For future reference, here is the site of James (Jim) Browning, http://www.dyetransfer.org/. I had to wrestle a bit with google to find it. Within the Dye Transfer pdf is what I guess is the formula for the RS emulsion mentioned in PEs OP. The Bruce Kahn formula I haven't been able to locate on the web. I know PE has posted it once in a thread here but I am not sure if I should repost it (I have it on my computer)?
“Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity.” - Lao Tzu
I will offer up some first-hand observations based upon several prints laying in front of me. This thread has made me realize something. All of these prints are contact printed from 8x10 negatives, and all on fiber base papers. Various developers have been used but I can easily rule out that the developers make no difference in the results I'm seeing. The negatives are made on several different films, some developed in ABC Pyro, some developed in Pyrocat-HD. Some were developed in trays with standard agitation, some were developed in tubes using extreme minimal agitation.
I have printed every one of these negatives on Azo. It is well-known that Azo is an "ancient" silver-chloride (AgCl) emulsion, one that can be considered rudimentary by today's standards. On Azo, each image is very clear and very sharp.
Another group of prints, same negatives, printed on PE's hand-coated paper with his home-made AgCl contact printing emulsion. Again, this could be considered a rudimentary emulsion, with less strict quality control of ingredients and process than what the Kodak-made Azo is subject to. The images are very sharp, very clear. I can see no discernible difference between these prints and the Azo prints in sharpness.
Another group of contact prints printed on on modern, currently available enlarging papers, both graded and variable contrast. Very sharp, very clear images. These papers are not advertised as being silver rich.
The final group of prints, made from the same negatives, printed on papers that are advertised as being silver rich. Again, graded paper and variable contrast. These images are noticeably less sharp. The images are softer. Not softer in contrast, but softer in image clarity.
Why am I seeing this? I'm not sure. It does make a case for concluding that the silver-rich papers produce a somewhat softer image, but I'm not sure its conclusive. I had also noticed this same difference when making enlargements but I think the most objective proof is with the contact prints since it eliminates the enlargement variable.
But why are the prints made on the two rudimentary AgCl contact printing emulsions so much sharper that on the "silver-rich" emulsions? The silver-rich technology is advertised as being that of the 1930s-1950s or so. The AgCl emulsions date back to the 1890s I believe, but they are just as sharp as the emulsions made by two different makers (neither of which is Kodak) with the most modern facilities and technology.
Ron, how does this fit in to the greater scheme of things?
Alex, the paper I sent you is 'silver rich'. I will have to address this in another thread I think. It has to do with the paper itself and the emulsion.
Are the silver rich papers on FB or RC? I would assume FB, right?
For starters, today's FB papers seem to have a thinner layer of baryta than they used to and the paper itself is not heavy. The paper I coated on (the non-baryta) is about triple weight. There is about 30% or more silver in the paper than in current B&W papers due to 'dead grains' and inefficiencies in the primitive emulsion.
I'll try to address these all later, but if you could answer as to the type of paper support for the silver rich prints and the support type for my paper, it would help me a bit.
Ahh, that's what I thought based on your writing. Is recently-made Azo also silver rich or was Kodak able to modernize it somewhat?
Originally Posted by Photo Engineer
Everything is FB. I'm making the comparison to your baryta coatings. The Azo is single weight, everything else is double or triple weight. Everything is on baryta.
Are the silver rich papers on FB or RC? I would assume FB, right?
I will add that the silver-rich papers (baryta) are comparable in sharpness to your coating on the strathmore base. The strathmore base is inherently softer in appearance to the baryta base, all processing steps being the same, including the same developer.
I'm not sure about the factory origins of the silver-rich papers. Some are certainly from Forte but I'm not sure where the Adox/Nuance brands originate.
Well, I'll give a try here Alex. But I may have to start another thread to finish up as it gets pretty broad.
Paper dmax is limited by multiple internal reflections, so no matter what the amount of silver there is in the coating, the dmax will be roughly about 2.2, no higher. Now, there is data in the area above 2.2 if there is enough silver, but you cannot see it. You can, however, see it if you look through the paper using a transmission densitometer for example. The paper scale continues to go on and on.
In the design of paper, you must consider that during exposure, the light is reflected from the back and then scatters. In a silver rich emulsion it scatters a lot, so the trick is to use a low level of gelatin to prevent scatter by having high turbidity. In the case of paper, high turbidity confines the exposure to the top of the emulsion and can actually increase sharpness.
If you add too much gelatin, the back scatter increases lowering sharpness. Therefore, paper design is a balancing act between silver halide level coated and gelatin level coated. The worst is a low silver, high gelatin coating.
Now, add into this a thin baryta layer or a thin paper backing and you make the blacks look less dense in a low silver paper or a high gelatin coating. The back lighting gets through and makes the print look translucent.
My paper is high silver and low gelatin (relative to some) and therefore appears sharper.
So, in my paper, there is enough silver to get to a dmax of about 3.0, but you only see a velvety black of about 2.2 and this is further attenuated during exposure by turbidity to give sharpness. Azo works by a similar balance of silver/gelatin ratio. Other methods to control sharpness include use of absorber dye.
BTW, this all works for film too. That is, the balance of turbidity or scatter as a function of silver to gelatin ratio.
If this seems satisfactory, lets consider this to be an explanation for the paper portion of this myth. And, "gestalt' is the word here. It is your perception of the print that is what works. The engineer has to integrate all of this to make it work in the final product.
Thanks for your comments Alex.
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Thanks for the answers Ron. I have a package of the Russian Slavich paper here waiting for a try. It will be interesting to see where it lays in all of this. I found their website the other day. I can't say for certain but it would appear that their facility may be pretty modern. Others here on APUG have reported good results with this paper, but I don't remember any comparisons like I just made. We'll see.
It does not matter how modern the facility is, if you have the wrong coating formula or have done no R&D. You have to get the film and the paper right.
Even modern coating facilities get the formula wrong sometimes.
Keep up the good work Alex. Keep me posted.
Curious about something. The most recent batch of Azo by Kodak had a quality which ended up needing a change in film development time to yield good prints (i.e. old grade 2 was 1.5, new grade 2 was 1.65). Was this due to a different manufacturing facility, but the same chemistry? I think the paper was produced in a single batch run on an as-needed basis, so there were many stops and starts over the years of production.
Was this variation from batch to batch a lack of QC, initial testing, chemistry or something else? Seems the basic formula should have been exactly the same each time, so what variables caused these types of changes. tim
The problem you mention was due either to being made in a new location or to an error in formulation. The results passed Kodak QC though making me believe that the problem, whatever caused it, was one of reciprocity failure.
People who used short exposure times got one result and people who used long exposure times got another in terms of contrast.
Alex may want to comment on that.
Like it or not those emulsions prepared with 'dead grains' in them are going to have a certain set of characteristics peculiar to them. Calling a film with these properties 'silver rich' is a name people hang on them... Some people prefer this look.
We shouldn't get lost in semantics and just admit that films prepared in different ways have a different look.
art is about managing compromise