Tuesday, March 30, 2010

FP-3000 negative reclamation

Just for fun today I used my Polaroid 195 to document the state of the lab oven - covered in powder coating material, and a mess, really.  This image is taken from a reclaimed FP-3000b negative. I didn't think it could be done, but it can. The opaque base material is actually a rather good translucent diffuser, and using the now well-known blask mask removal technique, this through transmission scan of the grainy but very fast 3000 speed negative could be made.  Interesting enough, considering the minimal effort. The good news is that the new rangefinder I put on the F3.8 195 appears to be accurate - I focused on the knobs.  Wide open at 1/60th in the dim back lab near the loading dock.

John Chervinsky's Image

John Chervinsky www.chervinsky.org has provided yet another unusual and luscious example of 55 ness and further impetus for the New55 Project. Isn't this an interesting image?  It certainly appeals to my physics department influenced sense of aesthetics, and would fit (contrast) nicely in a 55 show next to some of the others.  The artist's hand and point of view seem to converge in a distribution of particles expressing homage to Picabia, Rutherford,  and Seurat (that's what comes to mind at 5am - I may regret saying it).  This image is a favorite of mine, regardless, or in spite of, interpretive verbiage - don't let the text spoil it, just look at it, larger, by clicking on it.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Acoustic Nanofilm - for sonic imaging

Just a clip about another type of film - Acoustic Nanofilm - that we developed and named "Roswellite" for use in microphones that record loud music. Customers helped playfully name this successful material due to its prized extreme lightness and strength. Roswellite replaced an obsolete fragile and lousy foil material that had fallen from use, and now has been adopted and commercialized by Shure, Inc., the world's largest microphone manufacturer.

I think of microphones and lenses and film in about the same category: the "front end" of the capture process, that which sets the tone for all processes that come after it, and influences how we see, or in this case, hear, and devise ways to express what we want to do artistically, or just for the fun of it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Progress Report

I thought we should wait until the Impossible Project had their very successful film launch before giving some ideas of timelines to New55.

Over the last two months, we have identified large portions of what we think we need for a New55 product. It would be based on an existing emulsion and use a reagent that we have made here in small quantities. One very important part remains and that is the receiver sheet - a component that has been much written about, patented (all expired) and speculated on.  If we follow the usual reverse-engineering course of making this paper I think it is going to take months.  If we find some of the vendors and know how to nail the receiver sheet operation - this is what essentially collects the unexposed silver from the negative - we can accelerate the process.

Many pro users of the T-55 film have contacted me in support of this effort, and some other researchers and interested parties.

So we still need to do a lot:

Film base and emulsion - identified
Spacer mask - dimensions known and parts could be obtained
Reagent - prototyped and tested
Dark Sleeve - vendor development needed but design essentially in hand except for the damned metal clip, but that doesn't seem so hard.
Receiver sheet supply - urgently need basic information on this part
Assembly equipment sleeve - can be outsourced, big tooling cost expected for the package.
Assembly equipment for reagent pod - known and available packaging process, needs vendor development.

After this good start during the months of February and March 2010, we think that April and May could be a period that we have a barely working, hand built bench process to make and test emulsion, reagent and receiver combinations - but we need the receiver sheets to begin that, so today the focus is on breaking that part loose and finding those who might be around who can help us zero in on that component.

Not so bad for a couple of months so at a small private lab that also is working on antennas, acoustics, transducers, nanofilms and other products - the biggest success to date is the enthusiasm, offers for help, and support we have received for the creation of this new art-enabling material,  and the strong indication of demand!


Show demand!  Show results!

