Showing posts with label darkroom. Show all posts
Showing posts with label darkroom. Show all posts


Corinne Perry's Portfolio

Dear Readers,
It is incredible how many nuances a niche photographic discipline can accommodate. For example, the last featured portfolio was from Mathieu Noir. He makes some delightful hand-colored BW photos. Likewise, Corinne is also a master in this, almost forgotten, photographic technique. But her style is considerably different. I would say her photos are more »introverted« and »esoteric«, but that's just my own opinion. Fact is, Corinne uses the very minimum amount of coloring, but that's also the very aim of her technique; she only accentuates the aspects she wants to. Her biggest basis of inspiration were two of the greatest feminists of the past century: the photographer Francesca Woodman and the novelist Charlotte Perkins Gilman.
When I kindly asked her a brief description of her work etc., I received such a concise, self-confessing description, almost metaphysical, that I just could not make it any better in making a summary, only worse. Below is the summary, by her own words:

"My work resides within the tradition of self-portraiture, with the foundations of my practice originating from my fragile emotional state. My life and art have become inextricably intertwined, greatly influenced by my diary and the feelings it holds. To keep this emotional state consumed deep within would allow it to thrive, but through the honest self-portrayals of Misery, Delirium and Melancholia, I am offered a cathartic release and an opportunity to produce something beautiful from inner pain.The work is produced in my bedroom, with this room transcending into a mental space in which I am able to address, and act out my emotions in front of the camera. The places in which I photograph become my skin with me often layering paint on to a wall to convey the felt emotion that cannot be seen.

 Though my work is deeply personal the deliberate act of concealing my face disrupts the gaze between self and viewer, allowing personal identity to transcend into something which becomes more universal. With the vulnerability expressed in my work, being further emphasized by the small and intimate format of the photographs.Though taken in the present, my work exhibits influences of a past-era with the use of traditional photographic methods. This is greater complimented by the intimate hand colouring of each piece until the image is born."

Corinne’s work can be seen on her website

All photos copyright: Corinne Perry


Mathieu Noir’s Portfolio

Dear Readers,
It’s been quite a while since we hosted the last portfolio (for reasons pointed out formerly). I am quite sure anyone of you, when you see a hand-tinted BW photo, first thinks about Jan Saudek. Not wanting to be unjust about the Maestro-his photos deserve admiration-but there are others (albeit few) masters of hand-tinted BW photos, including the young French photographer Mathieu Noir, currently residing in Wellington (New Zealand). The only trouble with the young masters of the hand-coloring technique, including Mathieu, is that they are not as famous as the great Saudek. I hope Mathieu will gain the due recognition among the photo community. But there’s more about Mathieu’s work; he also tastefully  masters the art of pull-developing his negatives-take a look at the “creamy” highlights of his “regular” BW photos-and, last but not least, the almost forgotten art of analog photo manipulation (no Photoshop whatsoever). He uses several negatives (even shot in different places or countries) and combines them during the printing process. About the latter technique, he states “I like the idea of capturing places or moments that never met to achieve one photograph”- so true. He started to do these photo manipulation techniques because both pre-visualization and post-visualization abilities are obviously required. He also says about the matter: “The photographs I make can be aesthetically coherent, but I try to create then in order to be read such as independent visual poetry.” I agree. And to point out is also the fact that all this striking results have been made using rented darkrooms, not his own (not having one a the moment). We can only wish Mathieu to get a lucky strike soon, to be able to settle his own “sacred place”, i.e. the darkroom.
Besides Saudek, his influences range broadly, from the early anonymous photographers, as well as numerous Eastern-European photographers, such as, Vojtech V. Slama, Josef Sudek, and other various like Ouka Lele, Sarah Moon, Doisneau and so on.
Mathieu’s other work can be seen on his website. His wish is to make a photography exhibition at Toi Poneke Art Gallery entitled “Hand Colored Visions and Skies”. And we just hope this exhibition will be soon. Enjoy his work!

All photos copyright: Mathieu Noir


About Two-Bath and Highly-Diluted Developers

First, I must confess: I developed only one batch of films several years ago with a two-bath developer. After that I didn't use them for the simple reason I overstocked much of the BW chemistry in the darkroom (conventional developers), so I needed to get rid of that chemistry first...and it takes some years to do so. But I just decided to give them a go again, to these simple but excellent developers, in the following weeks.

Two-bath developers have been very popular in the past; their use never stopped, but in the past decades only a limited number of photographers were consistently using them. There are really many formulas around, but basically the first bath is only a solution of the active agent (metol, hydroquinone, catechol etc.) and a preservative (sulfite), while the second is just an alkali bath (usually NaOH) . When we first soak the film in the first solution, the film emulsion absorbs the active developing agent but the development hasn't started yet. Then, when we switch to the second bath (with just little agitation), the development starts because of the alkaline pH. The development in more exposed (denser) areas of the negative is of course quicker, but it also stops (or slows down) faster because the developing agent is more quickly exhausted. Inversely, the development in less exposed areas goes on for a longer period, and these areas gain more density relatively to their exposure. In other words, two-bath developers are highly compensating; they produce a usable negative (almost) regardless whether the photographic scene was of low or high contrast. Very usable for roll films (less for sheet film where you strive to have complete control) where many different shots are made on a single roll. Given the increased density of shadow areas, they are regarded as speed-increasing developers, at least some of them. A nice feature is also about the developing times (of individual baths) and temperatures; they are very little affected by, since the development is mostly governed by developing agent exhaustion. Similarly, using the same approach with different films produces good or at least usable negatives. Two-bath developers are also very economical; the first bath virtually lasts as long as there's any solution to soak the film (well it's still better to change it a bit more frequently), while the second solution can be prepared fresh, since its cost is neglible.
Highly diluted developers (the most known is surely Rodinal, like 1:200) are also known for their compensating effects, but in that case the main driving force is diffusion-that is, temperature plays a bigger role in the development, as also the (low rate of) agitation technique. Because of that, using highly diluted developers is more likely to produce unevenly developed negatives (because of low agitation rates). Also, the long development times required (like 1-2 hours) inevitably produce more grainy negatives. However, highly diluted developers are quite good in producing the »edge effect« in negatives, enhancing the apparent sharpness of the image. On the other side, developing in highly diluted developers reportedly produces image that are somehow »dull«-uninteresting in mid-density areas. But this is also a matter of taste.

