What type of alternative process?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by fhovie, Oct 6, 2003.

  1. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I an thinking of trying some alternate type of paper. I am looking at Cyanotype, Platinum, Kallitype ... and a bunch of others. What I shoot is landscapes and portraits. I would like to try something that:

    gives rich mid-tones
    isn't terribly expensive
    isn't terribly difficult
    isn't terribly dangerous

    The kits on Photoformulary look appealing but I don't know enough to make a choice and try one. I will be using 4x5 as my choice format. I am happy to make an enlarged negative for a contact print (8x10 on a 11x14 sheet?). So I am looking for someone who has experience with several of these and can point me to a favorite.
     
  2. Loose Gravel

    Loose Gravel Member

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    Silver, it is becoming the new alternative process.
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    The cheapest are the ferrous processes like cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown, the best of course is pt/pd, the middle of the road as far as cheap with great results is Kallitypes.

    You can make a Kallitype that can be indistinguishable from a pt/pd print if due care and tonning in pt or pd is done.

    The easiest by far IMO to get an acceptable print is pt/pd. If you purchase a Richeson 9010 brush you will save a lot in solution and you wont need an army of brushes. I use 8 drops of pd with 8 drops of ferric oxalate to coat an 8x10 sheet.

    The most important thing in all of these processes is the paper you choose, some are more absorbent, some are less, some need a coating of oxalic acid, etc......In essence as I said before, getting an acceptable print in all these processes is easy, getting a great print....well that is another matter...:smile:

    None, and I emphasize none are dangerous. Potassium oxalate is mildly toxic, but then it is also present in spinach. As with all toxic subtances it is the dosage and exposure that counts. If you refrain from drinking it or bathing in it, you should not have any problems.

    The best advice I can give you is not to give up, all these alt processes are harder than silver to get a "good" print and most people give up after a few tries. But once you hit the nail in the head the processes can be adddictive. Good luck.
     
  4. FrankB

    FrankB Member

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    Ouch! Really. Ouch!
     
  5. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  6. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Thanks for the Good input Jorge - I am starting to lean toward Kallitype for a first effort - I read Sandy's fine post on unblinking eye - I am a little confused as to how much of this process is under safe light - I am also thinking my first attempt would be selenium tone after the print is fixed as that is a familiar process for me. So there is lots of learning - which is made easier with all the well experienced folks here. I am considering trying the Formulary kit for Kallitype first and then if that is what I want to pursue, I can shop the bulk chemicals and try the different toning methods after I am comfortable with the process. I also wonder if the "sizing" process is skipped if you use the good Cranes bond - or the 90" watercolor paper .. Lots to learn here - I probably ought to get a book.
     
  7. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  8. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Selenium toning of kallitypes is not as effective as pt or pd toning. The problem lies in that the fix bleaches the print, so toning has to be done before you fix to keep the tonalities as you print them. I dont recall exaclty the toning formula but I remember that toning with pd was very cheap, one or two grams make a lot fo toning solution.
     
  9. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    The Bostic and Sullivan site recommends a UV light source for printing - then sells UV light contact printers that begin at $545.
    What light source do you use? The sun or some more controlled method?
    juan
     
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I use a plant growlight kind of thing - except in the early spring when my wife uses it to grow plants for our greenhouse. But at that time of year, there's often a sunny day or two. At least until the plants are safely out of the house so I can have my UV light back:wink:

    Typical exposure time for a van Dyke print is about five minutes, as opposed to ten to fifteen in the kind of sun we get in the Norwegian spring.
     
  11. George Losse

    George Losse Member

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    Juan,

    When I first started printing in Platinum I made a light source by screwing down two shop lights to a twelve inch wide board. The lights were four feet long. I went to a near by electric store and ordered four Black Light tubes to fit the shop lights.

    I suspended this above a counter top with shelf brackets. I could vary the "power" of the lights by moving the shelf. Below that were two pieces of glass one over the print/neg and one under it.

    It wasn't as fancy as the light sources I could have bought, but it worked for about five years. When I bought a plate burner, I sold it to a friend and he still uses it.

    George
     
  12. cjarvis

    cjarvis Member

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    Don't overlook Centennial POP. That's what got me turned on to alternative processes. From there I tried salted papers, albumen, argyrotypes, zias, Pt/Pd, etc, and I still love it. It readily tones in gold or selenium and has a finish that is first rate. I still prefer platinum, but to learn exposure and toning processes, POP is a great proving ground.
     
