Digital Negatives

Darkroom No. 8 is a Fact!

Yes, ladies &’s THAT time again 🙂 I seem to have grown quite fond of building them, so gotta keep up the pace!

I moved again, to a nicer place, and had to set up the darkroom, also again. I planned for it to be on the attic, only the wet table turned out to be too large to get it up the frikkin’ stairs. Remodelling the place to make it go up that stairs is not (yet) an option so decided to take a different approach.

I split up the sections a bit. The wet table and enlarger ended up in a room with the central heating system and washing machine. Already had connections for water and drainage so it took me and my dad a bit of work to fix the piping (cool to do with my dad!) but did a good job.

The living room is part working space, part dining and stuff, the heart of it being a large table measuring 125 x 250 cm. And across the room a large white board of 100 x 200 cm (yes, size does matter at times :p ). And then there’s a walk-in closet room for my clothing and across storage for chemistry bottles, other glassware and this and that (of which there’s a lot).


Works pretty well so far! Not sure if I’m going to keep the enlarger in the place it’s at now, doesn’t get much use these days with the contact printing and can make better use of the space it’s filling up now.

Photos suck, sorry ’bout that. For lack of spirit I made them using my iPhone.

I already used it, better said, I really had a deadline to make. I joined a photo group a while back, and we’re applying for a group exhibition and had to prep an example image of the concept. I will get deeper into the conceptual bit further down the lane somewhere, so don’t ask yet please..

They will be portraits shot digitally (most likely and hopefully using the Monochrome…), making digital negatives of these files and printing them using Van Dyke. Exposure time of the paper was 17 minutes using an UV-light source. I will share the testing with you:


Anyway, that is as it stands a bit for now. More to come soon, and by that I mean not the build of darkroom No. 9, pinky promise 🙂

ChartThrob – Grayscale Chart for Digital Negatives – 1

Today I found the time to scan some negatives I want to work with and finally hooked up my printer for the first time. It works! I’ll slowly describe the steps I took to get to the results I’ll be showing. This is a testing phase for me so by no means will the settings I used and show here be perfect. This is meant to keep track of what I’m doing so I can trace back my steps when things go wrong. If you find anything worthy of noting or think certain things best needs changed please leave a comment!

I could of course just scan an image, convert it to black-and-white if it wasn’t already, invert it so that I have a negative and fiddle around with the density as long as I deem necessary. However, this is a highly experimental approach with results not being able to be repeated when needed be. After looking around on the net for awhile I decided to start out with the ChartThrob method as I found on Jalo Porkkala’s website.

First thing is go to their website as linked above and add the jsx file to “presets” -> “scripts” in the Photoshop folder in Applications (Mac). When you (re)start Photoshop you will find this under “file” -> “scripts” -> “chart throb”. Click on the latter to start it up.

The following menu will pop up:

When you choose “Build New Chart Now” the program starts to build a chart for you, filled with profiling information. When you select the option “Numbers” the build-up will take a couple of minutes. This is what the new chart looks like:

You can now invert it so that you’re left with a negative you can print on a transparent sheet. I then proceeded to print the image using an Epson R2880 on Permajet Digital Transfer Film with the following settings:

After the image has been printed you can then contact print the negative using whichever process you wish to calibrate. Right now for me I’m using the Van Dyke process. Expose the sheet with the negative on it so that the mids are exposed for decently. Wash and fix as normal. The final print should look somewhat like this:

After the print has dried scan it while making sure you have a linear scan (gamma 1.0) with a full grayscale range. Crop the scan back to the boundaries of the chart and open ChartThrob again. Choose the option “Analyze ‘InsertYourFilename.jpg’ Now”.

Once it has analyzed the chart you get your curve which you can then save and/or use immediately on a black-and-white image. It should make your image appear grayish and washed out on the screen. This should be correct for printing and you’re ready to go.
However, the curve I’m getting so far doesn’t seem good. I think I’ve overexposed the print with the gray scale on it so I’ll be making a new one. Updates on this will follow asap.

This is the end of part 1. If you’ve made a proper print with the gray scale chart on you should get a proper curve when correctly scanned. Putting this theory into practice is something different I’ve already noticed. As soon as I have a curve that pleases me I’ll report back.

Epson R2880

Last week I received an all-new Epson R2880 (for free 😮 :yeay:) to be printing my digital negatives with. Last night I gave it a nice spot in my darkroom. It’s actually situated on the table where my Durst DA900 and M605 used to be. They recently moved to the attic as they, since the arrival of the all-magic Omega D2, were not being used anymore. The Durst DA900 is actually an illogical beast compared to the Omega D2. Maybe just to me but the latter just works better for me.

Anyway, so now the table is about digital negatives and cutting photos, papers etc.

I still have to hook it up to the power supply but my current cable is a meter short so haven’t tried it yet. Bought all the cartridges (oomph) so it’s ready to be installed.

I also bought transparency film today of Canson. Don’t know if it’s any good but I happened to come across it today so picked up a package of 50 sheets A4. We’ll see what happens. Hopefully I’ll get around to trying this all next week…

Anyway, that was it for now.. I’m off to print some photos from REAL negatives 😉

Digital Negatives

I’ve been playing with the thought of making digital negatives for quite some time now. One day I’d think, hell yes that would be awesome, while the other day was more like, hell no, I prefer shooting negatives instead of inkjet-printing them. Since a couple of days I’m seriously considering this option.

The event that triggered me to look at this option in a more serious manner was the meeting I had with William Ingram the other day. He solely prints from digital negatives, platinum prints that is, and these were so awesome to look at I felt kind of baffled. This had a lot to do with the size of them, I have to admit, seeing that they were about 80 x 110cm (!). I am a sucker for large formats (photography/ paintings), always have been, and these were astonishing to behold.

However, just big and being useless in my workflow will not cut it either so I have managed to come up with a convincing argument for diving into this. I am starting to work with more contact printing processes such as albumen printing, Van Dyke process etc. and I have a ****load of 35mm and 120 film negatives laying around waiting to be printed (again). Only, traditional b+w printing is something I probably won’t ever go back to out of free will so this will give them a new purpose in life besides endlessly waiting on a bookshelf.

Another huge benefit is that I can make negatives of the same photo applicable for different processes as most of them require a specific d-max / density to get the most out of the print. Combine all of the above mentioned and I will be able to expand my workflow tremendously leaving me with even more possibilities to choose from (I already had very few). 😉

I (hopefully) have an option to buy a Epson R2880 pretty cheap so that’s my printer of choice. I hope to close the deal in the upcoming week. I’m still debating on which transparency film I’ll be working with, Agfa Copyjet, Inkpress or something, the first mentioned probably more easily available to me.
There are several options to fine-tune the workflow by using Quadtone Rip but I’m still looking into that as well. I’ve thought about following a workshop but maybe I’ll give it a go like this seeing that I can find a lot of information online, from books and from friends.

Anyway, I firstly want to improve my collodion negative-making skills but more will follow on this for sure!