View Full Version : What's everybody up to?

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01-18-2010, 10:18 AM
Hi All,

I hope everyone is settling comfortably into the new year, and finding time for emulsion making (I assume if you're reading this, you are at least a wannabe emulsion maker :)) It can be hard to start a brand new thread about your own work, so I hope this one can be an icebreaker for all the people I know who have started dabbling in emulsion making.

So, what's everybody up to? Recipes cooked (whether successful or total fail), new ideas for products and/or equipment, equipment bought, books read, first steps getting started, plans/hopes for the future, anything else emulsiony?

I'll start off. I've been mostly doing gum over handcrafted paper. The work involves digital color separation negatives, so I'll leave the description at that. I have noticed that the stricture on the word-that-must-not-be-spoken has loosened a bit. That's a healthy development for this forum. Using enlarged negatives makes handmade silver gelatin contact printing paper a much more attractive photographic medium.

Anyway, speak up. If ever a forum were open to complete newbies, this is the one. I'd like to suggest this particular thread stay a general conversation. If a really techy chemistry or engineering topic comes up, perhaps we can move it to its own dedicated thread. Just a thought.


01-18-2010, 10:29 AM
I'm using Wimberley Developer #2, Version D+ from Formulary.

I'm liking the results.

But I've been still real busy with my business. I'm trying to slow down but people must be getting more appreciative of "Classical" but "Modern" style of photography that I do. Monte Zucker was my friend, mentor & coach.

At any rate, this is my second career and I'm having a ball.

Lots of smiles!

Bob Carnie
01-18-2010, 10:49 AM
Hello D

I too am in the process of making negatives, in my case I am using Rollie ISO 25 ortho film on my lambda, beginning stages but I have seen negs and pos and I am encouraged.
My aim is to multiple print onto paper mounted to aluminum and with registerd film do multiple coats for a bunch of end process.

Gum over Silver
Gum over Platinum
multiple hits on Carbon BW only
multiple hits on Gum for full continuous tone colour

boy that was a big breath, also Richard Ide and I are making a couple of monstor processors to process large and small films with rotary processing.

Kirk Keyes
01-18-2010, 11:05 AM
I've been working on a new (to me) approach for a t-grain emulsion, based on US Patent 4434226 from 1984. I've gone through and taken one of the examples in the patent, and taken the amounts used in the formulation and tried to fill in some of the things that it left out of the example that are mentioned in the other examples... The main thing that this patent does that most of the other film speed formulas we've seen or discussed here is that it uses Thiocyante ion as the ripening agent as opposed to ammonia. (Note that thiocyanate is not nearly as toxic as regular cyanide, it's more like bromide or iodide so not too much concern in using it.)

So the last couple of days has been working out volumes, concentrations, and times. I also calibrated my peristaltic pump last night with some new tubing I bought this summer. I made a silver electrode based on a design the Photo Engineer/PE and I have been working on, and I plated it with silver bromide a couple days ago. I'll try testing it this morning and see how it performs. If that goes well, I think I'll mix some reagents up and then make a run!

It's more technical than is needed for an basic emulsion, but that's half the fun!

01-18-2010, 02:01 PM
I have been playing around with electronics for a while as our electronic club got a bunch of old CRT video projectors. But hey, they have 31 kV HV so they are quite close to PET subbing :D.

Well, I've been thinking about emulsion making a little, too. I think I can make quite a simple and cheap "pump" system for controlled silver/salt runs in the future. I bought 50 ml syringes at about 1 USD per syringe and I think I could use linear stepper motors to drive the syringes easily: http://www.motioncontrolproducts.co.uk/product_info.php?cPath=1030&products_id=49 . Then add a simple and cheap micro controller, write some code and that's it. It should be possible to drive very small volumes efficiently without losing expensive solutions, and this approach might be a bit easier, cheaper and more reliable than peristaltic pumps, at least with low emulsion volumes - I hope.

01-18-2010, 03:22 PM
Hi All,
I can't realy talk (or write)openly of what I have been up to as that would violate a Confidentialy Agreement. As I have said in this thread befor, I am working on a gelatin-less silver halide emulsion system. It ain't done yet, but the Carrot is only inches from my nose. Or so thinks the mule. But Kirk has been working on T-Grain longer than I have on No-Gelatin. So, I am not the only Bozzo on this Buss. I am just far more of an experementer than an artist.

