View Full Version : Rochester or Bust - Rolling Up My Sleeves, Making a Move...

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10-26-2012, 05:06 PM
Hey guys!

I apologize for being so scarce around APUG these days. I've just been busy as hell it seems like, and adjusting to a new city. My goal is to get in a routine of posting a couple times a week with what we're working on, and learning.

Like Ron said, I've got a bromo-iodide emulsion in my refrigerator and we're going to coat it next week. We're gonna do glass plates, film and paper, and see how it fares. As Eastman said, "Pray for the emulsion!" This is a good plate formula, but Ron wants to see if it's suitable for paper, so we'll do some tests on that. Being able to pick Ron's brain in person is a treat; we've been having fun and I know we're both excited to focus more on emulsion making.

Mostly however I've been helping with Mark Osterman and Nick B., fellow intern and Mark's apprentice. We've already had two workshops in the first 3 weeks since I've been here; 35mm daguerreotype and carbon printing. Daguerreotype (Bequerel at least) is really quite simple (and safe), and I want to give it a go myself. Carbon printing is the bee's knees, and the practical experience coming down from Mark has been great; so many little things that you have to learn by doing.

Today and yesterday though, we're cleaning out the darkrooms in preparation for setting up a bonified emulsion lab. Some seriously amazing stuff is lurking in the cupboards here!

The attached picture is a hand truck we filled with old paper/film. Some might be usable, a lot of it is great paper for fixing out, but in whole it represents a bunch of silver! Thinking about filling a kiddy pool with fixer and reclaiming the Ag to finance some of this..


More later, cheers!

10-26-2012, 05:47 PM
Yes! Fix it out and use it for carbon printing!

10-26-2012, 05:51 PM
May this torch run even further. Thanks to all of you for giving this fire alive.

And to holmburgers I would just suggest he writes this statement by Leonardo da Vinci in his room:

Tristo quel discepolo che non sopravanza lo suo Maestro.
A poor disciple is he who doesn't overcome his Master.

Ad maiora!


Photo Engineer
10-26-2012, 06:44 PM
I'll be right over Chris. I see some paper I need! :D


Bob Carnie
10-27-2012, 07:31 AM
Chris I will be in Rochester to visit you folks in Jan , I am glad you are finding your way there.

10-27-2012, 09:37 AM

Today and yesterday though, we're cleaning out the darkrooms in preparation for setting up a bonified emulsion lab. Some seriously amazing stuff is lurking in the cupboards here!

And some seriously cool news about the emulsion lab! I've been developing a new set of recipes that I'd love to see peer reviewed. When you're up and running would you consider a part time job as a test lab? I'll supply the silver nitrate :).

Congrats on a great move, Chris.

11-03-2012, 11:21 AM
Hey everybody!

Here's an example of Mark Osterman's ability to draw, and illustrate ideas in really simple, elegant ways. This is a flow chart showing the most basic steps of emulsion making; in this case a washed emulsion.

The other day Ron joined us at GEH and he too made his way to the chalkboard and we had an excellent classroom session. We hope to do this once a week, or at least a few times a month, in addition to lab work, coating, processing, etc.

There is one term in this drawing that is perhaps not entirely technically correct; or rather, is not in line with the nomenclature that I've learned from Ron's book; Digestion.

Digestion implies the presence of silver-halide solvents (ammonia) and/or chemical sensitizers (sulfur, gold). [Ron, please correct me if I'm wrong here...]

In the simplest form of an emulsion, the prolonged heating step after precipitation of silver-halide is called ripening. This is the process of redistributing and resolubilizing the AgX grains, which on the average, results in larger grains and in turn, more speed.

If you imagine the state of grains after precipitation, we have a distribution of different sizes; some large and some small. The smaller the grain, the more surface area it has by weight. Thus, these smaller grains will become soluble in the presence of heat to a greater extent than the larger grains, and they will redeposit (on average) on the larger grains. The result is 2 fold; more speed from the formation of larger grains and more contrast, as the distribution of grain sizes becomes narrower (less latitude in effect). The pitfalls of course are fog and the destruction of the gelatin's setting point if too much heat is applied.

"Nearly all the mechanisms in silver-halide emulsion making are surface phenomenon"; Ron's million dollar quote.

Photo Engineer
11-03-2012, 11:43 AM
And there you have a synopsis of things so far.

Chris left out the fact that he also has one emulsion under his belt (and in Mark's refrigerator) for coating and testing in the near future. It is an AgBrI washed emulsion which is good for plates and lantern slides, and which we hope to adapt for making prints.

We spent about 2 hours going over the lab setup and in the classroom and hope to do it again based on Mark's schedule for our joint work at GEH.


11-03-2012, 04:52 PM
So guys, you soon recreating Ilfochrome? j/k ;)

(semi-) joking aside, it's really inspiring to read about your work and studying process, even if I understand only a fraction of all that is written.

Keep up the good work! :)

Photo Engineer
11-03-2012, 05:14 PM
Thanks. We hope to.

It would be possible to re-create a sort of Ilfochrome. I coated a variation of it back in 1975 or thereabouts. I have 2 of the hard-to-get ingredients here now, but have not been able to get the third. The fourth is really hard to get but I might manage that too.

Chris is humming right along.


11-03-2012, 06:52 PM
It is an AgBrI washed emulsion which is good for plates and lantern slides, and which we hope to adapt for making prints.



What, no sulfur? :)

Photo Engineer
11-03-2012, 09:23 PM
Stand by for more information.


Mark Osterman
11-10-2012, 05:57 AM
Chris is right.

Whoops... I did put that in the wrong place. This should have been labeled Ripening. I didn't actually include digestion in that flow chart because it was just a quick sketch made while I was talking to show the very basics. Probably put digestion there because we were talking about it that day. Dyslexics Untie! :-) Given that speed is not so important to me, (remember that I come from startng out with collodion which is much slower) the emulsions I've made in the past don't include any chemical digestion. That will change.

Given my workshop schedule for the past few years, I've had no time at all to shoot my own work or to conduct any new research here at the museum. Having Chris here with the time to experiment with gelatin technology will make it possible to try a lot of different formulas and see if we can coax some interesting results. He is actually the reason why we included gelatin bromide emulsion making, coating and processng in the 2013 schedule. My plan is that he'll be teaching with Ron and me; we need to pass the teaching baton. His first chore....make several batches of clean working emulsion so that he's comfortable with the process and technique. It's a tall order, but we'll get him up to speed soon enough.

We hope that the culture of making hand made gelatin (and collodion) emulsions will be well established with people like Chris, Denise Ross and others by the time the big wheels of industry finally stop making film. Gelatin emulsion makng however is the least active area of hand made photosensitive materials right now. Lots of work to do.


Steve Smith
11-10-2012, 06:00 AM
Excellent. I was taught albumen printing by someone who was taught by Mark Osterman.

I'm sure you will get a lot from it.