Thursday, April 29, 2010

Three Month Report

I'll be putting together a summary of what has transpired over the three months since this project got underway, comment on the technical progress, other findings of interest, and also the marketplace activity surrounding the use if instant film materials now being offered or proposed.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

What is PCR?

Here is a link that explains PCR and what it is used for. You probably have an idea of how important it is in forensics, as DNA evidence, by watching NCIS and in medicine and research. PCR uses disposables and reagents, along with film.

PCR stands for polymerase chain reaction.

If you are interested on how I proposed to incorporate this with photonic (photo) technology, click here.

Gel based electrophoresis and PCR require various types of equipment, the simplest being a charged tank that can often be about 4x5 inches of gel or larger that works a lot like what we used to refer to as chromatography. All of this happens, usually, in a lab. C.B.S Scientific is a company that sells this type of equipment.

The results, like this, need to be recorded somewhere. An ordinary piece of film can be used, or some digital image capture device. Gel based electrophoresis isn't always very contrasty so the recording medium needs to have sufficient greyscale in order for the results to be easily interpreted.

From the ad copy: 667 film is designed for use in electrophoresis, photomicrography, photomacrography, oscillography, computed tomography, ultrasonography, and nuclear medicine. 667 is also used in preparation of real estate ads and for instant documentation in law enforcement, insurance, building construction, and architectural design.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

ISO 3 Direct Positive Paper from Harmon Announced

This is interesting and something I want to try in a view camera - Harmon's new Direct Positive paper.
ISO 3 sounds a bit slow, let's see, that's about 4 and a half stops slower than Velvia 50 - I can deal with that, maybe not for action shots, but with the big Aero Ektar, f2.5 at 7", this could be a lot of fun.  Now to figure out from who and how to order it.

About two years ago Harman and Polaroid were discussing moving sheet film to Harman's UK plant: Here's what I picked up online

April 18th, 2008, Mobberley, Cheshire UK and Minnetonka, MN, USA -- HARMAN technology Limited and its monochrome brand, ILFORD Photo and Polaroid Worldwide have been in discussions about ILFORD Photo taking on production of Polaroid's black and white professional instant sheet film. Despite their best efforts, together the prospective partners have determined that they can not find a commercially viable way forward.

HARMAN's Chairman and Managing Director, Phil Harris said. " The processes involved in the manufacture and assembly of professional instant sheet film products are very demanding and it would require substantial investment to re-establish them at HARMAN technology's site in Cheshire, England. When compared with current and projected sales for the products, it was clear that such an investment could not be justified."

Phil Harris continues: " While we had hoped to work together on continuing the production of instant sheet film, it is cost prohibitive to meet the declining demand. As a company, we are saddened that such an inspirational form of expression will disappear, but we will always remain staunchly committed to the long term future of monochrome photography in all its facets and we will continue to do everything we can to support it".

Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :

Another Speed Graphic - chopped for WA

This Speed Graphic (Anniversary type) had a bad mechanism so it got chopped down and shortened to accept a 65mm Super Angulon.  I still have not found a rangefinder or any finder I can use with it.  The leatherette was stripped off, and the baseboard got a leather cover.

I chose the Anniversary because the bed has a bigger drop, and, the focusing rail has more usable space inside the linked, bendable area.  This makes it possible to use this lens without a picture of the bed in every image.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The cure for a dried coater

The Polaroid print coaters that you might find that have all dried out can apparently be saved.

The ingredients in the coater consist of zinc acetate, acetic acid, and methanol.  I had no methanol, but tried using one dropper-full of isopropyl rubbing alcohol 91%, plus one drop of acetic acid (indicator stop bath - be careful with that stuff), which I put into the container, as you see.

After a few minutes the wonderful perfume scent we remember returned, and apparently the acetate dissolved from its hardened state, producing the sticky spreadable consistency that you would expect. Glacial acetic acid might be better, along with methanol. We don't want our prints to turn purple. Unlikely. This concoction seems ok also.

On the left, a New55 dark sleeve with some exposed film in it newly attached to the metal clip from an Old 55 sheet sent in by one of several helpful people. More progress.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The primary test camera in the lab

Once in a while I get asked what cameras we have, so here is a shot of the venerable and trusty Speed Graphic that I use the most.  This is the Pacemaker Speed Graphic, and it has a focal plane shutter, a Kalart rangefinder, a modified tilt-swing front standard, a graflok type back, and various lenses. The one shown is a Schneider Xenotar 150mm f2.8 mounted in a Copal No. 3 shutter.  Yes, this is a big bright eye.

