Thank you Aaron and thank you Daniel. I'm happy to offer whatever help I can. Daniel, Where are you located in Canada? Paula and I plan to get to Canada in a few weeks. If we can connect, we'll be able to show you lots of prints. If not, you are invited to visit us down here in Pennsylvania, where you can see for yourself what the Azo/Amidol combination is capable of.
Michael A. Smith
You're welcome Michael.
I live just outside the Nation's Capital, Ottawa. And when/where will you be in Canada Michael? Do you have a show coming up? Visiting PA also sounds like a fine idea as I've not been down your way in a good while.
Hummmmm planning in motion!
Cheers - Daniel
We were thinking of going to Toronto, after a quick stop in Rochester. If you come down this way, you might want to combine it with a trip to NYC. I'm sure there are many wonderful photographs to see there and we are only an hour and a half away. Here or there, Paula and I look forward to meeting you, Daniel. We probably should continue this off-forum.
Michael A. Smith
Just curious, but I've read the Unblinking Eye article on Azo + Amidol, and it's curve doesn't look radically different from the Ansco 120/130 curves. According to "The Print", those are closeish (give or take an ish) to Selectol Soft from the Yellow Peril.
So..., what are people's opinions on Selectol-soft + Azo, rather than the pricier and less stable Amidol?
After watching Michael Smith print one of my negatives on Azo and develop it in amidol, a negative which is in my opinion incapable of yielding a fine print, I threw out my supply of Agfa Neutol WA working solution. I still have a bottle of stock solution (unopened) in the closet somewhere which is yours if you want to come by the house to pick it up.
After the early 1920's Edward Weston developed all of his negatives by inspection in pyro and developed the contact prints he made from them in amidol. He was dirt poor for much of those last 25 years of his working photographic life. Don't you think there must have been a reason why he would use such an expensive developer for the rest of his productive years (and have his sons use it to print his negatives for ten more years)?
Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee make the finest photographic prints being produced by any living photographer, and they make an awful lot of dead ones look pretty bad. The only prints that I've seen to even equal theirs are some Westons (both Edward and Brett) and a few Wynn Bullock prints. Also a very select few of Steiglitz's prints. They are driven to produce absolutely the finest prints possible and will take no shortcuts, make no compromise and will use only the materials across the board which will result in the finest possible print no matter what the cost or inconvenience. They use every conceivable advantage they can get in the pursuit of perfection. They print only on Azo paper and develop the prints in amidol. Don't you think there might be a good reason?
I too made the "mistake" of wasting some of my valuable Azoo paper on Agfa Neutol WA developer. But I only realized it was a mistake after I started using Amidol. The difference is amazing. Amidol is expensive, but it yields fantastic results.
I tried Michael Smiths Amidol formula, and then tried Peckhams. I am currently staying with the Peckhams formula, which happens to be somewhat less expensive to make, because the amount of amidol is substancially less than in the Smith formula, (and uses catchetol as a second form of developing agent) but that is not the reason I've chosen to stay with the Peckham formula. I just find it easier to control the development compared to the more robust/powerful Smith formula. The development in the Smith happens so fast that I find it difficult to reproduce the results when making a series of prints. The Peckham formula allows me a little more "breathing room" if you will, because the time in the developer is somewhat longer, around 1- 1 1/2 minutes comnpared to 30 seconds to a minute with the Smith formula.
The tone of the final print using Peckhams formula comes veryclose to what I consider to be ideal, and after a quick Selenium toning, well....I'm convinced.
I'm hoping to be able to attend an Azo printing class with Michael and Paula sometime soon. I'm sure that after seeing how they handle the development, I will be giving their formula another look.
Oh yeah, I have 2 liters of Neutol WA concentrate in the closet as well, but picking them up in Germany might not be that practical. http://apug.org/forum/html/emoticons/cool.gif
Do you use a metronome? My consistency improved greatly once I began using one.
One thing I've noticed about Michael's printing is that he 1) starts the metronome, 2) covers the printing frame with a big cardboard sheet and turns the lamp on and 3) waits a couple of seconds before removing the cardboard. In this way he knows that the lamp is always burning at the same maximum intensity when he begins exposure. Likewise he stops exposure by throwing down the carboard to cover the frame and THEN turns the lamp off. The results are remarkably consistent. He also uses a cadence of 72 beats per minute instead of 60 so that the effects of missing the beat are attenuated.
Metronome? If that question was directed at me, no I don't. To be quite honest, that is the one part of Michaels method that I just cannot seem to "understand". That the use of a metronome can be more accurate as my timer, well...hmmm.
But what I was referring to as far as "inconsistancy" is concerned, was more the development time as opposed to the exposure time. Amidol is so powerful, especially in the Michael Smith formula, that the image comes up so quickly that it's hard for me to work with. Maybe I'm using too long of an exposure time, but as Michael Smith reccomends, the time in the developer should be about 30-45 seconds when used with a water bath. With the Peckham formula, I can just seem to take a few seconds more time to evaluate the development process.
I'm unfamiliar with either formula. Could you elaborate?
Here is a link to the unblinking eye website and it's Amidol formula page...