My RA-4 reversal journey: Taking pictures and processing color paper negatives

I acquired bit by the RA-4 reversal bug just a few weeks again, diving deep into chemistry, filtration, processing, and rinsing (extra on the rinsing a bit later). The RA-4 improvement course of is used to supply a shade print on (you guessed it) shade paper within the darkroom.

On this article, I cowl my RA-4 reversal course of, the chemistry I used, and the way I acquired to utilizing it to create prints from slides and from color darkroom paper I shot as paper negatives.

Soar to a piece utilizing these hyperlinks or strap in and hold studying:

What’s the RA-4 reversal course of?

Making colour prints in the darkroom: welcome to RA-4 printing

The “normal” RA-4 process is used to supply color prints from color damaging movie. Within the RA-4 reversal course of, we use color photographic paper to make photos immediately from a digicam (i.e., as a paper damaging) or when printing from slides.

As a result of this paper is supposed for use to print from color negatives — which have a deep orange solid — we have to use a variety of filtration when adapting the paper for the reversal course of. Primarily, we have to shift the color of the print from blue again to regular (that is executed utilizing filters within the darkroom). Processing the paper additionally makes use of each conventional black and white AND RA-4 color chemistry.

Let’s begin with a fast phrase on the chemistry wanted…

Chemistry 101

I stay in Canada, and for some purpose, RA-4 chemistry is pricey up right here. I didn’t like the thought of blending up a liter or two and having to make use of it shortly earlier than it degraded after which, someday as I used to be skulking across the native digicam retailer, I observed a bottle of CD-3 (made by flicfilm) within the chemical cupboard.

CD-3 is a key part of RA-4 chemistry, so I acquired it and set about getting the opposite constituent chemical substances wanted to combine my very own:

  • A couple of drops of triethanolamine (2ml)
  • Some potassium carbonate (washing soda-13g)
  • A pinch of salt (.17g)
  • Sodium sulfite (.33g)
  • Plus some CD-3 (1.67g)

…makes 333ml of developer–sufficient to develop about 15 sheets of 4×5 sheets of color darkroom paper. Value: 80 cents.

In fact, all the bulk chemical substances value $65, however will make round 20 liters of developer! As soon as combined up, the chemistry solely lasts for a day or so, however the dry chemical substances will final a very long time (years?), and I could make as little or as a lot as I like as and once I want it.

Eliminating the silver: bleach and repair

For blix (bleach and fixer), I took the straightforward method out by getting Kodak RA-4 blix 2-part focus from that very same digicam retailer. Apparently, blix is principally fixer (ammonium thiosulfate — half A) and bleach (ferric ammonium EDTA — half B) which removes each developed and undeveloped silver halide from the print leaving simply the dyes on the paper.

Ferric ammonium EDTA just isn’t straightforward to search out, so one among my tasks is to discover a substitute so I could make my very own blix. Value: 83 cents to make 250ml. As soon as combined, it appears to final a few weeks no less than. Substitute bleaches can be utilized, reminiscent of potassium ferricyanide, or iron EDTA, however then bleaching must be a separate step from fixing and would take considerably longer to do.

Eliminating the “blues”

Typical color darkroom paper just like the Fujifilm Crystal Archive paper I’ve used so far has a blue tone to offset the deep orange solid when printing from shade negatives. Since I’m not printing from negatives, most of my outcomes had a blue solid to them till I used a reasonably heavy filter pack with largely yellow and a few magenta to counter the have an effect on.

For indoor images below 3200K incandescent mild, I used an ordinary yellow filter with some magenta (M40) and yellow (M50) filters from an outdated color enlarger (under).

Outside required one other dose of yellow (add an 85B filter to the earlier combine) in direct daylight with no clouds. Cloudy days want much more yellow, and cloudy snowy days within the winter? Maintain stacking these filters!

Nonetheless, color filtration is tough, and a few color solid appeared to finish up within the outcome. Including to that, the filtration ate up round 2-stops of publicity.

This isn’t a technical define and is supposed as an example the purpose that utilizing enlarger filters to filter out this tone just isn’t straightforward.

Going the place color paper wasn’t designed to go

Processing was easy. For reversals, the paper is first developed in B&W paper developer for two minutes, then given a cease tub. Apparently, creating in B&W developer prevents any of the dye couplers related to the uncovered silver halides from getting developed within the subsequent step.

To assist, I wound up with an outdated Cibachrome processing drum, and that works nice for the B&W creating step, although this step may be executed in a tray at midnight. A fast rinse to take away any acid then flip the lights on to fog the paper. The damaging appears faint however dense.

Subsequent step: a minute within the color developer (at 95F/35C) develops any dyes related to beforehand unexposed, however now fogged silver halides, successfully reversing the publicity and producing a constructive print.

You could be interested by…

That is the magical a part of the method and by no means appears to get outdated. Seeing the color print rework out of a faint damaging picture is at all times a delight to look at, after which, 2 minutes within the blix to take away all of the silver and the image brightens and rises in distinction.

Check out this magic:

Pre-rinsing: an surprising discovery

I discovered about this once I was reducing an 8×10 sheet of paper into 4x5s at midnight and erroneously reduce one sheet into 4x4s, leaving a 1″ strip. After I turned the lights on, I used to be shocked to see that the paper had a cyan/blue solid to it. Might this be the way it compensates for the deep orange damaging masks?? Certainly this solid didn’t keep on the paper in any other case, the ensuing picture would seem low distinction and blue. I shortly tried rinsing the paper and located the blue solid rinsed off simply!