One of the great things about the Speed Graphic is the focal plane shutter. This allows you to mount any lens with or without a shutter and make a picture with it. Or, you can put a pinhole on it.  There are hundreds of lenses that you can get for free that will produce Holga-like images using a camera like this.  Many of the followers of this blog already know about Speed Graphics, but some might not have yet.

Speed Graphics are very versatile and inexpensive. You can mount various Polaroid and Fuji backs, rollfilm backs, and even sheet film! That was a joke.  The famous Polaroid 545 back is the one that takes Type 55 and has built in rollers to burst and spread the reagent pod. That back fits in these cameras.

There are thousands of spare parts for it in every country. You can focus on the ground glass. Or, you can use the rangefinder and one of two viewfinders. The bellows extends far enough for closeups, and the bed tilts down for wide angle lenses and for some tilt.  With a smaller standard lens, it all folds up into one solid box and strap handle that you could fight your way out of a mod riot with.  People always look and smile at it, and it reminds them of old movies.  It looks complicated but you can fix virtually anything on it yourself.  In the old days, people converted it to an enlarger.  Today, new uses for testing reclaimable Fuji negatives are being explored with it.

If I was only allowed one camera forever, if I had to choose, the Speed Graphic would be it.

It had a huge influence on the design of Polaroid cameras like this converted 110a (left) that now accepts Type 100 Packfilm. These are everywhere and many are still in use. Notice the exposed rangefinder on the Polaroid camera which is a lot like the Kalart on the Speed. The original 110 Polaroid actually used a Kalart rangefinder.

Yesterday I was musing about the possibility of chopping a Fuji Instax camera which is finally available cheap to fit on the back, and be able to shoot integral film with a big lens.

Triple Dip!


Monday, April 19, 2010

The Sky is Bluer

After 9-11 we noticed an immediate improvement in the color of the blue sky which became vivid, saturated and absent contrails and haze, when all air traffic was halted.

The air cleared at the Beijing Olympics, getting better through the course of the games as traffic was halted, and on the last days, the skies were the clearest anyone could remember.

In the last four days of this April week, high altitude air traffic over the Northeast is reduced due to the Iceland volcano and cancellation of flights to parts of Europe. Today we witnessed the same vivid blue skies unlike any we have seen since 9-11. No contrails or haze, just fluffy white clouds among a perfect blue. We saw people with their eyes skyward.

Air travel has become more expensive, uncomfortable, crowded and unpleasant. One can imagine a time in the not-too-distant future when the price of oil is about $250 a barrel, and an air ticket to from London to Boston is about $2500.

How blue will the sky be then?

Andreas Rentsch - T55 process

In this unusually poignant video with the work of Andreas Rentsch, the trans-formative and often uncontrollable properties of film are part of the magic we all experience and appreciate, here revealed in an unexpectedly purposeful way.

A special Thank-you

Aaron is just one of the several who have sent various forms of castoff and expired materials to greatly accelerate the New55 Project at Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc.

It is quite exciting to see "New55Project" on a UPS label (yes I know I should get out more).

We got a lot of those metal clips too and that has been a real time saver because we would otherwise have to have a tool designed and made to produce this trivial part. The current design idea is to use a piece of plastic and not a metal clip.  One mock up uses folded Fresca can aluminum and ordinary staples which pass right through and hold the film sheet nicely!  But Fresca cans are too thin, really, and produce a sharp edge.  Can't have that.

A wonderful insight occurred when we opened up some really moldy leaky 55 from Lou and found the metallic silver on the negative shiny and bright and the negative colored like exotic marble from mold.  Suddenly dawn broke over the cerebral cortex and we realized we could make a simpler system and eliminate a lot of parts.

That receiver sheet is still a mystery.  I grilled and interrogated everyone I could collar at this weekend's PHSNE photo show and old gear extravaganza and came up with some ex-Pol people but none who knew the slightest about receivers.  It is almost like the core to all of 55 was based on this one technique that we know is in broad daylight,  in several patents, but which one?

Type 690 film available

For those with passport, license, company ID and other equipment that is labeled :Use Type 690 Film" we have an even better film choice, IMO, than before - repackaged FP-100c. It is being sold somewhere here at a not bad price.

