Liquid Light on glass

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by gina_ricciardi, Apr 6, 2012.

  1. I just posted this in another's question, but I felt like it might get overlooked as it was a fairly old thread.
    We're getting ready to do liquid light in my alternative class. My simple question to start (because I haven't tried anything as of yet) is when you coat clear glass with the emulsion, will it be similar to wet plate? By that I mean, will it appear as a negative until placed against a black background?? I am planning on giving it a shot in my pinhole, so I know I will get a negative, I'm just curious if the background will have the same effect?
  2. Early photographic systems coated the light sensitive emulsion on supports that were more opaque than transparent. Often the base was paper, waxed to make it more translucent. The main problem was how to get the emulsion to stick on glass. Frederic Scott Archer (1813 - 1857) solved the problem in 1851. His process utilized a collodion (Greek for glue) made by dissolving gun cotton (nitrocellulose) in a mix of ethyl alcohol and ethyl ether. The collodion emulsion was then dipped in a silver nitrate solution. This reaction formed light sensitive silver iodide crystals.
    The mix was highly explosive and worse, the exposure and the processing had to be carried out before the mixture dried and hardened. If it hardened, the developer could not permeate the emulsion so no development could take place. Thus the name wet plate process.
    Improvements were applied and the results were the ambrotype (direct positives on glass) and the tintype. The tintype featured the emulsion coated on sheet metal painted gloss black (Japan Black Lacquer). The resulting image is actually a negative but when viewed on a gloss black backing, appears positive in room light.
    The answer to your question is: Negative film images on glass or film, exposed and processed to a lowered density will appear as a positive when viewed against a highly reflective black background.
  3. My class actually just visited Quinn Jacobson's Studio Q ( last week for a wet plate demo (and hope to return this week for a daguerrotype demo!), so I'm well aware of the process and history (yay for photo degrees and required photo history courses, LOL)....the demo is what got me so interested in using liquid light on glass.
    Ideally, I would want to do an actual wet plate project, but seeing as I have neither the studio/darkroom set up to make it feasible nor the money for the supplies ($275 for the smaller kit on Bostick and Sullivan, and that's chemistry only!) I'm hoping trying to find other ways to sort of mimic the process. Obviously, the appearance will be completely different, but it's about as close as I can get in three week's time!
    Thanks for the response, though! You did answer me question =)
  4. Gina, Years ago, I was playing with liquid light, and ended up putting it on a glass plate. It looked fine, but since I didn't keep the plate, I have no idea whether it was permanent. One question I would want to know is whether Liquid Light would need some sort of binder to remain on a glass surface.
  5. It does. The little instruction booklet mentions a few options. You can paint it with a primer of some sort, if you don't mind the glass going opaque (but then what's the point of using glass, right? Unless your looking for an ambrotype effect, like collodion on black glass). It also suggests some sort of clear coat, but glossy as opposed to matte or semi-matte--I apologize as I do not have the booklet with me at the moment and cannot tell you exactly what type of clear coat it suggests. However, the preferred method is to coat the glass with a gelatin mixture as it literally fuses the emulsion to glass and ceramics. I will get the booklet later and fill in the missing details here for you when I get a chance!
  6. Glossy polyurethane varnish is the only way I've ever seen to make this work. It has to be oil base, but it will work. That being said, gelatin may not like to stick all that much, so the emulsion will be fragile at least until it is through a hardening fixer. There's another product, called Ag-Plus, which seems to be faster and better (it's what the photo people around my Uni have told me) than LiquidLight.
    In order to get an ambrotype, you just make an underexposed negative and back it with black.
  7. just coated glass with glossy oil-based, polyurethane varnish, dried, and followed with two coats of rockland's liquid light....did not work. the emulsion peeled off during the "stop" wash of water...i suppose i may try one more before moving on to the gelatin subbing solution. i have also heard that an albumen base may be the way to go. i'll keep everyone up to date...
  8. i coat liquid light on glass and mirrors often. i only use gelatin to coat my glass. it is even and easy and does not come off in the chemistry. its also much quicker and cheaper than using varnish. knox gelatin is an easy solution that can be purchased at the grocery store. you can also use specialty photographic gelatin. do not heat it too much or it will cause bubbles in your application process. pour it onto the mirror and tilt in all directions to get an even coat. do not worry if you get uneven bumps as it will settle down when dried flat. let dry overnight and coat with liquid light. you will get a solid tight bond. occasionally i've noticed that the edges will peel up just a little when using knox if you are not careful. make sure the gelatin goes all the way around the glass to keep this from happening. i have never had this happen with professional grade gelatin.
    varnish always peels off for me as well and i've stopped trying to make it work.
  9. also, i should say that the emulsion is very delicate when you are moving from developer to fixer. no more delicate than fiber paper and if you handle with normal care you will be just fine. use a hardening fixer. don't use a water stop, though. instead use expired fixer or just a separate fixer bath for the stop phase.
  10. I don't know what I'm doing wrong. I cleaned the hell out of a few more pieces of glass, varnished two with glossy polyurethane and two with the gelatin subbing solution recommended by Rockland. Neither worked. The gel pieces began to peel off immediately in the developer, but disintegrated entirely in the fixer (very weak solution, approx. 1:7). The polyurethane ones held on a bit better, but mostly washed away in the same fixing solution.
    I was going to try maybe an albumen coating next, or coating with polyurethane and then sanding it lightly to give it just a bit more of a tooth.
    All of the advice all over the net says to use the gel subbing solution, but I had zero luck. Ahhh! I don't know =\
  11. what are you cleaning with? you should use a powdered detergent and scrub the *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* out of it.
    when you run water over the cleaned glass does it bead up? it shouldn't. it should lay flat. keep testing and make sure that the water doesn't bead up anywhere. the beading signals that there is chemical residue on the glass which will weaken your bond.
    what kind of gelatin are you using and how much water are you adding to it? if using knox (what i would suggest for beginners) i would use one packet to one cup of water. let it settle for several minutes before heating it up, then heat it just to the melting point. pour it over completely and let dry overnight. don't worry if its a messy pour...really make sure it covers the entire surface.
    are you letting the liquid light completely dry overnight? you should be. if you are painting it on with a brush you also should be putting on several even coats. like three. there are several different application methods but that is the easiest one for a beginner.
  12. i did everything except lighting the emulsion dry this is a class project, i have no place to store the plates while they dry for more than about 3 hours during class. i can't leave them in the room we coat in because people are in and out of there all day long and they will be exposed, and i do not have a paper safe of my own to store them in =\
    i'll figure it out eventually, hopefully. for now, because of time constraints, i've moved on to canvas experiments which seem to be going much better. however i've just discovered this wonderful local gem: and am super excited to get started there, since this is my last semester of darkroom access.
    thanks! i'll keep you posted if i make any progress with this experiment!
  13. that is your problem right there. they need to be left overnight when coating on glass in order to adhere properly. its fine to develop them when still damp on paper or cloth, but for glass they need the extra time to fuse.
  14. also, your lab should have light tight boxes with shelves for this specific issue. usually they are kept in the alt process room or in the darkroom somewhere. they are only to be opened in red light. im sure they have them somewhere.
  15. they don't. i've been in this lab for four years. they have light safes, which are mainly used by the color classes and we have been using for the liquid light project (we have to develop them in a separate room from coating) but they will not let me "check out" the boxes over night because other students need to use them. our facilities are fantastic and amazingly well maintained and stocked, but there's simply no room for light-tight shelving =\
  16. hi gina
    i have been using liquid light on glass since the 80s, it is lots of fun! you won't get the reversal effect that wet plate offers unless you use rockland's "tintype kit" that kit uses a proprietary developer that reverses the image. for that kit, you can coat glass or black enameled aluminum ( comes with some of that ) or even black cardboard.
    when coating glass you should use something like washing soda ( sodium carbonate ) sold in the laundry aisle use a brush and wash the glass until when you rinse it water does not "cling" to the glass, it just "sheets off" instead. i use store bought gelatin as my sub layer but some folks don't even bother i am not sure how they do it, but it sticks well for them.
    if you haven't seen this check it out:
    he gives a very good demo on coating glass plates ... if you have a shoe box you can "cure them" over night in that. it doesn't take a lot of emulsion to coat a plate, i use a foamy brush and don't get many problems. in the past i have used a blow dryer to dry them ...

