Edits & Updates

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March 30, 2014

Getting My Gulls in a Row

I started writing this hours ago and I was running toward the third page when I stopped, deleted it all, and started over. We all know what is happening in photography right now. We all know how busy life is and how hard it is to fit everything in. People (me included!) want short and simple. Short and simple with bullet points. Not too many bullet points. I only exaggerate a bit when I say that people email me asking for tweeted instructions on how to re-start Kodak Park in their hall bathroom.

Here’s my problem and challenge. They aren’t altogether off-base. The Light Farm is too long and complicated. I’m having fits pulling together the 2nd edition because I want to add more and more information. Too much information. I believe it has reached the point where it is actually counterproductive. I need to re-boot the re-boot.

For most people, making and using handcrafted silver gelatin needs to be a simple system and I need to pay much better attention to the challenges of people coming in without the benefit of darkroom experience. There’s a lot to take into consideration but I will try and The Light Farm contributors will try. I don’t know how long it will take. In the meantime, for the motivated, all the information you need to get started is actually here already. The TLF Tutorials cover everything that most people will ever need. In addition, there is a wealth of information in the various books and booklets posted on this site, or linked from here. Nothing will ever change the fact that all this is something that is learned by doing, backed up with a habit of studying the literature.

The photograph of the gulls was made with “Ammonium Bromide Plain Silver Emulsion”, from the tutorials. 120 film with a Rolleiflex TLR camera. D23 developer. Nothing could be easier. The film was only ASA 3 that day, but it was fast enough.

I’ll be posting ocassionally in “Bits & Pieces”, and of course, publishing the work of other emulsion makers, but beyond that little will change until it’s ready to change big.

Best of luck and fun to everyone, and I always love to hear from people.

February 12, 2014

 Two new chapters in the 2nd edition: 'Artisanship' and 'Troubleshooting'. 

January 16, 2014

Finally!  I've started posting TLF's revised contents.  Actually getting started was a higher hurdle than I expected but I think things will go smoothly from here out.

The new chapters are listed in the far right column on the homepage. To date: 'Introduction' and 'Vocabulary'.
As always, I welcome comment. Denise, editor@thelightfarm.com

January 1, 2014


I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and that you feel like 2013 was a good year, and that 2014 is going to be even better —  a year full of fantastic photography. 

Everyone is a photographer today.  I say that without the slightest irony or sarcasm.  Someone who snaps a picture of their morning latte — and enjoys the image and perhaps shares it with others — is a photographer. But, I believe many people want to go beyond making snapshots. Learning a traditional process is one path to travel. 

I hope TLF will be your first go-to place for learning handmade silver gelatin emulsion making and photography, but if you have the time and financial resources, you should consider taking one of the 2014 George Eastman House silver gelatin workshops.  GEH is an inspiration all in itself.  It is arguably the photographic center of the Universe and Mark Osterman is second to none as a teacher.  A GEH Osterman workshop will be an experience you won't forget.  Here's the GEH workshop schedule.  The spots fill fast, so don't wait too long.  Here's a great video about GEH.

Mark has an excellent article on making dry plates in the current issue of View Camera magazine.

November 4, 2013

Finally!  I've been promising to update and rationalize this site since summer.  But, I hadn't anticipated that my color work would suddenly bolt out the gate.  That has kept me delighted and occupied full time for the last couple of months. It will be the primary work of the rest of my days, but at least it's now in a place where I feel I can timeshare with other things. 

The new essay on the home page pretty much says it all.  The re-write will be a rolling work-in-progress for many months.  In addition, I'll try to post a few 'Bits & Pieces' following the progress of handmade color. More importantly, the work of other emulsion makers will be front and center.

August 26, 2013

As my dear, patient emulsion penpals know, I periodically promise to stop playing with my chemistry set and cameras and finally sit down at the computer for as long as it takes to reorganize TLF. The site desperately needs at least an index. A couple of months ago, I started re-working the page links and managed to upload an older version.  I lost the new "Gelatine" page.  I just noticed. (I don't spend much time looking at the homepage.)  The error had been corrected and Anthony Leahy has sent a new picture of very old gelatine to re-launch a very interesting look at an important part of our art's history.  Without further ado: Gelatine.

