Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Shooting 8x10 for Van Dyke Brown Negatives, Part 1

I have on and off again experimented with alternative photographic processes, without a lot of success. I either didn't have the right negative density, or the UV exposure from the sun wasn't right, etc. However recently I found out we have a nice UV exposure unit for printmaking at the university I work for that I can use, which means I could eliminate some variables and hopefully make some decent prints.

In an effort to make good negatives first, I shot some this past weekend with my 8x10 and experimented with pyro developer. Staining developers such as Pyrocat are overwhelmingly suggested for alt processes due to their unique properties. I've given up Pyrocat as unreliable for my own uses years ago but I had been using Tanol recently, mostly out of curiosity and since it was relatively cheap.

I couldn't find any good film development recipes so I just experimented with 8 negatives to find the best development time and dilution, which I will document here.

I shot 8 negatives of ERA film, which from what I understand is either rebadged Ilford FP4+ or so close as to be indistinguishable. I shot it at an ISO of 64. I developed the negatives in Tanol diluted 2:2:100, which is a double-strength dilution, mostly in an effort to keep the development times down. I developed 2 negatives at a time in BTZS rotary tubes for 8 minutes, then 10 minutes, and finally 12 minutes. The 12 minute negatives were the most dense and looked good for typical printing. The 12 minute negatives looked nice for the needs of alt processes.

Pyro-developed negatives supposedly are good for making images that can be printed with various alt processes as well as typical silver printing and scanning. All of my negatives did indeed scan well, even one that was overexposed a little bit. The best negative I measured on a densitometer and the UV setting showed a density range of about 0.5 to 2.2, which I believe is just right for Van Dyke Browns.

I coated some paper and tried some test prints on the UV exposure unit and dialed in an exposure. Tomorrow I am printing a couple more that should be just right!

For now, here are some scans of the negatives (one was cropped slightly). All were either shot with my 210mm f/9 Graphic Kowa or Nikkor 120mm f/8:


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