01-19-2010, 01:06 PM
My last batch of emulsion is sitting in the fridge waiting to be coated. I think it will likely go down the drain in the end due to age and fog.

I recently decided to learn a bit more about "purchased" products, rather than make my own to get a feel of how the "real" emulsions and papers work, so rather than shooting/printing my own stuff lately I've been trying out different films and papers on my shiny new(to me) 4x5. I think once i've gotten a little better at understanding how the professionally made stuff works, I'll go back to my home brew recipes. With so many variables in the homebrew process it was really difficult to figure out what went wrong for me, seeing as how the first negatives I ever developed were on my own emulsion, and printed (badly) on my own salt paper. After just one darkroom session with Tri-X and a box on VC paper - I see that a lot of the problems I was having had to do with my development and printing procedures, rather than my emulsions themselves.

So for now, I'm cooling it on the dry plate and home brew paper.

01-20-2010, 07:07 AM
in a fit of the crazies I just purchased a formulary Azo kit...not sure what to do with it, hoping to find some kind of instructions somewhere. :D. I think my favorite saying is appropriate...Its like a pig staring at a wrist watch and thinking...should I lick it then eat it or just eat it?

Looking forward to its arrival!


01-20-2010, 11:30 AM
I'm way at the beginning again and have gotten emulsion to stick very well, thanks to the Winkler article on The Light Farm; it really works! Two 4x5s were done; one got a image on it. Now I'm trying to figure out why. Several pages of notes were compiled onto one sheet and wait for a report to be written. One thing I learned is my Sekonic Studio Delux II set at ASA 6 matches two old Westons set at ASA 1. And fresh emulsion is more sensitive than 8 day old stuff on the glass, right? I got a picture, using the Sekonic, at asa/iso 6 minus two stops or F8 at 4 seconds overcast which on the Weston is .25. I had to mark the Weston dial as .25 is one block below the lowest number, .3 . However, when a Weston is set there, all the exposures on the dial line up correctly. A Sekonic must be read minus two stops to work.
Michael Carter

03-13-2010, 09:31 AM
Hi Michael and All,

I'm definitely up to something new. Very excited! I'm typically very conservative about research announcements. I like to have a tangible 'something' to show before I yack up a topic, but I'm making an exception this time. I've been working on making film and I'm ready to take it out for a real world spin. I've gone back in time before polyester base to avoid the problems involved with subbing that material (also its scratch'ablity and static problems.) Using Wall's 1929 recipe, I'm subbing cellulose diacetate. The product is readily available, inexpensive and not petroleum-based, and since it's di- and not tri-acetate it shouldn't be particularly susceptible to degradation. This should make image capture with handcrafted silver gelatin very easy for even the most timid (or as in my case, an aging back). Any camera and film holder or modern contact printing frame is suitable. And of course, that means that the negatives can be used with just about any printing process.

I'm taking the next month for just photography on my new stuff and I'll post all the details on The Light Farm when I have a bunch of pretty pictures (I'll be dubbing it 'Artisan Film'). I just wanted to give anyone interested a heads-up so that maybe a few more folks will consider joining the club.


p.s. If you haven't already, check out Michael Carter's blog. Great work coming along with great big cameras and old emulsions. http://newlightfarmer.blogspot.com/

03-13-2010, 01:29 PM
Nice work! I wonder if the diacetate + subbing + emulsion together would be flexible enougth to roll strips for medium format or 35mm cameras.

03-13-2010, 01:46 PM
Thank you for the links, very interesting!

03-13-2010, 09:48 PM
Really interesting! I've been thinking if we could do our own acetate celluloid from cotton. Not an easy task, probably, but then it would be 100% home-brew :).

I thought that the corona discharge subbing of polyester would be easy but it has proven to be quite tricky. I can't repeat the phenomena described in patents and still have problems with adhesion. PET is just so easily available as a modern plastic, that's why I'd like to use it.

Isn't triacetate more stable? I thought triacetate replaced diacetate for this reason.

Kirk Keyes
03-14-2010, 11:15 AM
Really interesting! I've been thinking if we could do our own acetate celluloid from cotton. Not an easy task, probably, but then it would be 100% home-brew :).

It really wouldn't be 100% home-brewed unless you grow the cotton yourself. (That should be fun in Finland!)

