Saturday, 29 January 2011

Collodion upgrade

This is my first collodion I did on BLACK  GLASS, today. Maybe not very  spectacular photo in terms of subject and light (very very late afternoon, 1min10s exposure), but I had to try how it works....
I've transformed timber holder to take 4mm thick black glass (this is the minimum thickness you can buy). The guy from the glazing company didn't want to sell me the plates. He said he can't really cut the glass so precisely (for the holder I've shown to him). I ordered 3same size plates, at my 'own risk' and one was  too big and 2 too small :).
So I did a small metal frame, that goes inside the holder and it solved the problem! Now I can order slightly smaller plates and will still have a reserve of few millimetres.
I absolutely love this material and I think there is no better one for the ambrotypes!

Monday, 24 January 2011

Cyanotype printing

Recently I spent some time for testing and comparing a 'traditional' cyanotype receipt with the 'new' sensitizer solution and an UV lamp vs. sun printing.
I did a traditional mixture of ferric ammonium citrate and potassium ferricyanide. This receipt was originally  invented by Sir John Herschel in 1842 and today is considered as a cheap and easy, mixture for beginners ;) (you can find a receipt here )
My previous prints, I presented so far, were printed with a ready to buy Fotospeed Cyanotype Sensitizer. This type of improved formula uses toxic ferric ammonium oxalate and is a bit more complicated to prepare, but claims to give better prints. As, what I had was only 50ml bottle and finished quite quickly, I decided to buy the chemicals and to try and prepare the traditional mixture, by myself.

The other thing that bothered me was printing with the sun in winter.
Well, actually printing with the sun generally. It is very pleasurable, but very restricted by the weather (especially in IE), exposure time varies, depending on weather conditions, time of the day and year season.
I did a research regarding UV lamps.

I took a few options into consideration -  face solarium, fluorescent  lamps (aqua), halogen lamps and decided to try the last and probably cheapest option. I went for a security, 400W, lamp, that you usually use as an external lamp, outside your house.

I did a series of prints of the same neg (for comparison) with the rest of Fotospeed chemistry, my new mix, the lamp and the sun.
First one is the original print I’ve made with sun, a while ago, 10 min exposure, with Fotospeed Cyanotype sensitizer /one of my best prints, I was aiming for similar results/ :

Fotospeed chemicals, first use of lamp, 20 min exposure , (it works! but exposure looks too short, unfortunately sentisizer ended with this print):

Third one is a new mix of chemistry, printed with lamp, 55 min. exposure / very high contrast, but I lost the details of the mountain in the background/ :

Lamp, 1 hour and 30 min / too dark/ :

Lamp, 1hour and 10 min:
....and this is a time that gives me best results with the lamp. The contrast is fine and details look OK.

check with different negative:

Generally the conclusion is that the two mixes of chemistry, I tested, work visibly differently. I have to admit that the 'new' formula gives much wider tonal range, with any negative, and seems to work much quicker.
The traditional receipt gives bigger contrast, and it is very important to use it with negatives, with soft tones (contrasty negs give poor results). 
Since that time I did a set of prints, that I'm quite happy with. I learned what type of negative to use to get a good print and I quite like the results. I'm going to stick to my current technique for a while (at least until my chemistry will finish).

I will show the further results in the next post, for your comments...

Monday, 10 January 2011

In James's workshop 2

I love workshops and ateliers.
These different tools, things gathered for years, often not in use anymore or forgotten. Things organised or disorganised with an organic manner. A creative mess, kind of an art work really... Often very personal, beautiful spaces.

4x5 ambrotype, 19 sec. exposure, f5.6, TOYO View C, APO Symmar 150mm (black paper in background)

4x5 glass negative, 11 sec. exposure, f5.6, TOYO View C, APO Symmar 150mm

4x5 ambrotype, 1min exposure, f5.6, TOYO View C, APO Symmar 150mm (black paper in background)

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Collodion process - backstage

Darkroom set up :)

So this is my bathroom - darkroom set up.
At the end I decided to use a plastic tray for silver bath, instead of the glass tank, which I've build, as I mixed a very small amount of chemicals - just to check if everything is working fine. (For my glass tank I'd need to use the whole amount of the silver nitrate, I have at the moment). 
I have to admit that  this option (tray) suits me well. 

I poured the developer directly on the glass gathering the surplus in the red tray. I filtered the used developer and pour it into a separate glass bottle,( it looks very dirty, however I might reuse it next time, and check if it's working)

I find the developing is the hardest part of the process. It needs a lot of practice. It should be done with one, smooth move. The liquid should stay on the plate and be in a constant move at the same time. The area not covered with the developer will stay as a black hole, like these:

It is quite a typical reaction, that once you notice the 'hole', you want to pour more developer in this place, but it doesn't work. It won't cover it well and - instead the excess will flow around the hole and wash the image off: 

After the whole day of preparation of the chemistry and plates I managed to do these 2, bad, outdoor shots only, before the sunset. I was very upset with the results of developing.
I didn't have such a problems during the workshop, so started to wonder if this is connected to the excitement, that finally I’m doing the collodion on my own, or there is an issue with the chemistry. But decided to give it one more try and set up an indoor portrait shot.

I was very careful this time and the same result after developing the 3rd plate made me to have a look to 'a guide', to check, what could be wrong.
So, off course  - I forgot to filter the developer! My mistake. But I also decided to add more alcohol to make it's consistence closer to silver bath's consistence and .... it helped!

Now, I can handle this amount of imperfections (but not the holes of half size of the photo :)!

....And the final shot of this session (already published, still with the hole, but I guess mixing a bigger amount of chemicals will allow me to be more presize with the ratio..;)

Time to do some proper collodions!