HP5 - ABC Pyro - DBI - AZO - Amidol - KRST
If you understood the title to this article (HP5 - ABC Pyro - DBI - AZO - Amidol - KRST), you should consider yourself in an elite group.
This title is shorthand for my 8x10 large format silver chloride contact printing process. I use 8x10 Ilford HP5+ B&W film and I develop the film in ABC Pyro in trays by inspection and I use Lodima Silver Chloride paper (Kodak AZO replacement) that is developed in Amidol and toned with Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner for archival permanence.
If you have ever had the pleasure of viewing one of Edward Weston's 8x10 silver chloride prints then you understand how remarkable and brilliant these prints can be.
Collectors have frequently described 8x10 large format silver chloride prints as "the finest images I have ever seen and they were not only incredibly sharp and detailed, but grain-free with an astounding luminosity, volume, and space with a lovely tonality". I have a very similar opinion and it is my absolute pleasure to continue the proven darkroom methods used by the greats like Weston, Adams, and others.
Edward Weston printed on silver chloride paper for over four decades and collectors and curators to this day continue to describe his prints as having a special glow and depth that are uncommon in any type of fine art print. If you are not familiar with the technical details, then you may not realize that part of the magic is within Weston's choice of the finest materials. What I mean by that is there is nothing better in my opinion for contact prints than a large format negative developed in ABC Pyro and printed on silver chloride paper using Amidol as the developer. This is a very special and unique set of tools to create these very special fine art prints.
While Ansel Adams is frequently known for his large silver gelatin prints, many people have never seen his silver chloride contact prints from the 1930s and 1940s that are described as smashingly exquisite by knowledgable curators and collectors.
Just like Weston, I also use a hand-mixed formula for my developer using Amidol and potassium bromide. I am able to control the general contrast of the prints with my special two-bath development process and the overall color rendering of my prints from a very warm, almost chocolate type of feeling to the deepest and richest blacks you may have ever seen.
I personally find that my blacks are deeper and richer with my ABC Pryo tray-developed negatives when printed on silver chloride paper than with any other combination.
I have also found that ABC Pyro creates a long toe versus Pyrocat HD that creates the upward motion of the scale much quicker. This results in a set of midtones that are very open, long, and brilliant.
I personally feel that ABC Pyro is a great choice when you know you are going to be contact printing. If you think you want to also enlarge from the same negatives, then you may want to consider trying Pyrocat HD or ABC Pyro+ which are formulated for rotary development and I think they enlarge better.
I just talked to Paula Chamlee today and I ordered a box of grade 2 8x10 silver chloride paper. In fact, I got the last box of 250 count number 2 paper that she had in inventory. I have a small box of grade 3 paper that I am currently printing with for those situations when I want even more contrast than is already inherent in the silver chloride/amidol combination. I savor this paper like a bottle of fine wine. I only use it for my very best work and to showcase the images that I am most proud of.
I asked Paula if she thought there would be any more Lodima AZO paper because I want to be able to continue creating these very special prints for collectors. She shared that she is in conversations with some folks that may be willing to take the risk of making some new paper. We need to show our support and help bring this paper to life. We can do that by ordering up the last bit of paper currently available then pledging our support for the new paper. You can connect with Paula directly via email at [email protected]
If you are a photographer, I strongly encourage you to pick up whatever inventory that is left of the current Lodima AZO paper because there is no guarantee another batch will be created in the future.
If it wasn't for the efforts and tenacity of Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee, we simply wouldn't have this type of paper today. "When Kodak Azo, the last of the silver chloride contact-printing papers, was discontinued, we began what became a six-year odyssey to have a new silver chloride paper made. Silver chloride paper is the type of paper that Edward Weston used exclusively, and on which Ansel Adams made his finest prints. Silver Chloride paper has deeper blacks and a longer grayscale than any enlarging paper."
I will be sharing my latest silver chloride 8x10 large format contact prints with you as I continue making them in the coming weeks and months.
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Keywords: Amidol, analog photography, AZO, black and white, darkroom, film, fine art, HP5, Ilford, Kodak, large format, Lodima
I have also searched for a replacement for Kodak Azo and found that Adox also makes a silver chloride contact printing paper. It is called Lupex. Bought a few sheets but haven't tried it. It is also hard to find (only Freestyle Photographic seems to carry it) and it is even more expensive than Lomida.
Here is the description from the Adox website:
Good article. I wasn’t aware this paper was even around. Thanks for the info.
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