Printing on concrete

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Stonediger, Nov 17, 2008.

  1. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am looking for any info anyone may have about printing on concrete. The process needs to be fairly simple without a large investment in equipment. This will be a large piece (8ft x 5ft). Would Liquid Light and a slide projector work? What about concretes high ph, as high as 13 when fresh?
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've heard of folks using cyanotype for large projects like that, and I've experimented with satista on tile but a way is needed for proper fixing and washing out. The material absorbs the sensitiser too deeply.
     
  3. Barry S

    Barry S Member

    Messages:
    1,347
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2007
    Location:
    DC Metro
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I'd think you need to let the concrete cure, use a concrete sealant, and then sub the surface for a liquid emulsion. I agree that raw concrete is too absorbent without sealing.
     
  4. Akki14

    Akki14 Member

    Messages:
    1,873
    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2007
    Location:
    London, UK
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Cyanotype won't work on something with that high of a pH. They discovered way back when that prussian blue pigments can't be used in frescos without disappearing because of the pH...
     
  5. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you for the reply's. I really need all the help I can get. As someone once said "I know just enough to get into deep trouble".
    I was considering polishing the surface with diamond polishing pads. I can get a very smooth, shiny surface that way. Then flood the surface with concrete specific sealer 2 or 3 times. The sealer soaks in quit deeply. Having experience with this process, I believe it would work to prepare the surface.
    But what about the Liquid Lite and slide projector.
    The picture is quit simple in content but I would like to end up with a sepia type finish if possible
     
  6. bnstein

    bnstein Member

    Messages:
    133
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Location:
    australia
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    This sounds like quite an undertaking. Are you under the pump for a finish time? I hope not!
    Some thoughts:-
    Lateral thought: do you have to /want to work on concrete. If a covering eg wood is ok this may make life easier.
    Non-lateral thoughts: I think your best bet is going to follow your idea of polishing / sealing first. I'd also be thinking of a gelatin or similar sizing but that square footage will make it non-trivial to do this. Options to experiment with then would be cyanotype (your surface must be sealed++ and non-alkaline or as Heather says its bye-bye image), & liquid emulsions. Given the size I cant see anything else coming to the party. So to proceed: first I'd get a copy of Christopher James's book on Alternative processes: lots of info. Second, I would be making up a bunch of small slabs to experiment with, or if thats not possible at least experimenting small scale on the edges. Better to seal a square foot with something that makes your liquid light go all gooey and refuse to work....
     
  7. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How ever long it takes to get the results my mind sees will have to be soon enough.
    I like the idea of a utilitarian product used as art. To me photography is the saving a particularly special moment in time. I guess I am trying to write that moment in stone.
    bnstein, you are right, this will take a lot of trial and error.
    Given the size, I will not be using a transparency or stencil. Cost consideration is pushing me toward a slide projector. Anybody have any thoughts on type, brand, etc.?
     
  8. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

    Messages:
    578
    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2006
    Location:
    Northern NJ
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I could see doing something with Kallitype, perhaps. Make an enlarged negative on some sort of transparency material. Coat at night. Put the negative down, glass plate, and cover with a blanket. Expose in the morning. Cover it with a blanket again. Process and fix that night. Just a thought.
    Neal
     
  9. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    748
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    How do you plan on exposing your sensitized concrete? Liquid light is very slow and a slide projector is really not that bright, especially at distances required for the size enlargement you'd like to make. Oh....and then there's reciprocity failure with your enlargement times...
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Why a slide projector? Enlargers are plentiful and cheap, and enlarging lenses are sharper and have less distortion than most projection lenses.
     
  11. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    David
    You are right, there is a plethora of enlarger's available at reasonable prices. There are also as many brands, sizes, negative types, etc., etc.
    What combination of brand, negative type, lense and size will give the best results on an enlargement of 8 ft. by 5 ft.?
    It is for my own home and as far as I know this will be a one time project.
     
  12. bnstein

    bnstein Member

    Messages:
    133
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2007
    Location:
    australia
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Just thinking about the processing. Is this a wall (vertical) or floor, or can it be moved? If the first you'll need some brushes or paint rollers and trays, the second or third you may just be able to flood the surface.
    If something that people are going to be moving over or past and perhaps brushing against, you may want to consider a surface protective coat like a varnish layer on an oil painting.
     
  13. frotog

    frotog Member

    Messages:
    748
    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2007
    Location:
    third stone
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    For that size enlargement you're going to need a very powerful enlarger lamp - at least 1000w. I'm mostly concerned about the slow slow speed of liquid light coupled with huge reciprocity failure. I would not at all be surprised if you run into exposures in excess of one hour.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,678
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2003
    Location:
    Chicago
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    An (unmodified) enlarger may not be problematic. If I used my enlarger and opened up the lens to f2.8, it would take about 4 minutes without reciprocity if I did my calculations right. Might want to consider using one of the 40mm lenses just to get your enlarger head-to-concrete distance down. The logistics are really daunting, but nothing compared to the world record photo: http://alternativephotography.com/articles/art100.html

    I suppose you'd need to locate your piece of concrete and build a darkroom around it to make the exposure and process it. It would be tough to move :smile:

    Now for the heresy.....
    If I did it, I'd consider scanning the image and break it up into reasonably sized tiles. Then, print digital negatives and contact print them onto the sealed concrete tiles using the method of your choice. Alternatively, you could use the tiling method, print out laser print reversed positives and solvent transfer the image onto the concrete. I've never tried that, but it sounds plausible.
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    There are lenses particularly designed for mural printing, like the Rodagon G, but whether you need that will depend on how smooth and even the surface is. If you're going to polish the surface and can get it pretty flat, then it could be worth buying the best lens you can get and selling it afterward. If it's going to be relatively rough (compared to glossy FB paper), then the surface itself will limit resolution, and any decent 6-element enlarging lens should do.