June 24, 2013

Henk Mantel continues his emulsion making and refinements of work space and procedure. That's the short form version but it doesn't begin to describe the pure poetry of scientific/artistic method that Henk has managed to put into words.  'Elementary, my dear Watson.  Elementary!'  Enjoy.

June 8, 2013

Time to order Ammonium Bromide!  New tutorial coming up in a week.

June 1, 2013

Happy Summer!  Maybe it's not official for a few weeks, but just saying "June" is happy-making and summer-feeling, at least here on the Oregon Coast.

There is no doubt that summer is the traditional prime time for photography. The Light Farm has added a new section that I hope fills up with great summer photography — and beyond to include all the seasons.  Robert Beech attended the March 2013 George Eastman House Bromide Emulsion workshop and is already out there making art.  Welcome, Robert, and thank you for launching the GEH page of Mark Osterman's section.

May 10, 2013

A few quick notes:

1) Thanks to Will Rea for the heads-up on Ilford's annual special orders.  This year it includes 120 film backing paper...   http://www.ilfordphoto.com/pressroom/article.asp?n=164

2) Freestyle Photographic Supplies will special order Adox precipitation gelatin.  It can be in by August.  The price is $34.99 for 250 g.  I'm ordering some to test.

3) I just discovered a glitch in 'Bits & Pieces'.  The page on ortho sensitizers got overwritten with nonsense.  I don't know when that happened, but it's been corrected...  http://thelightfarm.com/cgi-bin/htmlgen.py?content=18Jan2012

May 4, 2013

Hi All.  I hope everyone has been enjoying Spring.  No matter what is going on in the larger world, for good or for evil, our personal relationships with the seasons, our friends and family, and our art remain a gravitational constant.  Celebrate them all.

The weather on the Oregon Coast has been stunning this spring following a warm and dry (for us!) winter.  The gardens are ridiculously gorgeous.  I admit to spending far more time in my garden than in my darkroom these last couple of months. I haven't needed to make new materials.  I had so much stuff left over from putting together the first of the web tutorials, I've been happily using it all up.  Some of the work has been technical; some just for fun.  I've made heavy use of my Baby Speed Graphic.  You can get a whole lot of Baby negatives from one batch of emulsion.  The only way to get true comparisons between emulsions is to shoot different ones at the same time, and develop them in the same darkroom session.  It's an invaluable way to really learn what's going on, but it's a fair amount of work — and not remotely necessary for the average photographer.  I am more than happy to do the work and pass forward what I've learned.  The information will work its way into the coming tutorials.  Those will be starting mid-June.

 In the meantime...

Far faster and to a much greater extent than I originally anticipated, basic darkroom skills (as in: lack thereof) are as much a hurdle to getting started making emulsions and using them as fear of high school chemistry. It is high time to add analog photography basics to The Light Farm.  We start with the wonderful words and images of Laurent Girard, our newest contributor.  Laurent is not an emulsion maker, but he brings to us the element that I will no longer take for granted — darkroom skills and passion.  His work tells it better than I can, so without further ado, please enjoy here

March 3, 2013

Henk! Celebrating a Month of Emulsion Making here

February 21, 2013

Another delightful chapter in the emulsion adventures of Henk Mantel.  If his experiences don't inspire others to join the fun, nothing will!  "A laboratory table for friends of black and white photography" here

February 18, 2013

I posted a nifty little booklet today — "The Velox Book".  It was published in 1916.  Velox was the brand name of a Kodak gaslight paper.  The formula was very similar to Baker's KCl gaslight paper, the recipe in the first tutorial.  Since we are time travelers, the booklet (about the size of a cell phone) is current events to us.  The information is invaluable.  To read it, please go here. It is our first posting of a booklet in .pdf form ready to download and read on anything that reads pdfs. 

