Friday, 19 September 2014

Mature paper developer

Mature multigrade developer with FB paper.
Notice that it has a very subtle warmth to it.
I happened to mention to a group of dark artists that I use mature developer when printing my photographs. I was a little taken aback in that they did not understand what I was saying and possibly a number of you reading this will not either. Basically it means that I cut fresh developer with old and exhausted developer from other printing sessions. Not always from the same manufacturer. It is something I have done for years and have not given a second thought to.

The technical bit:

Starting with the papers light sensitive coating, they can be made from three materials Silver bromide, silver chloride and silver iodide. These are combined to make three types of coating chloride,bromide and chlorobromide. A number of other chemicals are also added to help things along. The way in which these chemicals are mixed together affects how the final print looks. Chloride rich papers are slower and warmer in tone. Where bromide predominates it leads to faster acting and colder toned papers. As a common rule the material named first has the most influence on the way the paper reacts. Bromide papers are the most light sensitive producing neutral or cold blue black tones.
Fresh multigrade developer with FB paper.
Although the picture is of a cold subject the tone
of the scene is cold as well.

The most commonly mixed materials found today are chlorobromide papers. They are a compromise between speed and colour. By adjusting the percentages of these chemicals the manufacturer can alter the tone from warm to cold and vary how sensitive to light they are. I have found that the new Kentmere RC papers to be very sensitive to light producing a cold look to the print. It's quick reaction to the developer means that full development of the picture can be achieved in less than thirty seconds when developed with fresh Ilford multigrade. Chlorobromide papers tend to tone better than Bromide. If you are going to use gold toner then a chloride rich paper is the better than bromide rich paper as it hardly responds.
This is was printed on Kentmere RC paper with
 fresh developer. It was fully developed in less than
thirty seconds.

Although the tone and tint of black and white papers are subtle it has a great affect on the viewers response. Neutral and cold tones tend to create a distance emotionally, a sense of looking in from the outside. While warm looking images draw the viewer in engaging them emotionally. There is a tendency to use these different tones for certain subjects, cold and neutral tones with landscapes, abstracts and modern architecture. With warm tones being used with subjects like portraits, still life and nostalgic pictures like churches and old barns. We maybe used to seeing them used in this way but there are no rules but those you make for yourself and even then they should not be set in stone. By learning to manipulate and control the tone of the paper you are printing with, opens up new ways of engaging the viewer in your vision of the world.

Printed on warmtone  FB paper using
a sepia tone developer. Again the warmth is
very subtle. when compared to the picture
When talking about tone and colour of monochrome papers it is important to understand there is a difference between tone and tint. The tone of a paper is influenced by how much chloride or bromide there is in the coating of the paper. More chloride means slower warmer pictures.

Paper bases come in different colours/ tints such as off white, cream and variations on the theme. At one time warm tone papers could be made on a brilliant white base but these days the base paper has a tint to it, this allows the manufacturer to reduce the amount of chloride in the mix increasing the speed of the paper and still call it warmtone even though it is the tint we see. Tints are most noticeable in the high lights and tones in the shadows. Because the colour shifts are so subtle an untrained eye may not notice the difference until it is pointed out to them.

This is the most important bit when it comes to manipulating the tone of a paper. The main thing film and paper have in common is grain it maybe invisible to the eye but the bigger it is the blacker it appears. When the paper is placed in the developer the grain increases in size as it grows so it changes in colour. From a yellow to begin with it turns reddish, then brown and finally black which is the point of full development.

Printed on  Ilford multigrade FB paper.
 It has been developed in an almost exhausted developer
giving it a pinkish look.
This is valuable knowledge when it comes to changing the tone of a print for example: If you over expose your print more than the exposure your test strip suggests and then under develop the print by say a quarter of your usual development time this will help to increase the warmth of your picture. If you combine a warmtone developer and paper it will greatly increase the effect.

Now to the technical bit behind the mature developer. What happens; as the developer starts to exhaust, so it has trouble fully reducing the silver halides in the emulsion. This means the developer cannot turn the silver completely black therefore it leaves it in the warmer less processed state. You can induce this state by adding fresh developer to an old/ exhausted one which will leave your prints with a wonderful but subtle warmth. The old, new combination should only be used up to a dilution of one to one. Beyond this can lead to sudden exhaustion of the developer.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

My new print washer at last.

When I started looking for a new print washer I did not think it would take the best part of two years for it to arrive. Basically I was looking for a new way to wash multiple prints at once without having to stand there and agitate them. Giving me more time to print. It would have been quite easy to go down the road and buy one off the shelf, but I wanted to put some of the knowledge I had gained into building my own.

