How-to: Make DIY your personal black and white transparencies (slides)

In case you are studying this text, you’re a eager movie photographer and have almost certainly skilled the fun of movie pictures throughout a spread of movie varieties, similar to monochrome or color negatives and color transparencies. However black and white “slides”? Whoever heard of that?

Return 55 years to the time once I was a child, black and white films, black and white “movie strips” have been an on a regular basis occasion. You could possibly borrow a journey or cartoon “movie strip”, (invariably black and white transparencies) from the native library, load it up on the household slide projector, then spend hours marveling on the gorgeous monochrome photographs.

Black and white transparencies aren’t consigned to the historical past books, nonetheless. By the tip of this piece, I hope to enthuse you to experiment with DIY black and white transparencies from typical black and white unfavourable movie, and expertise the enjoyment of making your personal gorgeous photographs.

Right here’s a sneak peek on the closing end result!

Producing your personal it isn’t going to interrupt the financial institution — it simply takes a little bit of persistence, organisation and persistence. Which is an effective factor we movie photographers have that in spades!

I take advantage of black and white transparencies created with ILFORD’s FP4 PLUS for instance this text however, as you’ll see additional down the web page, you should utilize virtually every other black and white movie.

Have I piqued your curiosity? Right here’s what I cowl on this article:

Slide movie and transparencies are superb

Color transparencies from slide movie are an expertise all of their very own. Slide/reversal movies, similar to Kodak Ektachrome and Fuji Provia 100F are usually not low cost, and their publicity latitude is rather more restricted (narrower) than unfavourable movie, so additional consideration should be taken to make sure correct publicity. Then comes the event…

Uncovered slide movie usually goes off to the lab for E6 processing and if the lab processor didn’t break down and spoil your movie (as has occurred to me at the least 3 occasions, together with my wedding ceremony pictures!) a hefty processing payment happens. The trouble, expense and wait are worthwhile nonetheless, as a result of these transparencies (slides) are good in color saturation which, together with the readability simply soar out at you from the light-box, it doesn’t matter what the format. 35mm slides look nice, however a 4×5 transparency is superior!

In my view, no digital digicam display screen can match the magic of a color transparency on a light-box! Why is that this? Within the improvement of a unfavourable, the tonal vary of a picture is compressed to permit for printing on media. As compared, a slide (transparency) has a larger expanded tonal vary, which is very evident when seen by transmitted mild.

Palms-on stuff: Printing vs reversal processing

There are two principal methods to create black and white transparencies. The primary is named “printing”; the second is a moist chemistry course of that requires a couple of extra steps to the conventional unfavourable course of utilizing customary builders, making it a “reversal process“.

“Printing” is similar to conventional printing utilizing an enlarger. When you have seen a film shot in monochrome, that is the method concerned: Steven Spielberg’s “Schindlers’s Checklist” was shot on Kodak Double-X 5222 unfavourable movie. It was then processed utilizing a low distinction developer, after which each body was “printed” onto a high-contrast projection-quality unfavourable and redeveloped.

So, a unfavourable of a unfavourable creates a optimistic.

Since this text is concerning the second methodology: reversal processing through moist chemistry right into a optimistic picture we received’t cowl “Printing” in quite a lot of element. If you wish to attempt printing your self, I’d advocate shopping for both a slide duplicator attachment to your digicam/lens (they’re low cost) or just photographing a unfavourable of a unfavourable on a light-box utilizing a macro lens.

“Printing” will invariably result in a lack of picture high quality, which is why moist chemistry processing makes good sense. The optimistic photographs are created on the unique movie straight out of the digicam.

Can I make transparencies (slides) from different black and white movies?

Briefly: YES.

I selected ILFORD FP4 PLUS as a result of it’s a movie I’m very acquainted with and produces nice monochrome photographs. I needed a medium-speed movie as a result of I at all times use a colored filter to reinforce color separation within the picture (on this case, a yellow filter), which is able to scale back the efficient ISO by a cease, but nonetheless enable hand-held exposures.

If you wish to experiment, slower, conventional ISO ranking movies similar to ILFORD’s PANF F PLUS have superb grain, are greater in distinction, don’t fog as a lot as sooner emulsions and provides richer blacks. I’ve additionally made very acceptable slides from a Kodak T-MAX 100, a contemporary tabular grained movie.

