silver gelatin printing, and using film

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by jnanian, Jun 20, 2014.

  1. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    at this point using traditional materials ( photo paper and film )
    is considered "alternative process photography" since
    the main stream uses more modern techniques.

    how far away from the digital main stream are you ?

    do you polish your own metal plates to make daguerrotypes? coat your own wet plates/tintypes?
    make your own silver emulsion, or paper or books, or coat your own film, or use ready made materials to make your life trouble free?

    since its all alternative photography at this point, what do you do?
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I am, and have always been a traditional film and paper guy. Lately, I've been working on Pt/Pd and carbon transfers. In the past, I have coated paper with liquid emulsion products, and enjoy every aspect of the craft. The only digital work I do is digisnap pix of items I sell, and scanning finished prints for display on sharing sites. My original prints are hanging on walls of friends, family, and clients.
     
  3. David Brown

    David Brown Subscriber

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    A few years ago, I was asked to make a small presentation at an "alt process" gathering. I began my talk by saying: "Hello, my alternative process is roll film!"

    :cool:
     
  4. WetMogwai

    WetMogwai Member

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    I haven't printed in silver in almost two years. I print almost exclusively in Palladium. I'll do Cyanotype a bit more when I can get my pH problem under control. I'm also considering getting into RA-4 when I have access to a proper darkroom again.
     
  5. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    Like Rick and David, the flesh and blood of my photography is film and chemistry. I do brew my own chemical paper developers and I am thinking of learning a true alternate process with either Carbon transfer of Kalitype printing.

    I do have a digital camera I use for snaps such as yesterday when my grandson graduated from kindergarten and moves on to 1st grade. A florescent lit gymnasium is not a place to attempt art and the digital camera has a setting for just that situation.

    I guess I would say use the right tool to the situation, or as my other grandson might say: BE PREPARED
     
  6. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    Feet in both buckets here.
     
  7. snapguy

    snapguy Member

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    Tfhere is more

    There is more to the digital mainstream than just equipment and paper and chemicals. The old fashioned way of making a photograph is not machinegunning your camera around and taking 600 so-called photos an hour. In the olde days photography was a very controlled event. Many olde time cameras came without rangefinding equipment so you had to carefully measure the distance to the subject with your eye or a measuring tape. You probably put the camera on a tripid an studied the scene in front of you prior to pressing the shutter. Then most folks would put their camera and film in the mail and send it to Kodak for a new roll of film installed in the camera, prints and negatives from the photos you had shot. Not a speedy process. I have moved from 36 exposures to 12 (a Rolleiflex) and will make my own film or film plates if things come to that. I also am putting together two FrankenGraphic cameras (4x5 and 2 1/4 x3 1/4) and will use paper negatives in them. Later I will try coating my own paper/glass, whatever. I am getting myself into a time warp charging fearlessly into the past and I love it.
     
  8. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Shooting B&W films only, and printing on FB 30x40cm, and RC from 10x15cm to 20x30cm. For me until you don't hold print in the hands - job is not done.

    Liquid emulsion and Lith print as well.

    Plan for near future: wet plates 6x9cm in box camera, get 4x5 large format camera if I will like the wet plate work flow. Also planing to learn to make my own liquid emulsion because it is very expensive.
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I use ready-made materials; film and regular old silver gelatin papers and manufactured chemistry, but have dabbled with palladium and would love to do more, if I had the time.

    I find the notion of a daguerrotype really intriguing, I think that would be my next step into what we consider the alt world.
     
  10. omaha

    omaha Member

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    I would love to get into four color process carbon printing. Since the process I envision (printing relatively large format) would require digital-based color separations, its the ultimate "hybrid" approach! :smile:
     
  11. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    I don't really measure my distance from mainstream. That's not too important to me. But figuratively speaking, I am sometimes mainstream, sometimes wandering far.

    Every permutation scratches my creative itch in some way;
    DSLR
    IR-DSLR
    Epson scanner+epson printer
    film + epson scanner
    film + silver gelatin paper
    film + cyanotypes
    film + vandykes
    film + digital negatives + cyanotypes
    toning cyanotypes

    I wouldn't mind some other alt process options, but there are only 24 hours in a day.
     
  12. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Yes, I use digital. But I also use film - both black and white and color (mostly negative). I do gelatin-silver black and white printing. I haven't done color darkroom printing for years. I also, more and more frequently, delve into brownprint and cyanotype printing. I plan to try salted paper very soon. Interestingly, digital has become nearly a necessity for these alternative methods. You need it to make enlarged negatives. Traditional methods of making enlarged negatives suffer from the cost and unavailability of materials. Beside that, I get great control using Photoshop.
     
  13. DannL.

    DannL. Member

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    Film, Paper Negatives & Dry plates. I try to split my time between these three. It's a pastime. The only real time I spend with a DSLR is when it's connected to a telescope. Other than that it's a general snapshot camera.
     
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  15. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Digital is an alternative process. B&W photography has been and always will be about light and shadow, both in the creation of the film image and the paper image.
     
  16. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    While I do like to hang out on this forum, I am primarily a hybrid worker. I use film cameras, scan the film and print digitally. One of these days, I want to begin making digital negatives for contact printing on platinum/palladium.

