Now that was a weird surprise...

Experiencing that one of my handmade photos of Sal and Salvo, started to break down; getting brown in some areas. It was made on plastic RC or PE paper. I also rememeber that we back in June did use a protection bath (Agfa Sistan type).

It looks at follows


I also rememeber

that I only did it for 1 minute (instead of recommended 2 minutes), and possible more diluted than the recommended 1+20 dilution.

So, now I am doing an investigation, looking into the possible causes. In the past, I have never had any problems with prints getting yellow or brown - ever. I've always been very exact in my way how I treat prints. And most often, toned them in one or the other way. But even prints that are not toned, stayed free from any break downs.



What could be the cause ?

There are in fact several possibilities. Let's look into those

the fix bath was done too short time ?

2) the fixer was exhausted ?

3) insufficient washing of the print ?

4) The protection bath ("Adox Adostab") was insufficient, e.g. too weak diluted or the photo was too short time in the bath. Or both ?

5) My fingers may contaminated the prints with fix, as I touched it later ?

The most likely causes

There are of course other possibilities but for now. I am looking into those that appear more likely have affected the brown spots.

The 1+4 rapid fix was not too weak - that I know. Nor was the time too short (1 min 15 sec). Nor was the fix exhausted, since Sal didn't do so many prints really.


Too weak Adostab + too short wash with water ?

I believe that the stabilization bath, "Adox Adostab" was both too weak (I diluted it more than recommended), and too short in time (we used 1 minute instead of 2 minutes). There is a slight possibility that washing the prints were not sufficient ?

I do not believe that, but there is a slight risk that can not be neglected. The problem however is now eliminated, because I bought a special Paterson Rapid RC paper print washer  which is absolutely excellent in washing a plastic print. (boy, after 30 years, that took time...)


Selenium print unaffected

One thing I do see: The two BW prints at my desk: The one that I treated with Selenium toner - is totally unaffected. The other affected print without selenium however, shows after only 4 month yellowish brown spots - for reasons still unknown.

I simply have to strengthen up my darkroom routines, that is for sure. It does inspire me to not to cheat. And to be careful in the handling with chemicals, routines regarding photographical prints.


Protection: Selenium Toner, Sodium Sulphide Toner

Either I will treat my prints with Selenium toner more often, or, I could use a 0.1% solution of Sodium Sulphide, which gives very good protection when you bath the print for several minutes. This usually does not change the tone of the print - while Selenium toner usually does. Often into a coldish tone.

Chlorbromide silver papers however usually get beautiful warmer black and gray tones - but I feel those papers are not commonly used anymore. Ilford Warmtone works truly beautifully in Selenium Toner - but boy that paper has gotten extreme expensive !

Test print showed the fastest changes

I do have one test print at my kitchen hanging - which I did not really wash very long time in water (it was just a test, you know) THAT one showed the fastest changes: after only 2-3 month brown spots. That makes me think, that the WASHING was insufficient (or the print contaminated with fix). That is so far, the best hint. And it requires better discipline how to handle prints after they have been washed

the same behavior - already after 2 month - to break down with golden spots. That is a good hint, that the washing wa perhaps after all, insufficient.



Many mishaps in the past 4 years

I must say, that I have struggled big times with many issues in analog photography. Negatives too weak, negatives too underexposed, film damage due to heat etc, the notoriously unstable X-TOL developer (which hates iron in the water). That can be a problem hard to detect - because how do you know how much water is in your tap water ?!

I also struggled very much with the Mamiya 6 camera, and at times also with my external lightmeter when I used the Mamiya C330s (6x6 format camera)

It all together resulted into many, many films got fucked up (seen from a high quality standard level, I mean). I use to to really good work in the 80s and 90s and into the 00s. It all appears to have shifted into something far more unreliable - and that surprises me.


I take far too long breaks

One mistake could be this: I often take a break between 6-8 month every year. You forget all the fine details and the micro memory of what you have been doing. It is difficult to trace back the many potential errors that could have snuck in. I mean Analog Photography / Classic filmbased Photography demands a lot of steps and details to be all in the right place, in order to get good negatives.


I sometimes got really frustrating

So, it's been a really tough 4 years in my analog photography. Now that I see the rather mediocre results. Especially in terms of printing quality. Digitally, I can compensate some of the errors, but as soon i want to print a negative - it just has to be "perfect" (very good). Otherwise the final print will be mediocre, too.