Buy, and use, the excellent Fuji FP-100 films.  Give the FP-100c negative reclaiming process a try and bring it to the next level - a NYC show. Stop glowering at your empty 545 and buy a PA-45 back, and use it on your monorail, or Speed. Pick up a great old Polaroid packfilm camera for $10 and show what great photos you can make. Buy the Impossible Project's SX-70 film, and go out and noisily shoot it in public.  Point out the obvious differences between wonderful convenient digital and wonderfully convenient, direct and superb instant.  By keeping instant photography in public view,  voting with your wallet, (especially Fuji and Impossible) and showing what can be done with it, we improve our chances that this particular form of analog photography will stabilize, and continue to be an option for creative expression well into the future.  This helps maintain the environment needed to make New55 a commercial reality, and it's fun to do.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Polly Chandler's "Forest"

Polly Chandler very generously asked what she could do to help the cause of getting new55's nascent, field processable material into the hands of artists now that our beloved 55 supplies are diminishing.  I believe that just showing others fine work such as this example "Forest" is a powerful enough way to convince the collaborators and other companies that there is good reason, very good reason, for us to persist in our effort. Larger file available by clicking on the image. More of our favorite images at http://www.pollychandler.com

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Polaroid Cafeteria, Waltham MA, March 20, 2010 "Paisley is a Rat"

Today we did manage to find a precarious spot along a steep part of Bear Hill Road to take some quick snaps of the old, pettered, Polaroid buildings in Waltham, MA, which is near here.  As you can see in this photomatix perturbed and disturbed image, the old Polaroid plant is abandoned, broken into, and covered in graffiti.

"Paisley is a Rat" and "ICH" along with many other adornments  above pried-open doors with who-knows-what lurking inside.

All very conspicuous along the old Route 128 - the Miracle Mile of Massachusetts (now Route 95) and appearing in this treatment more like an old Howard Johnson's post card, nostalgic and quaint, at a distance at least. How horrible this must be for those who devoted their careers in these buildings, to see them in such utter decay, permanently and unrevivably pettered for history, like the lost books of the libraries of Alexandria, burned and dimly remembered.

Think of this on Monday, when some better news may greet us, and what it may mean for the many who labored with dyes, caustic reagents, and at times, unreasonable demands,  in years past.  For those with a forensic eye and who like to pick over corpses, I have uploaded a bigger version here, that you can click on.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Lab work

I sure got sidetracked this week working on things in the lab unrelated to instant negatives. I did however refix a less than cleared negative that was originally processed in reagent A3 and managed to dissolve out some additional unexposed silver. This once again underlined to me the important double role that a nucleating receiver layer plays in the overall production of a well processed stable and cleared negative.

No further information on production of receiver paper has shown up in my email as I had hoped. There are dozens of patents and each have another dozen formulas, none that look simple. Yet there is that nagging feeling that it is really very easy, if you have experience. Before I venture off in the dark in that area I will wait just a little longer and see who, and what, show up. It would be very helpful if you could please ask your friends who might have "the knowledge" of receiver paper, while I refine the reagent.

Actually, I am pretty sure about the reagent and the emulsion, already! Getting the reagent onto the emulsion, neatly, might require the familiar pod approach, which I admit I am less well schooled. But 20 X 24 does it with their reagent, so perhaps a field trip to look at it might be in order.

In the meantime, using quite a lot of Fuji FP-100C45 to document inventions at the lab, and paste into the notebook, just like we did in the old days. The colors from the Fuji instant seem to astonish people who I show my lab notebook to. I got wows all around today.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Music Break


Sometimes we need to see or hear something very familiar to us in a new way, just to help break some ideas loose.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Trouble with Reagent A3

Monobath A3 is something close to the reagent used in 55. While not yet as viscous, the pH, ratio of developer to solvent and hypo, and the processing times are converging. This is another 2 minute brew. You can see what we were concerned with in this intentionally underexposed negative shot of a black subject. TMY exposed at 400 off the surface of the blacker than 18% camera.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

This is the most fun ever

Just a note to say that the last 8 weeks have been the most fun I have had in a long time.  Today I enjoyed the magic of seeing a freshly developed image in Monobath A3 - the thick stuff!  Soon we will have real caustic goop, almost like the real thing. 

