A Light Weight 120 Autofocus Travel Camera with a Zoom Lens!
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
Please note that along the bottom of the frame ALL of the exposure data is recorded! This is a feature that I really like.
Infrared FILM photography has always been on the difficult side, but not because of lack for film because there are several films on the market. Rather it is due to the poor quality of the available 720nm filters on the market.
Recently Kolari Vision www.kolarivision.com has come out with a new series of infrared filters with their AR (anti reflection) that stop or greatly reduce hot spots in the center of your film or digital sensor. These hot spots are due to the various coatings, paint and other reflective coatings on the glass elements and coatings on inside of your lenses causing the light to bounce back and forth several times then hit the film dead center causing the hot spot.
The main filter on the market has been the Hoya R72 filter which works but gives a low contrast washed out image. Along come the new Kolari filter and now I am getting more contrast and even images with greatly reduced hot spots. AMAZING!
So lets take a look at the image above. This is the Tomotley Plantation about 20 min west of Beaufort, SC and was taken with the Rollei IR400 film rated at 720nm. Without a IR filter the ISO is 400 and the emulsion generates a very good likeness of Kodak TriX 400 film. If you add the 720nm filter the ISO drops down to 12 or 6 but you get the amazing whites on the grass and leaves. You even get the Wood Effect where the green items BLOOM out with an etherial soft white energy on the image!
Normally the Wood Effect is difficult to achieve at 720nm and is better seen at 800nm and and above. I have been very happy with this new filter from Kolari in combination with the Rollei IR400 film because I am constantly getting the effect plus deep contrasty images. It simply works as expected which is way more than I can say for others on the market!
I still shoot with digital (A7RII) and love the look and capability of it, but FILM is what I go to every time I go out shooting… It is Terrible and exciting at the same time! It is so bad that I am looking for another freezer to store my excess film stock!
This is (again) Stormy Seas in Georgetown, SC (perhaps the most photographed boat in the Low Country). I have hundreds of images of it but I am pulled to photograph her in B&W film each and every time I am in Georgetown. There is something about her lines and textures that inspire me to document her life, and I have for years. Yes I will visit ANY shrimp boat (or grist mill for that matter) and each and every time I visit I see something different and unique… Yep addicted!
The image was taken about 5 days ago on a 6×9 Fuji GW 690 II using medium format Fuji Acros 100 film and a red filter, developed in Perceptol 1:1 and Wet Mount scanned on a Epson 850 pro. The 6×9 format will give me 8 images per roll and I will usually scan 2 or 3 per roll, but I am very critical and selective because the wet scan process takes about 3/4 hour per scan!
The top image is near Stormy Seas in Georgetown, about 2 blocks away at another commercial dock and seafood house. I have shot this a hundred times on both digital and film, but never have I captured such a pleasing image as this. It is to me a more enriching image full of mood, contrasts and tells a story. I pleases me to no end the tell the story on an old FILM camera of an old boat and failing lifestyle just as the shrimp boat is in the background and the Egret in the foreground telling a different yet the same story!
There is also the consideration that is tied to the process of working in film. It is slower and much more deliberate, a truer work of love in that you control every single step of the process…
All in all, the top image took about a week to complete from end to end! I simply love the process, being immersed in it and becoming one in the creative process. Yes it is slow but when I am done it is a total representation of MY PERSONAL VISION!
Film is making a HUGE come back in the world of photography! So much so that you will be shocked when you visit Ebay and look at the prices of old film cameras and systems! All of the major film makers in the world are increasing their production of films and even Kodak is bringing back discontinued film products! New film companies like New55, Impossible Project, and FILM FERRANIA have opened up and are making emulsions!
Developing has never been easier, there are many mail order labs out there but you can process your own film in your kitchen with very little effort and investment! You will need:
Total you are looking at about $120 for everything accept the scanner! There are great videos on Youtube that will take you thru every step in the process!
The image above of the Tybee Island Lighthouse was taken last month on Kodak Tmax 100 rated at 50 ISO on the 6×9 format medium format Fuji System. It was hot and the area full of tourists, even up on the top of the lighthouse itself! Still the act of creating this image was both fun and fulfilling and I walked away with exactly what I envisioned as I stood there looking at the scene!
I especially love shooting with Medium Format cameras. They are easier to travel with and the negatives are large enough to give amazing prints. I do have 3 4×5 large format cameras also that are great fun to you but as you can imagine, they are difficult to travel with. Once in a great while I will shoot with a 35mm camera, usually smaller rangefinder that were sold in the 60’s and 70’s!
This is the Pelican Dock on Pawleys Island, SC. It is a 4″ x 5″ FILM image taken on Polaroid Type 55 film from one of my film workshops.
