Weston Nude Solarization Technique

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Mustafa Umut Sarac, Nov 19, 2010.

  1. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    [​IMG]

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    As you see at Edward Weston s these two nude pictures , something is beatiful and strange. Pictures are solarized. I herebelow add an post from flickr on Weston gear ,
    technique.

    How can I solarize my prints , what was the exact recipe of two developers for that prints ? Is it possible to produce willis and clemens paper at home , pt ? Are these prints platin or azo ?
    Here is the post from flickr :

    Edward Weston's Technique

    Edward Weston brought to Mexico an 8 X 10 view camera and a 3-1/4 x 4-1/4 Graflex. His battery of lenses included an "expensive anastigmat" of unspecified make and several soft focus, or diffused focus lenses, among them a Wollensak Verito and a Graf Variable. These lenses had the characteristic that the degree of diffusion (i.e. spherical aberration) could be altered at will.

    The Variable was basically an anastigmat, fully corrected for its maximum aperture, f/3.8. By changing the distance between the front and the rear elements of this double lens, varying amounts of spherical aberration could be induced. Theoretically it thus produced either a needle sharp image or one so diffused that it hardly seemed to be produced by a lens.

    The f/4 Verito was described by its manufacturer as "a specially designed double lens... which, while it gives the desired diffused or soft optical effect, shows no distortion, double lines, or other optical imperfections, and being rectilinear gives an even diffusion over the whole plate... Will not make sharp negatives with wiry definition unless stopped down to f:8."

    When Weston wrote, on Easter, 1924, "Sharper and sharper I stopped down my lens; the limit of my diaphragm, f/32, was not enough, so I cut a smaller hole from black paper," he was referring to this characteristic of the Verito as well as to the fact that great depth of field is given with small lens openings.

    He had trouble with the Variable. Although he stopped it down to the smallest aperture, he found troublesome flares. An optometrist deduced that this was caused by the large glass surface of the f/3.8 lens. On June 24, 1924, he purchased for25 pesos a second-hand Rapid Rectilinear lens. This type of lens had long been considered obsolete, if not archaic. Years later he gave this lens to his son Brett, who has most generously presented it to the George Eastman House. It bears no maker's name. On the barrel is inscribed: "8 X 10 THREE FOCUS," and the scratched dedication, "To Brett —Dad, 1937." Examination on an optical bench proves it to be an unsymmetrical form of Rapid Rectilinear of 11-1/4 inch focal length, well made and well centered. It has no shutter — Weston used a behind-the-lens Packard shutter — but an iris diaphram marked "R. O. C. and C.CO." (Rochester Optical and Camera Co.") The smallest opening is marked "256." Measurement proves this to be the long-obsolete "Uniform System," the equivalent of f/64.

    Weston used panchromatic sheet film. This material, capable of recording all visible wavelengths — in contrast to orthochromatic emulsion, which is relatively insensitive to red and overly sensitive to blue — was an innovation in film form: it was first marketed in America by the Eastman Kodak Company only two years before Weston sailed to Mexico. Notations of exposures in the Mexican Daybook indicate that the speed of this "panchro" film would be rated today at 16 by the American Standards Association system. A portrait in full sunlight required 1/10 sec. at f/11; an open landscape was stopped down to f/32 for an exposure of 1/10 sec. with a K-l filter. He had no meter to calculate the exposure. Experience guided him: "I dislike to figure out time, and find my exposures more accurate when only felt."

    On August 24, 1924, Weston noted: "I have returned, after several years use of Metol-Hydroquinone open-tank developer, to a three-solution Pyro developer, and I develop one at a time in a tray, instead of a dozen in a tank!" This technique he used for the rest of his life. It is classic; he undoubtedly learned of it at the "photographic college" he briefly attended. The 1908 instruction manual of a similar institution — the American School of Art and Photography — recommends it as the standard developer. Weston used it with less than the usual amount of sodium carbonate. (Interestingly, the Wollensak Optical Co. advised: "Negatives made with the Verito should be fully timed, and slightly underdeveloped, using any standard developer with a minimum amount of carbonate of soda...")