Thanks to all for your interest which I appreciate very much. What a great bunch of interested, artistic and innovative people.

Even though the results from Reagent A3 are fogged, I am still having some fun playing with the results.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

HDR (High Dynamic Range) is probably a misnomer and should be called CDR

As you can see here if you enlarge it I have used the trick of combining three exposures with +/- 2 f stops difference using a technique called tone mapping found in photoshop and Photomatix (shown here).  This is a very useful technique. However, lots of people are referring to this technique as HDR, or high dynamic range photography. I think this is probably wrong and should be referred to as Compressed Dynamic Range or CDR imaging, when presented on limited dynamic range screens, papers, printings etc.

The reason I am so sure about this is from my experience with music recording, some of it linked here in 640 plus posts about microphones. (in case you are remotely interested). In that field, the recording device is capable of recording a dynamic range far exceeding the playback equipment.  Audio clipping - the same concept as white clipping - creates a very harsh and unpleasant sound in the digital environment.  That's where gain leveling and finally the dark art of music mastering come in - so the music will fit in the "channel".  Same as the paper, screen or printed page, the channel is limited, sometimes severely, such as an MP3, or Sirius downlink.

Compressed Dynamic Range

Anyway, CDR is what is shown, above. Just an open garage on a sunny day. CDR can look pleasant and reasonably natural, eliminating the clipped highs (except on the left car) and the all-black detail-less shadows. I think CDR is going to be a standard feature in fast, burst shooting point and shoot cameras very soon, but they will still call it HDR.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Answers to Fuji Pack Instant Film Questions (while we are waiting for New55)

The smaller Fuji instant pack films that are the same size as the 100 series pack films include

  • FP-100B iso 100 Black and White
  • FP-100c iso 100 Color (like Pro-vivid)
  • FP-3000b iso 3000 speed black and white. (like 667)

These all fit instant backs such as the Polaroid 405 back - the one I use on a Speed Graphic.  Also  they work very well with any of the thousands of old Polaroid folding and hard bodied pack film cameras including The Reporter and many many others, and fit in all of the Polaroid backs made by Mamiya, and all of the scope cameras.  Excellent for pinhole conversions.

For more money, about twice as much, the first two films can also be bought in 4X5 that require a different holder known as a PA45.

The larger, more expensive 4X5 pack films

  • FP-100b45 iso 100 black and white instant film 4X5"
  • FP-100c45 iso 100 color instant film 4X5" - with bleach recoverable negative

Is there and FP-3000b45? I thought I did see it listed, but have not found it for sale.  However, in Japan, there are more listed here in this link than any I have seen in the US, including the 400 and 500 speed B&W film.

I really like the FP-100c45 a lot! I have shopped around and found the 4X5 material as low as about $16 a pack when bought in 5 or more. This is a good price considering the convenience and the size of the print you get, with a reclaimable negative. Some retailers charge twice as much but I think the prices are going down as more people discover how excellent Fuji instant pack film is for artistic purposes and more of it comes into the US. I know this sounds like an ad but I am enthusiastic about this material and want others to try it. That might encourage Fuji to take the next step and offer an instant packfilm black and white negative material, which would be most welcome.

This and the FP-100b45 work in the PA-45 Fuji processor and also the Polaroid 550 backs - both fit spring backs too, as they are quite slim, Graflok backs, and have dark slides. Very handy. I have not found a 4X5 that won't take these. The Busch Pressman is a good example of a hand holdable high quality 4X5 camera that can make excellent use of these films.

I have seen listed but not found the 3000 speed film in the 4X5 format.

All the Fuji peel apart instant films except the 3000 speed have negatives on clear bases with bleach removable masks. It is easy to get a decent negative that is pretty sharp from the FP-100c and I do it all the time. In fact it has become one of my favorite films - the reds especially, deep, intense and slightly glowy, but overall sharper and less bluish than Polaroid - still without reddish skin tones.

