Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Solarized, or not, it's a matter of time and balance

Pulling a negative - stopping short of complete development - is a common way to control density and contrast, at least in regular darkroom technique. Things were different in a P/N situation such as old T55, and also New55, of which two examples are shown.

The top negative was pulled before the reagent had a chance to run to completion, leaving as-yet undeveloped and fixed silver halide a chance to see the light as we pulled the negative from the positive in room light, providing enough exposure to seriously solarize it.  It's kind of fun to see both ends of the gray scale show as black here!

A more conventional result occurs when the reagent has time to complete the development to the point where a little room light has little effect. Actually, under the bill of the cap, there is that one very unexposed portion of the negative that still had a bit of development to go, and it did, as you can see if you look closely.  Both of these negative are denser than we might want in a finished product, but we think we can fix that.

None of that has much bearing on the tonality of the DTR image, except of course the scales slide up and down, but the tones don't completely reverse.

In designing a P/N product, one has to consider the need for a negative vs a positive and try to achieve a balance. Polaroid never did, as the correctly exposed and processed negative produced a print that was a stop, at least, lighter than it ought to have been. Today we have a chance to correct that, and produce both positive and negative with the right characteristics, if that matters much. I think the negative is far more important and would be content with a positive that was lighter or darker, same as before, but it is tantalizing to think we might solve the longstanding balance problem that T55 had.


papayaspoint said...

As a newcomer user of 4x5 film, i think your results are very auspicious!
Since i'm not the only one that think "negative", I wonder why Polaroid did not try to resolve this annoying feature,seeing that the negative has, in many ways (analogical development and digital processing) a better potential!
I hope you will continue smoothly towards your goal, the perfect P/N.
my best regards

Bob Crowley said...

Possibly it was intentional to make the user expose the negative well, and that helped assure the processing would go to completion, but leaving the DTR process a little bit short. Doing so might reduce the chance of solarizing the negative, as you saw above. The old T55 reagent is a bit on the weak side, compared with what we have today.

Carl Chiarenza said...

Please keep me posted. I have used 55 since it was being tested prior to release.
Carl Chiarenza, Fanny Knapp Allen Professor Emeritus,
and Artist-in-Residence, University of Rochester

Anonymous said...

Carl- now would be a good time to recount your experience during that time so some mistakes might be avoided.

Bob Crowley said...


Anonymous said...

What will the cost-per-sheet of this material be?