 Also, Henk Mantel just keeps on making progress!  Because of a week that got away from me, I've posted two articles at the same time.  As always, excellent insight and suggestions.  'Pushing The Puddle' here and 'I Love It When A Plan Comes Together' here.  Thanks, Henk!

January 26, 2013

Henk Mantel has written his next installment.  He has compiled a comprehensive list of European sources of emulsion making materials.  It is an invaluable resource, but beyond even that, Henk's experiences should ease the anxiety of people who are worried they won't be able to become emulsion makers in the EU.  Thank you, Henk.  To read Henk's article, please go here.

January 12, 2013

I am delighted to welcome our newest contributor Henk Mantel. Henk is learning to make emulsions in Germany.  Read his story here.

December 4, 2012

New on the Contributor's page: Wendy Monahan

December 2, 2012

Things are coming together very nicely for 2013.  If you want to start making your own silver gelatin materials, 2013 will be your year.  George Eastman House is adding bromide emulsions to their workshop roster, taught by Mark Osterman.  The Light Farm will be publishing a year-long series of web tutorials.  It is my hope that anyone starting at the beginning and following through recipe-by-recipe will be an accomplished emulsion maker by the beginning of 2014.

Our newest contributor, Wendy Monahan (www.wendymonahan.com) will lead the way with her comprehensive article describing her experiences getting back to film and darkroom printing.  Building a home darkroom today takes a lot more creativity than it did when you could walk down to the local photography store and buy anything you needed with no more effort than buying a carton of milk at the grocery store. Digging, scrounging, inventing. Her husband has started calling her MacGyver! 

 Welcome, Wendy!  Read her first article for us here.

September 23, 2012

It's always wonderful to be reminded that the historical aspects of The Light Farm are about more than just the history of emulsions.  Photography has been an integral part of our culture for a very long time.  Photography plays the role of recorder of our culture; the photographic technology of a time influences how we think about that time.  The classic expressionless portraits, the result of slow colorblind processes and emulsions, are well known.  Perhaps less understood — it was certainly a surprise to me! — is the confusion that can result from trying to decipher a full color history that was recorded in black and white. 

The following communication from Dave Moor made my day.  It made me proud of the work we do here. 

I thought I just had to write to let you know that, thanks to your entry on Orthographic Emulsions, I have finally resolved an issue that has been puzzling me for years.
I manage the Historical Football Kits website, which records graphically the colours of English and Scottish football clubs from the Victorian era to the present day and includes sections on (for example) the kit history of the World Cup. In the course of my research I interpret old black & white photographs and have often noticed that the grey tones are not "logical" - reds show up very dark while blues appear pale. While researching Sweden's strips from 1934 and 1938, (yellow shirts/blue shorts but giving the appearance of the reverse) one of my contacts directed me to your website and there, with comparison charts was the solution.
My warmest thanks to everyone involved in your site.
Dave Moor

and a followup email:

Denise, ...We clearly share a passion for preserving and sharing somewhat esoteric historical information. Part of the pleasure is that one never knows when and how someone will use this material to make a breakthrough in understanding in their own field. In the 24 hours since I published the new information about orthographic emulsions (a wonderful phrase in its own right) I have had several congratulatory mails from regular and new contributors including one who colourises old images as a hobby. This break through discovery allows me to reinterpret a great deal of photographic material, a process that I have already begun with some particularly problematic graphics.
Of course you may publish this correspondence on your website. I would be tickled pink for your regular correspondents to know just how important this information is to the HFK "community."

August 5, 2012

I have finally updated "TLF #2" dry plate emulsion.  Please see the Glass-Green box

July 18, 2012

I couldn't be happier that the first significant change/addition to TLF is a major new section: Gelatine.  It is tailor-made not only for emulsion makers, but also for history geeks of any flavor.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.  Many, many thanks to Anthony James Leahy and Edward Montague (Sam) Nelson. Gelatine

July 1, 2012

The Light Farm is moving ahead a little sooner than originally planned and in a different direction than I had hoped when I started this. In February, 2008, I fully expected that the site would be fundamentally different by February, 2013. I had no way of knowing, of course, what the difference would be. The future of photography was in a state of profound flux.

