View Full Version : Color Dye-Transfer Prints for the Modern Hobbyist - *Imbibition for For the People!*

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08-20-2011, 01:05 PM
I haven't every tried using distilled water as a matrix cleaner (mentioned in the UVAchrom patent), I use the standard Kodak Matrix cleaner. I do wash my matrices in de-ionized water though. I'll have to try distilled water to see if it works as well as the Matrix cleaner.

Regards - Jim Browning

08-20-2011, 01:22 PM
I'll be curious to hear the result.

08-30-2011, 12:35 PM
Here are all the pages that pertain to dye-imbibition printing from volume 34 of American Photography, "Color Department", written by J.S. Friedman, c.a. mid 40's.

He covers dichromated gelatin matrices (what I'm trying to do), dichromate-bleach matrices and tanning developer matrices; both planographic (Pinatype) and relief style (wash-off) and a whole helluva lot more.

There is also a large section on selecting commonly available dyes, how to purify them, use them, etc.

All told, it's an excellent resource and I hope some will find it useful.

p.s. If anyone is interested I can send them a word file with it all nicely formatted in one document. Just shoot me a PM.

Here are pages 285-288

08-30-2011, 12:39 PM
Here are pages 362-367

(mind the order)

08-30-2011, 12:40 PM
Here are pages 445-449

08-30-2011, 12:44 PM
Here are pages 527-533

08-30-2011, 12:47 PM
Here are pages 609-613

09-08-2011, 10:29 AM
I made a coating of 6% gelatin (grocery store generic brand), 1% sorbitol and 5% McCormick's yellow food coloring (FD&C 5; a.k.a. tartrazine) as an extinction dye.

This produced a coating that is quite orange, somewhere between a yellow and orange b&w contrast filter. I suspect that it will be very good for keeping the relief shallow, and the addition of dichromate will further the stain.

I'll try to post an image soon.

After exposure, it will be etched in hot water (shooting for 115F), cooled in room temperature water (68F), cleared in sodium bi-sulfite and then "set" in 91% isopropyl alcohol.

All but the last step are common to the carbon process, but it is recommended by Friedman and others to dehydrate the gelatin relief, thus immediately "plastering" it down on the base. This helps in the all important drying step to limit any exudiate, which basically means no dissolved gelatin will be squeezed out while it dries, leaving gelatinous material that could cause streaks and spotting in the dye print. An alternative to the alcohol is sodium sulfate.

09-10-2011, 03:52 PM
Here's a look at the still slightly wet matrix on photoformulary subbed melenex[sic]. Once dry it became significantly thinner (if you can even tell).

Tartrazine has been the standard "extinction dye" for color-blind matrix materials since the beginning, with Ives in 1914. We all likely consume some of this coal tar distillate every day in the form of yellow 5 of FD&C 5.

This coating is 5% per volume of classic McCormicks food coloring.

09-11-2011, 12:21 PM
Hi Chris - nice coatings! It is unusual to see a 'clear' matrix film, rather than the translucent type with silver halide. Does the Tartrazine absorb UV light?

Regards - Jim Browning

09-12-2011, 10:35 AM
Thanks Jim,

Tartrazine has an absorption maximum of 427nm and I have a scan from the Sigma dye book somewhere around here that shows its UV absorption to be decent. It's not as good as some other candidates, but I think it'll be an improvement over no dye.

Also, the fact that it's so common and that nearly everyone has some in their kitchen cupboard is a big appeal.

09-14-2011, 03:26 AM
nice job done with the coating, Chris!
I cannot believe such an even coating could be done with a haircomb!
what was the wet thickness of the coating?

09-14-2011, 09:09 AM

I can't say for sure to be honest. It's a 6% gelatin solution, so it's quite liquid and takes a while to set up. I think a more viscous solution would be tricky with the comb, but this kind of comb (all the same size & spacing of teeth) does quite well I've found. Like a poor man's mayer rod!

I think it's about 0.5mL per square inch when wet coating, with a little excess.

09-19-2011, 02:48 PM
In Ives' patent 1,121,187 he recommends the following dye baths:

Bayer's alizarin blue A S, 1 gram to 1 quart of water, with 1 gram of citric acid and 1 to 3 grams of citrate of potash. For magenta pink, equal parts of Bayer's alizarin rubinol R and rubinol 3 G, with 1 gram of citric acid and 1 to 3 grams of citrate of potash. For yellow, Bayer's sulphon yellow R, with 1 gram of citric acid and 1 to 3 grams of citrate of potash.

These dyes are cyan: CI Acid Blue 47, magenta: CI Acid Red 80 & CI Acid Red 82, yellow: CI Acid Yellow 42.

Although these dyes are probably not ideal in their hues, it will be interesting (if I can find them) to see what results Ives enjoyed.

09-23-2011, 10:30 AM
I made a mistake in the last post. Ives' cyan was CI Acid Blue 27, not 47. My bad!

This, as well as telling me the proper dye names to begin with, was brought to my attention by Michael Garelick.

10-10-2011, 12:45 PM
I visited Rochester, NY this last week and while there made sure to check out the George Eastman House's collection. I requested to look at 2 dye-imbibition prints made by Ives. I requested these simply because I knew they existed, thanks to Gary Saretzky. -> http://gary.saretzky.com/photohistory/goldensky/index.html

Anyways, I saw the print shown in that link, and another portrait of a girl outside. Apparently there are many, many more and I'm sad that I didn't have time to look at them all.