I did this with a Polaroid 900 converted to 4×5 format camera and the film was expired (16 years) Type 55 instant 4×5 film that also creates a fragile negative which was scanned Wet Mount on an Epson 850 . This single image costs about $35 to create and process!
But look closely at the image, notice the calm peace of the scene, the amazing clarity and sharpness that is a gift when working with large format film, but more importantly, the edge process markings created when working with this amazing film!
But of greater importance than how I created this image is the why…
We all see amazing scenes as we travel through life, but how many of us actually take the time to really experience and feel on an emotional level what we are actually experiencing as we create our art? I watch so many great photographers skitter from scene to scene like a bee to pollen that it leaves me feeling sad.
Let me ask you, “How can you create art that will appeal to your viewers on an emotional level if you yourself refuse to slow down long enough to feel the emotional impact yourself as you create it?
The key here is to stand before the scene and take it all I. Get a feel for what you desire to share with your viewers before you even pick up your camera! SLOW DOWN, take your time, investigate it from many angles and exposures. Yes this is a single image, in fact the only one I took due to the cost, but I spent a half hour studying the scene, moving around looking for the best impact and knowing that I would get the edge markings and using them to increase overall impact!
This is a hard lesson to learn and harder still to practice. This is one of the the lessons forced upon us who still shoot film as I do. After all, Film = $. We have to slow down and make every shot count so the next logical step is to connect on an emotional level with your subject and thus create art that is charged with mood that will draw your viewer in.
Just because I use FILM as an example here for you do not think that it does not apply to digital! Yes, once you pay back the investment of your digital equipment with image sales (you do sell your work don’t you?) the cost per image is basically paid only in terms of your time. But time also has a value and if by slowing down and imparting emotional impact in your image then you will be on the true path of photographic nirvana!
Take your time, explore your scene, feel it’s emotional impact, SLOW Down!
Do not copy the Bee, rather strive to be a master of photography…
I wish to share some images and thoughts from the Leica M Monochrom B&W ONLY camera system. I know that it is NOT FILM and a very expensive camera system, but it comes as close as you can get in a wonderfully usable B&W only system!
Most people will take a color image then convert it to B&W in post processing but it will never be the same as actually shooting in B&W with a digital or film system! Yes you can get close but you loose the amazing gradations and tonality that is part and parcel to world class B&W images.
The Pier on the top, is in the Outer Banks and is a 4 min exposure using a Leica Elmerit 28mm lens and the creek below is is in the New River Gorge in West Virginia. It is Dunloupe Creek and a 8 second exposure using the AMAZING 50mm Summilux lens. As you can see, the graduations and clarity are simply amazing. The water takes on a distinct Platinum tonality!
Why am I showing you these? Well at the end of the post I will give you a link for 2 videos where a Fuji X100T and a Leica M are compared for street photography and for a discussion on the Leica M B&W. The videos are quite entertaining and shows why sometimes a more expensive camera can be worth the money…
It can be very hard balancing the desire between camera systems and affordability, but sometimes, with SPECIAL cameras the money takes a back seat. I own 3 Leica camera systems, and 1 of them I could have done without (Leica M240), another is an amazing film system (Leica M7) and then there is the M Monochrom. The Monochrom is scary amazing with crazy good B&W output to even consider shooting color then converting. I have NEVER considered the money spent on it to be wasted! In fact, I am considering selling/trading the M 240 but will keep the Monochrom and M7 film body along with most of my Leica and Voigtlander glass.
For me shooting in B&W is a soul centering event. I take it very seriously and slow. When you consider how working in Monochrome strips away the confusion of color leaving the soul of the image then you can understand why I am looking for the very best way to capture the best possible image.
Aside from doing all of this in film (which I still work in all of the time) the M Monochrome (or its sisters) is the ONLY GAME IN TOWN! Hence, the cost of the system takes on new meaning since it is such a specialized digital system!
Sometimes I will put the film away and take out the Monochrom system. It is not quite the same as film in the overall process but it certainly is when the finished products are compared!
This is something to consider…
Here are the video links:
There is some serious food for thought in this last statement. In these days of rapid fire digital photography don’t you think that we can quickly loose sight of what it is that we are trying to create in our art? Shooting in film slows you down which aids in the creative process. This is not to say that we cannot do this with our digital systems because we can and I do, but rather most of us who practice this art tend to “hurry, capture and move on to the next thing!”It was almost as if it was an afterthought that I actually took my Sony A7rii with me up the trail to the overlook and took a few images which were actually quite nice in color, but after the sensory overload of the scene I could only think of one thing, B&W and FILM. Yes, I could convert the color image above to B&W in post processing and do quite a good job of it but NOTHING can compare to what I can create with film! So, it was a bit of a walk back down to the car where my wife and 7 year old grandson were resting because of the long drive to get here, but down I went with only one task, to trade the digital for a TINY B&W film camera, the Olympus XA. The XA is the worlds smallest 35mm rangefinder camera. It has an amazingly sharp lens with easy focus, but the key is the fact that it is pants pocket (not those bulky cargo pockets but regular ones), it is light and handy.