    Ian Grant has done things like this on vehicles, so he might have some ideas for you.
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,114
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yes David's right I spent 10 years putting images on to a variety of surfaces, predominantly vehicles or painted metal sheets.

    I never tried concrete but it wouldn't be any different to wood, where the problems are the porosity of the material used. I would suggest sealing the surface with a clear-coat lacquer, we always used a 3 pack from Glasurit. This would need to soak well into the concrete, and two or 3 coats given to ensure it's well sealed, then left to dry fully for a few days- as long as possible. Before coating with photo-emulsion you would need to prepare the surface with 600 grit Wet & Dry paper to give the surface a key for the emulsion.

    The emulsion will have to be sprayed to coat an 8ft x 5ft surface, this takes a bit of skill getting the right consistency etc to coat evenly, and ensuring it sets as you spray. We made our own emulsion, and also trialled Ilospeed Gd3 emulsion for a short spell. Our enlarger was a modified De Vere 54a mounted in a cradle, we custom built a condenser light source with a 275W bulb and typical exposures were around the 2-3 minute mark for an 8ft long image using a 150mm f5.6 Vivitar VHE lens (actually a Componon) at f11-f16. Your negative needs to be slightly higher contrast/gamma for these sizes.

    We didn't dry the emulsion before exposure/processing, but we added extra hardeners etc to the emulsion & the developer, the alternative is to let the emulsion dry overnight, usually takes around 12 hours to air dry. Again you will need to spray the dev, stop & fix, garden sprays are ideal. Developer will need to be modified, we always used Ilford PQ Universal or May & Baker (Champion) Suprol, at 1+19 dilution (instead of 1+9) with additional Sodium Sulphite and hardener. The sulphite helps prevent aerial oxidation as the emulsion isn't totally immersed in developer, and using the dev more dilute makes it far easier to get even development. We fixed with Hypam again more dilute than normal. We washed for 3 hours, but an hour is sufficient if the emulsion was dried prior to processing. We used a washing rig made up using crop spraying parts from an agricultural supplier.

    You will have to ensure that no chemicals or water are allowed to soak into the rest of the concrete and there will be a considerable volume of liquids to drain away. When the image is finally washed and dried then you will need to coat it again with the Clear-coat lacquer.

    All spraying of lacquers, emulsion etc should be carried out with airline respirators, googles etc, and you will need fume extraction. Processing can be done with a respirator.

    It's a far more daunting prospect than it initially appears.

    Ian
     
  18. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thank you everybody. Everyone has been very gracious and very forthcoming with information.
    I have the equipment for the actual installation of the piece. The piece will probably be laying flat so i can build a frame one the edges and use a chalk of some kind to seal it, then I can flood the surface if need be.
    I already have the diamond polishing pads to polish the surface to a 1000 grit shine. I have done this before with counter tops and other custom installations.
    I believe I will use 2 coats of a deep penetrating concrete sealer then a coat of clear lacquer. The concrete sealer is made to neutralize the Ph in the concrete. That should stop the surface salt crystallization that sometimes happens under surface applied coatings.
    Enclosing the piece to create a darkroom environment, also, is not a problem. My studio is 1200 sq ft. with 10 ft ceilings.
    That leaves the enlarging process itself.
    Several people have commented on the long exposure times for Liquid Lite. Are there any other considerations? Time is something I have plenty of.
    As I said before, this will probably be a one time project and I have not developed an eye to appreciate the fine tuning of a photo, as I am sure many of the people on this forum have.
    That said, I am looking at a couple of pieces of equipment on Ebay.
    Schneider-Kreuznach Componon 150mm 1:5,6 Enlarging Lens
    bogan x358 black and white photo enlarger
    Beseler 23C Enlarger with dichro 23 dga colorhead
    Will the lens work with either of the enlargers?
    Have a background in fabrication, building a cradle for the enlarger shouldn't be a problem if someone can explain a way to determine the distance the enlarger needs to be from the surface.
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    What is the size of the negative?

    A beseler 23C enlarger is designed for negs up to 6x9 cm. A 150mm lens is for enlarging 4x5" negs. You could use it with smaller negs, but then you'll need more distance between the enlarging head and the print surface, which isn't what you want if you're making a very large print.
     
  20. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What lens should I be looking for to go with the Beseler?
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    It depends on the size of the negative. What is the size of the negative?
     
  22. Stonediger

    Stonediger Member

    Messages:
    16
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2008
    Location:
    Northern Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I will have it made any size that works best.
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,000
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    In that case, I'd look for a 4x5" enlarger, rather than a Beseler 23c, and make the negative 4x5" and use a 150mm lens. A bigger enlarger can have a bigger light source, reducing exposure time, and the larger negative will give you a sharper image.
     
  24. vdonovan

    vdonovan Subscriber

    Messages:
    511
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2008
    Location:
    San Francisc
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Cutting test strips is going to be a pain.
     
  25. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,458
    Joined:
    Jan 2, 2005
    Location:
    North East U.S.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    To add to David's comment about the light source, a 23C dichro head won't give you much light, especially at the scale you're working in. I'd stay away from color heads altogether.
     
  26. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,114
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    What you do is have some metal plates prepared & painted to approx match the concrete's colour & use these as test strips, leant against the concrete for exposure. Coat & process well away from the main surface to prevent contamination.

    You just want an enlarger head, so ideally a scrap enlarger for parts. If you were in the UK I'd sort out something for you. You could even use an old 5x4 camera, all you need is the focussing mechanism, the light source is very simple & easy to make.

    Ian