Gary said that these portraits were "by Elias Goldensky made at the request of Frederic Ives using his Tripack film (3 negatives) and a Hi-Cro camera in 1916." Ives lived in Philadelphia and I would guess that he had Goldensky, a reknowned photographer in the city, demonstrate the capability of his process. I'm not sure if Ives actually made them, or if Goldensky used Ives' process. I'm gonna try to figure that out...

The prints looked quite good, but there were certainly faults. For one, sharpness was quite low, and it's hard to know if this was aesthetic or due to the process. I'd guess it to be a mixture of the two, or perhaps a soft-focus lens was used to make the best of the inherent softness of the process.

As for color, the sea-foam green "scarf" was very beautiful and vivid. The skin tones and pink flower looked quite good as well, as did the brown pillow in the background (much less cropped in the actual print) and the lady's hair. Greens however seem to suffer the most. The leaves of the flower were quite dark and drab, and greens in the other print I saw were also unsaturated like that. But, it's hard to say objectively of course since there are so many factors that go into the making of the print.

Under the mat, I could see some of the single layers of dye. The magenta appeared very red, and this fact was echoed by Mssr. Garelick, who told me that Acid Red 82 is a very reddish magenta.

If anyone has any infromation about the Hi-Cro camera, like an image of it, please let me know.

10-10-2011, 03:29 PM
The Hess-Ives Hicro Camera -> http://www.geh.org/fm/mees/htmlsrc/mH58600001_ful.html


10-11-2011, 12:21 PM
Ok, a slight amendment to these Ives images made with the HiCro camera.

On page 60 of Frank Roy Fraprie's How To Make Prints In Colors (available here (http://books.google.com/books?id=nfBYAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA60&dq=hicro+camera&hl=en&ei=T1uTTqKNMcSesQK4iPHIAQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CE0Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=hicro%20camera&f=false) on Google books) are instructions for the Hess-Ives color process.

It appears that these are not dye-imbibition prints afterall, in the sense that there's no transfer of the dye, though there is imbibition into reliefs by dye-baths, but they are on thin celluloid films that are then superimposed.

The instructions are pretty unclear, but it seems that the relief films are pre-sensitized, as there's no mention of a sensitizing step or anything. And after a hot water etch, they are put into a hypo bath, followed by clearning in a potassium ferricyanide bath, which is somewhat puzzling to me.

There are instructions and different 'tabloid' dye capsules for either transparencies or prints on paper. The transparencies would require a higher dye-content than the paper prints.

In summation, I'm somewhat confused and obviously need to learn a bit more about this HiCro camera and process.

So, did I really see dye-imbibition prints or not?! :blink:

10-24-2011, 03:05 PM
Generally speaking, dye-imbibition printing (in the form of Kodak's Dye-Transfer or Wash-Off Relief process) has been reserved for high-end color printing in the fields of marketing & advertising, museum & gallery exhibitions/sales, or for a commercial product itself (like a Technicolor print, to be projected for profit). Very rarely have artists taken the reigns and tried to do something purely artistic with this versatile process.

One such example is Jeannette Klute who experimented with a number of dye-transfer "derivations". Check out this PDF (http://www.naplesopenstudiotrail.com/f/Jeannette_Klute_Bio_(2).pdf)(starting on page 5).

The process is well suited to making drastic deviations from reality. For instance, imagine how easy making false-color images would be. Simply put the matrices in the "wrong" dye-bath.

Anyone who is interesting in hand-tinting or selectively adding color to their photoraphs can do so with amazing ease. This was the fundamental goal of the old Kodak Flexichrome process where you painted the dyes onto the matrix manually. The matrix absorbs (imbibes) the dyes in proportion to exposure.

One idea that I'm particularly interested in trying is a completely non-photographic technique. Purely abstract experiements in color synthesis!

One way about this would be to expose your negatives under an enlarger and to use manual techniques of dodging and burning in order to make 3 negatives with somewhat "random" tonal gradations. Whatever method you used to create these would be up to you, but the result upon superposition would be a completely original and abstract composition in color. I imagine the most interesting results would be from mostly black or white prints with splashes and fits of color. By switching the negatives with different dye-baths, you could create the same form in an endless array of colors.

If a photographer's goal is to have a highly developed eye, in the colloquial sense of taste and style, then we'd be wise to take inspiration from the wider world of the visual arts; where depictions of reality are hardly required to make an impacting impression on a viewer.

Now, this is by no means the sole purpose of working on such a dye-printing scheme, the main impetus is of course color prints, but working under the guise of "alternative processes" can liberate the photographer from such restraints that are traditionally a burden to the "technician".

10-24-2011, 03:26 PM
http://luna.pomona.edu:8180/luna/servlet/detail/PomonaCM2~8~8~41573~108878:Derivation--Plantain-Red-?qvq=w4s:/what/Vintage+dye+transfer+print+on+Paper;lc:PomonaCM2~1 0~10,PomonaCM2~11~11,PomonaCM2~12~12,PomonaCM2~8~8&mi=2&trs=9