Oh yeah, and don't forget to mine the silver too.

03-14-2010, 03:48 PM
And cows for gelatin. You could sell the meat and make some profit to keep R&D going!

03-14-2010, 08:46 PM
Today has been the kind of day that is the reason we got into art and science. Bill, I got beautiful 120 film. If I could add the exposure numbers on the side, I don't think you could tell it was homemade. I loaded up an old Kodak Brownie Target Six-20 and got seven exposures (2-1/2 x 3-1/2). Someone with longer arms than I have could get the full eight, but I'm satisfied :). And, I suppose if someone could figure out sprocket holes, they could shoot 35mm, but that won't be me. I've never been much of a 35mm fan.

I also got a great 8"x10" negative, and there's no reason you couldn't go ULF. Give or take a bit of technique tweaking for specific sizes, coating is coating. KIrk, this will be something Don will want to try out.

hrst, As I understand the history of film, cellulose acetate 'safety film' succeeded cellulose nitrate film (the nasty-fumed, burn up with a big bang stuff). Triacetate succeeded diacetate because it was more durable. Unfortunately, they found out that triacetate disintegrated in hot, humid conditions with the distinctive smell of vinegar. Polyester succeeded triacetate with great success (if you don't count broken film projectors) but I can't sub polyester. After my results today, it's no longer an issue for me. Although diacetate isn't as strong as polyester, it also doesn't scratch easily or pick up static dust. It will be my negative material for a long, long time to come. That's certainly not to say I don't wish you well on your poly subbing efforts. Good luck!

Tomorrow I'll write up a brief blurp on all this for The Light Farm before I go on an extended art hiatus -- if anyone is interested in further information.


03-14-2010, 08:59 PM
Awesome things to hear!! Congratulations! I'm getting excited, too; have to buy some acetate. I have the chemicals for subbing layer as referenced by PE in some old post. I bought them before I started PET corona experiments. I'm very interested in more specific information; especially the method of applying the subbing layer. Is it with the same coating method (blade etc) than the emulsion itself? Or have you tried spraying? The layer is probably very thin?

Can you tell your source for diacetate? I thought it wouldn't be easy to find.

I'm looking forward for your report in The Light Farm!

03-22-2010, 08:30 PM
Hi hrst,

Thanks. I gotta say I appreciate the 'Congrats!' APUG is a tough crowd. At least this time I'm not getting roasted for my choice of fonts :)

Anyway, between Spring cleaning in my garden and subbing enough film to open a small factory, I totally forgot to post this link. http://thelightfarm.com/Map/BitsAndPieces/16Mar2010/EmulsionBlog.htm

I hope you give the acetate a try. Great stuff. And, with your technical talents, heaven only knows what great things you could do with it.

03-23-2010, 03:09 AM

I'm going hyperdrive right now, just by reading your article! Your procedures look quite easy and results perfect. Especially the coating method for subbing layer seems easy. I feel this is really something we can do in our home darkrooms!

I hope I get the polyester subbing right sometime in the future, but I want to try acetate as soon as possible. I'll try to find a source for acetate sheet locally, first. I still have also the Ilfochrome chemistry experimentation (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum40/70761-ilfochrome-home-brewed-bleach.html) to do :).

And, Comic Sans is the best font available. It makes some people go crazy! It's a sign of courage to use it...

Tom Stanworth
03-23-2010, 09:51 AM
I've working very differently to what I used to do back in 2001-2005. I have hardly shot a LF frame since then (but will in the future when back in the west) but instead working on a long-term project in Afghanistan, for which 35mm (and some 6x7 RF) made the most sense.

Right now I think I am about 4-5 months off completion and pulling together the 'almost final' cut of images and will then decide what to do with them! It has been a fantastic experience and I hope I will have the opportunity to keep shooting in this vein. After shooting LF landscapes (which I am still passionate about) it has been extremely liberating and given me the focus I previously lacked. I now know where I want to be with photography and will let the course unfold from here. I have shot film throughout - a few hundred rolls in all likelihood - despite the constant comments about digital, but I did so because I wanted to and the project was personal and so I could.

Techniques have been simple. I have shot a variety of films and used a couple of standard developers and found that largely forgetting most technical nuances, aside from decent exposure and development, has also proven to be good for me. All in all, it has been the most useful few years of photography in my life and I hope there are many, many more to come.