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  1. #1
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    easiest way to start with home-made emulsions

    Hi all. So I had a great idea about some prints I wanted to make, enlarging onto canvas painted with emulsion and such.
    I've read all the various threads about the peculiarities of canvas and such around here, but basically my first problem is whether to buy or to make.

    Firstly: Liquid Light. I would love to just be able to buy something like this and be done with it.
    Unfortunately a) it's $110 a bottle here, which is well over my threshold for "just to try it out", and I'm not about to buy anything from B+H in the next few months or I'd throw the $32 bottle in the cart.
    b) nowhere, on any literature that I've seen on the bottle, on websites, not even on the Rockland page for it, does anyone explicitly state whether it's positive or negative. The Rockland FAQ page makes it sound like it's negative, but doesn't say it explicitly. The salesman at my local shop (who's used the stuff), said it was "positive, black is black and white is white". I've also talked to someone who said he made a pinhole on an upturned trailer-bed using it (at a trailer trade-show, apparently), and I can't imagine trailer people being impressed with a negative image stuck on steel as a marketing gimmick. So which is it, positive or negative?
    Rollei RBM3 and Foma are available at macodirect, but it would be the only reason to order from them besides getting a FujiHunt Chrome 6X kit, ie they're not an option in the near future.

    So the best option for me in the short term is home-made. But where to start? I've read a few recipes and almost all seem to contain chemicals that would probably be just as hard to obtain around here. Can anyone suggest a nice, easy, cheap recipe to start? It must be easy to mix in small quantities to start (ie, <100ml), and have easy to obtain ingredients, like a regular supermarket/pharmacy would carry (like eggs, permanganate, ammonia, iodine, aspirin, coffee, that sort of stuff. Hell, I'd sacrifice a pumpkin and a block of cheese if it'd make a nice emulsion).
    And being Negative would definitely be a plus. I suppose I can always make an 'interpos' on film or paper and contact-print (going from there onto canvas would mask any blurriness anyway), but negative straight to canvas would be easiest. Speed and contrast aren't too important, neither is fine grain (like I said, canvas), and I can always paint whatever onto the canvas first to make it stick.

    Suggestions?
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

  2. #2

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    I use Rockland's Liquid Light emulsion. On this page you will notice the second sentence describes the emulsions properties. I'm sure they described it in these terms so that potential customers would know exactly how the emulsion operates. Of course, we would still have to know how photographic paper operates to understand that process.

    I'm use this product because I could never make the math for making my own emulsion work financially in my favor. Of course Silver Nitrate being the most expensive ingredient. And then when time and labor is added in. Plus, when I looked at the MSDS for Rockland's emulsion I noticed that it is probably a much better emulsion than I could make by hand. I would surely enjoy making my own emulsion, but the task for which I use emulsion is already time consuming as it is.
    Last edited by DannL.; 07-14-2014 at 10:24 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    5x4, 4x5, Half-Plate, 5x7, 8x10, 6x7cm and 6X4.5cm

  3. #3
    Photo Engineer's Avatar
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    This is a negative working emulsion that contains cadmium. With care it can give some excellent negatives but you must only melt the amount you want to use each time. If you melt the whole thing, it changes and that is not good.

    Making your own is not hard. Read my book! Just a plug for all of my time and money!

    PE

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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    This is a negative working emulsion that contains cadmium. With care it can give some excellent negatives but you must only melt the amount you want to use each time. If you melt the whole thing, it changes and that is not good.

    Making your own is not hard. Read my book! Just a plug for all of my time and money!

