I guess this post is more of a sum-up of my own thoughts for future reference than they may be useful to anyone else..but anyway, eat it!
I’ve printed some images over the past two weekends, trying to improve my coating skills and to figure out if and how I am to use it for the Serendipity project.
Coating skills have improved, I coat using a cotton pad dipped in emulsion, and swiping it over the paper from top to bottom, left to right, while turning the paper four times so that I essentially create a four-layer coating.
It’s pretty even, although I have to try to be a bit more consistent in applying as you can tell by the look of the image attached to this post. What I do find a bit ‘stressing’ is the way I attach the negative to the paper before placing it into the contact printing frame. The tape I use sucks. Apart from it leaving a nasty residue on the negative itself when removing it afterwards, is that it shows on the coated area. So have to use different tape and perhaps attach it somewhere else. Bigger border around the image so it doesn’t interfere with the coated area on the paper, something like that. If anyone has a proper method for this, feel free to chime in 🙂
Also, I don’t like the messy borders. It’s fun, but it’s distracting from the image itself. So I’m thinking of making a sort of cut-out mat which I place on the paper before coating so I can create a slick and even border. If anyone has a brilliant idea there, shoot! I’ll look into it myself but the wheel has already been invented…like a trillion times 🙂
And..on the developing part; I now develop using a single water bath before fixing. I’ve let myself get away with that until now for ‘testing’ purposes but it’s time to stop playing around and do it the right way. Archival printing has been my way of working with regular baryta papers (fix, rinse, hypo, rinse a shitload more, selenium / gold toning, rinse and so on) and want these prints to last as long as they possibly can too. I read some interesting stuff on the website of Sandy King so will be going more into that way of working next time. Have everything I need for it anyway so no more excuses, ha!
So, new steps summed up (makes it easier for me next time):
- Sensitiser, expose image la-die-da-that
- Development using a two-bath method, with slightly acidified water (teaspoon of citric acid to 3.8L of water), two minutes each.
- Toning: gold thiourea toner (of which I bought several bottles of Tetenal back in the days) for 5 minutes, discard after each use (f*ck though, that makes it expensive).
- 5% Sodium Thiosulfate fixing bath ( for some reason I now use a 3% dilution). A two-bath fixing method is recommended for the best archival quality, two minutes in each bath.
- Clearing bath; I still have some Kodak Hypo Clearing somewhere, but you can easily make it yourself by adding 10g sodium sulfite to 1000ml water and stir until completely dissolved. Mix before usage and discard after usage. Two minutes.
- Final wash: 5-10 minutes when clearing bath is used, 20 minutes without.
So, it’ll get a bit more serious than before, which is good. I have some ideas in mind with the negatives shot in France this year, that I want to contact print using Vandyke.
As said before I also made my first real clear glass ambrotype, aka a glass negative, in Montzen. Yesterday I tried to make a lith print out of it. Very much to my liking! The grain really adds to the ambience and feel of the image.
I used Rollei Vintage 131 Fiber paper and made the first print on 18×24 cm paper to try it out. I loved it so much I”ll be making a large print as soon as the paper arrives: 50×60 cm. Also, this was my first go with the Omega D2 enlarger…wow..that thing is awesome!!! Beautiful machine which I’ll use a whole lot more often now that I got it working with the 4×5″ glass plate holder.
The only thing needed to be done was the toning part. I always used selenium toner before but also bought gold toner a while back. With selenium the tone, or wouldn’t hardly change, or make it more red. Both was just not what I had in mind. Luckily I remembered my gold toner in time so I ordered 2 more liters for the large print and tonight tested it. The prints are still wet so I’ll scan and post them tomorrow. Impressions: 4 minutes were too long; too blue. With 2 minutes I kept a little warmish yellow and got a little blueish and that was exactly what I was after.
Sure, with lith printing the true characteristics of Collodion have practically gone (though not really if you look carefully) so you might wonder why. First of all, because I couldn’t wait making and printing my first collodion negative! Secondly, lith printing is what I know (a little) and came to love (traditional bw printing has gotten boring to me) so this was the way to go for now. I’m still trying to figure out which processes I’m going to dive into for printing the collodion negatives but time has not really been on my side so far. Thirdly and most importantly, because I like it! So eat it!
Anyway, a happy goose here and I’m looking forward to the big print!