Things I’ve done lately!

Mess o' film

1. Inventoried all of our large format film. We have an embarrassingly large amount of it. However, now I am inspired to go shoot a bunch of large format photos! Also, I seriously need an 8×10 camera. I’ve been stockpiling 8×10 film whenever I can find it cheap in advance of the day when I get an 8×10 camera. I also now have a good 8×10 film holder (those are expensive!). All I need now is a camera! I’d love to get some type of crazy Ansel Adam-esque view camera, but I’m not sure how likely that is to happen. At least there’s always pinholes! I tried to construct one out of some boxes a few nights ago, but it wasn’t sturdy enough. I’ll have to build one out of wood. Mmm, power tools and sawdust…

Savoy on Indiatone

2. I’ve been making some contact prints. I own two contact printers, one that can produce prints up to 4×5, and another that does prints up to 5×7. I always think I should get rid of one, but I wind up using both, so they’re staying. It’s gotten hot outside, and I don’t have central air. In the summertime, the bathroom where I do my darkroom stuff can make me claustrophobic if I’m in it with a bunch of stuff for a long time (the enlarger, it is huge), so it’s nice to just use a contact printer and some small trays to make prints.

The photo above is a contact print from one of the shots I took using Watson, the 5×7 camera. It was shot using the Fuji X-ray film. Since I can only scan in about 1/3 of a 5×7 negative, I’ve got to make contact prints to see what the photos actually look like. What’s nice about using the X-ray film is that I can develop it in paper developer, so if I develop a batch of the X-ray film in trays, I can just leave the chems out in trays for a few hours until the negatives dry, and then make my contact prints without having to set up my darkroom stuff again.

I used some old Ansco Indiatone Kashmir White paper that expired in 1952 to make the print. It was the first time I had tried out that paper, and I really love it. It has a pebbled matte finish, and a gorgeous brown tone to it. Lush! Fortunately, I have a big box of it left.

Poisonberry Photogram

3. I also experimented some with making photograms. Photograms are made by placing an object directly onto photo paper and exposing it to light. Lumen prints are technically photograms, but are exposed with sunlight and aren’t put into developer. This photogram was made by placing some nightshade (I think) plants onto the contact printer, and then placing a sheet of Kodak Medalist paper on top of that and exposing for about 5 seconds or so.

Contact print on Studio Proof Paper

4. I’ve also been trying out some contact prints on the Kodak Studio Proof paper I have. This is the type of paper professional photographers would use to make proof prints of photos to show people. You sandwich a negative on top of the paper, expose it to sunlight, and the paper makes an image without putting it into developer. Photographers would then give these to their customers, but since the paper wasn’t fixed at all, within a few weeks, the images would fade. Sneaky, but a way to insure that people would order prints instead of just keeping the proofs.

I didn’t have any idea how long it would take for the image to develop on the paper, so the first print I did, I left in the sun for about an hour. When I took it back inside, I saw that the image had been out there for so long that part of it has solarized and made the photo look extra apocalypse-y.

I made some more prints, varying the times on them. Here’s the difference between exposing an image for 5 minutes versus 10 minutes.

5 minutes, 10 minutes

The five minute exposure is on top. The ten minute exposure is on the bottom, and you can see where it is starting to get all solarize-y. These prints were scanned in before I fixed them, and after fixing and drying, the color has changed somewhat. They’re more of a reddish brown tone instead of a bright pinky red, and the areas that solarized have mainly just turned really dark, which is kind of a bummer. Still, a useful paper, especially when I want to make quicky proofs of large format negatives without having to mix up a bunch of chems.

I was up to some more Photographic! Fun! Times! yesterday, but I’ll go ahead and do a new post for that, since this one doesn’t need to be epically long.