“Getting started” is a multi-faceted affair. It is profoundly individual. You may be an absolute newcomer to handmade emulsions or an oldtimer. In this business, “oldtimer” is relative. This is a very new old process. If you’ve never made an emulsion, you can take comfort in the fact that you’re not that far behind people who’ve already started. If you are an oldtimer, it can be a great joy that there is still more to learn than time to learn it. POP can be your final goal, or it can be a jumping off point for making additional emulsion materials. The point to appreciate is that we’re all in a different place in our experience levels, but just as importantly, in our geographical locations. Access to basic ingredients varies from country to country. We have different facilities to make emulsions and practice our photography. Some people have elaborate darkrooms and studios and money to spare; others are bare-bones basic. The brand of photographic gelatin that is most available can be different in different places.
DECIDE YOUR GOALS
What attracts you to POP? Do you want to perfect one basic emulsion and one toner and go straight to making portfolio prints? Are you interested in learning several emulsion recipes and toners? Like me, do you love paper and want to test them all? Are you interested in contact printing without a digital negative intermediary? If so, your interest might be directed to contrast control. Are you a digital negative maestro who can develop profiles for different recipes? People will beat a path to your door.
Each ingredient and step in the process has potential variations that can be studied. A list of possible goals could get quite long.
Learn the basics of silver gelatin emulsion making. I’ll regularly post POP literature in this section, starting with page 4, and TLF has an extensive general emulsion making literature list ("TLF Library of Classics") and the book, The Light Farm (vol 1), is free to read in Blurb preview, which has a link on the homepage. The TLF Web Tutorials (on the homepage) are a simple overview of emulsion making.
PULL TOGETHER TOOLS and MATERIALS
This is very individual and depends on your goals. If you are new to emulsion making, don't worry about the details right now. Far better to read and study for a week or two and then start collecting and building. This website and the linked books will give you a good overview. If you have some experience, you probably already have gelatin and silver nitrate. Along the line, you'll at least one halide salt and one organic salt, and gold chloride if you are planning on gold toning.
More details in future segments.
Practice paper coating. I’ve decided that wet paper coating is the only coating technique for me. That’s my bias. Alternative coating techniques are a great potential avenue of research.
The next page lays out the basics of wet paper coating. Denise Ross