Several naive people have thought that this was somehow deceptive - as if "orange flavored" or "New55" means real orange juice or Waltham Polaroid T55.  It cannot be.

You might get the same film in the Fuji packaging for a little less cost if you shop around, which you may want to do if you want to reclaim negatives -  then the short-dated stuff appears to have a slight edge in the reagent streaking department.

Here is a link to the discussion on Flikr. Contrary to the few who misunderstand, it is of course comforting to realize that there are enough industrial, education, business, government and scientific users of material such as "690 type instant film" so that that Fuji can justify its continued production.  Bureaucracies everywhere spec out "type 690" and have it in their systems. "Art and hobby photographers" need to understand that.

But I think, and sincerely hope, you realize this is great news - a smaller marketplace populated with various rebrands and some new brands such as TIP, is a sign of health and interest, and maybe even profitability.  Somebody went to the trouble of getting this high quality material into a channel that was empty, which means more people will get it, the manufacturers will benefit, and we will too, as instant photography regroups.  Polaroid as we knew it is gone - if you think 690 Type Film is somehow fake, then you might not want to keep calling all those Fuji FP100c and Instax images on flikr "polaroids" any longer.  TIP isn't Polaroid either, nor is New55.  Over and out.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Michael Kirchoff's Images

I think in useful contrast to the previous figure studies, these dramatic, moody and dominating images of Russian architecture by Micheal Kirchoff are also good examples of the versatility and manipulability, if I can use that word, inherent to the 55 aesthetic.

There are images from the glass-plate era that I viewed in Nizhny-Novgorod once, by Karelin, that document a more classical straight-on view of this  kind of subject matter, well-corrected in the style of Italian Renaissance linear perspective.

Kirchoff's images are far more immediate than Karelin's and much more engaging and successful. Yet they are serious, I think, abstract, and drew me in to imagine myself in Kirchoff's place.

Add these wonderful images to our assertions and reasons for field processable analog materials of the future.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Reagent No. 4

Mixing, mixing and more mixing of gel-like goo containing the special ingredients needed to convert a sheet of plastic into a figure study, a landscape, or a portrait.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

New55 Theme Song Launch Party Today

The piece entitled "The New55 Theme Song" officially launches today and is available for public distribution by individuals, bloggers, and others when used in conjunction with press releases, commentary and any reference to the mission areas of New55, Soundwave Research Laboratories, Inc. RabbitSwitch (tm), and RFvenue (tm).  Copyright 2010 Robert J Crowley/Soundwave Research TV and Film Brand. All rights reserved.


Here is the link

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Calibration and Reference

Looking at this blog and its images on different screens got me thinking about how it looks on your screen.  Mainly I use a Macbook Pro with LED backlighting which is generally brighter than the fluorescent LCD monitor we use at the lab CAD station, and has a different look.  This Kodak-generated guide image is meant for print but I think it is handy because it is easy to discuss. Do you find the cello a bit on the intense orange side? I do. How about the yellow necklace? That looks a bit saturated.  Where do 90-95 greys fall on your screen? They are well gradated but slightly compressed. Is the red vest as saturated as the red rectangle to the right? Not on this screen. Is the leftmost model's forehead washing out? Here it almost does, but never goes all the way. How about the white headband on the center model? Washed out here, slightly.  Saturation in general is strong when seen full size, but looks more natural as a thumbnail.

Your thoughts are solicited.  This image has more contrast, here, than most of what I scan and post, and about the same contrast as the digis used in the Fuji Negative tutorial. Sorry for the bother, but it will help get our eyes in order ahead of showtime.

Call the first number

Today, an inquiry came back with an unconfirmed suggestion that Polaroid the present entity (Corp., Inc. or whatever - don't know) has retained process info for some analog films.

That could simply mean somewhere in a file there are some records, drawings etc. that someone might think is valuable enough to not send to the dumpster. Hard to tell.

Separately, but also today,  Lou Barranti, New55Project helper and reader, sent along some very old 55 in this box with the graphic and phone numbers as shown. More on the invaluable contribution by Lou and the insight it provided today, in an unexpected way, a few posts later.

Meanwhile, after casually looking over the box Lou sent clips, leaky pods and good receiver sheets in, and noticing the quaint graphic with the interesting details,  I called the second "to order" number and got the "out of service" recording.  No surprise.

