More stuff.

Stuff? Well,now have a shiny new exposure unit (The Squirrel Mk.2?) – it’s made of custom wood, glue, sticky tape and paint;

Actually looks kinda fancy, it’s 10×12 format, for a bit of space with 8×10’s – it seems to cover it’s area pretty well – at least with cyanotype and gum bichromate, seems to work as well as expensive stuff, albeit somewhat more slowly.

I also now have cyanotype chemistry to play with, I’ll need to calibrate stuff, but i did a print of a branch just for kicks – this is what it looked like before washing out (after exposure);

And this is after washing (inverted);

It goes darker over a few days – this if straight out of the wash (hence the shiny water, yup 😛 )

I’ve also re-started another project, which is about images rather than techie printing stuff, photographing wee animal facsimiles (only been on that topic since 2009 😀 ). This is one from the very end of last year;

I’m using a 1/4 plate camera for this, I’ve modified it to take 3×4 graflex holders, I spent the afternoon at home attempting to get a result with camera flashes and a bedside lamp, the results were predictably enough rather shite;

That’s a (somewhat shoddy) digital inversion, so I should be able to scrape an image out of that neg with a bit of pencil work (You can draw on the backs of paper negs to get highlight detail, pencil is a good tool for this). I then sucked it up and went into school and set up some proper lights, and a proper tripod, which looked like so;

You can see the basic set up here – light tent, about 1000w of painfully frigging bright lighting, and my camera – yup, the view glass is hand made, seems to work ok *shrug*

Gratuitous shot of the focussing glass – the red is a sweater I was using to cut down reflections.;

Yes, upside down, which actually makes it easier to compose in some strange way – not sure what the reflection is of, might be my hair. The marker lines make it easier for me to line stuff up for different formats.

That’s what the camera looks like now, you can see that I’m using it at near full extension, the back was designed originally for septums, which after 100 odd years don’t really exist any more, so I removed the back and rebuilt it to take graflex 3×4 double dark slides – they’re just held in place by friction with velvet, so I’ll never have sub millimeter precision, but it does 1:1 macro happily enough below f22. The bit in the back is the removable focus screen, the inside is hardwood that I’ve sanded to the right thickness, a piece of sanded glass, and some cheap customwood for the actual back – I might get around to painting that one day. it’s not original, but it works rather well.


Finally, I found a cheap knockoff etch a sketch sort of toy with candy in it today (the sort with a magnetic stylus) for 39 cents, so I snaffled it up happily enough (they’re kinda fun, and candy is nice), but waiting for me inside was this dire warning;

Holy fucking hell! As a warning that’s even more frightening than the picture of some poor sap getting body slammed by a coke machine after they tried to rock n’ rob the sucker.

Unhappy face indeed.

Lumens – Dmax?

I’ve been playing with lumen printing for a couple of years now, and have often wondered if there is a way to increase the dmax so as I could get darker darks in the image. A few times I’ve tried painting different chemicals onto bits of photo paper and exposing them to see what happens, generally without much success, table salt makes for a cooler colour, but only a slight increase in the dmax, ammonia creates an unreliable and slight dmax increase, with cooler colours and so on.

This sort of thing – from memory the bottom center was dipped in a table salt solution – which only partially reacted causing the cooler grey bits at the edges – the bottom right was dipped in ammonia (cleaning product grade). So generally I haven’t seen much of a result. (All of the photo’s in this post have been fixed, washed and dried.)

So the other day with nothing much better to do I tried out the chemistry I had at hand, mainly testing a paper (velox – above and below) rather than the chemistry itself – I also had selenium at hand, so I painted “Se” on a piece with a brush dipped in it and put them out in the sun. This gives a bit more of a reaction, but still slight in general. The chemicals I did this with were cleaning grade cloudy ammonia, Potassium dichromate at approx %5, KRST Selenium toner, and household bleach (something hypochlorite?)

And it would seem that the selenium responds to this – rather intensely! The other 3 reacted immediately, mainly cos of the water, but over 2-3 hours they levelled out again as the water evaporated – the bleach reduced dmax substantially (which is in itself pretty interesting). But the selenium reacted far far slower than the others and kept gaining density long after the others had hit their dmax. The others showed a couple of spots of reaction, but really, the image above speaks for itself.

So I figured that one of three things was happening – the first possibility being that the thiosulphate in the KRST was grabbing the silver and converting it to something that was still light sensitive, this didn’t make sense really, but was possible – The second was as above but the selenium was converting this secondary substance into something else – this was, and still is a reasonable assumption – the third option was that the hypochlorite wasn’t doing anything positive and it was purely a reaction between silver halides, selenium salts, and the sun, thus forming silver selenide by oxidation (there might be other options – but I’m no chemist, and even less of a physicist).

So my next step was to coat some sheets of RC photo paper with selenium in different ways – I did the following;

Soaked a sheet of paper in strong 1;3 selenium and let it drip dry (these had no subsequent light reaction).