I took so much camera equipment on this trip that the only space I had for a film system required that it be tiny. Against all of my experience I threw in this tiny camera along with just 5 rolls of Kodak Tmax 100 film and off we flew. I am so glad that I did now but having said this it is only fair to share that this was a colossal mistake. I should have made room for a medium format (120 6×7) camera and taken out a lens or two for the Sony. I have learned my lesson and will never repeat this mistake. Don’t get me wrong, the XA captured an amazingly detailed and sharp image. I love how it turned out. The Kodak Tmax 100 film along with the Perceptol developer generated a image (yes small) with tiny grain and great sharpness. Am I happy with the result? You bet! Would I have been happier with a larger 120 negative, OMG YES!! Can I have a do over please? Yes, I know, not to much of there ever being a chance for that.
So lets sum this up a bit shall we?
Steven Icanberry’s Alpenhause Kamera Werke Polaroid 110b and 900 camera conversions for 4×5 and select instant filmsYou have to see these wonderful camera systems! They are as functional as beautiful! If you have one of these Polaroid cameras, or a large format lens in the range of 90mm to 150mm (we have a list of what works and what doesn’t). Steven can create a CUSTOM conversion just for you!
For your conversion he will:
I have 2 of his conversions and can tell you that they are amazing camera systems. He has a custom designed machined metal camera back that can hold any standard film holder that is the nicest on the market. You can call me if you would like to visit and see my conversions from Steven to get a “hands on”.
In the meantime here is a LINK to a post I did on Steven several months ago!
You can visit Stevens web site HERE!
Have any of you considered film photography?
There is something about working with film that is very calming which can center one’s soul allowing you to really connect with your art. For me it was like going home to Mama. The feeling of working with your hands as part of creating your art will make it more involved and enable you to to really influence the hidden nuances in your work. It will add a bit more complexity to your workflow but trust me it is worth the effort. The single largest change is forcing you to slow down in your creative process, it forces you to really consider every part of your workflow. It really is not any more difficult than digital photography, but it is a bit more involved.
Take a really close look at the details in this image, click on it and look at it in the full screen mode. Look at the GEARING on the edge of the wheel. The detail there will take your breath away!
I have way too many film cameras to list them all, some really small like the Olympus XA which is the worlds smallest 35mm rangefinder and a joy to use.
I also have an Olympus RC 35 camera that is another fixed lens rangefinder. It is simple and fun to use and can be found for very little money. I have mine rebuild and given a bright blue suite that suites it quite well!
My last 35mm camera system is a Leica M7 system. It has interchangeable lenses and is one of the best built camera systems that I have. Couple it with the world class Leica lenses and you have an unbeatable 35mm system.
Moving up to Medium Format 120 film systems I have three. I have the Voigtlander Bessa IIIw system that is 6×7 format and the Fuji GF670 camera (also sold under the name of Bessa III) with a longer 85mm lens (left & right). The 670 is my medium format travel camera of choice. Not only is it a functional camera with a built in meter but it is attractive and it always will draw a crowd when I get it out to use! Another nice point to the GF670 is that it folds down on itself to a thin easy to store camera in your bag!
And lastly the Mamaya RZ Pro II SLR ( Right) with interchangeable lenses and a world class metering system. This camera is large and heavy but easy to use and a very powerful camera system! I have a f/4 65mm and f/4 180mm lens for it. I also have both the waist level finder and a metering prism with spot and matrix! Like I said, heavy and big, but I use it for ultra long exposures on the coast with the Fuji Acros 100 film which has almost NO RECIPROCITY failure up to 140 seconds then only 1/2 stop after that! The film base is a little on the thin side but still my film of choice for long exposures.
Moving up to 4×5 Large Format cameras, I have three. first I have a Shen Hao cherry field camera. Functional as it is beautiful. I rarely take it out, rather I am using a Polaroid 900 converted to 4×5 with a Fujinon 150mm lens and a Polaroid 110B camera converted to 4×5 with a Schneider Super Angulon 90mm lens. It is a beauty and very wide!
Yes, as you may have noticed, some of these cameras are quite large. This is due to the negative size. Let me give you some idea as to why digital cameras can never come close to the resolution of film.
Lets start with medium format:
Film has turned wildly popular again in the past several years and many of the big film manufacturers have started increasing their film production lines again. This is especially true in the medium format lines (120) and 4×5 large format films! Film can be found in single rolls or in bulk almost everywhere again. The big box companies like B&H, Adorama and many others carry almost every type and format that you could ever want!
