View Full Version : My 1st paper emulsion & some success

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02-08-2010, 08:57 PM
I would like to bring everyone's attention to what may be obvious, but not in a panic. If one ever gets,or even thinks he might have, silver nitrate in his eye, PROTECT IT FROM LIGHT. Cover the eye and,still sheilding it from light, flood it with gallons of water. Then cover it again. Keep it from ANY light and have someone port you to a physician. This may save your eyesight.
But always wear goggles!
Happy Belated Groundhog Day,

Kirk Keyes
02-10-2010, 11:04 AM
Tim - sorry about the diversions. It's the way things often go here...

Keep us up to date on how things are going.

02-10-2010, 11:18 PM
Tim - sorry about the diversions. It's the way things often go here...

Keep us up to date on how things are going.

Besides that, i'm in testing mode!

I did try a shorter exposure and extended development with better results, but have other things to do and other hobbies.

In the long run, I want to have a paper, a dry plate, and a camera, all hand crafted of course. I'll be looking for a lens soon, so keep that in mind if you have a good lead :)


Kirk Keyes
02-10-2010, 11:43 PM
Tim - If you don't have this book yet, it sounds like you will like it:
"Primitive Photography: A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes" by Alan Greene.
It covers how to make vintage-style lenses as well as plate holders and cameras.

02-12-2010, 05:24 PM
The speed is pretty fast, my exposures with a 40 watt bulb, 32 in. from the print frame are 16 sec. Could almost be an enlarging paper.

Hi Tim,

No question of it. Your most excellent work inspired me to follow through on the issue. Thanks! I wrote a small splat on it here: http://www.thelightfarm.com/Map/BitsAndPieces/12Feb2010/EmulsionBlog.htm.

It's very hard to compare 'speeds' with handcrafted emulsions. There are just too many variables. Commercial products have been carefully worked up over the years to become more and more standardized and conditions/user 'immune'. DIY'ers have more control (and the flip side of control: risk). But, having said that, I'd guess the paper emulsion you've made would make a great enlarging paper. It sounds like you've got plenty of speed for even big enlargements.

Looking forward to hearing more about your work, especially with developers.

Photo Engineer
02-12-2010, 06:21 PM
Most commonly, you can compare speeds by using a contact paper and/or an enlarging paper to gain some idea of how you compare. I use Azo (the few sheets sent my by friends from APUG) and Ilford MGIV at grade 2 for comparisons. I make either a contact or enlarged example at a fixed, measured distance from the lamp, and that is how I can compare speeds.

My contact grade chloride is either identical to Kodak Azo original grade 2 or is about 1 - 2 stops faster depending on the gelatin I use. It is nearly identical in contrast.

The enlarging grade is close to Kodabromide in general appearance and is grade 2 as well. It is about 5 stops faster than the contact grade and takes an almost identical exposure as the Ilford paper.

I have posted the comparison prints here before. They are available using search. If they cannot be found, I will post them again. I also measure the H&D curves and plot them for comparison.

So, we actually can compare speeds. It is not at all that hard, as long as we all use the same reference paper to compare ours with.


02-12-2010, 10:13 PM
Thanks for the idea on comparing to manufactured paper, it will be handy down the road, when I get the basics straightened out.

The shorter exposure I mentioned above was 5.6 sec. (w/ a gralab timer) and developed five minutes in ansco 130 undiluted. The results where very similar to the 16 sec. exposure with 2 min. development. I masked the border of this print in preparation for gold toning and noticed a bit of fogging, much to my dismay.

I should have noted in this post that I am using chrome alum as a hardener. With the Arches paper I have no problems with the emulsion bubbling or coming loose, in fact, after final washing I can pat the print dry with a paper towel. The other paper I tried, Fabriano, was a complete failure.

Glad to hear I gave you a little push to investigate the speed potential of your paper.


Photo Engineer
02-12-2010, 10:26 PM
Interesting. I give mine 1' in Dektol 1:3. That seems to work fine. This indicates a coarser grain and perhaps other halides being present.

Your work is excellent. Good luck as you go on. Just post a note or PM me for any help you might need.


02-13-2010, 09:31 AM

Thanks for the intel on chrome alum/Arches. Arches is a beautiful paper that works well with glyoxal, too. I've never used chrome alum directly in my paper recipes, just sometimes in the fix. It's interesting that it didn't work with Fabriano. I'll have to put that to a test sometime. Gotta love a field that keeps you happily solving enough puzzles for a lifetime. Take that, Sudoku!


