« 'Photoart' | Main | Hard Day in the UK (OT) »

Wednesday, 22 June 2016


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I was thinking of Jim Galli this morning because I want to do a write up of one of my barrel mounted lenses. If you like barrel lenses, check out how he creates short and apparently accurate exposures with his. I've limited myself to about 1/4 second or longer with mine and have had tons of fun, but his methods get you to even shorter times. Great stuff.

Try googling "paper negative" for a ton of information. Ilford has some good information http://www.ilfordphoto.com/aboutus/page.asp?n=151 as well as on their direct positive paper.

I've tried paper negs in 4x5 and 8x10 cameras as well as a Cirkut panorama camera because I could not find 4" wide roll film for some strange reason ;)

The paper is slow and contrasty so a starting ISO around 3-6, and use of multi grade printing filter 0 or 1 is helpful. Also remember printing paper is not sensitive to the red spectrum. It's fun - I don't have any results handy but am sure others will post some. The scanner method is a good hybrid solution or you can go totally old school and contact print it to another sheet of paper (face to face emulsion side)

I did this many years ago in the early 60s with a really old 5x7 antique camera that I still have. Unfortunately at the time I was having trouble finding my scanner so I didn't have an easy way to make the positive conversion except to take a picture of the negative image. Today I would have trouble developing the paper from the camera but I could at least scan it to convert it now.

I thought this would be the ideal use for Ilford direct positive paper. I think Tim Layton has been doing work with that paper in 10x8 and 11x14 cameras.

So, a paper negative then? This is actually pretty common on APUG. I recommend Kentmere or Adorama house brand paper for it because they are about a stop faster than some of the "higher quality" paper. It's still only ISO 6 though, so don't think you'll be shooting action sports with that 8x10.

One thing to remember with paper is that it is not sensitive to red light, so your scans are going to really show off skin blemishes. It's really not kind to the subject.

I'd share the only paper negative I took, but it is of my wife and she has had made me promise under threat of eternal pain not to ever put that photo on the internet. Like I said, paper negatives aren't kind to skin blemishes...

I've shot quite a few 8x10 paper negatives. I use multigrade paper and a yellow filter, which means the paper is exposed around grade 0. This helps tame contrast, which can otherwise be a problem (some people pre-flash the paper too, which should also help). The overall results have something in common with the look of orthochromatic film, given the lack of red sensitivity. I contact print my paper negatives, despite the relative opaqueness of photo paper, exposure times are not too long. Lightweight glossy RC paper is ideal for paper negs, and relatively cheap too.

I love the Ilford direct positive paper - it's a challenge, but it's a very unique result. Jim's method has an edge, though - you can use RC paper, so much faster developing.

Mike, I've got examples using fibre based paper in a half-plate camera at: http://www.pbase.com/hhmrogers/image/105572715 with an EI of 3 and another at: http://www.pbase.com/hhmrogers/image/105572721 with an EI of 5. My conclusion was that EI of 1 would have been better.
There's a bit about the camera and some other examples taken with it, including a shot by it's original owner, one of my grandfathers. Half-plate isn't quite as magnificent as 10x8 but it's big enough to make the idea of paper negatives attractive: http://www.pbase.com/hhmrogers/restored_half_plate_camera

Jim is a great guy, based on Internet acquaintance from a couple of years ago.

I did paper negs with my children using pinhole shoeboxes too. They loves it the resulting pictures went in to 'show amd tell'.

All good fun and Jim makes some lovely pictures too.


I might add that the way to go is to scan the paper while it is wet. That way you eliminate ons glass/air surface and better yet one air/paper surface! That gets you better tonality in the dense areas of the negative corresponding to the highlight areas of the image. In addition as anyone who has spent enough time in the darkroom will know, this way you will avoid the dreaded dry-down syndrome. Oh, don't forget to seal up the scanner and avoid fresh developer

I haven't tried it yet, but this stuff has an ISO of 120, and you can forgo the reversal processing.


Um, someone is probably going to wonder about the "avoid fresh developer" part, this explains that-

Also, if you are going to scan the paper negative wet, you don't even need to fix it much less wash it.

I used to use the stat camera for making portraits when I was at CalArts. Lots of fun, I think the largest I ever tried was 30"x40" or so.