Processing in B&W has never been easier at home with eco friendly chemistry with no darkroom needed. Only an initial outlay of around $150 will get you started. Cameras can be found anywhere for next to nothing! You will need:
You can scan your film into your computer with a good Epson scanner like the 700, 750, 800 or 850. You can also buy an adapter for your camera allowing you to scan by photograph!
While I work in both color and B&W, digital and film I find time after time I pick up a film system and load it up with a good B&W film. The process of developing your film can really help you connect to your work as well.
I like several films, here they are in order of favor:
As an example here is the top image from last week of the fishing fleet taken on 20 year out of date Polaroid Type 55 monochrome instant film. The camera is also a Polaroid 900 that my daughter sent me years ago from a garage sale that I had converted to 4×5 with a Fujinon 150mm lens. A MOST beautiful camera in a bright new blue suite that is just fun to use. It is both rangefinder and ground glass focusing that forces you to slow down and really consider each and every image you capture!
The Type 55 film, even outdated, works flawlessly and generates amazing images where the edge markings add to the artistic impact of your subject
So what do you think? Are you tempted to try this out? It is easy. For starters, you can look at the continuing education departments at a local college or hight school. Most offer B&W film photography with darkroom work. This will teach you enough to allow you to determine if you would like to further investigate this wonderful medium!
You can also contact me and request info on one of my film workshops held in Pawleys Island SC. I would love to have you and share this amazing link to our past!
The story begins…
Several years ago my oldest daughter and her husband gave me a complete Polaroid 900 Camera system for fathers day. I like old cameras and this one sat in a glass display case in my studio for years. It was a beautiful camera but with film no longer being made it was living its life as a hanger queen only.
One day while exploring one of the 4×5 Facebook groups I came across a post from Alpenhause Kamera Werke and Steven Icanberry, He was advertising a conversion on the older Polaroid Land Cameras like my 900 to 4×5 film with a film back and a coupled rangefinder calibrated to the new 4×5 lens he would install! Steven is a disabled veteran who makes his living from converting these cameras!
This was simply too good to be true and after calling him and with his advice for options and lens selection I sent off my camera to him to be converted.
Now, a little bit of info on his designs and options. His 4×5 film back is of his own design and is small and lighter than any other on the market. He has them made by a local machine shop and I can attest to the quality of it! He removes the old lens and makes a new lens plate mounting your choice of lenses.
I choose a Fujicon 150mm lens. He couples the lens to the rangefinder system in the camera and calibrates it to be perfect. (This was the big draw for me as I was looking for a simple 4×5 carry around camera).
He also cleaned all of the rangefinder optics assuring sharp clear viewing.
I was offered a large selection of colors and new clothes for my camera, I choose bright blue and a silver top along with a built in shutter release cable. Look at the top image above and tell me that the camera doesn’t look stunning!
His camera conversions are simply stunning in their beauty and functionality! For those of you who like and desire to shoot film I strongly suggest picking up one of his cameras. You will not be disappointed at all and you will be helping a disabled US Veteran make a living. But more importantly you will have a camera system that is as beautiful as it is functional. I am going to close this with a few images of some of Stevens cameras and the first shot I took with mine.
He advertises starting pricing at around $500 for a converted camera in stock and also does custom conversions (like mine). I paid $900 for mine, but I chose a new custom lens and several other options!
Please consider having Steven Icanberry and Alpenhause Kamera Werke do a conversion or sell you a stock conversion! It is my wish to spread the camera goodness around and this is one good company!
Yep, early this morning I grabbed the bag with my wide angle 120mm camera system and headed out to Georgetown where I was going to spend a bit of time with the shrimp fleets and some film…. I chose the Voigtlander Bessa IIIw system. It has a 55mm lens on it which at 6x6mm equates to around 35mm and at 6x7mm to 30mm. This is pretty wide and allowed me to capture several very wide angle shots of various shrimp boats around the water front.
One of the other things that I do when shooting film is to keep a accurate written record of the exposure data for each and every frame. This assists in keeping my process the same once I get the proper exposure, contrast and desired grain for each of the film types I use.
I enjoy this camera system very much. It has a lot going for it specifically its 6x7mm negative size which makes for some pretty big scanned files when all is said and done. I also like the fact that it is a rangefinder which pretty much defines my youth and what I had learned to use when very young! It is not too heavy, has a leaf shutter which is totally silent and goes up the 1/500 second for exposures. This could be a little faster but I can work with it. A 120 roll of B&W film gives me 10 exposures at 6×7 which is the format I like the most.
I normally use stand film processing with Rodinal at 1:100 ratio with water, a water bath then the 1 hour processing and normal fixing and a wash, but for these rolls I am going to use Ilford Perceptol ultra fine grain developer in hope of a sharper image with greater contrast. So, we will see next week how this new combination works for my finished film!
