I'm sure 'silver-rich' and dense had a lot (or even most) to do with it. There is a quality, even in an enlargement on modern commercial paper, that is indescribable and unfortunately doesn't really come across from a jpeg on a computer screen. The attached print and its crop is a flatbed scan of an Ilford Multigrade enlargement of a dry plate glass negative shot with a modern lens, with absolutely no Photoshop manipulations. The plate is so dense I can't get a scan of it.
My observation and experience is that 'the look' of the old negatives and dry plates was about the materials far more than it was about any particular skill or tricks of the photographer. And, it probably could go without saying that I think more of us new-timers should try our hand at making the old materials.
Because they're the only ones that get to be old?
I still use this for those negatives which are exposed under very flat conditions. For instance - Death Valley in January, my favorite month to visit, is quite often heavily overcast. During these times the dunes may read as little as one stop difference between highlight and shadow. I develop these in a tray of well used D-23. Normal routine is to place in tray, agitate for 30 seconds, cover the tray with a black one and leave it for an hour. Agitate for another 30 seconds, and repeat the process. After about 3 hours I turn on the green safelight and look at the base of the negative to see if the highlights are present - if not I coninue the routine until they are. This produces beautiful negatives.
Originally Posted by apochromatic
The secret as I know it is well used D-23. It is loaded with silver from previous use and over time some of this apparently replates in the highlight areas to produce additional density there.
I have never tried this with T-grain films,but I have used it with Tri-X, HP5+ and FP4+.
As for total development of average scenes, I have not done it in years. If you want to try it I suggest you mix up some D-23, develop several rolls or sheets of old film in it, or use it for your normal development for a time. After about 50 rolls or sheets of 4x5 it should have sufficient silver to work. D-23 keeps for inordinately long times if not contaminated. If you have,as I do, lots of out-dated film just open the package and expose it,then develop it to season your developer.
When I was learning in the 30's most photographers kept their film developers and replenished as needed to maintain activity. Use of developer in a one-shot method was just too expensive in those depression days. This re-use process provided workers with plenty of well used developer.
D-23 rarely needed replenishment, but could be with D-25. D-76, and Panthermic 777 and I'm sure many other developers were commonly replenished. These are the ones with which I worked at the time.
Try it - you may like it.
Also remember that most lenses of the time were not coated and thus there was more non-image light on the films than with current multi-coated lenses. This would contribute to the "glow", I think. That's why I still prefer lenses from before WWII. The trees in my photographs look like round trees, not flat cut outs pasted on the surface.
[FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]
Does that apply to us photographers too???
Originally Posted by gainer
Originally Posted by Jim Noel
i worked for a lady portrait photographer who was trained through the mail
by the new york insitute of photography in the 20s and 30s.
when i worked for her it was the 1980s
she used dk50, "replenished" ... wow!
it gave the sweetest results!
those suggestions you mention are the best.
(replenishes: (café130) caffeinol C +ansco 130 )
silver magnets, trickle tanks sold
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My father's old negs are a mixed bag. They were better before the kids arrived - he probably had more time to get the exposures right.
IMHO, it isn't density, its gradation. More silver seems to allow a wider gradation. Ansel Adams Zone Systems gives ten stops range to films in his era. I find it hard to do that now. I would say 7-8 stops is all I can get from FP4 or HP5, and I consider those good films. I'm no chemist, in fact, I barely made it through chemistry in college, but I think the chemistry of the film, which includes amount of silver, has been compromised. As I say, just IMHO.
Originally Posted by Robert Budding
In that lab where you worked in 1940s, how did you re-new your D-23 in that large tank? Did you at some point just add small amount of fresh made developer to the used one, or just made fresh portion for the whole tank? I guess the same amount of D-23 couldn't work for let's say 5 years even with 'total development' technique... Or it did?
In your today's practice of 'total development' in tray, for how long do you use the same batch? And what's then - a new batch, seasoning it with outdated films, or the same batch with a kind of replenishment?
i heard lucky films give that good ole' time glow!!
Could it also be that the 6x9's were all (or mostly) Verichrome or Verichrome Pan, which was a double-layered emulsion (and therefore harder to blow out or completely mess up exposure on, from what I've read)?
It predates my interest in photography, but there is a lot about it written here and elsewhere, and seemed to be the norm for box cameras and sometimes wedding photographers in its day.
i can't wait to take a picture of my thumb with this beautiful camera.
- phirehouse, after buying a camera in the classifieds