As a long time large format and darkroom photographer, I am fascinated by the underlying science to the art of traditional darkroom silver gelatin photography. Photochemistry is an art within the art of darkroom photography.
I am reading the historic literature to include the science and chemistry texts so that I can more deeply understand all of the variables when making silver gelatin emulsions from raw materials. I want to share in my journey to help other photographers with a similar interest and to also be an advocate to help keep the art alive.
I make my own negatives (film, dry plates), calotypes (paper negatives) and I coat darkroom printing papers for my large format contact prints.
While this can be accomplished for a number of formats, my focus is directed towards the gear that I use (4x5, 8x10, and 11x14) view cameras.
This page is a place where I am sharing information that I have researched, my own experiments, and resources that I have found during my journey that I think will help others that want to pursue a similar path. If you know of a good resource, please send it to me and I will post it here.
I share exclusive articles and information like this with my darkroom and large format photography newsletter subscribers.
PHOTOCHEMISTRY BLOG ARTICLES
In 2015 I tested a variety of papers(substrates) ranging from watercolor to vellum to mixed-media to find one or more substrates that would be a reliable source for my modern paper negatives. I explored the process of creating a Chloro-Bromide (ClBr) emulsion. After this experience, I have decided to go back to the basics and create Calotype paper negatives on vellum and use modern silver-gelatin darkroom papers as my paper negative mediums.
I moved off the grid and built a new darkroom in 2016 and I am now fully functioning and organized. I have begun the process of creating silver gelatin emulsions (various formulas) to make dry plates. I am currently making two different variations of the Ammonium Bromide (AmBr) emulsion. I create this classic emulsion with two different spectral sensitivities (the historic color blind variant, and the orthochromatic version).
I settled on glass plates as my substrate because I find it easier to make high-quality negatives in my lab/darkroom vs. using celluloid for film at this time. After I get more experience with emulsion making and coating, I plan to pursue making some large format sheet film and then explore the differences between dry plates and film.
Tip: in the historic literature you will often find liquids measured by cubic centimeter (ccm). 1 cubic centimeter is equal to 1 milliliter.
SILVER GELATIN CHEMISTRY LITERATURE
I am creating a list of literature that I have personally acquired and have either read or in the process of reading to help others learn and understand the scientific underpinnings that constitute and impact the making of silver gelatin emulsions. Also, be sure to refer to the literature list at The Light Farm website.
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Darkroom & Large Format Photography - Alternative Printmaking
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