    PE
    Is the "trace of cadmium" in the emulsion significant? I ask since you made it the first note in your reply about the product.
    5x4, 4x5, Half-Plate, 5x7, 8x10, 6x7cm and 6X4.5cm

  5. #5

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    dr c..

    if you can get silver nitrate cheap by all means try to make
    your own emulsion. the emulsion aj12 instructions j loaded in the articles section
    a long time go, it is pretty straight forward/ easy.
    here are also lots of recipies over on the light farm website ..
    i made my first emulsion when i was broke and i college in the middle of the night.
    something like 30 years ago ..

    i am confused about your questions about liquid light.
    it is like paper emulsion ( or an emulsion you might make )
    it prints a positive if you project a negative onto it, and it will give you a paper negative
    if you stick it in your camera .. just like paper. there is a way to make a direct positive
    that is with the tintype kit, but i dont think that is what you were talking about..


    have fun!
    john
    Last edited by jnanian; 07-14-2014 at 10:58 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    im empty, good luck

  6. #6
    Dr Croubie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Photo Engineer View Post
    This is a negative working emulsion that contains cadmium. With care it can give some excellent negatives but you must only melt the amount you want to use each time. If you melt the whole thing, it changes and that is not good.

    Making your own is not hard. Read my book! Just a plug for all of my time and money!

    PE
    Gladly! Got a link? Preferably to somewhere with cheapish shipping down here, or even an electronic version I can read while I'm at-my-desk-at-the-place-that-pays-me (note I'm avoiding using the 'w' word).

    I'm not too fond of Cadmium, but if it's already in something (like a NiCd battery) I'm not too worried, I just won't lick it. But I'm not mixing my own with Cd any time soon (until I can afford my own laminar-flow venthood)

    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    dr c..

    if you can get silver nitrate cheap by all means try to make
    your own emulsion. the emulsion aj12 instructions j loaded in the articles section
    a long time go, it is pretty straight forward/ easy.
    here are also lots of recipies over on the light farm website ..
    i made my first emulsion when i was broke and i college in the middle of the night.
    something like 30 years ago ..

    i am confused about your questions about liquid light.
    it is like paper emulsion ( or an emulsion you might make )
    it prints a positive if you project a negative onto it, and it will give you a paper negative
    if you stick it in your camera .. just like paper. there is a way to make a direct positive
    that is with the tintype kit, but i dont think that is what you were talking about..

    have fun!
    john
    Well, I suppose your confusion comes from my confusion. FP4 and TMX are 'negative' films. MGiv and Ilfospeed and Crystal Archive RA4 are 'negative' papers. HDPP and Ilfochrome are 'positive' papers.
    What I want to do is take a regular negative film and enlarge it onto a regular negative canvas, just like negative paper, to make a positive image. That's why I was confused when some people told me that LL is a 'positive' emulsion, I was imagining something like HDPP or a Tintype/Daguerrotype, which I don't want to make (yet, I'll leave that for another day).

    I figure AgNO3 would be somewhere in there for a DIY-emulsion, not sure about how easy it is to get around here. Ringing around chemical shops might not be the best thing to do for me right now, I've been applying for some jobs at Defence contractors, that might be the sort of thing that would get my security-clearance denied (especially if I have to go the Ag + HNO3 route)...
    An awful lot of electrons were terribly inconvenienced in the making of this post.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Croubie View Post
    Gladly! Got a link? Preferably to somewhere with cheapish shipping down here, or even an electronic version I can read while I'm at-my-desk-at-the-place-that-pays-me (note I'm avoiding using the 'w' word).
    You can get it at the Photographers' Formulary but shipping it down our way won't be cheap...

  8. #8

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    If the cadmium is suspended in something you will be fine using standard safety protocols (don't ingest it, use gloves, etc). If it's in powder form, you should be extra careful. It is highly toxic and a known cancer causing metal that targets neurological, intestinal, renal, respiratory, etc areas of the body. I've been using painter's paints for decades that contain this (all the good, archival stuff will kill you dead it appears) w/ no issues, but it is suspended in an oil medium in that form. The way these chemicals work is pretty dodgy. One person could be exposed to a significant amount and show no effects (for a while), while another person could be exposed to a small amount and "react" to it.