The future came far faster and with far more changes than in my wildest imagination. Home and public darkrooms are all but gone. I can’t begin to keep up with the list of disappearing and reappearing (often under a different name) products — including, amazingly, cameras.

Almost five years ago my crystal ball got a few things right but many more things absolutely wrong.

I never guessed how astoundingly excellent digital cameras would be, or how totally they would “become” mainstream photography. Film and darkroom printing have inarguably moved into the alternative processes side of photography. Even then, it’s often with a digital element. It is a challenge for analog materials manufacturers and suppliers to keep photographers engaged with film and wet-processed prints. Workshops for historical printing processes are finding it challenging to fill enough slots to run. Whether or not the ease and excellence of digital imaging is a factor, or competition from other alternative processes, or the influence of some broader cultural zeitgeist, there is currently little interest among photographers in making silver gelatin emulsions.

It has been over a year since there has been a new research contributor on The Light Farm. On photography forums, interest in handcrafted silver gelatin emulsions has fallen off — despite the amazing and unforeseen (at least to me) quality and usability of handcrafted film, plates, and paper. With the benefit of hindsight and six years’ experience, it’s a little embarrassing to realize that I, too, was brainwashed into believing superb quality was out of reach of amateurs in our home darkrooms. I expected we’d top out at early 1900s technology, but we’re at least 30 years beyond that. Today I can put a piece of film I made myself on a light table next to a similar piece of commercial film and be hard pressed tell the difference. I love going out of the house carrying a camera loaded with my own film. I have been immensely enjoying handheld camera street photography. Printing on silver-rich paper is almost a religious experience. I can’t imagine anything better. But apparently I am alone. I have failed at convincing others. That is what I got most wrong.

So, where does this leave The Light Farm? First, the whole site is in desperate need of time and attention. Basically, I need to stop posting new work until I can reorganize the current information into a more cogent “1st Edition.” Back in the day of traditional books, this is the point where the draft would be sent to the editor for pre-publication polishing. Electronic publications should have no less a standard. So, I will not be adding new research for a while. (Months? Years? I don’t know at this point. I plan on doing a lot more photography and a lot less sitting at a computer.) I made panchromatic film yesterday. Like everything involved with this adventure, it was easier than I expected. This will let me put together a tri-pack and hopefully dabble in an autochrome-like process. Enlarging paper is done, as is a new and foolproof gaslight paper that can be thrown together in a temporary darkroom. The Fates willing, all these things will be in “TLF, 2nd Edition”. Until then there is a bounty of things to play with — today — on The Light Farm. I will try to make the information more easily useable. I hope others will be undertaking independent research. Fingers crossed, the 2nd edition will be able to add many new contributors.

Carpe Diem
July, 2012

April 5, 2011
We are delighted to welcome newest contributer, Sterling Wood. Read more from Sterling here.  Sterling has contributed a PDF of the chapter on emulsion-making from, "The Book of Photography", by Paul N. Hasluck, 1907.  You can read it here.

April 2, 2011
Michael Carter has officially joined TLF — Welcome Michael!  Read more from Michael here.

April 2, 2011
Michael Carter has written a very informative article about the technique he has developed to make dry plate negatives.  Thanks, Michael! 

March 16, 2011
Two items: 'Bits & Pieces' is active again.  And, Chris Patton has been contact with Chamonix View Cameras about adding plate holders to their lineup of view camera accessories.  Apparently, it's in the works.  We'll keep you updated.  It will be nice to know there is a source of holders besides the unpredictable used holder market.

January 30, 2011
I am delighted to welcome our newest contributor, Chris Patton.  Chris is a photographer and Renaissance Man at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station in California.  Not surprisingly, Chris is fascinated by the ocean, and has developed a dry plate recipe using seawater.  Read more about Chris, his philosophy of photography, and his innovative chloride emulsion here.

December 26, 2010
The Literature List has been updated. 