Stand processing is not dependent upon chemistry temperature, ISO or even Film type! You put the film in its can, give it a 5 min water wash, then pour the developer in, gently agitating for 1 min then letting it sit for another 60 min!, Water Stop, since and done! But there are trade offs with Stand processing, namely Bromide Drag which is shown as the slightly darker vertical streaks in the image below. These come from the developer chemistry being exhausted.
So with the Perceptual chemistry (6 min develop time) I will not see Bromide Drag and it is supposed to give sharper smaller grain and higher contrast. So instead of a 1 hour develop time we are looking at 6 min now, sharper negatives with higher contrast! We will see….
I will hold of processing these images till the first weekend in May so that my 7 year old grand son come come with me to the studio and process his own 35mm film at the same time! Yes, I am teaching him how to photograph and process film! You gotta start them young so that they catch the film bug!
Don’t you have the feeling sometimes of not reaching that creative high so that when you return home you are almost like an empty husk?
Well me too, and sometimes I really need to stretch my artistic legs. Going out with a Color Camera will just not get the job done and leaves me feeling empty. Working in Film is a lot better and scratches an itch that I just cannot reach otherwise… But when I am really feeling creatively down and mentally cramped I usually turn to my Leica M Monochrom system.
Working directly in B&W is a soul expanding exercise that will re-inflate my creative side quickly and effectively. I am the type of photographer who can actually think and see in B&W. Actually generating those images in the field with a capable B&W rangefinder system really is like going home to Momma. It leaves me with that ohhhh feeling, or is it OHHHHH… Yep, that is the feeling that I am talking about!
First, I LOVE shooting with a rangefinder camera system. ALL of my cameras are rangefinders except for one little Fuji XT1 that sits in my camera bag rarely used unless I take it out for lightning shots. I just love the feeling of using a rangefinder! I am not kidding about the feeling of going home to momma! They take me back to my early days of photography when a rangefinder was all that I had and used. They were and still are a nitch camera system. You generally will not find someone out shooting birds in flight images with one, but that is OK with me because after 50 years of shooting, I am soooo TIRED OF BIRDS (well except for hummingbirds but I can do those just fine with a rangefinder).
So what makes me smile about the M Monochrom? The ease of use, the CRISP release of the shutter, the incredible functionality of the camera and its wide dynamic range! I love the way it feels in my hands and responds to my control! I even love the sound of it. It is almost sensual in nature! Now, couple that with the amazing images that a pure B&W 18 mega pixel sensor with NO Brayer filter and no anti-aliasing filter can create you will be left breathless with the results.
So for this simple and short post about achieving emotional nirvana, I will keep it to just 2 images that make me feel good. Now that I am creatively re-inspired I can go out again with my color camera (rangefinder of course) and while looking at my scenes in B&W create color images again!
Thank you for stopping by for a visit to the blog…
This post is about how I create my Digital Negatives for printing in Van Dyke Brown. Before I get into the meat of the subject I need to tell you that I am a follower of Peter Mrhar’s gradient maps for creating my negatives rather than using curves. The maps will allow you to create a much more controlled negative without the issues normally seen in curves like wild spikes and twists which can really mess up your image. Peter has written a book on the subject called Easy Digital Negatives which can be purchased on Amazon for a small fee. The entire book leads up to the last chapter where he gives you an automated script that plugs into Photoshop that will create the gradient map. Read the entire book first to understand how to develop a exposure test strip and a 245 step print that his script need in order to build the map.
The basic recipe that Peter gives is:
Now print your 256 step chart that Peter provides on a piece of paper treated the same as in step 1, with a UV blocking color which you will learn about below. Process and dry. Scan the resulting image according to Peter’s instructions and feed it to his script in Photoshop and it will pop out a Gradient Map for you to place in your image stack (example below).
That is all there is to it to create your gradient map (his script will also create a curve if you so desire).
Ok, lets talk about how you put together your file to create your digital negative once your have your gradient map in hand! Below is a copy of my adjustment layers in my digital negative file.
Let’s talk a little about the UV blocking colors. It seem a little strange to use a COLOR layer when printing B&W but you need to realize that some colors are better than B&W for controlling your UV exposures! I have 2 color layers included in my image stack but there can be many others depending upon your printer, ink set and choice in negative film. For my system (Epson 7900 24 inch printer using the Image Print V9 RIP) I have found that the Green layer works much better. I am going to show you the difference below between using a B&W negative vs. the GREEN negative. Pay close attention to the density of the grasses next to the sky in both prints.
First using a B&W negative with the same gradient map…
As you can see the density of the negative especially in the grasses looks great, but when you look at the output print you can see that the grasses all turn white at the horizon and get lost!
Now let’s take a look at the negative with the GREEN UV blocking layer…
The first thing that you should notice is that the density of both the sky and the grass seems much less dense but when you look at the output print the difference is amazing!
