Well, I’ve kicked off my adventures in contact printing!
So far I’ve built my light box and am waiting for my first chemical delivery to get it on the go. My first digital negative has been printed – it also includes a calibration step wedge (21 steps). Hopefully that, in combination with my second-hand copy of Dick Arentz’s book will get me off in the right direction.
I’ll update when the chemicals arrive!
And yes! They’re here! Thanks to Photo Gallery International near Tamachi Metro station, Tokyo.
Of course I’m in Japan and have to peer through the Japanese labels to work out what the English underneath says… But I’ve now worked it out and tried a calibration print. Not as easy as it looks on all those YouTube videos.
First of all, coating the paper was a bit tricky. I think that the paper I chose for my test batch was a bit too absorbent. Steaming it (as I saw in one video) might have been the best solution. Another first-time mistake was not to apply enough pressure on the negative, giving a slight blur to some areas of the print. But anyway, it’s only for calibration so it’s not wasted.
So, to use Japanese paper with (at least a little) confidence, I need a few extra items; namely weights (for holding the paper down while coating), felt and a roller (for drying after washing).
On we go and hopefully a reasonable print later on today…
Some of the interesting references and other information I have found are:
Paper buying in Tokyo
So to update, after a few weeks and lots of attempts.
First of all the washi (Japanese tissue paper) is impossible to handle without a lot of experimentation and being set up to use it. It folds, stretches, tears, crinkles… you also need to be sure that you have the right equipment to handle it when wet. I have a great little book I picked up by an expert in Japan (in English and Japanese) but really it’s beyond me for the moment. I might take a course and see if that gets me there but might file under “can’t be bothered” for now.
So, I stepped back and went for something a bit more conventional. In the first instance, Hahnemühle Mould-made Watercolour paper 300 g/m². After a few tries, I finally got a reasonable result.
The actual printing stages are pretty simple. Two sheets of glass and a few bulldog clips, UV strip lights screwed to the inside of a wine box. I just put it all on the floor and try not to step on it for the 6-7 minutes that an exposure takes. Control is currently a normal lamp switch but I am planning to put in a timer shortly.
That said, not perfect results. I think that the paper’s a bit too textured and I’m getting slight blurring. So, now a search for an alternative paper… any suggestions?
Calibration and new paper
It’s been almost 2 years since I first tried platinum and palladium printing. With no satisfactory results, I have decided to start again. A course might have been best but I’m stubborn (although I do ask directions when I’m driving around lost), what more can I say?
So let me take you through this as I go. I have decided to use the calibration methods described on Digital Negatives.
One of the things that nobody seems to say clearly is that you need to reverse the print so that the printed side of the acetate is in contact with the paper – I presume that reduces shadows and leakage due to the thickness of the acetate.
OK, I am finally happy with my results! The steps I have gone through are as follows:
- work out the mixture of Pt/Pd/Fe that I’m going to use, according to the contrast that I’m trying to achieve. So far I have mainly been working with 3 drops Pt at 5%, 6 drops Pd, 6 drops Fe.
- Calibrate as per the Digital Negatives page… although I had to do it by eye as my scanner really isn’t up to the task.
- Print away!
Step 2. is pretty time consuming and getting the contrast curve right requires a reasonable feel for the process. Ultimately the results were extremely pleasing, with a broad but subtle range of tones.
A quick run through some of the physical steps (the non-computer parts) is a follows (these photographs are shown with the kind permission of Nabil Tazi):