  13. Don Bryant

    Don Bryant Member

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    I normally dilute Kodak selenium toner 1:500 for toning VDBs. You may wish to over print a bit to componsate for the bleack back from toning.

    Don Bryant
     
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  15. Don Bryant

    Don Bryant Member

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    Jorge, an alkaline fixer will reduce drastically the bleaching for kallitypes or VDB. The fixer formula given in Sandy King's article for Kallitype printing on The Unblinking Eye works great. I usually mix a stock solution 5 gallons at a time which is later dilute 1:3.

    In addition to palladium toning, gold toning gives beautiful split tones if desired for kallitypes.

    Selenium toners need to be highly dilute to prevent or reduce bleaching. I prefer selenium toning of VDBs rather than kallitype prints.

    Don Bryant
     
  16. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    I'll make a second vote for the Cyanotype. If the subject matter is correct (this is left as an exercise for the reader), then you can get some lovely results from either the traditional or the Ware process. The Traditional is less fuss to make, but tends to bleed more easily. I've had some 4x5" prints from Cyanotype that looked great matted straight up, but have also seen a 16x20 reprint of a 19th century negative (landscape with climber) that stood up well to the screaming blue. The negative density appropriate for Cyanotype is also (at least approximately) correct for Van Dyke, etc, so you can make a good copy negative and then try several methods.

    Report back whatever you do.
     
  17. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Frank,

    When making kallitypes only the actual driying of the sensitized paper needs to be done in darkness, and even this could be done in a light with a bright bulb (yellow) light. All of the other steps can be carried out in subdued daylight or in a room with an incandescent bulb.

    For permanence you should tone kallitypes, preferably with either gold, platinum or palladium.

    A kit makes sense for your initial work but if you get into the process at all you will want to buy the chemicals in bullk because working with the kits is relatively speaking very expensive.
     
  18. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    Thanks for the info Sandy:

    I read your article on the 'eye and this is my plan so far:

    Do the Van Dyke Brown process. Use your fixer formula. Over expose by enough?? Selenium tone in 1:250 Kokak Rapid Selinium Toner after the fix. Use Crane paper (I already have some) Buy the chemicals I don't already have from the Formulary. (the cost of a kit is around $20 and the cost from bulk chemicals is less than $5.00. Make an 8x10 interpositive and subsequent negative from a few of my favorite 4x5 negatives. Make them contrasty. I should be able to make a go of it week after next. - I am really looking forward to it. I could see myself getting hooked on this one if it works out like I expect it to. I think I may try brushing as opposed to the rods - I am not sure yet - the formulary rods seem pricy - I could probably buy glass rods cheaper and bend them my self.

    Any other advice will certainly be appreciated.

    Thanks
     
  19. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

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    I am also quite interested in these processes. At the present moment I have two of Jorge's Pt/Pd prints that are truly remarkable. Eric will be driving out and visiting me tonight and I will be passing the prints onto him should you have any questions. I'm pretty sure that I will be attempting Pt/Pd as my first alternative choice.

    My interest though lies in making an 8x10 negative out of an original 4x5 negative. For me (after many questions and a few posts) it would seem that doing this (fingers in the ear time..folks) digitally is the best solution. Unfortunately the learning curve at least for me seems somewhat steep. Taking that into consideration and the fact that whenever possible I would much, much rather spend analog time in photography than digital has turned into a bit of a stumbling block.

    I was asking on Tuan's site to see if anybody who is somewhat skilled at scanning a 4x5 negative and re-printing (Epson 2200 in my case) a new 8x10 or perhaps 11x14 would do a "Digital for Dummies" article. I personally believe that this might go well towards encouraging others to take up the alternative process. My motive is mostly economics in this case where as the more alternative users, the more product consumption and the better the availability.

    I suppose it is like all other things learnt. You struggle at the beginning, spend a considerable amount of time learning the basics and then you are in business so to speak.

    Does anybody else see any value in such an article?

    Just to clarify I have bought and read Dan Burkholder' book on making digital negatives but it seems to be heavily geared towards Photoshop.

    I have bought Picture Wndows Pro and probably would appreciate a more generic approach to the problem when it comes to scanning and curves etc.

    Kind Regards,
     
  20. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I have a decent scanner - although not a drum scanner and my printer is just an office type. I have the skills to manipulate the image into whater I want but without the printer, I'll forego that now. - The thing is - I have done unsharp masking and have worked with ortho film and they are not hard to work with at all. They work like paper for the most part - The nice thing is that the interpositive doesn't need to be archival and you can fix it for a minute, rinse it and blow dry it and use it. It doesn't bother me at all to not use digital in this process.
     