    In another life, I was part of a team that surveyed 5,000 businesses across the USA to gather data so that the PEL standards could be updated and revised (Permissible Exposure Limits to toxic and hazardous chemicals and materials in the workplace) for OSHA. You would be amazed at what is out there that is not properly regulated, especially in the medical field. We actually had to present the results to Congress to get the standards revised, which I thought would be a total nightmare, but things went smoothly, even though industries tried to block things (it costs money to revise safety standards). As someone wisely said here, reading the MSD sheet is a no brainer, but don't stop there. Ferret out any and all studies that you can find on the chemical you're interested in. I've seen a lot of painters who became sensitized to common artists materials and/or poisoned from not following basic safety precautions.
    Last edited by momus; 07-15-2014 at 07:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  9. #9

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    If you go the DIY route you can just ignore the cadmium as it is used to modify the AgX crystals you will grow. You could get away with making an "unwashed" emulsion a you will be coating on paper. Just about the simplest one there is to do.

    Many folk use the Rockland emulsion to make tintypes, so that may be were some of the confusion is coming from. Tintypes are negatives with a black backing that then look like positives (uber simplified explanation) and not a positive working process.

    All the chemicals you will need to make your own emulsion are silver nitrate (try here: http://www.chemsupply.com.au/ 38/50 Bedford St, Gillman SA 5013), gelatin and a halide (Sodium Chloride aka table salt will work) and water, distilled.

    PE does have an excellent book on this subject, and Denise has an excellent website dedicated to the subject as well: http://www.thelightfarm.com

    They both have good information even if the approach it from different directions with different goals and methodology

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dr Croubie View Post
    Well, I suppose your confusion comes from my confusion. FP4 and TMX are 'negative' films. MGiv and Ilfospeed and Crystal Archive RA4 are 'negative' papers. HDPP and Ilfochrome are 'positive' papers.
    What I want to do is take a regular negative film and enlarge it onto a regular negative canvas, just like negative paper, to make a positive image. That's why I was confused when some people told me that LL is a 'positive' emulsion, I was imagining something like HDPP or a Tintype/Daguerrotype, which I don't want to make (yet, I'll leave that for another day).

    I figure AgNO3 would be somewhere in there for a DIY-emulsion, not sure about how easy it is to get around here. Ringing around chemical shops might not be the best thing to do for me right now, I've been applying for some jobs at Defence contractors, that might be the sort of thing that would get my security-clearance denied (especially if I have to go the Ag + HNO3 route)...
    huh ...

    photo emulsions in a bottle or you make yourself are whatever photo paper is ( negative? ) emulsion.
    so if in a camera they give you a negative, and a positive if a negative projected on it a positive.
    it isn't like ilfochrome/cibachrome emulsion and has nothing to do with that sort of thing.
    i do silver gelatin tintypes when i can,and any (negative?) photo emulsion of photo paper can be converted into a tintype sort of faux positive sort of thing
    but it is more than just exposing the paper or whatever the emulsion is coated on. first the background ( or thing coated ) has to be black.
    then there is a special developer ... sometimes very weak, sometimes with a lot of alkaline-buffer, sometimes with a bleaching agent, sometimes with fixer like a monobath
    and, sometimes with ammonia ( never seen an recipe with ammonia but was told of one) . the developer is weak and the image barely develops, the bleach brightens and the fixer yellow stains the emulsion
    what was "white" ( clear to paper base ) is now clear to black background, what was "black" is now bleached and lighter .. so as you can see regular bottled
    emulsion really can't be used as a direct positive like you were told without a bunch of other stuff going on.

    you should tell the folks at the store .. it is like forte paper in a bottle ( has cadmium in it ) but ... a different brand.

    i wouldn't make silver nitrate yourself, it is pretty dangerous and can be deadly exercise, you are better off buying it pre made in crystals ..
    http://lerch.no-ip.com/atm/DEAD.htm
    and not sure why if you make your own emulsion you would need cadmium ( ive never used cadmium) ...
    you can just make it with a few ingredients like sea water ( iodized salt + water )
    silver nitrate and gelatin ... http://www.thelightfarm.com/ has a bunch of other working emulsions as well ...

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum229/...-things-2.html

    the last entry has 3 pdf files including a very easy emulsions to coat on paper, eggs, canvas, linens, or ... anything else you can think of...
    im empty, good luck

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