December 20, 2010
Added: A searchable .pdf file of The Photographic Emulsion.  Terry Holsinger, a noted pioneer in dry plate making, has generously provided this to The Light Farm.  Thanks, Terry! (It is over 50 MB, and download times may be long-ish for you.) 

December 7, 2010
Added: The final pages of The Photographic Emulsion by Carroll, Hubbard & Kretschman. 

November 17, 2010
Added: Faults in Negatives in 'Antique Technical Booklets'

November 13, 2010
TLF has added a new section titled 'Antique Technical Booklets'.  The first installment is one of my favorites: Hammer's Little Book.  Enjoy!

April 4, 2010
Material Info Update - Fabriano Artistico papers:  After a number of months of testing, I am convinced that Fab Art paper has been changed.  I started out with Fab Art X-white HP paper four years ago and have coated just about every variety of emulsion imaginable on it.  As ugly as some emulsions have been, one thing I felt confident in saying was that they were bullet-proof — no bubbling, frilling or lifting.  That changed about four months ago.  I started getting tiny bubbles of lifting emulsion during washing.  I originally thought that one of my ingredients had gone old, but after replacing all of them, one by one, I did a whole range of paper samples again.  With any given run of emulsion, only the Fabriano Artistico papers develop bubbles.  I love Fab Art paper, so I pushed through for a work-around solution.  Bubbles are eliminated, or at the least greatly reduced if I use hardening fixer and follow with a 'speed wash' protocol (short pre-wash, archival washing aid, shortened final wash, squeegee, dry).

February 9, 2010
A great big TLF 'Congratulations!' to Tim Bessel.  Tim has started making absolutely gorgeous paper emulsions.  Even better, he is experimenting with materials and techniques, including developer tweaks.  He will be writing up his findings when his work reaches an appropriate stage, but in the meantime he is sharing his progress on APUG, here.  The thread also includes excellent information on darkroom chemical safety. 

January 1, 2010
Happy New Year! (and Decade)
Added pages 53-93 in the book 'The Photographic Emulsion', chapter titled 'The Photographic Emulsion After-Ripening' here.

December 30, 2009
Marco Boeringa sent this fascinating link to another 'how film is made' video. here. The film is in Dutch but I think by now we can get the idea.  It's a great historical piece.  Also, see the discussion about this on APUG. Thank you, Marco.
(Editor's note 1/1/2010: There's now a text of the translation to English on the APUG thread.  Thanks, 'AgX'.)

December 18, 2009
Kevin Klein suggests changing the hypo addition in his dry plate recipe from 0.02% to 0.2% to achieve greater sensitivity/'speed' here.

December 18, 2009
Kit Funderburk has published new, invaluable information on the history of photographic paper manufacture at Kodak.  Please don't miss the opportunity to read his work here.

December 14, 2009
Added: The 'Bits and Pieces' section will be a research blog for the foreseeable future.  I will be trying every recipe and technique that has struck my fancy in the last few months of reading.  My old photo chemistry books are festooned with Post-its, every marked page waiting for testing and/or comment.  I've been trying to develop a 'best order' strategy, but the complexities of that have only served as an excuse to procrastinate.  So, it's 'Tally-ho!' and over the wall I go — no particular order, rhyme nor reason — just follow the fox.

December 14, 2009
Added: Additional information on contact printing dry plate negatives here.

October 25, 2009
Added: Advanced Silvergum Tutorial here.

August 30, 2009
TLF welcomes Mark Osterman and his excellent article on dry plate photography (here) and new recipe page (here.)  Mark's work and the mission of George Eastman House soon will be expanding to include the actual processes of the historical processes, including silver gelatin emulsions (more here.)

June 8, 2009
I am delighted to welcome new contributor, Michael Carter.  Michael is setting out on the great adventure of learning to make emulsions.  We are lucky that he is going to be writing about his experiences on his website,  http://www.studiocarter.com/ with a special section for a blog:

http://newlightfarmer.blogspot.com/.  Good luck and fun, Michael!

May 9, 2009
For the last month, we've been bumping and grinding our way to the new navigation and page style.  We think it's all done; hope you enjoy it.