Could you do us a favor? I'd love to have you post a couple of Stouffer 21-step tablet prints from your papers in Dektol. I can't turn up the comparison prints you mentioned (you're just too prolific a poster! :) ) For that matter, I'd love to see more of your work get posted here on a regular basis. You don't have to post recipes. We can wait for your book. But, some examples of actual results (i.e. prints and/or plates and/or film), not just H&D curves and snapshots of lab setups, could be just the inspiration to drum up pre-sales!

Photo Engineer
02-13-2010, 10:36 AM
In the prints below, I have first posted the reference using Ilford MGIV paper with an on-easel enlargement at f11, 12" with 1' in Dektol 1:3. The remaining prints are made using the same process. The filter was grade #2.

Print #2 is the Azo type grade 2-3 paper with 8" exposure, #3 is my enlarging emulsion exposed identically to the Ilford paper but without filtration.

The curves in #4 represent the actual Stouffer curves from the Azo experiments and are from right to left, My Azo type soft (~2), Azo grade 2, my Azo medium (~2-3) and my Azo hard (~3-4).

The next two are comparisons of my Azo medium grade and Azo grade 2. The last photo is an uneditied or cropped photo with both the Azo and Azo scanned on one pass (doing separate scans changed the relationships of the images as you can see from the previous two photos) with identical process and exposure conditions. I used an old negative from the 20s to get that "old time" look.

In the early stages, I used the MacBeth in the photo, then I went to the strip chart and now I am doing a strip chart and a Stouffer wedge.

The strip chart is a Kodak step wedge. It is as valid as the Stouffer wedge.

I hope this helps.


Photo Engineer
02-13-2010, 11:59 AM
With apologies, I see what happened in some previous posts....

This is a typical exposure on an 8x10 sheet testing with the Stouffer step wedge, 2 resolution charts and a normal photo.

In some previous posts, I had cropped the scan of the prints to illustrate the resolution charts and in another case to illustrate the contrast but I had not shown all 4 in one print.

Right now, I have 3 of the prints here, but cannot locate the full scan of the Ilford, nor the original print. The 4 print set got separated somehow. When I can, I will repost as much as I have here, but the exposure here is pretty typical of how I test my print emulsions.

If anyone wishes to see the film tests, let me know. It is just about the same as this though except shot in a camera.


02-13-2010, 12:27 PM
Thanks, Ron. I'm glad you found the whole step tablet (I was wondering :)) I see you are still having surfactant problems (unless these are the same prints from four years ago - they look familiar, but I know you follow the same basic research protocol I do, which is to re-use materials to keep an established baseline.) Keep up the good work. Post often!

I think a lot of things are coming together, each of us in our own areas of particular interest. I can hardly wait to see Ron's superspeed films. Bill Winkler is having very good luck with ortho emulsions and is well on his way to pan. If I were a betting woman, I'd bet Kirk will be busting open the T-grain puzzle soon. I'm almost ready to go public with hand-subbed film, which should make the 'capture' side of emulsions a lot easier. With apologies to Bill, as beautiful as glass is, a backpack full of dry plates is a load going up a trail!. And of course, there's Tim's great work with paper. I hope 'hrst' and 'totalamateur' haven't given up. I can tell you that I'm in regular contact with a number of people who have started working with emulsions, but are too shy to share just yet.

On a tangential note, I submit a gentle elbow nudge to lurkers. I see that there are many more hits to this thread in the last hour or so than views of Ron's jpegs. If you are just lurking here without membership jpeg privileges, you're missing half the fun. It's free and painless to sign up as an APUG member. You can always decide to support the site with a subscription later.


Photo Engineer
02-13-2010, 01:45 PM

My surfactant problems came about when I tried to use Photo Flo 600 unfortunately. No amount would work for me. I have used many other surfactants. This includes TX-100 which is the active ingredient in Photo Flo 200. I've used TX-200 and also Alkanol XC with quite good results. My standard is Photo Flo 200, but I do go in and out of problems as we did at the workshop. I find that this is related to some contaminant that yields itself (as we found at the workshop) to plain old soap and water. I am working on a surfactant mix that will solve this type of problem.

Yes, the photos posted above are what you saw in the workshop. I have carted them back and forth to workshops so often they are getting "shop worn :) ". That is probably how I mislaid the Ilford originals which are here somewhere or languishing in a corner somewhere in Montana or NYC. :(

When I find them, I will post them, but in the meantime I found another set of prints and one of them is coffee stained in the center. I either did it here or one of the students did at a workshop. Baptism by coffee is not good for a print.

The first set of prints and the curves that I posted above were done this spring when I made the Azo comparison.


02-13-2010, 04:57 PM
I hope 'hrst' and 'totalamateur' haven't given up.

Thanks :).

