The anomalies appear to be either air or water bubbles trapped under between the Mat and the paper. You have to roll firmly with a squeeegee roller to prevent this, and you must use a flat level surface.
I think you're absolutely right!
During the 10 minute transfer, all I could think about was how terrible the "rolling" of the mat was. Fingers were crossed...
By the way, looking back at my first transfer with the kodak magenta, one which I did not post and with which there was no rinse at all after the dying, the dmax is very strong. So!, it seems that the less acid present in the rinse (or none at all) the greater the density. I guess this makes sense if you consider that the acid might heighten the matrices affinity for the dye..??
I'm coming in late, but this is fun stuff. I worked in dye transfer for many years and ran one of the last standing dye labs in NYC (Tartaro Color).
I've read a lot of your posts, but haven't seen any mention of separation negs. Are you using digital negs or going old school? I know that pan masking and panchromatic lith film haven't been made for years, so if you are pursuing an analog method there are challenges.
Also, in your last post I see you're having trouble rolling prints. The Warren Condit Company (Sandy Hook, CT.) made print rollers with a weighted steel bar over the roller to reduce shimmy. Also, the matrix was anchored to the transfer slab with register pins (I didn't see any mention of this in the posts I've read) which adds additional rolling stability.
Hey Dewey2, awesome to have you join the fray. It'd be really interesting to hear more about your lab; history, technique, etc. When did you stop doing DT printing?
Separation negs are at this moment, on the backburner and these tests that you're seeing are just from a b&w negative. To be honest, I have kind of a convoluted scheme for separations. The biggest problem is the expense of large film, particularly panchromatic film. The cheapest option is to use X-ray film, which is made in large sizes and can be had for a song. This film is orthochromatic though.
So, that means there will have to be an intermediate step wherein I make the separations onto panchromatic film, 1:1, preferably by contact, but probably with a copy setup if I'm doing 35mm. If coming from a C-41 negative, then that's great; these separation positives can be projected onto the x-ray film. For E6 I'm planning to reversal process the panchromatic separations, and then project these onto the x-ray film.
Masking can then be achieved rather effortlessly since there will be 3 enlarged negatives. Creating a positive mask would only require contact printing onto another sheet of the x-ray film from the desired separation and reducing exposure or reducing density in farmer's reducer, for instance.
Now.... anyone in their right mind would probably use digital negs, but I'm gonna give this procedure a go and see what it can do.
I do plan to get a roller, though the Condit stuff is so expensive, I just can't justify the cost. A 12" Kodak print roller might be the next best option.
You can see the registration holes in the paper, but I need to clamp my registration board onto the table next time. I'm using a 2-hole office punch for that.
My advice is to avoid making positives from a c-41 neg. It's strictly hit-and-miss with exposure and development. I think a fun first approach would be in-camera seps. Use 29, 61 and 47b Kodak gel filters on (ideally) a sheet film camera and shoot three exposures of a still subject. You'll develop the red and green about the same and the blue will need extra development. With sheet film you can process all 3 sheets at once in a tray. You clip one corner on the magenta neg and two corners on the yellow so you can ID them while processing in the dark. You can postmask the negs for highlights or for shadow detail or just go with them naked.
Contact print them on your matrix film and you can even roll them in register by eye. Lay down the yellow first, then magenta, then cyan. Use a mylar slip sheet and a lupe to register before applying roller pressure.
I had a dye lab in Houston and later moved to NYC to work for Frank Tartaro - something of a legend in the business. I think we rolled our last print in 1990, but prior to that we made prints for Robert Mapplethorpe, Avedon, Eggleston, Penn and a lot of boring ad stuff.
It's a beautiful and fascinating process, but honestly, I'm very impressed with where ink jet printing is at now. A dye took a full day to produce in a professional lab - an Epson takes 10 minutes and takes up a couple of square feet of real estate.
That's not a bad idea at all; taking separations from a still life the old-fashion way.
I'm discouraged to hear, but curious why you say to avoid C-41 negs. Ultimately I'm hoping to make prints from my archive of personal shots, a lot of which are on C-41.
I did a little research about Tartaro Color and I found a lot about Frank Tartaro and the lab. Sounds like you were a part of the golden age! ;)
It's easy to see how ink-jet printing is completely satisfactory for nearly all modern printing needs. However, when you were rolling your last dye-transfer print, I was probably rolling around on a tricycle in "short pants"! For that reason these archaic methods are fascinating & refreshing to me; the preparation, the knowledge behind it, the research & history, but most importantly the physical aspect of actually making it.
Something I'm curious about and don't have a great grasp on is how to correct color. Let's say we want to warm up the lighting in the print; do we affect this in the dying, the matrix or the separation neg?
Do a search for "color one shot camera" and see what comes up. I actually made dyes from 5x7 one shot plates that a portrait photographer was still using in the 80's. Registration was done dying and drying mats and then aligning visually and punching. OH... and these were 40x60".
For the same reason that you couldn't set your color head to default filtration, you can't use default exposures or development on color negs. I've made quite a few dyes from negs and getting a balanced set of interpositives was always time-consuming and unpleasant. This usually became a black hole of lost time.
Color correction was done in various ways. If you had an image with a dramatic issue (like outdoor film shot under tungsten) it would pay to make exposure compensations in the separation negs - otherwise you try for default exposures from transparencies. For matrix film, you would have default exposures for a test strip. Corrections were all seat-of-the-pants at this point and you would correct for density and color in your full-sized set of mats. If your first full-sized print looked pretty good, you would use precise amounts of sodium acetate in the first rinse to subtract color (image is too magenta; add 5ml of sodium acetate to the rinse). You could also add highlight reducer (Calgon water softener) to the rinse and you could adjust dye contrast with acetic acid or triethanalomine (sp?) but this would ruin your dye for future use.
All this localized color and tone control was remarkable compared to C-prints which were much more limited. Add to this the deep blacks, extreme color gamut and beautiful gelatin surface and you have an explanation for why the medium was sought out by art photographers. The real commercial value was in advertising of course. Retouchers could use the same dyes to work on the print and as a result, the retouching was integrated into the image and wouldn't "shoot through" or reveal itself to a color separation camera or scanner the way ink airbrushed onto a C-print often would.
I agree with you that there's great satisfaction in producing something, but I also think about the fact that Cartier-Bresson didn't print his own work.
OTOH, Ctein makes prints from color negatives all the time and with great success. This method, which is premasked, makes some of the finest dye transfer prints I have ever seen!
I believe he was making them with Pan Matrix film - a product aimed at the serious amateur market. Yes, this method can produce gorgeous dyes directly from color negs. It had limitations, but cut out all the separation neg steps.
Kodak discontinued the product in the mid/late 80's.
Most commercial dye labs would take a color neg and make a Vericolor print film (basically, a big transparency that you processed in C-41) and then make conventional separation negs. Not the best method, but the most common.
Ctein bought the entire remainder of the Kodak Pan Matrix stock in the 90s. Since the color negative films are masked, they inherently produce initial prints with the right color and image characteristics. I've seen prints made by Louie Condax, Spot Inkley and others at EK that were produced by all of the methods described here so far and some experimental methods never seen outside of Kodak. They all work to some extent or the other.
Neg-Pos is always best! This can be proven over and over.