Re: Why make your own emulsion?

From: Ryuji Suzuki ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 02/16/04-02:13:46 AM Z
Message-id: <>

From: Sandy King <>
Subject: Why make your own emulsion?
Date: Sun, 15 Feb 2004 14:13:20 -0500

> what are the distinctive characteristics of your
> emulsions that give distinctive qualities to the
> final image, and what are those qualities?

First of all, you may be able to buy liquid emulsion for enlarging
purposes but I don't know of any off shelf silver-gelatin emulsion for
in-camera negative use. Liquid emulsion, like Freestyle APH lith
films, have very slow speeds and more disadvantageously very high
contrast. If I want such a thing, there's no way other than making my

I have friends who are really into old stuff. One guy plays old timy
music around the city and wants me to shoot his album jacket
photograph with very thickly coated orthochromatic emulsion with no
accutance dye or antihalation coating to make sort of effects seen on
photographs from 1920's. Well, you try to do that with liquid
emulsion or APH film with antihalation taken off, and you'll get ASA
speed of 1/2 or 3 or whatever in that range and a very high
contrast. Using two 1600 Ws studio flash heads with umbrella very
close to the subject and at full output, I can barely shoot at
f/11. The picture is very "vigorous" contrast. Here, an Old Timy plate
emulsion at ASA speed of 12 or higher makes the job a lot easier.
(And this is the sort of subject matters I like to experiment with
when emulsions come to "production quality.")

I'm also working on enlarging emulsion. This is usually easier than
more rapid plate emulsions. Store bought liquid emulsions are said not
to work with lith printing technique. Most liquid emulsion products
are neutral or cold toned. If you make your emulsion, these factors
are within your control. For now I'm staying with nothing but silver
gelatin process, partly because I need to focus my effort on it, not
many people shoot dry plates, and I can enlarge with it. Plus, I am
already very familiar with silver gelatin chemistry, so I can carry
experience and add new stuff to make aethetic effects previously
unachievable with store-bought material.

As you say, I don't enjoy making batches of emulsion in the same way
as printing. But I think the effort is worthwhile because I want to
shoot or make prints with it. And I happen to know something about
chemistry, so this is not too painful to me.

Ryuji Suzuki
"Reality has always had too many heads." (Bob Dylan, Cold Irons Bound, 1997)
Received on Mon Feb 16 02:14:21 2004

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