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Rainy Days — Desperation Photography

March 29, 2011

It rains and rains and rains. Thirteen inches and counting for the month. We'll see fourteen inches by Thursday night &mdash thirty inches total for the year so far. And me dying to try a new recipe! I'm generally not a still life photographer, but that seemed to be the only option. Not even my stuffed animals want to go out in the rain. I cleared some bench space in the greenhouse, stuck a 60 watt plant light in a reflector, and put a bowl of hellebore flowers on a seed sorting light box to photograph with a Pentax 67 and 100 mm macro lens.

Up until now, I've been putting 'TLF#1' emulsion on the Melinex film. Each time out, I've tweaked it a bit, trying for a bit more speed than its natural ~ASA 6. The dark and windy days seem to favor that goal. But, I think the last batch went about as far as I can go with time and temperature tweaks. It got a little grainy and picked up a little fog &mdash not worth the half stop speed I may have gained. High time for a new recipe.

It's been a couple of years since I worked with 'TLF#2' and I never took it as far as I wanted. I figure this is as good a time as any to pick that research back up. I made the recipe, with a couple of changes, and without gold sensitization. I watched the times and temperatures like an obsessive-compulsive hawk, and will call this the base recipe. Next time out, I'll add one drop of Steigmann's gold sensitizer, and keep adding one additional drop per successive recipe until I get unexceptable fog. At that time, I'll update 'TLF#2' on the website.

I am more than satisfied with this initial test recipe. Larger grain than with 'TLF#1', as would be expected from a full-ammonia recipe, but very clean. Even without sensitization, it sits at about ASA 20 for the current time-and-place UV conditions. 'Hellebores in a Bowl' was shot at 1 sec and f/5.6. I scanned the negative at 4000 dpi and the only adjustment was application of 'auto levels', then -5 contrast. The really good news is that my comet prevention protocol is probably about right. I had two comets on ten rolls of film. As finals: 5 ml Everclear, 1 drop Photo-flo 600 and 2 drops Photo-flo 200. Coating temp:34°C.

(An update note on Melinex 535 availablity: I think the details are almost worked out. I'll post them the minute I know for sure.)

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