Friday, July 31, 2009

Exposure of Liquid Light emulsion

What is the ISO or ASA or speed of Liquid Light emulsion? Well, I got a pretty good picture at f8 at 1 second on a almost brilliant sunny day of average subject. The Sunny Sixteen Rule was applied to those factors. As it turns out, a brilliant day is 200 or 20 depending on which light meter you use. It does not matter what ISO you have to work with; all meters and cameras and lenses are based on this Rule: brilliant sun is gaged at f 16 at 1 over the film speed for the shutter. So, if you have 200 as the bright sun as on a Weston light meter, and 400 for a film speed, f 16 falls on 1/400 second for exposure. Lenses must be focused on infinity. Anything closer will cause the bellows to be extended farther, decreasing light intensity by the square of the distance. Infinity focus is required to start with in order to determine exposure using the Sunny Sixteen Rule.

My daylight and exposure fit the above information perfectly. ISO was ... the lowest setting on any light meter at hand. Get a Weston 715 just for the dial, the cell does not even need to work. Light was 18.5 on a Luna Pro or one block lower than 200 on the Weston. It looks like I'll be using the old Weston meter again.

The other part of the equation is developing the exposed plate in the darkroom. This is also standardized. Dektol is used, diluted 1:3, one part Dektol to three parts water. Mix according to directions on the package to get the one part. One minuet is used as a time. 69 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature throughout. Agitation is minimal. Kodak Fixer is used to both stop the development and to fix. A small amount of Fixer is put in a tray and used as a stop bath for 30 seconds. The fixer tray has more in it and is used for at least 2 minuets. If milky white is observed in the plate, then longer time is required to remove it. 5 minuets of wash in water is all that remains. Plates are stood on edge on a paper towel to dry. Drying can take one hour to all day depending on how thick the emulsion is, dryer air and more of it speeds things up. I place the completed dry plate in a sealable plastic bag.

Washing comes first, Calcium Carbonate or Barkeeper's Friend are enough with a tap water rinse to get the emulsion to stick. I scrub the powder with a brush and a little bit of water over the plate in a tiny tray. Lots of tap water cleans it off. That is all that is needed.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Pouring plates every day

Pouring plates after cleaning them different ways is getting easier and easier. Exposing them is coming along, too. A Bender 4x5 camera was used in order to use the lens on it that has a cable release, a Caltar 210, and a Copal #1 shutter. Accurate exposures are in order. One of two plates came out great today. It was shot at f8 and 1 second; the light was not quite brilliant full sun, 18.5 on a Luna Pro meter. ASA or ISO is below the .8 lowest so is about 1/2. The plate was subbed with emulsion and fixed then coated again; it was thick and slow to dry. After scanning at 1200 I enhanced it, and touched it up a bit. It makes a very nice 8x10 print on the PC.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The emulsion is light and loose

The emulsion is very thin and light. It is also subject to humidity. As it is raining and very humid outside, it came loose. So, back into the oven with only the piolet light on to dry out then back into a bag. Perhaps it should be varnished after developing.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

My First Plate

This is my first image. It is a 4x5 glass plate made with Liquid Light on top of Polyurethane water base high gloss (varnish). The whole thing lifted off, then dried flat again. Weird.
The problem today was to determine ISO. Tests were done on card stock first. This image is underexposed at 1 ISO instead of 1/2. One second was used at f 16 on a bright sunny day. Dektol was used at 1:3 dilution at 69 degrees F. developed two minuets instead of one because of the underexposure. It was scanned in the computer at 1200 dpi, auto adjust, unsharped, stiched, shrunk down to 20% at 300 dpi and posted as a medium sized image. A Pony Prime No.4 camera was used with a R.O.&C. Victor f8-5.6 lens.