    I miss making silver prints, but I have to deal with arthritis that makes it really unpleasant to stand in the darkroom for hours at a time as I did in my youth. Being able to retouch and manipulate images digitally is fabulous. It allows me to do thinks I'd never have time or ability to do in the darkroom.

    Digital cameras don't thrill me, but I've largely given up 35mm in favor of a small digital camera. Probably 95% of my photography is medium or large format B&W.
     
  17. Maris

    Maris Member

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    Photography is a much more broadly inclusive than silver gelatin "printing" and the use of film.

    The exclusive characteristic which has always separated photography from other ways of picture production is the consumption of light sensitive substances. Any light-sensitive substance will do. It doesn't have to be silver based. It also doesn't matter if the light sensitive substances are particularly in the form of film, plates, sensitised paper, bottles of goo, whatever. These are just convenient (or inconvenient) ways of presenting a light-sensitive substance to light so that it can undergo chemical changes, produce visible marks, and generate photographs.

    And no, it's not the use of cameras or lenses that make a photograph a photograph. Those things have a long pre-photographic history as aids to painting and drawing. Nowadays cameras and lenses are also used to provide feedstock in the form of electronic files to the front end of digital picture-making. And "digital", if you think about it (or not), is merely a computer assisted analog of painting or drawing. Paintings, drawings, and their modern digital equivalent don't amount an alternative or mainstream way of actually doing photography.
     
  18. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    I disagree with the premise, but that discussion goes nowhere worth going.
     
  19. NedL

    NedL Subscriber

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    It's all kind of jumbled up for me.

    The solstice is tomorrow, and I will go replace solargraphy cans that I have scattered all over the county. Even though the solargraph is on photo paper, I hardly even think of it as "photography".. it's just a different hobby. The results can't be shared here because they are hybrid, but sometimes they are amazing.

    Then there's pinhole photography and that's a step closer to "real" film photography, I guess. But I have a completely different mindset when I go out with a pinhole camera compared to film camera. Those are scanned+inverted or contact printed, in about equal proportions. Or on instant film. Really fun!

    Then there's film... I have two 35mm SLRs and two 120 folders ( w/ slow and fast films loaded ). I carry one of them around on my walks almost every day. Those are for making prints with. That's "normal film photography" making prints under the enlarger. But maybe I have anachronistic taste. The prints that I'm the most happy with look like they were made 75 years ago. Sometimes I use a blue filter to push things in that direction. But not always... what I like isn't so one dimensional. Mexican food might be my favorite but I like all kinds of food....

    Then I have some old kodak folding cameras that I mostly use paper negatives in, but sometimes I put film into them and make prints. There is no good reason for this, but in my mind, it's as different from "normal photography" as pinhole or solargraphy. I usually have something very specific in mind and it doesn't look anything like the prints I usually make.

    Then there's large lensed-camera paper negatives. I started making some especially for salt prints, and I'm trying to learn how to make good calotypes. I have not yet managed to combine these and make a salt print from a homemade calotype, but I'm getting there. Both of these things emphasize aspects of paper negatives that I really like, so it was a natural direction to go. If I manage to do that, I guess I'll have reverted back to photography as it was 150 years ago! I have a family and a full time job, so I have to be satisfied with slow progress. Actually that's not true: I have fun doing it, and there's no "goal" or end point I'm trying to reach.

    I also have a digital camera that I use for snapshots, and I do like it. I spend enough time in front of my computer so the digital would not be a fun hobby for me.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 20, 2014
  20. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Sorry John.

    I'm afraid that according to the Pacifica Chapter of the Center for Photographic History and Technology (CPHT) silver gelatin film and paper isn't yet "Alternative" enough to be counted as "Alternative Photography". :smile:

    But it has been considered.

    I use digital tools for sharing things digitally, and almost all my recent colour prints have been made using a digital intermediary.

    But I shoot film whenever and wherever I can, including transparency film for projection.

    I print black and white in the darkroom, and am trying to get back to optical colour printing.

    When I have photographs printed at a lab, I avoid ink jet processes and insist on RA4.

    I lurk and experience vicariously the work that other, more alternative photographers do. So far, I've got a single Van Dyke brown print in my experience.

    I may as well include a plug for the fall 2014 Northwest Symposium for Alternative Process Photography: http://www.altphotopacifica.org/Events.html
     
  21. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    I committed myself to platinum and palladium prints in the mid 1980s due to it being the only way I could get what I wanted out of a print. I am too old now to consider an alternative and besides I still get what I want. However that said I have always wished there was some direct single step paint on solution that would allow me to print archival true color on beautiful paper. Sentimentality, love of the old, or wanting to do what other people don't do has never affected me.
    Dennis
     
  22. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    Too bad, because I do silver gelatin film and paper and I live in Pacifica...
     
  23. omaha

    omaha Member

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    Coincidentally, my wife drives a Pacifica.
     
  24. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    I wouldn't consider silver gelatin printing to be an alternative process, it is the mainstream of darkroom work. If anything digital is the alternative.

    Tom
     
  25. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You would be welcome if you wanted to attend a regular meeting or the bi-annual symposium.

    The regular meetings are free, and very interesting.

    The 2012 symposium was really fascinating.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi matt

    thanks for the link!

    yeah i know it is figurative at this point, not really alternative like carbon, pt/pd &c
    but as time marches on ...