The grasses are now full of texture and you do not loose any detail at the horizon. The exposure on both images are the same thus you have the same amount of dark areas of shade and in the tree, but the mid tones now are full of greater details. This was simply achieved by adding the color UV blocking layer.
As I talk about these technical details they may seem simple, but it did take a while for me to master them in all of their glory. The image used as an example for you is not yet to my liking. The sky is a little too dark and the shadows are too black. I have just this week created a new negative with corrections for those specific areas and will be printing this image again tomorrow!
Nothing comes easy with alternative printing. Our printing lives are full of trial and error, but once we master the basics of the digital negative the trial and error period will drop down considerably.
You can download a copy of my PSD negative stack files both here in my download link on the bottom of the right hand menu and on Facebook in the Van Dyke Brown Printing group or in the Digital Negatives for Contact Printing group. There is a download file button on the top of each group page that will take you to these files.
I hope that this has been helpful for you. If you have any questions on this process please leave a comment here or join the FB groups above and you will find a great group of people on each group who can and will assist you in your process!
Testing Fumed Alumina…
Van Dyke Brown emulsion is basically on the acidic side of things chemically and as a result of this I have been forced to wash most of my papers with a acid bath. This caused a increase in my process by 2 days. So I am testing Fumed Alumina which is acidic unlike Fumed Silica which is neutral. I decided to go with the Alumina test first and will do a followup post down the line with the Fumed Silica.
Initial results were quite pleasing with both Revere Platinum and Lana Aquarelle papers. I got a MAJOR increase in Dmax with both the Lana and Revere papers, but upon completion of my final wash the Revere was VERY EASY to damage with finger smudges until it dried. The Revere had a tendency for the Alumina to easily rub off the Alumina while wet whereas the Lana was strongly attached.
The Alumina did fix ALL of the spotting issues that I had when using the Revere Platinum paper but the fact that it will rub off when wet causes some concern but it is easily overcome with careful handling.
All in all this was a VERY easy fix to the acid washing step and only added about 30 seconds to roll on the Alumina. The Fumed Alumina can be purchased at Bostick & Sullivan for $15/500g which will do about 100 sheets of 8×12 paper.
The increase in Dmax with the Fumed Alumina is amazing and the resulting images are stunning.
After experimenting quite a bit with washing my un coated Lana paper with a 2.5% wash of Citric acid and distilled water and discovering that ALL of my paper issues fell away that the Dmax of my paper/print would so radically improve! Though I do have to admit that pre washing the paper adds 2 entire days to my workflow and is a LOT of work. I recently ordered some Fumed Alumina powder from Bostick & Sullivan as an alternative to acid washing. B&S says of Fumed Lumina:
A small quantity of fumed Alumina is rolled on to a piece of paper with a dry high density foam paint roller. It spreads evenly on to the paper leaving a velvety surface to the touch. The paper can then be coated with a platinum/palladium solution, dried, exposed and developed in the standard method. It is suspected that the Alumina can be used for other hand coated photographic processes like cyanotype, van dyke, Kallitype, and similar processes. It has already been tested with great success with albumen prints. The coating acts as a sizing enhancer and appears to protect the emulsion from alkali buffers. Contrast increases but appears largely to be due to enhancement of the blacks.
So, this then is the great experiment of March! I will report back on the measured effect as it applies to my process in the next post!
Now, onto the reason for this posting, Gold Toning of Van Dyke Brown prints! Now that I am getting consistent prints from my acid washed Lana Aquarelle 140lb HP and Stonehenge papers I wanted to explore increasing the Dmax further by Gold toning. Rather than mixing my own gold toning solution (basically I am very lazy) I decided to purchase Bostick & Sullivans Gold Toning liquid solution. This is simply 2 bottles of a chemicals, solution A is 2% Ammonium Thiocyanate and solution B is .2% Gold Chloride. You mix 50ml each of A and B with enough distilled water to make 500ml of working gold toner. Easy peasy, no powders to measure and mix. B&S says that you can replenish the solution by adding 5ml of the Gold Chloride for each 8×10 print you tone. I do this in the toning bath but when finished I am thinking that I need to throw it away and treat it more like a 1 shot toner. Since the cost of the Gold Toning kit is so reasonable from B&S ($45) and will make such a large amount of working toning bath 10 bottles of 500ml working bath I am inclined to do so.
The reason for this is simple. It has to do with the processing sequence:
The issue for me with replenishment of the gold toner solution is that even the TINIEST amount of citric acid will destroy the toning solution. So this means that between step 1 and 2 I have to insert:
1b. Plain tap water bath for 1 min to remove Citric Acid.
Since the Citric Acid will destroy the gold toner and that there is very little chance for me to remove most of it prior to toning then there is the very likely chance that it will be ruined even with a plain water bath prior to toning!