    He printed on several kinds of paper. In his early years in Mexico he was especially fond of the platinum and palladium paper made by Willis & Clement, which he imported from England. This paper, which became obsolete in the 1930s, was sensitized with the salts of iron and platinum (or palladium), rather than silver. It gave soft, rich effects quite unlike any other kind of paper, and was cherished by pictorial photographers. Prints were exposed in sunlight for minutes, developed in potassium oxalate and fixed in hydrochloric acid, 'the addition of potassium bichromate to the developer gave an increased brilliance in the whites; this technique Weston used in his struggle to get prints of the dramatic white clouds which so moved him. The paper had a tendency, especially if damp, to solarize, i.e. partially reverse in the highlights, giving a dark edge instead of a light one. Printing was slow work. To make fourteen prints from as many negatives in one day, as he did on September 30, 1924, was unusual.

    On this day he noted with surprise that proof prints, made on Azo paper, gave him as much satisfaction as platinotypes. This material, which is still produced by the Eastman Kodak Company, was a typical gelatino-chloride developing-out paper exposed to artificial light. Weston always referred to it as "gaslight paper," a name given to it in the 1890s, but which was retained decades after electricity became universal.

    Although Weston preferred an 8 X 10 camera (he rejoiced in "the precision of a view box planted firmly on a sturdy tripod") he made increasing use while in Mexico of his 3-1/4 X 4-1/4 Graflex - hand held even at exposures as long as 1/10 second. To enlarge these negatives on platinum or palladium paper was tedious. An enlarged negative had to be made. First an 8 X 10 inch glass positive was made from the small negative. From this, in turn, he made a new negative, which he then printed by contact. Apparently he never printed by projection -although it was entirely practical to do so with gelatino-bromide papers which were then readily available. On his return to California he abandoned platinum and palladio papers, and settled on glossy chloro-bromide papers — which he invariably printed by contact.

    This simple technique Weston used throughout his life. It was a direct outgrowth of his formative Mexican days.
    B. N (Beaumont Newhall)
    Originally posted at 6:43AM, 27 February 2010 PST ( permalink )
    dannysoar edited this topic 9 months ago

    Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Istanbul
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2010
  2. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    Thanks for sharing this Umut, great stuff.
     
  3. mjs

    mjs Member

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    The print of Charis on the Dunes would have been made in the mid 1930's; I can't recall the exact date of this particular dune trip. Bertha's knees would have been late 1920's or early 1930's, I believe. Someone with access to source materials can clarify if it's important. Both are late enough that he was using the Pyro developer mentioned above.

    A similar question was posed to Weston about the dark lines outlining Tina Modotti's figure in a Mexican photograph of the mid-1920's. Weston pointed out that there was no photographic trickery involved; it was the result of the bright sunlight, the background, and the angle of the camera lens. It was, in other words, physics. Similarly, the prints you inquired about are not solarized. I think that they are both on silver papers (contact papers, to be sure,) as I think he had stopped using platinum/palladium papers by the time these photos had been printed, but I'm not absolutely certain on that point. Hopefully someone with deeper knowledge of Weston's technique and materials can clarify. Good luck!

    Mike
     
  4. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Actually I do not think these images are solarized, but more to point edge effects through some kind of hardening developer. The bottom image of the legs is one of my all time favorite Images.

    be interested to hear from some of the old , old timers chip in with there thoughts how he produced this wonderful effect.
     
  5. Louis Nargi

    Louis Nargi Member

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    Nice thread Thanks
     
  6. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    I was thinking of two things that could account for the sharp borders of shade and light areas.Axis lighting and the use of Metol as one of the developing agents,Barry Thornton points out in his book Edge of Darkness that Metol has the tendency to increase density along borders of light tones next to dark tones in a negative.
    Mike
     
  7. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Hmm I never thought of these as solarized. Hmm. Maybe slightly. But frankly it wouldn't have occurred to me as something Weston would do.
     
  8. Merg Ross

    Merg Ross Member

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    Mustafa, check on the Large Format Photography Forum where I saw your post this morning, and answered with a direct quote from EW as to the effect of light on the model (Charis) during the dune series of nudes (and other of his nude studies). There were no tricks, simply an understanding of light, film, developer and paper.

    Please refer back to the LFPF, and forget the search for papers and films that no longer exist.
     
  9. Wayne

    Wayne Member

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    IIRC you can see the same effect in his egg image(s), and its (mostly) the lighting...
     
  10. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    Is this the limb affect.
     
  11. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I'm not sure one would call this explicit instance the limb effect, but it is an exploitation of the same principals at work. Light on a curved surface creating a gradient of shadow for of contrast.