I have not given up

On the contrary, I got lately a real good kick. But before that, many film negatives that saw the daylight are really not worth to print - because they simply do not hold up a good quality. I can still "scan" them with my camera - and get decent results. Which is nice. But they do not hold up for printing I am afraid.


"Scanning negatives" - with a camera

Actually, using my Olympus OMD EM1 II with a real macro lens, making digital images from the negatives - is absolutely amazing !




Lowest ISO (64), flat mounted negatives, flat light board, Repro tripod - and electronic shutter - give me really great results from 35mm to 6x7 negatives.

It takes me now very little time to do the "scanning"... like 126 negatives in a half hour - and the sharpness sits 100% in every single digital copy of the negative. Showing the grain of the film, and not of the camera sensor. I never thought that the relatively small m43 sensor would cope with it.

But it really does.

Of course it depends on how huge you want your digital negatives to be in the end... for me 20 MP is really more than enough. It really is. In cases I do need more, there is always the option of merging images to a larger one.


Olympus HIGH-RES setting did not work for me...

I had no success with the Olympus 50-80 MP sensor HIGH-RES technology, though. It didn't show any real more details from the negatives up to 6x7 cm. It is possile that my handling and settings in the camera, where not optimal. I will check that out anew, investigating that.

HIGH-RES does add extra work, though. So far, I had no real reason because the native 20 MP were already so good to show all details of a negative, even sharp films like Acros 100, Kodak Technical Pan film and similar.


Using fullframe cameras ?

Of course I could use the almost 4 times larger sensor from my Canon EOS 6D with it truly excellent sensor even in year 2018 (being 5-6 years old), but since there was no real difference or advantage in the final image - between Olympus EM1 Mark II smaller sensor and the EOS 6D - the handling on the Olympus is so much better in comparison to the EOS 6D. The sensor of the Olympus EM1 II is truly a fantastic sensor, I must say.

You never expect that they (Sony) would gotten out so much quality and resolution from a smaller sensor. Since everybody goes cray over larger sensors, you know... But you would be surprised what a kickass sensor the Olympus OMD EM1 Mark II actually has. (The camera became my primary camera - image that, me a die hard fullframe camera guy!)


More modern camera

So, the Olympus being a more modern camera it's handling is way better for Repro work. Compared to the EOS 6D which I bought back in 2013 (the camera was introduced in the beginning of 2012 I believe). But make no mistake, the sensor of the EOS 6D is even in 2018/19 excellent. And better than the new EOS 6D Mark II camera (which is a big let down from Canon)

The Olympus gives me

• Flexible screen, being able to work without climbing on a chair
• True Silent electronic shutter
• Anti-flicker
• reliable and fast PDAF
• ISO 64 with excellent sharpness and dynamic range

• having a real Olympus macro lens available

The primary demand for me is

that the digitized image from the film negative: Has to show the FILM GRAIN not the Sensor noise. And so far, it has always shown a very sharp film grain, never the sensor noise.

The future set up may change over time, as my cameras and sensors change - but for now, the Olympus setup to digitize negatives, is absolutely fantastic - and something of a new peak for me, after 20 years - two decades - trying to merge / transfer negatives to digital ones with excellent quality.

I just feel traditional scanning is really boring. Also notice, that i still have not tested color negatives. That is a different challenge to come, but I am prepared for that, too.


Smooth film grain with flatpanel light source

The flat light panel is smooth and soft in light quality, that it ACTUALLY benefits the digital negative.

The film grain is softer (yet sharp) compared to scanning negatives the old way; where the grain always get's too pronounced. A scanner scanned ISO 100 negative often looks more like a ISO 400 analog film. And since you have to sharp the scanner output, it looks even worse - always so grainy as if you use a really grainy film.

But using a camera as your "scanner" in combination with the LED flatpanel as your repro light source; you get so much better results !


The work with Film Negatives in Photoshop
always needs time and sensitivity

The work to get them right later in Photoshop however - takes much, much longer time until I get it right. But once I get it right, they look like real good photos. And it opens my Diary to show analog photography !

The good aspect now is, that I am much more keen and do not feel wanting to give up. On the contrary; my efforts have increased a lot. I also invested more into the darkroom, into printing paper as well into my studio camera setup.

From the mistakes - I may even have learned something...


Raffe ;-)