Also, we finally have officially listed Marco Boeringa as a contributor to The Light Farm.  Welcome, Marco!  And, thank you for the historic Kodak film. Check out Marco's website, you'll enjoy the visit.

March 5, 2009
We have replaced the What's New section with two new sections: News and Bits & Pieces.

March 1, 2009
We have added a new section, Historical Films.

Please check out our first film, How Film is Made.

January 12, 2009
A big TLF welcome to contributing editor Kevin Klein.

Kevin has added to our catalog of dry plate emulsion recipes here.  Be sure to see Kevin's dry plate prints here. To learn more about all of Kevin's photography, please visit his website, kevinklein.biz.

January 7, 2009
A great new year and new friends.

We are delighted to link The Light Farm with MichaelandPaula.com, the website of Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee.  To learn more about Michael and Paula and their work, please go here.

December 8, 2008
New section: Making Baryta

The homemade baryta recipe and technique has been updated.

December 1, 2008
New section: Gallery

All emulsion makers are invited to contribute. For information on how, please go here.

November 22, 2008
New section: Film Negatives

Growing this section will be ongoing for several months, starting with some information on Melenex.

November 4, 2008
New section: Dry Plate Photography

There are many pages of new information.  Please check it out.  You can see the new link from TLF's home page.

Five-Color Silvergum and Silvergum Gallery
June 20, 2008
I have added new information to the Silvergum section.

Read about 5-color silvergums here, and visit the gallery here.

Welcome to Bill Winkler
April 24, 2008
We are delighted to welcome Bill Winkler to our team of Contributing Editors. Bill tells us this about himself:

"I began studying photography, and purchased my first SLR (a Pentax K1000), at the age of 45. Fortunately, this was in 1993 and the 'Digital Revolution' had just started crying for Mother's Milk. So, I received an excellent foundation in traditional Black&White Photography. Shortly after taking my first course in Color Photography I saw my first Large Format Color Transparency, and became obsessed with everything transparent. I did a one semester Independent Studies course in Color Separations, shortly before taking a workshop in Platinum Palladium Printing.

The next ten years, I dedicated to working out a method for printing Pt/Pd/Au on glass.

I now have a system for reliably printing these metal images on glass, and (if desired) adding color using a variation of the Gum Dichromate method. I have entered the world of emulsion making because I hate being dependent on commercial film. Also, I wish to do Dye Transfers and Matrix Film is no longer commercial. Since all of my work involves Color Separation, I must make Panchromatic emulsions. I am currently restoring two 1930-1940 tri-color 'one-shot' cameras.

I am a Native New Yorker, but have lived in California since 1974. I have always worked in some field of research, first in Cell Membrane function, then in industrial coatings."

To read Bill's first article, please go here.

Welcome to Kit Funderburk: Papermaker
April 3, 2008

We have a rare and valuable opportunity to expand our knowledge of the iconic Kodak papers. Kit Funderburk was a papermaker at Kodak and is an historian of photographic papers. He is our newest Contributing Editor. He isn't an emulsion maker, per se, but he understands the substrates and the essential character they bring to b&w paper. It is his belief that we should be able to get very close to the original papers — closer even than I had dared hope. Welcome, Kit!

Here is Kit's contribution to us:

“In 2006, I edited/authored a book (spiral bound booklet) titled History of the Paper Mills at Kodak Park which was intended as a memento for Kodak papermakers (the last papermachine was dismantled in 2005). I won't go into the details but that book led to lots of questions about the history of the fiber based B&W papers so I wrote a second book in 2007 titled A Guide to the Surface Characteristics, Kodak Fiber Based Black and White Papers. I'm strictly a papermaker (retired). The books are about manufacturing paper support and there is nothing about emulsions, emulsion coating, or photo products (subjects I don't know much about). Both books are available at no charge though I do ask that requesters cover the mailing costs. The mailing cost is $4.60 within most of the US but is as high as $14.00 for some international locations. If you would like a copy or want more info you can contact me at 'KitFunderburk at gmail dot com'. I'll also be happy to try to answer questions here.”

