It took me a while to drag myself away from playing Dragon Age II, but I finally shoved the enlarger back into the bathroom and mixed up some fresh RA-4 chems to make color prints. This time I was going to be using a fresh pack of paper, some Fujifilm Crystal Archive Lustre paper that I got from Freestyle a few months back.
The past few times I’ve tried to make color prints have been frustrating, due to using old paper and getting odd color tints in the base. I figured this would be a test – if I couldn’t manage to get a decent print using brand new paper and fresh chems, then I must be a lost cause.
I picked the negative above for my first test. There was a white background and bright colors so that I could easily tell how accurate my guesses on the enlarger filtration were. I did some test strips until I got bored with doing that – 3 test strips per image seem to be about my limit before I finally say, “Screw it, I’m just going to go ahead and make a print,” even if I still need to adjust my filters. 4 prints later I had the print above.
It’s not bad. I could probably tweak it a little more to get a clearer white, but I was actually pretty happy with the colors I go. My main issue was the slight cyan cast and the weird cyan splotchy bits in the upper right corner.
My next print had the cyan splotchiness in the corner, too.
I couldn’t figure out what could be causing this. Maybe a defect in the paper? I started drying out my tank more thoroughly between prints, and as an afterthought checked my rotator base for the tank. It was a little bit off level, so I adjusted it so that the tank sat perfectly level when it rotated.
That actually seemed to do the trick, amazingly. After I leveled out the base, I got a lot less noticeable cyan weirdness on my prints. Hooray!
Anyway, I’ve been experimenting making prints with all sorts of negatives. The Krispy Kreme picture is from a cross processed negative. The waterfall pic is from a newly shot roll of way expired color negative film. Then I remembered there was something I had wanted to try, and dug out that reclaimed Polaroid negative I had salvaged from the goop of a Fuji FP-100C peel-apart photo. The negative looks like this:
And one of the enlargements of that negative turned out like this:
Weird! And awesome!
I made several enlargements of the leaf photo shot with the Graflex SLR:
Including one with the texture fabric over it. Not too keen on how this turned out, but it was interesting to see how the texture worked on a color photo.
It continues to amaze me how good these prints look “in real life,” you know, as opposed to scanned in on a computer screen. The detail and sharpness in the leaf print is pretty impressive. That was shot using 3×4 film, so I was working with a pretty huge negative. The detail is kind of phenomenal.
Travis went through some of our old photos from about 10 years ago, and picked out a 35mm negative that we had developed at Walmart or CVS or some place like that. We decided to try enlarging that to see how close we came to the actual photo we got developed back then.
We came pretty close. Ours is a little more yellow and not quite as blue, but the aspen trunks are white and Toby is red, so that’s all I really cared about.
It was pretty refreshing to be working with paper that actually reacted the way it should. I made a bunch more prints that I haven’t scanned in yet, and some are even successful enough that I’m probably going to put them up in the shop. I know! Bold move! I just need to make sure I can ship prints safely without them getting all bent up. I’ll probably have to cut up chunks of cardboard for protection. I can haz box cutter?
One of the things I tried today that came out absolutely stunning was when I enlarged a black and white negative onto color paper. So, stay tuned for when I get pics uploaded of that goodness (or, just check out the shop tomorrow, because when I pulled the print out of the tank, I was all, “Oh hey! This may actually be art!” Surprise!).
Now that I kind of know what I’m doing with the color printing, I’m having a great time with it. I actually like it better than black and white printing, at least for right now. The whole process is so fast, and the amount of variables is huge, in a good way. For example, I exposed two prints exactly the same, same negative, same filtration, same time, etc, and they came out different. Why? I guess because the temps of my chems wasn’t stable, and I had to develop my prints for slightly different times. But that kind of stuff doesn’t bug me, I just accept it and welcome it as Darkroom Magic. I really like the process of making a print, and then tweaking it slightly – bumping up a filter by 5, or slightly shortening the development time, stuff like that, and then assessing the different results.
Tomorrow I’m going to try two different, older papers. One is just regular RA-4 paper, but 11×14. The other is 8×10 Fujichrome paper, which is supposed to be used for making prints from slides. It uses different chems and a different process than RA-4. That process is called R-3, and looks really similar to how slide film is developed – there’s a first developer, and then the paper is exposed to light, and then there is a color developer and blix step after that. My theory is that if slide film can be cross processed in color negative chemicals, then maybe positive paper can be cross processed in color paper chems. Maybe? Surely someone has tried this, but I couldn’t really find any info about it, so I’m just going to give it a go myself. If nothing else, I would think the Fujichrome paper could potentially be processed by developing in black and white paper first, then exposing to light, and then finished up by doing an RA-4 process. If the cross processing in RA-4 chems doesn’t work, I’ll have to try that.