Let’s check out the method…

An outline of a black and white reversal improvement course of

The again and white reversal improvement course of comprises a couple of additional steps over typical black and white movie improvement. Listed here are the primary steps:

The 1st step is unfavourable improvement — much like creating any monochrome unfavourable. Added to the developer is a silver “solvent” similar to sodium thiosulphate (Hypo) to take away the silver halide crystals current in all movie emulsions, however that are inert and never delicate to mild. If not eliminated, these crystals will degrade highlights.

The 2nd step is bleaching to take away the silver picture, which leaves behind a optimistic picture of the remaining unexposed and undeveloped emulsion. That is adopted by a dunk in a clearing resolution to take away stain.

The third step is a fogging course of that facilitates the fast improvement of the remaining silver halide. This may be finished in 2 methods: both by exposing the movie to tungsten or fluorescent lighting, or by a chemical course of involving tin (stannous) chloride as is used within the E6 course of.

The 4th step is a second improvement of the movie to develop the optimistic picture.

The closing step is fixing and washing.

Does this appear to be one thing you want to attempt? If that’s the case, ILFORD have a really informative PDF on reversal processing accessible right here:

This doc provides a terrific overview of the method, together with recipes for the chemistry and particulars on processing occasions and temperatures.

I didn’t observe the ILFORD protocol precisely nevertheless it’s a wonderful place to begin, then add your personal tweaks. Listed here are some ideas from my private expertise which you’ll discover useful:

Exposing the movie (making pictures with transparencies in thoughts)

When photographing the preliminary photographs, I’d advise bracketing every shot one cease beneath its regular publicity (over-exposing the movie) and one cease above regular publicity (under-exposing the movie) to present your self three exposures of the identical scene that can assist you dial in your personal course of.

For ILFORD FP4 PLUS, that may be:

  • +1 cease = ISO 64 (over-exposing)
  • Regular = ISO 125
  • -1 cease = ISO 250 (below exposing)

In apply, you’ll be able to observe this strategy:

You may be focused on…
  1. Meter the scene / set your required shutter velocity and lens aperture
  2. Body 1: Shoot at a shutter velocity one cease sooner than the one in step 1 (over-exposing it).
  3. Body 2: Shoot on the desired shutter velocity.
  4. Body 3: Shoot at a shutter velocity one cease slower than step 1 (under-exposing it).
  5. Repeat for the whole roll to have a constant “Over-Metered-Beneath” sequence of frames for every topic.

Tip: In case you are utilizing a contemporary autofocus digicam, see if it has an computerized bracketing choice and use that as an alternative to take three photographs in sequence with none fiddling about (i.e. Nikon F100, Nikon F6, and so on.)

I like to recommend bracketing your photographs as a result of transparencies have lowered publicity latitude, and the method must be calibrated to your scenario, together with variables similar to developer focus, agitation frequency and temperature.

Use the outcomes that can assist you higher perceive find out how to expose particular scenes and actually lock-in your personal particular look.

For the frames you see beneath, I used a Contax G2 with a Zeiss 35-70mm zoom as I knew I’d get well-exposed tack sharp negatives, however any good high quality movie digicam will excel.

Discovering and utilizing the extra chemical substances to your reversal course of

Within the linked ILFORD PDF above, most directions are easy, requiring a mass of chemical substances to be weighed out and made as much as the given quantity. Word that you could be must buy an digital scale for measuring out chemical substances precisely (accessible on-line and never costly).

Essential: Once you make up options, at all times use security glasses, appropriate gloves and a masks. Ensure that your workspace is effectively ventilated.

The additional chemical substances wanted for the reversal course of might be bought as follows:

Photograph retailer suppliers: Sodium thiosulphate and sodium or potassium metabisulphite (additionally house beer brewing suppliers for the metabisulphite!);

Pharmacy or on-line: Potassium permanganate (Condy’s crystals);

Auto store: Sulphuric acid (utilized in automobile batteries). ALWAYS use security glasses, and ALWAYS add the acid to water and never the opposite means round!!

Cautious with the acid!

Concentrated (100%) sulphuric acid is nasty. I’d advocate buying battery acid out of your native auto store as an alternative. That is nonetheless very corrosive however usually round 30% concentrated acid. My bottle acknowledged a focus of sulphuric acid at 640 g / litre.