Home made coated paper drying box
February 17, 2008
Many thanks to Marco Boeringa for sharing his invention with us, here and on his website.

Dye Transfer Matrix Film
Thursday, February 7, 2008
My name is Jim Browning. Over the last 10 years or so, I've been involved with resurrecting the Dye Transfer process. This is an excellent process for making color prints. Eastman Kodak used to sell materials up until the mid 1990s, at which point they completely dumped the process (sound familiar?). Not to be denied, I went to the library, and found a book on emulsions by Duffin. Not intimidated due to my ignorance, I threw together a rudimentary emulsion and in one afternoon had made a crude matrix film which actually transferred an image. I probably wouldn't have pursued it further if my initial success hadn't happened.

The only material needed to make Dye Transfer prints that isn't readily available is Matrix Film. This is a film which is unhardened, and contains a yellow dye. The film is exposed either by enlarger, or by contact to form a matrix. This is developed in a pyro developer which hardens, or makes the gelatin insoluble in hot water wherever it has been exposed. Since the film is exposed emulsion down, and the yellow dye absorbs the light the to which the emulsion is sensitized, a relief image is formed. After washing off the unhardened gelatin in hot water, only the hardened areas remain. The matrix is then dyed in dye baths: 3 matrices are used and dyed as Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. These are then rolled into contact with ordinary fiber photo paper (without the silver halides, just the gelatin, and a dye mordant). The result is a beautiful color print, with all the qualities of a B&W fiber print, but in color. Since the dyes mix at the surface of the gelatin layer, there are no complex layers which interfere with the quality of the print. The maximum density can be very high (> 2.70), and when viewed under bright light, the prints can resemble the look of a chrome on a light table. I'm regularly making dye prints for myself, and for others up to 30 x 40".

The first phase of the project was to build a sheet coater. Since I wanted to make sheets large enough to make 30x40" prints, I constructed a traveling slot coater (Extrusion coater) that coats onto a sheet of polyester film which is vacuumed down on a large platen. The coater was motorized, and the emulsion was supplied by 3 funnels on top. This system worked quite well, and I made quite a bit of film myself.

The second phase saw the results of the first phase (a small lab process) applied to factory production of the matrix film. Two colleagues from Germany and myself traveled to Samobor, Croatia. There, we worked with the great people at Fotokemika (Efke Brand) to produce some samples to the same formulation that I developed. Surprisingly, their techniques were very similar to mine, and it scaled very well. We spent a week there and had a great time both working, and being escorted around Zagreb by the director of the company. We took the samples home, and tested them, and they worked well. We had Fotokemika produce 3 miles x 45" of the film, all of which is now sitting in various people's freezers. I'm using the film on a regular basis. This is an example of how a modest project can expand into a factory run, and help to continue a discontinued process. I have found this work to be very satisfying.

If you are interested, there are full details of the project at www.dyetransfer.org . I have listed the formulation of the matrix film, and other information on mixing dyes, and the chemistry needed. Finally, there are pictures and descriptions of the equipment I constructed for the first phase of the project. Since then, I have sold the equipment. I also sold the 1 mile x 50" roll of Melenix 583 film to the Photographer's Formulary. This film is no longer stocked by Dupont, but you can order cut sheets of it from the Formulary - thanks Bud, I think that will prove valuable for people wanting to make their own film.

While you many not be interested in using or making Matrix film, the formulation may be of interest anyway. By hardening the emulsion, and by using a gold sensitizer, and possibly some sensitizing dye additions, I believe the emulsion would make a great taking film.

For more up-to-date information, you can go to www.dyetransfer.org and follow the link to sign up at the Yahoo Dye Transfer forum. If there are any future announcement about film availability, you will see it there. Hopefully a new supply of matrix film will become available in the future.

Regards - Jim Browning

Digital Mask
187 Stevens Rd.
Lebanon, NH 03766



Some Emulsion Literature from Google Books Online
February 3 2008

Kirk Keyes has done some research for us and found a number of books from our literature list available to read from Google Books Online. Look for the links on the Literature List page.

Thanks, Kirk!

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