I've done this (without the digital finish) with students and pinhole cameras, with color materials, CibaChrome and Duratrans (to use as a negative)

I am sorry to say it hasn't motivated me to use the Deardorff. I am still trying to figure out what exactly I need to put the Deardorff in front of for it to make sense.

It's great for teaching though, and in my limited experience the pinhole camera works better than an 8x10 view. But why scan? Just contact print RC paper onto more of the same.

Jim Galli is a great guy, lots of great photo projects.

I met him when he pulled up in front of the Mizpah Hotel in Tonopah in hist Model A after a 1700 trip. I think he likes old stuff. And he knew we had a camera with us that had shot a 22" x 20' negative in Tonopah a hundred years earlier. Well we only had the remains of it. The next day he introduced us to folks at the machine shop that had built it. (well, the heirs, still in the family and still operating)

Goodness. Back in the day when I had 4x5 this is how I learned the camera + lens parameters: paper negative, then contact print the negative to a positive. You do get funky effects with the paper grain, but with the newfangled plastic-based papers it was a fantastic way to shoot lots and lots of exposures without breaking the bank. This was...yep, 1974. Sigh...

I remember seeing some work like this done in color using Cibachrome paper. Cibachrome being direct reversal yielded a positive print straight from the camera. It was before flatbed scanners were generally available and so the results were true one of a kind. Now of course....

Hmmmmm, I have a couple of boxes of Azo. That would be interesting, and slooooowwwwwwwww.

Somewhere I have some paper negatives that I made years ago. Did the positive prints via contact print.

After purchasing a Korona 8x10 view camera several years ago, I exposed many paper negatives--architecture, landscape, and portraits. I used ilford grade 1 paper, even at that time no longer available, given me by a friend. I both scanned the paper negatives and made contact prints. One of the nice things about digital files made with an 8x10 paper negative is the ability to produce large digital prints--11x14 and up. Early on I realized that photographs produced with a paper negative and those produced with a film negative are two different things. After adjusting my expectations, I had a great time.

There are a lot of options with paper negatives. This small French company coats Japanese paper to produce paper "film" with an ISO of about 25 http://lomig.fr/products/ I'm about to try some 5X4 sheets.

I remember seeing some work like this done in color using Cibachrome paper

The problem with in camera positives is that they are reversed... unless you include a mirror in camera like these from eccentric English inventor, writer and broadcaster, Tim Hunkin...


I tested a process for color paper negatives on RA4-paper on my 4x5" Chamonix a while ago. It's doable. You can scan and convert in PS, and I made contact prints to create a fully analogue color positive. You can see some results and explanations in my flickr-stream, tagged 'color paper negative'

I used paper negatives for large format pinhole cameras and found I usually got harsher contrast with multi-grade RC papers and smoother, lower contrast with fiber. It seems like the last time I tried it I was using Ilford papers. I like Ian's suggestion of using a yellow filter, but I also wonder what effect printing filters would have?

Fox Talbot used waxed paper negatives so I think naming it for Jim Galli is a bit late. I'm sure he's having fun with it (I did several decades ago) and he is probably a nice guy but he's late in the game for naming rights.

Did this a while back. It was indeed a lot of fun. Pity I had to sell the camera when I headed back east. Here's a link of one image I digitally inverted, and also contact printed in the darkroom.


An interesting thing about using paper negatives or positives (depending on where you are in the process) is the possibility of image manipulation. Pictorialists were known to use this approach.

I've been working with paper negatives for a few years. In an effort to avoid excessive contrast I've been using grade 2 RC paper for the negative. I currently use Freestyle Photo's Arista brand. The graded paper doesn't have the contrast sensitivity to blue light, like MG paper, and the RC base makes scanning and contact printing a breeze; while also requiring less rinse time.

I also will do "pre-flashing" of the paper before loading the film holders. A faint exposure in the darkroom to render a very light gray tone to the negative, were it subsequently developed without any additional in-camera exposure. This helps to raise the shadow detail without significantly increasing the highlight density, helping to control excess contrast in harsh, scenic daylight scenes.

Also, a controlled development in used developer helps to prevent blown highlights, if you develop by inspection and pull the negative at the right moment.

These three methods - grade 2 paper, pre-flashing and controlled development - are a good way to get adequate tonal control with scenic photography and paper negatives.

Mike, keep up the good work.

~Joe Van Cleave

Holy web 1.0. Squarespace my dude, Squarespace.

The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007