  21. Nige

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    I've tried some digital enlarged negs (for cynotypes) and have run into a couple of problems. I don't have Dan's book so don't know if my problems are dealt with in there. The two major problems I've had have been the inkjet transparency material I've used has an inbuilt motley texture that shows up in the print (was ok in one print as it added texture to a featureless sky, but on the whole is a problem) and to fix that problem I found some clear transparency material (not inkjet specific) and the ink wouldn't stick/dry to it. The 1st one I tried looked great until I held it vertical to have a good look and the imahe (the ink) started sliding down the page! I tired one on the reverse side and it did the same. It never dried either. Maybe there's clear inkjet specific materials available.
     
  22. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Frank,

    I think your plan to work with VDB first is a good one. The process is fairly simple and not very expensive. Later you might want to try kallitype which, when toned with palladium or platinum, is identical in appearance and tonal range to pt/pd.

    Note, however, that for VDB you will need a very contrasty negative, one with a DR of log 2.0 or more. Your silver negatives will not give optimal quality with VDB. And unfortunately there are no simple ways to control contrast with VDB as there are with kallitype.

    My pesonal recommendation is to go with the brush, either a Hake, or best of all, the brush that we folks on the alt-photo-process list call the Magic brush, a very fine synthetic brush made by Richeson.

    A great paper, and also very inexpensive, that works well with VDB, kallitype and palladiuma and platinum, is Stonhenge Rising White. You can get if from Daniel Smith (out West) or from Steven Kinsella (in St. Louis) for less than 2$ per 22X30" sheet. In fact, closer to $1 a sheet. Another paper that works well and that is often available in local art stores is Strathmore 400 series drawing paper. It comes in pads in different sizes.
     
  23. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Gray, have you checked the articles in unblinkingeye about making enlarged negatives? Perhaps it is a good alternative for you.

    OTOH I know Sandy does the digital neg stuff, perhaps if we ask him nicely he will be willing to do an article for us...:smile:

    Nige, I think there is a special kind of sheet people use to do the ink jet negatives. I am wanting to say is called pictorico, but I am not sure. Suppsedly this sheet fastens the ink pretty well and prevents it from smearing.
     
  24. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Jorge,

    I print in both carbon and kallitype with both in-camera ULF negatives and digital negatives. To this point most of my digital negatives have been made from scanned 5X7" original in-camera negatives, corrected and adjusted on Photoshop, and printed on an overhead transparency material called Pictorico (website = www.pictorico.com) on the Epson 2000P. I am very pleased with the results and consider that the quality of my kallitype and palladium prints on art papers closely approaches the quality of prints made from in-camera 12X20 negatives. With POP or AZO an original in-camera negative will give better quality than an inkjet negative, and about this there is no doubt.

    Dan Burkholder's book is a really good resource for making digital negatives. I would certainly be willing to prepare a work-flow of my working procedures for this site if that is of any interest, but in the end I would strongly recommend that anyone interested in making digital negatives get a copy of Burkholder's book. The main issue at this time is that the results are very much printer and media specific so that my work procedures would only be applicable to others if they are printing with one of the pigmented ink Epsons, such as the 2000P, 2200, 7600, 9600, 10,000, etc, using my media (Pictorico) and my curve.
     
  25. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Thanks Sandy! well there you have it guys.

    I think that having the benefit of Sandy's expereince would be benefecial to all who want to try this. I know I have learned a lot from his articles on Kallitypes.
     
  26. GreyWolf

    GreyWolf Member

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    Hi Sandy,

    I also would like very much to learn from you in how to make digital negatives. Fortunately for myself I also use an Epson 2200 so this might work well. Basically I guess that I am a bit confused about what I should be doing in the scan, how I show manipulate the scanned image and finally what things to avoid when making and printing the output.

    For anybody else who has never even tried this, they might also appreciate a very simple straightforward guideline in how to get started. Sometimes the terminology used with scanning can be confusing. It took me a few days to figure out what "curves" meant after reading it a few times and I still am not sure I fully understand the impact of modify the curves.

    Jorge,

    Have you ever done any scanning of negatives to make enlarged contact negatives?

    Well hopefully there are some others who can greatly benifit from an article like this. Even though I prefer not to use digital methods, in this case I believe this is the most logical and easy way to enter into the alternative process and discover if it is something to be enjoyed.

    Thanks