Then I dialed (remember dialing?) the first number,  "more information" and am intrigued by what plays.

That recording isn't there for just fun - someone is certainly gauging interest, and counting calls.

It's toll-free, but WATS lines (Wide Area Telephone Service, or 800 numbers) do cost money to keep in service.  Chances are it is US-only.  Every call might be a vote in our favor.

Reclaimed FP-100C45 negative without correction or manipulation

Shot of Alisha yesterday using the Xenotar 2.8, fluorescent lighting, no manipulation or correction, this Fuji FP-100C45 reclaimed negative scanned in quickly.  The texture is from the new paper towels that did a little selective lifting.

Here is a link to a big file that shows the possibilities, and the limitations of this interesting material.  OK enough of this - please go try it - back to the matters at hand here.  Or, if you want to find out about things you never knew even existed, or at least I didn't, visit Aaron Muderick's blog, which will lead you to jumping spiders, X-RAY vision, Thinking Putty, and why to process E6.

Poll Results: Have you or do you plan to use Impossible's PX-100?

Yes I have
  18 (30%)
Definitely plan to
  23 (38%)
I might try it
  13 (21%)
No interest in this film
  6 (10%)

Votes so far: 60
Poll closed

Monday, April 12, 2010

What I did today

Another one of these confounded Kodak Aero Ektars came my way, and needing a proper mount, I remachined some PVC pipe to make a kind of clamp that could be screwed onto a Speed Graphic lens board with a big hole bored into it.

That's my beloved South Bend Lathe, 10" toolroom type, once owned by NASA. 

Three More Reasons Why - Zoe Wiseman

Here is an embarrassment of riches, really. LA photographer Zoe Wiseman  generously sent several images done with 55 including this Triptych1 that I think encompasses many if not all the qualities we admire, including but not limited to; tonal range, resolution, flattering skin tones, detail, texture  - - not to mention fun, humor, wit and time. Time? Yes of course, the ability to see nearly as being done, with a short delay, may allow some changes to be made, some subtle, others not so subtle!

Here I go again playing art critic - please indulge me so my frustrating years in art school will not have been totally wasted:

The case for a field-processable, high quality monochrome negative film in 4X5 or perhaps even 8X10 isn't hard to make among the 55 aficionados - we already know that. But what is happily evolving is a strong demand, from artists, art collectors, fashion designers, art editors, curators and other interested parties, for the continuance, and furtherance, of the enabling powers afforded by this unique product or something like it.  It is good stuff, but also by its very imperfection and manipulable tendencies, which often read like an archive of the artistic process, we can follow this series (not knowing the sequence except as told by the artist) in a way not nearly as well expressed by digital's "metadata" - don't you think?  Do you agree?  I know we can't ask everyone to toss their new 5D MKIIs, but we can ask them to notice the optical/chemical/magical processes for a while longer, at least.

Whether this is persuasive to the likes of Fuji or Impossible remains to be seen, but one could imagine it is, or at least might be, as we build the consensus, show that market demand, and be ready with the needed know-how to make it happen.

Or we'll just do it ourselves, implement improvements, and snatch this opportunity.

These are not negatives

...but they are what I get when I strip the black mask off monochrome FP-100B's "negative".

If you compare with the adjacent post, you can see that here, black is still black er, and other colors are apparent.

FP-100B is completely different than FP-3000B, which is more like conventional 667.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Monochrome FP-100B is no slouch

Even without a decent negative to reclaim, the black and white packfilm made by Fuji labeled FP-100B and FP-100B45 are quite respectable. The original I have here is nearly luminous, not well represented on the screen or scanned, but with some work it might have been.

Click on the image and fill your screen.

The sharpness is fairly good as well, and you can easily tell it is sensitive to reds, and less so to blues by comparing it with the color digi in the adjacent post.

Speaking of negatives, unlike the Fuji FP-100C below and its fine negative, the FP-100B isn't really a negative at all! More like some weirdly toned half positive with colors and all kinds of things going on.  Look at this and see.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fuji FP-100C Negative Reclamation

NEWS: An all-new Instant Film is being developed. You can be a part of it at New55 and participating in the Kickstarter effort, and by telling others on Facebook, Twitter and in forums. We really need your help on this. Countless photographers have enjoyed and made use of the information here, now we ask you to pitch in on this historic and important effort.  Please go here now!