Friday, July 24, 2009

All Together Now

Everything has been done, once. Chemicals were mixed, photographs taken, film developed, (glass broken), (emulsion peeled off and put onto another). The entire cycle has been done for the first time.
Now to do it again and again until it is done right.
The ice is broken.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Second Pour

A full bottle of emulsion takes a while to heat up enough to get it out of the bottle. It was put into a slightly larger sized stainless steel coffee peculator pot, and sat on the strainer lid! Just like a pressure cooker; the lid on the bottom keeps the plastic container from getting too hot.
When warm enough to pour, some was put into a stainless steel daylight developing tank. That, in turn, was floated in warm water in a Pyrex measuring cup.
Temperature was monitored. The small amount was allowed to cool to the required temperature (do the math). More was put in there for the next time. It will be easier to warm up a small amount than the entire bottle.
The plastic apron went on, and the developing tray, white, went on my lap; I sat. The plates done yesterday were in a light safe. They were very much uneven to say the least. Both were covered again. The plates were done at room temperature and not warmed up first; that proved to be an error, warming them did.
The light safe was put onto the enlarger base, checked with a level.
This is cool: The emulsion bottle came in black plastic bag in the box. With the bottle in the pot, the bag is put over it, squeezed to get air out and slid all the way to the bottom. That way I can get out of the room without exposing the emulsion; some light gets in, when the door is opened, as this darkroom doesn't have a light tight walk way exit. Then the door is shut again. Bad design that but a cool workaround.

Science and Photography

Science in High School was attractive but not enough so as to make me do the work. Now is the time. Photography gives me motivation to learn it.

C 1.8 + 32 F

F (F-32) x 1.8 C

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First pour

Two 4x5 plates were coated with Liquid Light. I hope. Red light was used, only one about 6 feet away. The bottle of emulsion was unpacked in red light and placed in a large Pyrex measuring cup. That in turn was filled with hot water and let sit a little bit. A two reel stainless steel developing can was also filled with hot water. A hot plate was turned on low. The glass sheets were in a 4x5 tray both on the edge and along a center ridge forming a wedge. It would have been easier to find that tray if it had been white instead of black.
The first time I tried to pour some emulsion out of the bottle nothing came out; it must melt first. It doesn't come out easy; the more that melts the easier it is. Some was poured into the stainless steel can and that was put on the now off hotplate. One sheet of glass was warmed up on the hot plate. Then, some emulsion was poured onto a glass sheet; it moved easily.
It spilled onto my pants, on the floor, on the table. Wear a plastic apron. I was sitting down for the first sheet and put a developing tray on my lap for the second try. It didn't look like it was coating the glass evenly; rather, it pooled or left holes. More was added; it spilled off into my hand; I held the glass by the sides or the corners.
Warming up the plate helped some. both plates went into a paper safe. The emulsion got sticky pretty fast.
A thorough clean up followed.
The plates are allowed to dry inside the box. I'll open it in the dark a few times to change the air inside it since it is made of plastic, but it is large.

First time at cleaning glass.

My first tries at cleaning glass with things at hand:
The glass all ready has smoothed off edges on both sides; it was done underwater in a bucket. This is a must do step not to be ignored to your peril. I got sliced up right away cleaning off emulsion.
1. Windex: Nope. Water beaded and did not run off in a sheet. Glass was laid on a paper towel and it moved all over the place. I had to hold it down or hold it in my hand. Not good. Water did not run off in a sheet; water beaded.
2. Dish soap, liquid type. Nope. Same results with the added annoyance of the glass moving even more in a too large tray. 4x5 glass needs to be in a 4x5 tray that is made for it.
3. Baking Soda. Nope. Scrubbed with a paper towel and a little water the results were just like the first two attempts.
4. Tide powdered detergent that is dermatalogically neutral. This worked pretty well. A brand new sponge was used that is rough on one side; both sides were used underwater in a 4x5 tray. Water ran off in a sheet. Tap water was used. Distilled water would be even better. After it drained a bit, standing up on a paper towel, it beaded. Perhaps it would be good enough with a distilled water rince.
5. Photo Flow: perfect. After a wash in Tide, a dip in a solution of Photo-flo in tap water a smooth sheet of water dried without any beading. Film negatives are given a dip in photo-flo so why not glass?
How will emulsion adhear? That is next, now that I have a working method to start with.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


"The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we were trying to do in the first place." Nietzshce

My darkroom has been organized; all cameras have been removed and all most everything has been put away. This is a new room but it took on the characteristics of the old room; it became a storrage place, but no more. Only darkroom things are in there now.

Now to clean it with the new shop vacume.