The acid problem with the gold toner is the only real issue to its use. I really do not want to have to put the print into my print washer for 5 min to clear all of the acid so a 1 shot toning bath for about 3 images seem a good trade off to me. Time will tell!
I hope that you have been paying attention to the images spaced through out the post. All of them have gone thru the gold going process and with the exception to the last one I did not add any more Good Chloride to the bath. Because of this you can notice that with the exception of the 1st and last print each print after the 1st look more brown as we progress down the line! With the last one I added 25ml of the gold to bring the bath back up to strength and you can see the difference. You can tell that it is run down by how long it takes for the toning process to complete to the point where you like the results. I have been told by friends online that I could have taken the toning process a bit further. The thing about gold toning is that the gold replaces all of the silver in the print which shifts the print colors from dark brown to a very platinum looking black. You can even get a bluish tint in the dark tones of your print!
The next post should be on using the Fumed Alumina as an agent to overcome a non-acidic paper coating as well as increasing the prints Dmax!
After another 2 weeks working on the negative density, I have finally gotten to the point of good negatives, not great yet but I will get there. I have to master the use of UV blocking color in the negative for them to be perfect and that is a project for the future. To date though I have reached perfection using normal B&W negatives.
Here is the corrected negative that I used in the image of the Oak trees above. It is much dense and has been corrected for the mid tones as printed in the Van Dyke Brown Process! It has much greater contrast and required only a 3 min exposure in my UV unit.
One thing that you have to remember when making your UV exposures is to place the ink side of your negative down on the paper surface. If you reverse this the picture will be backwards, but more importantly, the UV light will burn the ink surface and ruin both the negative and the print.
Compare it to the negative on the right. This negative was used in the previous post here where the image printed much darker and with less mid tone data. Take a close look at the difference between the two negatives, the first has much brighter areas for increased black contrast and more detail in the trees. The difference is amazing and was easily achieved by the process discussed below…
Here is a small copy of the print generated by the 2nd negative from the previous post. Notice how much darker it is and that there is no detail in the mid tones of the image! It only took me a short while to create the Gradient Map from the process that I learned in Peter Mrhar’s book below.
Easy Digital Negatives is another remarkable book by Peter Mrhar that I use in the creation of my negatives. It enables you to easily create Gradient Maps to adjust the mid tone values of your negative tailored to the alternative process that you are printing with! I highly recommend this text over all of the others!
There are several good books on Digital Negatives out there but As I said the is the easiest that I have read and used plus the results of using a Gradient Map over a Custom Curve. I suggest that you purchase several texts and try them in your workflow to see what works best for you!
Oh my, I do NOT know where it came from but I got the BUG again for more film photography! I have a cabinet here in the Gallery just full of old film cameras plus a Leica M7 film body that works with ALL OF MY M MOUNT LENSES! (see the last post HERE for more info on the lenses). I decided to purchase a new stock of several films:
I picked up some stainless 2 roll developing tanks with a bunch of Hewes (don’t skimp on your reels, buy the best!) Stainless Steel 35mm Reels. For developing I like Rodinal One Shot due to its ease of use and a life span of around 40 years. I simply mix it one tank at a time usually at a 1:50 ratio with water using a small syringe. It allows a very wide latitude of contrast and iso control. I have used several other developers but I keep coming back to Rodinal!
Now, I am playing with several cameras. As I said my main and BEST camera is my Leica M7. But here is a current list of those cameras I am using:
The Petri 7S has been in my hands since 1962 and still shoots great ( I did send it off to have the light seals replaced and a new leather covering ). The Petri has no batteries but rather a solar cell around the lens that drives a needle exposure meter that you simply place into its center notch for a good image!
All of the cameras in my list above have proven reliable but with the Petri you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young!
The Olympus 35 RC is an amazing small rangefinder with very nice controls. It is smaller then the Petri 7s and actually has better control functionality. It does require a battery to run its metering system though which is a step down from the Petri 7S in my opinion. The nice thing other than the size is the fact that EVERYTHING is displayed inside of the viewfinder. Unlike a refurbished Petri 7S which can be found for around $100 used on Ebay, the Olympus 35 RC camera refurbished is demanding around $250! This is a big difference in price and tells you a lot about its quality and demand! I was lucky to find one from a collectors inventory that he sent off to be totally refurbished and re-skinned for much less than $200.00! For you film shooters out there on a budget this is the camera that I recommend if you find yourself desiring a rangefinder.
The Olympus XA was a 35mm rangefinder camera built by Olympus of Japan. It was one of the smallest rangefinder cameras ever made, together with the Contax T.