Thank you

Bob Crowley

Here's the sequence I use  - shoot, peel and let the negative dry completely. I don't touch it or try to clean it or rinse it.

Trim the negative and place it face down on clean glass

Use good quality gaffer's tape, all around, overlap a little, making sure the seal is very complete so bleach won't get underneath.

Three layers of folded paper towel are placed over the back of the negative now

And add some thick bleach - not too much, just wet it all over.PDATE UPDATE - Tobias Feltus has improved this process by using THICK BLEACH which works in a shorter time and does not require the pressing and waiting. I will post the exact THICK BLEACH brand when I find it. in the meantime, continue...

Lay a plastic bag on top and using a print roller, spread the bleach, pressing the soaked paper towel firmly onto the back of the negative.

Some weighty objects on top! I like to wait a couple of minutes.

Remove the weights and the plastic. Swipe off the black gob with the wet paper towel - it comes off very easily as the bleach has had plenty of time to react with the black mask and dissociate the material. I don't try to get all of it now because the sodium hypochlorite remaining is minute and scrubbing can scratch the substrate.

Clean the rest with glass cleaner, lightly and completely. This is a better way for final cleanup, after the bleach has softened all the goo. A nice shiny surface without residue. PLEASE DO NOT WRITE ME SAYING THAT CHLORINE GAS IS PRODUCED HERE - IT IS NOT.  A very small amount of chloramine may be produced. This is what is used in swimming pools. Now back to the program:

Peel up the tape carefully and enjoy your scanner-ready results. Check out the detail and sharpness! This is easy, and fun. Enjoy Fuji FP-100C!Thanks to Tobias Feltus for first alerting me to this process. Also check out THIS LINK.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Message from The Impossible Project

Very impressive. And it seems this is just the start. We are certainly in an age where there is a culture that can be supported by more enlightened industry. This had to be done without cynicism and with exceptional courage and vision. Playfulness mitigates that risk and realizes the value - instantly!

The upside is hard to predict, coming from such a disrupted market that has always been driven by creativity, innovation, and discovery. It is impossible to predict.

Click on the image for a better view.

Congratulations are in order. BUY THIS FILM

Sunday, April 4, 2010

My Rangefolder Cameras - a blog that I like

After suffering some reagent burn this weekend showing a skeptical friend the benefits of FP-100C coming out of a Polaroid 195, then going for a walk in the woods with just my digi and being reminded about the benefits of hand holdable 4X5 cameras, I thought I should mention this blog that I like, and end this run-on sentence, or give you a link, like this.

Back to the basics - Rogers and Land

Howard Rogers was Land's genius co-inventor and the person who devised the the first Polaroid instant color film.

This 1955 patent discusses receiver sheets - a topic of high interest, and it discloses steps that we can carry out.

Read it all, here.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Photo Engineer's succinct 2008 post, with comments

Photo Engineer
06-16-2008, 07:45 PM
I did not see this post when it went up over a month ago. I was in Montana at the Formulary.

I can say that Kodak did develop some products for Polaroid, because even though Land was a genius at inventing, his engineers did not have production coating machines nor did they have emulsion formulas and so Kodak developed a series of products for him including some B&W and color products. I do not know which ones.

The pod contains either KOH or NaOH as alkali along with restrainer and carboxymethyl cellulose (Unflavored Citrucel to US people :D ). There are also some developers and silver halide solvents. The film sheet is a film sheet but the reciever sheet is a special thing which forms the positive print. The whole thing is like a monobath.
Bob says: Yes almost, it is KOH and/or  LiOH, sodium sulfite, developer and cellulose - as stated, and not difficult.
The receiver sheet is indeed a special thing - that we need to figure out still.  That receiver is the key to controlling the DTR rate and producing the fine negatives we want.

In addition, the package contains rails to keep the distribution of pod goo even over the width and length of film, and the pod has dividers to promote even spread and burst when pressure is applied.
Comment: Very important but doable geometry in my view. Polaroid did the hard part with the roller designs. Also we do not necessarily have to use burst and spread.

Filling a pod is a very exact and complex process and assmbling a pack is very expensive with some rather complex equipment involved.
Comment: Probably the most expensive part of any product is the assembly and packaging of the components.  However, the equipment does not have to be very complex, and I think even Polaroid did some hand loading of the film.

Hope this helps.
Sure does


from the 55 pod MSDS