I've started playing with high voltages for PET corona subbing again, after a pause of a few months (I've been building control electronics for my ECN/ECP cine film lab project recently). But, now I have a 18 kV very dangerous voltage source ready that gives a bright glowing corona in dark. I hope I'll post some results of that sooner or later, if I find a proper wire to give enough corona power...

I find it so that I have to find a way to get emulsion stick to base first before I can continue with emulsions. ... and I find buying a ready-subbed base cheating ;).

Photo Engineer
02-13-2010, 06:30 PM

Please note a patent by Yost of Kodak that describes fog formation by corona discharge and methods to prevent it. I was not aware of this until I did a recent search. Dick Yost's work should have stuck in my mind, but it was so long ago.


02-14-2010, 05:40 PM
I would really like to make smaller batches of Denise's paper emulsion. I can handle scaling the ingredient quantities, but I'm unsure how to scale some variables, such as silver addition. Could anyone make suggestions or does this require elaborate and expensive control devices.:confused: I am using a stopcock buret and a timer to add silver nitrate. How about other variables, ripening, digestion, and etc.

A while ago I read some info on using rice starch to make a matt paper surface. I though I read it here on APUG, but can;t locate it for the life of me! Actually, I thought it was a post by PE. If memory serves correctly, the info described warming the starch until the coagulum settled to the bottom. This was then used as the matting agent in the emulsion. Well, I might be just full of it, but I would really like a matt finished paper.:D


Photo Engineer
02-14-2010, 09:25 PM

If you scale the emulsion just multiply all volumes by the scale factor. This works between about 100 ml and 500 ml. After that, you need more vigorous mixing in the form of a magnetic stirrer on the bottom and a prop mixer in the middle or the solution viscosity (gelatin) will mess up the make.

Keep everything else constant. Keep addition rates and hold times the same. Heating things up and cooling them move more slowly and you will need to speed them both up.

Starch is a good matting agent, but I didn't bring it up. Someone else must have. Your comments are right about on. Modern coatings use Poly Methyl Methacrylate beads suspended in gelatin and that is about the same as starch in gelatin. It should work.

Best of luck.


02-14-2010, 10:40 PM
With apologies to Bill, as beautiful as glass is, a backpack full of dry plates is a load going up a trail.


No apologies called for. Its all a matter of philosophy. When I am doing "Art" and not "Research",I will spend 3-4 days getting 4 shots. OTH, I know very good photographers who shoot hundred of shots in a day, then a week editing, looking for "the Good one".
Dry Plate Bill:p

02-22-2010, 06:02 AM
Hi all,

Thought I would update this thread with some notes. But first I want to say a big Thank U to everyone for the help and encouragement.:)

2.22.10 05:03

Had a chance to work with my first batch of emulsion this morning. It’s now four weeks old and starting to exibit a lot of peppering. So now I can use it under white light to prefect my coating technique; it’s fubarred anyhow.

I coated several test sheets of Fabriano, but first humidified them above water for about, well I took a nap, so a long time :rolleyes:. Anyhow I guess they where like 100% humidified. The paper was flat, soft, and ready to accept the coat. Of course the emulsion still floated of in the final wash, but not as badly as other test pieces.

I really like this paper, it dries flatter, has better contrast, is brighter, and I just like it better than Arches. Two different papers with the same emulsion is a nice idea though.

Did a little searching on the net looking for info on a chrome alum fixer and found this on Google form “The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography.”

Chrome Alum 12.5 g
Sodium Metabisulfite 12.5 g
Sodium Sulfite, anhydrous 6.25 g
Sodium Thiosulfate 400.0 g
Water to make 1.0 L

adjust pH to 4.0 – 6.5

The amount of sodium thiosulfate seemed high to me so I cut it back to the more common 24%. Not sure that was the right thing to do. I guess I will have to do some residual silver testing. Maybe PE could comment or improve upon this formula for us.

…And the emulsion now sticks to Fabriano.:D

Hopefully, this week I will have the time to make a new batch and coat it all in one go, on both Arches and Fabriano paper.

Just for giggles, measured pH of solutions.
Ansco 130 (10.1)
Metabisulfate Stop Bath (5.0)
Chrome Alum Fixer (4.9)
Today’s tap water (8.0)

02-22-2010, 11:07 AM
Very simple. Go to Lowe's or similar DIY store and get a sheet of egg crate diffusion material made for in ceiling fluorescent lighting and also some fiberglass screen. In a suitable sized developer tray lay several layers of paper towels. Pour hot or cold (your choice) water over the paper towels and then pour most of it out. Lay the egg crate material on the damp towels and a sheet of screen on top of this. Lay your paper to be humidified on the screen. Finally, cover the tray with something like a sheet of plexiglass to keep the moisture in.

Mike Ware describes the method on his web site with info on how to exactly control the amount of humidity using various salts.