The Fuji positive color print is generally sharper than Polaroid was. The color negative is unique and has decent sharpness though certainly not on par with standard negative emulsions. But, it is easy to recover and seems ideal for scanning. Scannability is a key feature in some new Kodak films.

Very much recommended. I buy this stuff by the case and use it with my Speed Graphic and an F2.8 Xenotar mounted in a Copal No. 3 shutter, or with an Aero Ektar F2.5. These big lenses seem to like those films as much as I do.

Shoot in analog, Share in digital!

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Works great with Fuji FP100c!

As you probably know, the rollers were of particular importance and emphasis at Polaroid and all but the very cheapest cameras used very well-machined and precise stainless steel rollers, same as found in a 405 or other later film back. When used with the three Fuji packfilms, even the simpler old Polaroid folders produce sharper images than ever - especially when used with FP-100c. As I recall, Polaroid Pro Vivid was nearly the same.

Old Film Processing

Monobaths A1 and A2 have produced such low fog and good results on these ancient, 20-25 year old exposed films that I feel confident about processing even older black and white negative film, so if you have a roll or two, send them along.  I'll process it for free - with no guarantee that anything will develop - and scan them in here for research purposes and for fun, and I will send you the negatives. The older the better!

Verichrome Pan in Monobath A2

I bought a "vintage, exposed roll" of Verichrome 127 film from an ebay vendor in England who retrieved the roll from an old Yashica 44.  One frame was exposed, but the rest, sadly,  are blank.  Here we see that the image was exposed sometime after 1983, as that appears to be a 1983 Nissan Sentra, right hand drive, in the image.  Uploaded here as a larger, clickable file, so you can see it in a little more detail.

Verichrome pan is a dye sensitized thin emulsion film - though I am not sure what they mean by "thin".  The base + emulsion measures exactly 0.004".

Interesting scene of an English semi-detached, perhaps on Easter or some occasion, with the family out front.

Just processed this morning, and scanned-in minutes ago. 10 minutes at 75F in Monobath A2. 20-30 year latent image!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Position opening - consultant

We have a position opening for a temporary consultant on the New55 Project.  If you are local and feel you may have experience or knowledge that would accelerate the development of the products involved, please contact us.  You need not be a PhD or even an engineer to make a valuable contribution. We maintain a friendly and very interesting work atmosphere in our small R&D facility in Ashland, MA.  This is a temporary assignment with responsibilities tailored to experience and know how.  We are not attempting to duplicate Polaroid materials but specific experience and development with manufacture of films, reagents, packaging and assembly equipment with similarities to those used in the production of Type 55 materials are desired. Please contact Bob Crowley by email (see column to the right) or simply pick up the phone - 508-231-4515.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How to make receiver paper for DTR

Link here

APUG Forum Post I keep re-reading

Here is a link to a key post by Jackson which, among other things, reminds me that I still have not found clear descriptions of preparing colloidal silver for receiver sheets, but what he says is tantalizing.

Here is the link

Here is an excerpt from Jackson:

The receiving paper doesn’t necessarily have to be fixed out photographic paper or film. Land discusses sodium sulphide and heavy metal salts like lead as silver precipitating nuclei on the receiving sheet, but colloidal silver may be preferable in the home darkroom. I haven’t found a clear, simple and practical description of Carey Lea’s dextrin method of preparing colloidal silver, in which a solution of silver nitrate is gradually added to a solution of sodium hydroxide and starch. The precipitate is then allowed to settle, and the liquid poured off, possibly after alcohol is added. If you could calculate the right quantities, you might to be able to mix a stock solution which could go directly into the Barnes and Johnston thickened monobath formula above, or a 1% gelatin solution for coating on paper. Example 1 in US patent 4888267 gives a similar but far more complex procedure, with completely unrealistic quantities.