To work out the precise dilution you want, divide this quantity by 1900 (the quantity of sulphuric acid in concentrated or 100% acid) and multiply by 100. Instance: My auto store acid was 33%. The ILFORD directions advocate 10ml of concentrated acid added to 490ml water. Within the case of my 33% auto store acid, I wanted 3 occasions as a lot in comparison with 100% concentrated acid. That made my measurements 30ml of battery acid to 470 ml of water. Hope that has been defined clearly!

Options to ILFORD PQ Common

I didn’t use ILFORD’s PQ Common as detailed within the above PDF. When you have bother sourcing it your self, you’ll be able to observe my various: a 1+ 5 dilution of Rodinal R09 plus 2g of Hypo in 500ml of developer resolution. Creating time at 20°C was 10 minutes vs 12 minutes at at 20°C for the PQ Common.

Change the second publicity step with a chemical course of

I didn’t like the thought of dealing with moist movie, exposing it to mild and then having to re-spool and develop a second time. So as an alternative I used stannous chloride, which is added to the second developer to create a Reversal Developer.

Little or no stannous chloride is required — solely 0.10 g per 500ml of resolution. Rodinal was diluted 1+9. The creating time was 8 minutes at 20°C. On-line textile dye suppliers inventory stannous chloride, which is used to reinforce the colors of pure dyes.

Evaluating your outcomes

Do not forget that making black and white transparencies (slides) is a reversal course of. A darker-than-ideal picture means both underexposure or inadequate improvement (and vice versa).

To calibrate my setup, I desire to regulate the movie’s ISO, quite than regulate processing, as reversal processing has many steps. Utilizing ILFORD FP4 PLUS for instance:

If a picture taken at ISO 125 seems somewhat “mild” after reversal processing, I’d enhance the ISO to 200. This calibrates the system, and sooner or later, I do know the efficient ISO of FP4 Plus for a black and white transparency is 200 — as long as I course of in precisely the identical means.

If there’s a picture you actually wish to nail, then bracketing in half stops across the efficient ISO ought to guarantee a well-exposed black and white transparency.

Rounding off + outcomes

Eager about making an attempt black and white reversal improvement however not eager to make up your personal chemistry? There are two various black and white reversal movies that may be bought with a matched processing package. These are Adox Scala and Fomapan R100. I’ve had no expertise with these movie / processing combos, however there are critiques accessible on-line.

How did my FP4 Plus and the reversal course of go? Please see the accompanying scans of my black and white transparencies. They have been have been all taken in and round Melbourne metropolis throughout a southern Australian winter on my Contax G2 with Zeiss 35-70mm zoom lens

Once more, you might be seeing these photographs through a display screen, so that you received’t see the total tonal vary. To do this, why not have a go at your personal black and white transparencies and expertise the total potential of graphic and imposing photographs your self? I extremely advocate it!


This picture of a road reflection in a window illustrates 2 frequent points with transparencies.

The primary is the lowered latitude (the extent to which a picture might be below or over uncovered) of transparencies in comparison with negatives. This shot was by no means going to work as a slide!

You may see that the highlights have been blown out and the shadows lack element. The second concern is reverse pondering (in comparison with unfavourable improvement) as a result of this can be a reversal course of! Generally, blown-out highlights in a picture point out overexposure (or overdevelopment) and the shadow element loss
signifies underexposure (or underdevelopment).

For transparencies, the rule of thumb is to show for the highlights. Please see the accompanying photograph beneath.

This picture has been uncovered for the highlights and has a superb vary of tones – apart from the below balcony areas which have lack of shadow element – however whose focused on that?

Another basic piece of recommendation is about agitation. When processing by hand, the conventional process is to invert the tank at set time intervals 8 or 10 occasions. I’ve discovered that is insufficient for some developer and movie mixtures and may result in uneven processing, similar to streaks and blotches. To assist overcome this, I additionally rotate the
tank with every inversion in order that resolution strikes each vertically and horizontally with respect to the movie.

That’s all for now!

I hope I’ve impressed you to try to take the leap into black and white reversal improvement. Please ask your questions and share your outcomes utilizing the feedback space beneath. Thanks for studying.

~ Stephen

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