    The guy obviously understood his materials better than I understand mine. I don't have any work hanging in museums.
     
  12. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    I learned from Large Format Photography forum that Weston film was Super XX and no more available at bigger formats.
    BUT I learned that Kodak STILL PRODUCES XX film for cinematography and available at the name of 5222 and easily seeable at
    http://motion.kodak.com/US/en/motion/Products/Production/Black_And_White_Films/5222.htm
    xxxxxxxx lenght
    35mm 400 Core 1737279
    35mm 1000 Core 1982511

    I really dont know it is 400 foots or 400 meters.
    I am very interested in using this film and they say it has a very flat sensitometry.

    I learned that some movie film sellers sell the unused , remaining part of a film after movie shot.
    Do you know such a seller ?

    Thank you ,

    Mustafa Umut Sarac
    Istanbul
     
  13. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    They are called short ends. Or just shorts sometimes.

    I have seen people talk about them, but don't know who sells then.

    I am sure the unit is 400 feet, not 400 meters. Same for the 1000. If it is meters that a whole kilometer on one roll.
     
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  15. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    http://www.tapesuperstore.com/koblandwhned.html

    There are lots of talks about use with Leica at Rangefinder Forum, They say many masters uses it still. I saw some examples and there is such metallic glow. Its great. And there are many developer recipes such as D96.

    400 Feet goes 152 dollars here.

    Umut
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Mustafa

    No magic bullet here, just a good film, with good lighting , and development.

    Bob
     
  17. Mustafa Umut Sarac

    Mustafa Umut Sarac Member

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    Bob ,

    You might read about the qualities of this film. I saw the examples and I believe it.
    Lots of talks searchable at google on super xx and its a magic bullet.
    I believe the qualities of some chemistry , film and camera lenses. I used many things , printed 100 000 color negatives , scanned thousands of slides with professional drum scanners and printing proof them and worked as Heidelberg Newspaper Printing Machines service man , I really believe in quality.
    In Turkish , they say you cant make lunch with cheap meat.

    Umut
     
  18. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    So 152/400 is slightly less than $40 per standard bulk roll. With shipping etc. It is probably $45 per bulk roll.

    That seems like a reasonable price. But 400 feet is a lot of film.
     
  19. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Mustafa
    I too have printed well into the hundreds of thousands of prints, I also believe in quality. If SuperXX was such a magical product ,Kodak would have kept it going and every single worker here would have a frezzer full of it.
    I have used it in the past , Its a great film but IMO lots of other great films.
    sorry I cannot agree with you here , there is no such thing as the magic bullet in this thing we call Photography.
    Bob

     
  20. erikg

    erikg Member

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    Motion picture Double x is not the same film as the old Super Double X, although it is a pretty decent camera film. I've shot a few hundred feet of it over the years, reminds me of Tri-X from the 70's. Super xx sheet film is gone, but other quality sheet films still exist. I like to live in the present, it's all we got.
     
  21. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I have an original print of "Charis on the Dunes". It definitely is NOT SOLARIZED.
    With the sun coming directly over the camera lens a round object such as an egg or, as in this case, a human body, the dark lines around the subject are formed as the light attempts to bend around the curve.
    Take an egg, light it directly from the front and photograph it with the lens as close to the light source as physically possible to see the effect.
     
  22. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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  23. mabman

    mabman Member

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    Just to echo this; a quick search indicates Super XX 35mm cine film was coded as 5232 and no longer exists. Double-X is 5222.
     
  24. holmburgers

    holmburgers Member

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    The lighting technique appears to be what Mortensen calls "contour" lighting in his book Pictorial Lighting.

    In short, you put the light closer to the subject than your camera, and shadows are cast around the edges. If the camera was in the same spot as the light everything would appear evenly illuminated, but move back and you start to see the shadows around the edges where the light can't reach.

    Does this sound about right?
     
  25. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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  26. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

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    It is as holmburgers is describing. If you have the light closer to the subject than the camera and the light is centrally located then the camera can see the fall off of the light on the edges. If you were to bring the light back behind the camera and keep it in the center the fall off on the sides would be much less. For that picture I was using a Rollei T with 75mm lens and hand holding a studio strobe enough above the camera to keep the light out of the picture. Probably had some diffuse material on the light to keep from blasting the model too harshly. I always called that lighting technique rim light.
    Dennis