Soaked a sheet of paper in weak 1;30 selenium and let it drip dry (these had no subsequent light reaction).

Soaked a sheet of paper in strong 1;3 selenium (these had no subsequent light reaction).

Soaked a sheet of paper in weak 1;30 selenium (these had no subsequent light reaction).

This proves well enough that the fix in KRST actually acts as fix, and thus the light sensitive halides were eliminated into the krst solution.

I also painted fix onto a couple of bits and let it dry in place, thus ensuring that the dissolved halides stayed on the papers surface – this was subsequently completely insensitive to light – which proves fairly safely that fix not only removes silver, but forms a compound which is insensitive to light, which eliminated any chance that the fix was acting as the agent (alone anyhow).

Lastly (well, first actually, but I’m getting the total failures out of the way first) I painted a liberal amount of 1;3 KRST onto another couple of sheets and allowed them to dry, these were the only successes – A sheet that was exposed to the sun went a dark grey/black which remained after fixing.

I then put a sheet into a contact printer with a waxed paper neg and exposed that to blue sky through a window, but not to direct sunlight, the result of 3 hr’s printing looked like this;

Not pretty by any stretch, but still extremely interesting – For an obvious start I should have used a regular neg, or exposed it to direct sunlight for the extra push – I can still get an idea from this, so that’s ok. The places where the solution pooled turned out bleached, which tells me that I was far too heavy handed with the selenium – this is reinforced by the fact that the places where I barely touched have achieved nearly full density, and the places i painted heavily are bleached back (pale). Looking closely at the border is interesting too;

This shows the range, from the very nearly black section where I just whisked the brush over the surface, through the faded area’s where I painted more heavily, to the fully bleached parts where the solution pooled – it would seem that the key to getting full darks is to only apply a very light coating of selenium.

This is reinforced by looking at the other side of the print, the brush marks there were so light that i didn’t spot them as I was coating the paper.

All in all a pretty interesting experiment – probably amongst the ugliest stuff I’ve posted here 😀 but I have a feeling that this has some very real potential if i tweak it a bit… Ok, a lot 😛 but I’m seeing something here that I haven’t seen before, it’s definitely worth looking closer.

For my next step I’m going to coat some fiber based paper very lightly with Se (1:3 and 1:30) and let it dry in darkness, then I’ll expose it in full sun under a proper negative – the fiber paper is cos the RC is waterproof and thus both repelled the solution, and refused to dry evenly – Plus I have an inkling that a nice print might turn up soon – I also need to try selenium toning after fixing as well (as opposed to selenium sensitising pre-exposure).

Super 8 Developing and filing camera’s

First off, the minolta 16 film I got with my 16p seems to be stuffed, it’s hardly surprising given that it’s 50 years out of date for it to be a bit fogged – but this has been left somewhere hot and damp for a very long time – after developing the d-max was about 1/6th above fog, which is essentially unprintable.

Pity, I wanted to make friends with a new (old/antique/obsolete) film stock, I guess it’s not to be – I have some fomapan 100 cut down from 120 when I was making 127 rolls that fit’s very neatly into these cartridges, I guess that’s my next step. I really like that camera, it’s nice to use.

In other news I developed the rest of the super 8 film I had the other day (might have been yesterday, I’m not good with days) – I stuffed about 40′ of film into a patterson canister, and developed as usual, I got maybe 12″ of emulsion spots, not too bad really, I still have 3000 odd negs to make something out of.

Holding up a magnifying loupe in front of my digi cam was never going to give me a sharp shot – such is life.

Finally – this is one of the (many) reason’s I’ll never be an adult.

In that shot are; and agfa box camera, a french… uh… Pontiac rollfilm camera that’s been converted to a film slitter, about 8 rolls of tape of different types, a ricoh 500g, a canon 300 with a helios 58mm on it, about 60 coloured pencils (FC polychromos), a variety of other writing/drawing tools, a few sketchbooks and reference books, an agfa isoly plastic camera, canonette 19, ensign 1620, fujica st605 w. 24mm, mat cutter, film loader, and a crapload of unsorted papers, Oh, and there’s my antacids, cool, I hate having to pay for stuff I already know I have.

Reportedly adults have an innate ability to manage to store things correctly and don’t suffer from periodic cameralanches.

Photo update.

A collection from stuff I’ve been working with;

Every sequence of images provokes a narrative, but where that trail leads is often not up to the ‘author’. I’m beginning to think that this is a nice thing, I select carefully, and I am considered in the sequences that i provoke, but I also work fast at the layout stage and I try not to second guess my choices.

In truth I’m more surprised than anybody by the narrative that forms around these collections, in creating the images I look far closer, and invest far more than most people would, so it’s a continuing surprise to step back and see a story waiting for me. A tale that I can read with fresh eyes.

It is not my own story – Rather it is the story the images weave to clothe themselves.