the same way ...

    the clear bits don't bleach at all ( nothing there, so they show the black behind it ) and
    the black bits get lighter/bleached ... the mid tones stay around the same.

    i am sure if you put some of your azo emulsion on something black you could probably do the something similar ...
    without exposing yourself to cyanide

    good luck!
    john
     
  8. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Read the Essay "Dangers in the Dark" on the late Bill Jay's website. There apparently is no reason to use potassium cyanide to fix wet-plate images. Plain old sodium thiosulfate will work, and was available to photographers in the 19th century. Some "authority" said cyanide was superior and everyone jumped on the bandwagon to the detriment of many. A very interesting read with Jay's sense of humor included.

    I will note that I do not play with wet-plate chemicals and processes and see no reason to do so. Experienced users of these processes may tell me I'm full of crap, but that's okay. My kids tell me that all the time.

    http://www.billjayonphotography.com/writings.html.

    Peter Gomena
     
  9. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    That's why it would be nice to find a safe & easy way to get a similar look.
     
  10. Hexavalent

    Hexavalent Subscriber

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    Uranium or mercury toning/intensification can produce a nice 'postive' negative. Not exactly off-the-shelf chemistry, nor health-friendy though.
     
  11. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Could you post an image that you like? Then we might be able to say how to get close with normal film and printing techniques.
     
  12. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks keith, but I guess what I'm looking for is specifically how to get a positive from a thin negative, and not necessarily any kind of "look". You could call it the ambrotype look maybe, but it'd be impossible to achieve on paper owing to the fundamental difference in the nature of either kind of image. Just like how you can only experience a daguerreotype in person..

    update: a few historic examples -> http://brightbytes.com/collection/ambrotypes.html
     
  13. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Oh, well why not give platinum and/or palladium printing a try with your thin neg(s). The tone differentiation might suit your negs better than silver. Yep, silver is a b*tch with thin negs.... doable but not pleasant. Some people just automatically throw in the towel and hit it with selenium as best they can and/or go hybrid or get an LVT made. But try Pt/Pd, it may amaze you.
     
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  15. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    I see what you're saying keith, but I can't even afford silver nitrate let alone platinum! :tongue:

    But I'm not necessarily tyring to salvage a thin negative, but rather to purposefully get an ambrotype-type positive.
     
  16. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well you can get platinesque effects from ziatype which is way less expensive, and it might work better for thin negs too, but I don't know offhand.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    holmburgers

    have you made a mat box lit from the front ?
    you would mount the underexposed film in like a frame
    and look at it against a black background cross lit.
    the film would be mounted whatever the sweet-spot distance
    is to make you view it as a positive.
    i have often thought of how to make my current film look like tintypes
    and i haven't been able to come up with a solution other than what i just wrote
    ... unless of course you want to re-coat black photo paper with liquid emulsion
    ( or over exposed "black" film )
    and then use ferri or some sort of bleach ( or ? ) to brighten what will become your whites ..
    its a lot of work but who knows ...

    if i come up with anything i'll let you know :smile:
    john
     
  18. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks John,

    Ok, so does the bleach just serve to reduce the density, or does it have an effect on the "lightness" of the metallic silver? I'm guessing the former, and in which case, it'd be a pretty easy experiment to do with some Farmer's reducer.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi holmburgers

    well, in the case of the gelatin tin types i have been told it both brightens and lightens the image
    (because they have less luminosity ( duller? ) ) so my uneducated guess is that MAYBE it will do the same thing :smile:

    i plan on trying something like this tomorrow ... i have some ancient liquid light, and some way-fogged paper that i can just
    develop in room light ... i will try to post my results in this thread too :smile:

    bon chance !
    john
     
  20. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Wow john, that's awesome! Really psyched to see what you get, and you've demonstrated just how easily it could be done. Developed up paper should be perfect..
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi holmburgers

    i am sad to report back that my experiments were a bust
    i blackened the paper, and coated them with emulsion ..
    and while my emulsion was still "good" i wasn't able to coax
    an image onto the black paper .. i made photograms though, but
    still i don't think that outside daylight in a camera would have made much of a difference.
    i will try that next since i have a few sheets of coated paper left ..

    - john
     
  22. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Hmm, that's too bad... is it a case of just not being able to see it against the black ground?

    I hope the next trial turns out better, keep us posted! :smile:
     
  23. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    chris -

    i did it, and posted my results in the gallery :smile:
     
  24. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Hey John,

    It looks good!; the one with the trees, right?

    I'm really interested in the conditions for getting a bright deposit without resorting to mercuric chloride or cyanide fix; it seems that physical development is the key and Rockaloid's kit likely has some hypo added to the developer.
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey chris !

    yep the trees ...

    there is a 3 part developer, and some of it is fixer ... speed fixer that is .
    when i get more made i'll post'em :wink:
     
  26. nicholai

    nicholai Member

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    I think keith is misunderstanding something here.
    OP doesnt want to print thin negs. He wants to make thin negs in hope that they will IN THEMSELVES mimick the look of ambrotypes, when theyre put on a black background, am i right?
    In this case i think you ought to try, i've had regular negs look that way.