Too many irons in the fire

Some room was needed in order to lay out glass on the table top in the darkroom. So, the good enlarger had to be set up first, and cleaned and painted in places; two more older ones still sit on the floor. Half of the table is open now that the nice enlarger is functional. YEA! The shelves over the sink are all filled with scales, soaps, various sized plate tanks etc. and the boxes on the floor cannot be emptied! I’d gone shopping several times for glass cleaning supplies and got everything but one - Lime Away with phosphoric acid? Under the sink, two 8x10 cameras wait to be restored. They got to go somewhere else. Out in the garage would be a good place for a shop to do repairs in, but that table is filled to the rafters - literally - with packing and boxes from purchases. Packing cannot be recycled and will be tossed out this week, opening up that space. There are too many projects and too little of space, and me.

Someone said that a new photographer must select carefully what will be done. My decision to make Ultra Large Format plate photographs came late. As a result there are different sized cameras for repair and lots of plate holders and contact frames and tripods and enlargers and lenses. Those things are in the way. At least I now know what it is I’ll be doing eventually.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Unicum lens iris part needed

This is an iris blade to a Unicum 12 inch two piston lens. It has two pins, the one on the right is missing; one goes on the top and the other on the bottom sides at either end.
Does anyone have some in a drawer somewhere? I am michael at studiocarter dot com

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Glass cleaning

Now that some sheets of 4x5 glass have been secured they must be cleaned. The edges were ground round so that I would not get sliced any more. This step must not be neglected. The grinding was done in a bucket of water so dust was not a problem. However, removeal of old emulsion and grinding of edges does not clean the glass.

Instructions were sought:
The Light Farm has an article by Bill Winkler
Liquid Light has an instruction sheet
alternativephotography dot com has an article on Dry Plate Photography (googled)
The CD book: Dry Plate Photography, by towler 1865, chapter I, Preparing the Plates, 10 pages

They are all different. There is everything from using your finger tips and detergent to grinding and polishing the glass then using sulpheric acid!

Those four sources were all printed out. Now to read them and choose a method.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

getting ready to coat plates

Shopping had to be done; I just can't go to the school store to get this stuff; I have to go across town to the last photo store in town; then go to the grocery store. Developer has to be Dektol for light magic, and fixer must not be rapid. The grocery store provided me with powderded detergent and unflavored gelatin.
I bought a book from bwpublishing called Dry Plate Photography by Professor Towler 1865. I never knew dry plate photography was that old. The book is on CD.
Some old photo dry plates were cleaned of the emulsion then the sharp edges were sanded with 120 diamond grit. They are MUCH better now.
Those plates were loaded and unloaded in plate holders to practice many times.
My repairs still work on the 4x5 lens while those done by the "professional" do not; the repairs on a 5x7 lens of the same type do not work either. The cylinders need to be polished, that's all. He sent a very bad email to me. Most unpleasant.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Shown is the inside of a Unicum iris. The shutter was all right on this lens, not so on another one like it that is on a 4x5 camera. I had a go at fixing it. I was successful so tried to fix this one. It is larger and was on a junker 5x7. The shutter was bad AND so was the iris. Note the holes where pins are to go. Some were missing. I replaced two using thin slices of lead pencil graphite. They won't last long but the concept was proven. I - you - can do this work. There is a thread about it on LFphotography under lenses.
A 4x5 was needed to start making small plates with; the shutter was bad, It was easy enough for me to fix and you can do it, too. Fixing the iris pins is another matter entirely.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Primo #6 with a Tripod

The camera needs a dark cloth and a tripod to view the ground glass. This tripod was sold to me by a neighbor during our neighborhood yard sale.

Primo #6 plate camera restoration

This is a 4x5 camera. It arrived all scuffed, brown, tattered, but inside it was about as you see it. Many screws were missing, the shutter didn't work, it was dirty, the lenses fogged, ground glass was missing and the front surface mirror is still corroded.

The shutter was sent off for repair only to return not fixed enough to stay working, so, I had a go at it and afterwards it now works at all speeds. The blades were reversed and polished.

Now it is ready for work.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

first time set up

I'm six foot four inches so that gives you an idea of the size of the Vageeswari 12x15 camera. These tripods are very good; another is actually a little bit taller than this one.