I was not expecting it to take so long to arrive at a design I was happy with. It was always going to be a slot style washer which meant it would be a little more complicated to build. I was up for the challenge. The easy part was choosing the materiel it would be made from one of two plastics I had in mind. The next was settling on the size, it had to be the same as my slot processor 18” (460 mm) by 14” (360 mm). When starting a project like this you do not realise how many questions need to be answered before the project get off the page. For example: How many prints did I want to wash at once? How far apart should the slots be? What style of slot divider? For each set of questions I solved so another set would take their place. The most difficult ones to answer were what tooling would be needed.

Making sketches of what the washer should look like helps no end in solving some question quite quickly. By doing this it gives an insight as to what will be the difficult parts to put together. One of the difficulties turned out to be the design of the dividers and how they would be put together. This question remained a sticking point right up to the point of having to make the divides. In the end I settled for ones that could be removed, just as well I did because I'm not happy with the design. Having said that they work really well.

Since it's completion it has been in regular use and now I would not be without it. It has done what I wanted it to do - free me up from having to stand and wash each print by hand.

This post looks into Print washing

Saturday, 13 September 2014

New Nikon film camera

This is great news a news from Nikon and for 35 mm film camera users in the UK. Recognition that film sales are still very strong.

I put my hand up I copied this from the Ilford forum.



12th September 2014

Nikon FM10 Back in the UK thanks to Keyphoto!

Keyphoto, specialist supplier to the education sector, have entered into an exclusive agreement with Nikon to sell the FM10 SLR 35mm film camera in the UK.Nikon FM10 SLR 35mm film camera available from Keyphoto.
Continued buoyancy and interest in traditional analogue photography, means continued demand for 35mm Film cameras. Although there is a regular supply of used second-hand models, this is an unsatisfactory solution for schools, colleges and universities. There was pressure on Keyphoto to come up with a solution and after meetings with the major brands, Nikon agreed to make available the FM10 which they had been selling in the North American and Asian markets but withdrew from Europe many years ago. In order to ensure an orderly market, Keyphoto have been given the exclusive rights to distribute this Nikon model in the UK.

The camera is fully MANUAL and therefore an ideal 35mm SLR for students
· Fully manual focusing, exposure control, film loading, film advance, and film rewind
·Nikkor 35-70mm f/3.5-4.8 lens
·Accepts Nikon F-mount lenses with an aperture ring
·Battery operated simple centre-weighted metering and match diode system
·Mechanical Shutter mechanism
·Includes fitted case, strap, batteries and tripod non-slip pad
The camera is in stock and first deliveries have started September 2014.
The RRP is £310 incl. VAT with a full 1 Year Nikon International warranty.
“I am delighted to offer our customers a new film SLR. Nikon have stepped up to the plate and delivered the FM10. This quality fully manual camera will ensure that traditional photography has a bright future” says Keyphoto MD, Axel Flaig.
Steven Brierley, Director of Sales and Marketing for ILFORD PHOTO, said “Keyphoto have over 25 years experience as a supplier of photographic materials and equipment to UK education establishments. We are delighted to hear this fabulous news about the agreement with Nikon. The majority of photo students commence their course with traditional methods using black and white film and printing the results in the darkroom. The Nikon FM10 SLR is an excellent choice of camera for colleges to have available for loan to students, or anybody wanting to purchase a good quality SLR 35mm film camera.”
Full details from Keyphoto at:
Tel: 01582 460461

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Loading a Bronica film back

college still life
On one particular trip I made into college I was met by my tutor who placed in my hand a Bronica 6x45 camera and a roll of film in the other. Then told me to go into the studio and make pictures of the still life he had set up. Wow! I had wanted to try out one of these cameras for ages, part of this enthusiasm was when I found out that the lenses were made by Nikon. Sadly later models used seiko lenses. This is not to say the quality is any less. At one time I was very keen on all things Nikon.

I placed the camera on the tripod and released the film door to load the film. Which stopped me in my tracks. “How the hell do you make this work” I was expecting it to load the same way as other 120 format cameras that I had used. A short time later the tutor came in to see how thing were going. As he approached he smiled and said “It does not matter how many students I give this camera to you are all stumped by the film loading”. He took the film back and reversed the backing paper over the pressure plate round and onto the other reel. It was that simple.

For those who are not familiar with the way you load film into the Bronica here are a few pictures to point the way.

Film backs can be loaded on or off the camera body.

To open the film back compress the two clips on the top. The door will spring open

Remove the film holder from the case.

Push open the film spool holders.

Place the empty spool in the lower holder this is the one with the winder on the side. With the fresh film in the top as shown pull the paper backing over the top.

Pull the paper backing all the way up and over the top

Thread the paper backing into the empty spool as shown

Using the winder on the side of the film holder wind the paper on

Keep winding the paper backing until the arrow shows and stop 

Place the film holder back in its casing and close.

Do not forget to set the ISO. If you use a number of different film tear off the top of the film box and slide it in to the window.