    if you can get your hands on a book called : silver emulsion - a users guide to liquid photographic emulsion, get it ... the book appears used sometimes on amazon, and is worth every penny they charge for it.
    good luck !
  17. sorry for my typo, the title of the book is silver gelatin: a users guide to liquid photographic emulsions
  18. Greetings, I know that this thread is old, but I'm doing some Liquid Light tests on glass, with samples prepped with both gelatin and polyurethane. The test came out fine, but as they have sat for the last two weeks, they have begun to yellow...almost to a sepia color and one of them has turned almost completely black. Any ideas on why this might have occurred?
  19. That's exactly what a Silver-halogen salt does when exposed to light.

    At low level exposure a latent image is formed that has to be developed to be seen. However, as exposure to light increases a direct image is formed as silver is reduced from salt form to black metal.
  20. Meaning that the plates were likely not adequately stopped from development and are still reacting? Or that the reaction will continue to happen over time with exposure to light? It's the change in tone/color two weeks later that I am inquiring about.

    After some research, I was under the impression that maybe I had not allowed them to wash for long enough, and that maybe there still might have been residual developer leftover that had not been washed adequately. I did a third test recently, where I washed the plates for upwards of 40-60 minutes, so I am going to see how the visible image on those plates stand the test of time as far as tone/color... Thank you for responding. Please let me know if you have any other thoughts if you have a free moment.

    Many thanks!

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