New Bergger Print Film For Making Analog Enlarged Negatives
If you have been following me for very long, you probably already know that I like to use 35mm black and white film (Tri-X, FP4, HP5) to photograph the Wild Horses of Missouri.
Because I make platinum as well as silver gelatin contact prints and enlargements, I need negatives bigger than my original 35mm film.
Because the horses are so fast and unpredictable, I need the mobility and flexibility of my Nikon F6 and 600 F4 and 300 F2.8 telephoto lenses to photograph the horses, but I need 8x10 and larger negatives to make my fine art prints and hence the reason for this article.
One of the ways to make a high quality enlarged negative is with print film. It has been a long time since a black and white print film has been available, so when I learned that Bergger was releasing this new film, I was extremely happy. I will explain the reasons for my happiness in the sections below.
Bergger Printfilm is a continuous tone black and white technical film that is blue sensitive for darkroom use with an ISO rating of 3. It is available in sheets from 4x5 up to an amazing 20x24 and even rolls are available.
MAKING ENLARGED ANALOG NEGATIVES
Before I share some key information about the new Bergger Printfilm, I will share how I have been making my enlarged negatives over the last 15 to 20 years.
In a nutshell, you have two options for making enlarged negatives. You can either employ a two-step method where you make an inter-positive and then make the enlarged negative or use a reversal processing method to directly duplicate the original negative.
I have been using Ortho film to make my inter-positives as well as my enlarged negatives developed in diluted Dektol, but now that a high-resolution continuous tone low ISO film is available, this could be a game changer for me and other alternative fine art printmakers.
Due to is slow speed and extremely high resolution it is much more appropriate for use in the darkroom under an enlarger. Faster Ortho film require very short exposures which can range from very challenging to undoable, not to mention the lack of the option to dodge and burn. And panchromatic films like T-Max 100 requires you to work in total darkness and then you are still dealing with the same issues because of the faster ISO rating.
USING THE BERGGER PRINTFILM
Since my source negative is 35mm for my wild horse images, it makes sense to enlarge to 4x5 print film for my inter-positive because I won't really have any loss of quality at that size and I gain the advantage of cropping and adjusting the image placement on the negative. Going from a 2:3 aspect ratio to 4:5, there will naturally be some cropping anyway.
Then I load my 4x5 enlarged inter-positive into my enlarger and then I can make my new negative up to 20x24 with pre-cut sheets of film. Yes, you read that correctly. Bergger is making sheets of this film from 4x5 up to 20x24.
I can control the contrast in each step of the process which makes the workflow capable of being repeatable and consistent.
The Bergger Printfilm is coated on a 175 micron PET base and has a special red colored anti-static layer on the back of the film which is part of the reason for its very high resolution.
The film is mainly sensitive to blue light and it is safe to use under regular darkroom safelights too. The new print film also has an anti-static layer which should help with all those little annoying dust particles that drive us nuts.
The best part is that this film can be developed in film or paper developers and processed manually or in automated processors.
My personal plan is to develop in my DIY formula of Kodak D-76 stock and I will control the contrast via development time vs. via dilution like I would with a paper developer and Ortho film.
As you can see from the film development curve, the contrast index increases with development time.
A good starting place with this film is to rate it at ISO 3 and use Kodak D-76 at 22C and develop in a tray for about 6 minutes for silver gelatin, 7:30 to 8:00 for AZO type emulsions, and about 9:00 to 10:00 minutes for platinum and palladium prints.
I have proper testing to conduct with this film and developer as describe above, but I wanted to share the basics with you and then loop back after I spend some time with this new and unique print film.
In addition to making inter-positives and enlarged negatives as described above, you could even load this ISO 3 film in your large format camera for a totally different look and feeling than modern day panchromatic film.
I am super excite to make some analog enlarged negatives with Bergger Printfilm for my Wild Horses of Missouri platinum prints.
As soon as the new film arrives, I will be using it right away and I will write a new article and share my negatives and platinum prints with you.
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Hi Tim-- I've been using 8x10 sheets of the Bergger print film and noticing thin black lines that do not appear to be related to my handling or processing of the film. Have you noticed anything similar in your processed sheets? I'm thinking this is a flaw in the manufacturing.
Hi Phil, good to hear from you again. Yes, I use the same workflow when I have a 4x5 original negative. I contact print the 4x5 original negative to make the 4x5 inter-positive and then I put the 4x5 inter-positive in the enlarger to make the new 8x10 negative. Just remember that you will be building contrast with each step and double check your grain focus with each step. Keep me posted on how things work out for you.
I have some film in 4x5 and 10x8 now , what would be the work flow for 4x5 ,would it be best to contact print 4x5 interpositive then enlarge to 10x8 neg .I can only handle 4x5 the enlarger .
Hello Mr. Layton,
I read this article, for the first time, last week. Thinking this does not apply, to me, I deleted it. Later I gave it more thought....and realized it certainly does apply to me. I don't have a darkroom....but hoping, and pleased you made the article available a second time.
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