Below are some of the most known two-bath formulas:

Pextral 2-bath:
Bath A
1.5 g Pyrocatechol
0.3 g sodium sulfite
Water to 300 mL

Bath B
6 g sodium hydroxide
Water to make 300 mL

This is a staining developer, as other pyro-type developers, acting also as a gelatin hardener. 
2 minutes in bath A, 1 minute in bath B. Use this as a starting point only.

Divided D-23 developer (used also by Ansel Adams):
Bath A
100 g sodium sulfite
7.5 g metol
Water to 1 L
Bath B
2 g borax
Water to 1 L

Barry Thornton formula
Bath A
80 g sodium sulfite
6.5 g metol
Water to 1 L

Bath B
12 g sodium metaborate (Kodalk)
Water to 1 L

The last formula is apparently just a slight variation of the divided D-23, but it usually somehow gives more »energetic« negatives, since the second bath is more alkaline, therefore more active development occurs. It's been also one of the most regarded contemporary two-bath developers. For both of these developers, 4-5 mins in each bath are a good starting point.

A note about modern films: early films used to have a much thicker emulsion layer, therefore they absorbed more of the solution A. Modern films, especially films with tabular crystal structure (Tmax, Delta, Acros) have a much thinner emulsion layer. In case you find the negatives to be too »thin« (underdeveloped), a good way to improve the negative density (and contrast, while still getting consistent results) is to increase the concentration of the developing agent in bath A to allow more active development (keeping the sulfite concentration unaltered). 
The widespread use of thin-emulsion films was one on the main reasons why the use of two-bath developers vanished.


Film Matter: Clearing Out Old Film Stock and the Right Soup

Dear Readers,
You probably expected another part of the sequel Building a small exposure meter, right? Unfortunately, I had a major headache with the purchased digital panel voltmeter as the display for the meter. It looks like a shitty electronic component, with a weird output, so I need first to find out where the problem is, or another voltmeter....But at least, the circuit (with some minor modifications) performs well, with an even lower error as I calculated. So expect to see the final part of the build next week (or a week after). 

The "breadboard" version of the exposure meter works well, but I am still in search of a usable panel meter.
And these are my very last outdated films from the "old good days".
While shuffling my photo stuff, I came across a bunch of films I put out of the freezer a few months ago with the intention to shoot these films at last...trouble is, all 4 films are more or less of the »specialty« type-very high or very low sensitivity, and one is for tungsten light as well. But all of them were venerable emulsions back in the day. So I'll need to pay some respect to them when shooting. The EPT 160T (slide film) will be most likely used when I find some nice happening, like a concert, same for the Tmax P3200. As for the APX25 and the »holy« TechnicalPan, I am not really sure when, but they'll be used probably for some landscape stuff. Ok, this is my business what I should do with these films, but when it comes to develop these BW films, we all have the same problem - in which soup we shall develop the old outdated stuff. For the TechPan and the APX25, I'll probably just use Rodinal or its »clone«, the R09 developer (quite similar, but closer to the original pre-WWII formula), except that for the TechPan I shall use a highly diluted solution. Rodinal is quite a flexible chemical, since you can mix it with a buffer (the plain formula is highly alkaline, but it's not buffered), most often with borax, giving a more gentle development. If you haven't tried Rodinal (or R09) yet, give it a go, especially for low- or medium-sensitivity films. Here you can also find the link to the legendary Unblinkingeye article (written by Ed Buffaloe) on Rodinal and its flexibility.
As for the P3200 (very prone to fog), I am not quite sure how to »soup« it, but most likely I will mix up the post-WWII developer formula, reportedly invented by the Czechoslovak ing.Koblic (a great photographic inventor BTW). After the war, there wasn't any fresh film stock available in Europe (and we had other greater problems then), but only old, mostly highly outdated film stock. So ing.Koblic came out with the formula to preserve film's sharpness and keeping down film fog (to be expected otherwise with old film).  Here is the formula: 

Metol - 4 g
Sodium sulfite (anh.) - 16 g
Disodium phosphate (.12H2O) - 4 g
Borax (sodium tetraborate) - 8 g
water to make - 1000 ml (pH around 8.5)

Here disodium phosphate acts as an antifog agent, in contrast to other developers where potasium bromide is usually used. As for the developing time, one should find him/herself the most appropriate time, but reportedly up to 15 min should do the job, and the developing time shouldn't be so critical (in case of a too long devlopment). Here is also a link to APUG where this developer has been discussed a bit, but not too much unfortunately.
My bottom line above all this is: I am always fascinated how many developer formulas have been invented over the decades, some simple and some (many) very complex. In the end, we often come back to the simplest ones, since they work so well (and Rodinal is just one example). It never stops to fascinate me how can such a (relatively) simple black-and-white chemistry produce such outstanding results, over and over again.