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  1. #1
    Mustafa Umut Sarac's Avatar
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    R.Gibson and Rodinal

    I visited Ralph Gibson's website and looked to the archive. His 60s 70s pictures are great and have pure whites , pure blacks and pure grain at dark greys.
    When it comes to recent times , this is somehow lost.

    What was the older days Rodinal development technique , dilution , chemistry of him ? What was the used film ? Printing lens , paper and developer.

    Thank you ,

    Umut

  2. #2
    artonpaper's Avatar
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    My understanding was that he shot with a Leica, Tri-X, Rodinol, printed on Agfa Brovira Grade 6 (which they later started calling grade 5, but it was the same emulsion), and printed on Leitz enlargers with Leitz optics. I don't know his Rodinol dilution. I used to use it at 1:31, I'm thinking, in order that he not give himself too big a task with that very high contrast paper, he went with 1:50. At least this was what we talked about about after classes at SVA in whatever bar it was that was around the corner on 3rd Avenue, in 1978.

  3. #3
    mablo's Avatar
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    In one book (name forgotten at the moment) from the -70's he describes his development recipe for Tri-x. Note that today's Tri-x is necessarily not the same. Anyway, here goes: Tri-x @ 200 for 11 mins in Rodinal 1:25. 30sec initial agitation and 10sec in each 1,5 minutes. He might have changed the recipe later on but this is what is written on the book.

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    I think that info is from the original Lustrum Press 'Darkroom' book (Lustrum being Ralph Gibson's publishing house of course). Essentially he would overexpose and overdevelop the film, then print high contrast. It's a very good book as are several others in that series by Lustrum.

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    MaximusM3's Avatar
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    The most common misconception is that simply overexposing and overdeveloping Tri-X in Rodinal would give the Ralph Gibson look. As always, it's about the printing stage and those people who are simply scanning just can't wrap their heads around it. He printed on the hardest grade Brovira and that doesn't exists anymore. Adox MCC110 would get you close, and so will the new Oriental Seagull. He also exposed differently, as he exposed for highlights, not concerned about shadow detail.

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    Steve.

  7. #7
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MaximusM3 View Post
    The most common misconception is that simply overexposing and overdeveloping Tri-X in Rodinal would give the Ralph Gibson look. As always, it's about the printing stage and those people who are simply scanning just can't wrap their heads around it. He printed on the hardest grade Brovira and that doesn't exists anymore. Adox MCC110 would get you close, and so will the new Oriental Seagull. He also exposed differently, as he exposed for highlights, not concerned about shadow detail.
    Amen to that. The idea of processing negatives a certain way is to lay the groundwork for the darkroom work, to provide a platform to work from. The real magic happens at the printing stage, and that is the truth.
    To find a way to match the negatives to the capabilities of the printing paper (paper and paper developer combination) is the key to eking the quality out of the whole process that you want.
    Last edited by Thomas Bertilsson; 09-29-2011 at 05:20 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  8. #8

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    There are a few photographers such as Gibson, Weegee, Mortensen et all, who seem to have wacky technique. Whenever I look at their photos, though, I always think 'I could get a similar 'look' to that by doing X or Y'.... A similar look, maybe, but no way could I get within a mile of their photographs. I think their empirical route to the 'look' they wanted may be interesting, but I reckon it is the very easiest, least important, bit. Give Gibson a Hasselblad loadwd with XP2 and he'd still produce great pictures. Give me a Leica, Tri-X. Rodinal and Agfa Brovira grade 6 and you'd still get a pile of crap...
    Steve

  9. #9

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    My Lustrum Darkroom book is at work, but from what I remember, he didn't just process in Rodinal for the sake of it, but applied agitation depending on how he felt about the shots. ie for more contrast, grain and accutance, a bit more vigorous shaking was applied. However, as Steven above suggests, following another photographer's formula will not give the same results. Ralph Gibson's work has that intensity because he learnt what his camera, film, papers and developers could do. For me that's a very inspirational credo. Now where is that roll of Tri X?

  10. #10
    michaelbsc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steven_e007 View Post
    Give me a Leica, Tri-X. Rodinal and Agfa Brovira grade 6 and you'd still get a pile of crap...
    Yeah. It's a darned shame. The only thing I'm missing is the Agfa Brovira.

    But I got plenty of the crap. Let me know if you need some. I have enough to share.
    Michael Batchelor
    Industrial Informatics, Inc.
    www.industrialinformatics.com

    The camera catches light. The photographer catches life.

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