It was designed by Yoshihisa Maitani who had joined Olympus Optical Co Ltd in 1956. He was the chief camera designer and managing director of Olympus Optical Co Ltd., having developed a number of legendary cameras during his career. These included the Pen series, the OM series, the XA series, the IS series and the [mju:] series of cameras.
The original model, the XA, was sold from 1979 to 1985. The original XA features true rangefinder focusing, a fast 35mm f/2.8 lens, and aperture prioritymetering. The lens was protected by a sliding dust cover.
This is the smallest 35mm rangefinder ever made. It will fit in the palm of my hand and will make a great system to have with me everywhere I go!
The Leica M7 uses batteries and sports a center weighted spot meter measured either off the film or off the shutter. I find that it meters very reliable. It is the top of the heap when it comes to 35mm film cameras. There are a lot of high end rangefinder cameras on the market but the Leica is the top. I really excels in the area of long exposures with either a count down timer in the viewfinder for images metered and controlled in the aperture priority mode or a count up timer for exposures done in the bulb mode. In bulb, it will count up to 16 min then stops counting for battery conservation, but will continue exposing until you release the remote shutter release. It will use NO battery power after the 16 min count up timer turns off until you release the shutter then it requires a pulse of electricity to close the shutter. NO other rangefinder can say this unless you use a pure mechanical camera like a Leica M2 which has no metering system at all.
The Leica M7 is surprisingly heavy but easy to handle. I keep reading about other high end rangefinder bodies out there but when you do the comparison of features I always come back to the M7.
All of my cameras are fun to use and reliable. With the Leica M7 you get the world class glass but with the Petri 7S you get a link to the past, specifically MY past as this was my 2nd camera I owed when I was young! The Olympus 35 RC is an advanced rangefinder from the 1970 era and is slick and fun to shoot. You will see examples from these cameras towards the end of this post!
I usually develop my negatives on Sundays. I have a film drying cabinet that I use to dry the film without dust spots overnight. I then will scan the negatives on Monday or Tuesday using a Nikon 4000 ED film scanner at 4000 dpi into the DNG format for editing and cleaning later in the week. I usually shoot 2 or 3 rolls a week.
My favorite film is Rollei IR400. This is available at the big camera stores like Digitaltruth, Freestyle and B&H. What makes this film so special is the fact that is very much like Kodak Tri-X 400 as shot. It has a VERY THIN film base which really makes scanning easy. BUT the most amazing thing about this film is that it is sensitive to INFRARED! If you place a Hoya R72 IR filter on the camera lens the film will record 720nm IR images! There is an ISO hit due to the filter being so dark down to 12 ISO but it is worth it being able to shoot in both normal B&W and IR B&W!
Next I like the Kodak Tri-X 400 film. It gives great contrasts and has a very wide latitude in development. It is well known and tested and for ultra long exposures.
Then comes Eastman Double X Cinema film. This is a GREAT B&W film that gives a very smooth gradation and lovely warm tonality with slightly increased contrasts. This is motion picture film so unless you are going to buy a 400 foot reel you will need to purchase it from the store at Film Photography Project. They will sell it in either 24 exposure rolls or a 100 foot bulk loader roll. It develops nicely in Rodinal at 1:60 for ISO 200 but there are ratios for 100 up to 800 ISO! This film is very much worth experimenting with.
I need to say a few words about the folks at Film Photography Project. They offer an amazing wide selection of films and old cameras! This includes Polaroid cameras and film also! Their Podcast is amazing and I find that it is so good that I now have it running all day while I am working at my gallery in Pawleys Island. Good Stuff, check them out here: Film Photography Project.
Whatever film you decide to use you will be pleased with the results. Processing is easy to do with a VERY small investment. You will need:
That is it. It normally takes me about an hour to develop 2 rolls. I will let them dry for several hours then cut them into strips of 6 and put them into plastic storage sheets.
For scanning, as I said above, I use a Nikon 4000ED film scanner. As you can guess from the name it will scan at 4000 dpi and has a lot of adapters for different types of film scan feeders. It has slide auto feeders, single slide feeders, a 6 position film rail for troublesome film and an automatic roll feeder to scan entire rolls automatically. If you couple this with VIEWSCAN software you have an amazing scanning system that rivals those that pro labs use!
Ok, lets take a look at the results of 3 types of film in 2 cameras!
I hope that you enjoyed this post and its associated images. I have been using film since I was 9 years old. At 13 I had my first darkroom at home. I worked in film in my own darkroom until I was 18 when that period of my life can to an end. 42 years later I re-engaged film photography again and cannot help but ask “Why did I wait so long?” I have been shooting digital since my career at Eastman Kodak when you could ONLY get B&W digital camera systems! I have spent fortunes on digital and have loved every moment of it. Film will NOT take any of that away, I still have digital and continue to use it. But I have to be honest and admit that working in film again fills me with a sense of peace that I have not experiences in a very long time….