Okay, so you possibly can rinse the blue solid off of Fuji color paper. What’s the large deal? That will be larger ISO and fewer filtration. Utilizing an indoor filter pack, I used to be working with ISO 1.5. Utilizing a Polaroid digicam and highly effective M3 flashbulbs, the utmost distance from the topic was solely 3 toes. If the blue solid was faraway from the paper and filtration tossed apart, it will be like eradicating 3x impartial density from the method.

I rinsed some 4×5 items of paper and dried them in a darkish field, then took an image below incandescent mild utilizing ISO 12. The image got here out uncovered and color balanced completely! With out the blue solid, Fujifilm Crystal Archive paper appears to be balanced for 3200K.

So I made up a drying rack that match into the darkish field and washed just a few 8×10 sheets of Fuji paper within the bathtub at midnight. I squeegeed the sheets, dabbed them with a lint-free material and, dried them for a few hours then reduce them into 4×5’s. It does get simpler to fumble round at midnight after slightly apply!

Making a devoted digicam: A form-of on the spot Huge Shot?

All this acquired me engaged on a devoted Polaroid portrait digicam — sort of like the Big Shot — which I may use simply to take portraits. My plan was to make use of M3 clear flash bulbs with out the everyday blue filter over the reflector. I discovered that these bulbs have a color temperature of round 4200K, which is corrected by round a Y40 filter.

I acquired a Polaroid 2.2X teleconverter and made an adapter for it to make it match onto the Polaroid, which was transformed to 4×5 in order that I’d be working extra with a portrait focal size, then eliminated the blue flashbulb cowl from the flash unit. I figured that naked M3 bulbs would have a information variety of round 65 at ISO 10, permitting me to take photos as much as 8 toes away on the Polaroid digicam (an enormous enchancment over 3 toes!) I hardwired the shutter to at all times shoot at 1/30 and fine-tuned the rangefinder to focus appropriately.

Setting the digicam to f/12.5 allowed me to shoot at 5 toes, which is an efficient distance for portraits on 4×5 with a 240mm lens. The images aren’t very on the spot. It takes round 6 minutes to develop, however midway by means of, there’s a “wow” second when the topic can see their mug (face) seem out of a really blah damaging, so this course of supplies a little bit of leisure as nicely.

Get Outside

Outside filtration with rinsed paper remains to be a bit tough because the color temperature can change rather a lot. I’m nonetheless experimenting with one of the best filter pack, and to date, I’ve give you utilizing an 85b filter with round a 50 yellow and 40 magenta on a sunny day (5400K) utilizing ISO 5. Cloudy days (6000K) require extra yellow filtration, and for some purpose, snowy days much more.

Cibachrome 2.0?

After studying this article about making prints from slides using the RA-4 reversal process, I dug out some outdated Kodak Ektachrome slides and set to work. It was surprisingly straightforward to get a great outcome with rinsed paper, utilizing simply slight Y25 filtration. I discovered it quicker and simpler to pre-rinse the paper for round a minute within the wash tray simply earlier than exposing it. A fast squeegee removes a lot of the water earlier than laying it down on the easel, and a fast wipe with a material eliminated the water left behind.

The rinsed paper has a very quick ISO, so I needed to set my enlarger bulb to the dim setting to get publicity instances as much as 5-10 seconds utilizing f/16. It’s slightly complicated at first to guage the check strips because it’s a reversal: Darker means much less time, and lighter means extra.

I suppose that is sensible, however it’s the other from printing usually from a damaging. I used to be shocked by how good the colors and distinction on the prints appeared.

Paper negatives

The final experiment was taking photos at ISO 12 utilizing rinsed paper because the damaging. Growing was executed utilizing color developer in a tray at midnight, which solely took a minute to do. After the cease tub, I put it within the blix and turned on the lights. This course of is twice as quick as reversals since there is no such thing as a B&W creating step.

I discovered the damaging fascinating because it’s on white paper as a substitute of movie inventory which usually has an orange solid. Far more management over publicity and color could possibly be obtained when contact printing with the enlarger color head, and naturally, I could make a number of copies of the damaging.

I attempted some contact prints from these negatives utilizing rinsed paper and the outcomes have been OK. The image wasn’t as sharp as a direct constructive, however the potential right here is making a couple of print of the damaging. I even tried enlarging the paper damaging. The outcome was slightly fuzzy, and I’d must fiddle with the filtration to eliminate the pinkish solid, however it was enjoyable seeing the potential.

Wrapping up

It began with a bottle of CD-3. I just about figured I wouldn’t ever get into color images on this method as a result of it’s too costly and finicky, and it’s onerous getting the colors proper. However that bottle of CD-3 impressed me to pursue the chemistry, then the method.

It may be executed economically (slightly bit greater than B&W), and is sort of usable when the paper is rinsed. It additionally brings me nearer to realizing on the spot images on a pack digicam, and I’m nonetheless pursuing how I could make it straightforward to shoot color on the spot photos on a Polaroid digicam. I’ll by no means obtain “photos in a couple of minute,” however perhaps I can come shut.

Thanks for following together with my adventures!

~ Jim

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