Make your own negative to be exposed

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by aqualarue, Feb 3, 2013.

  1. Searching google and this forum did not turn up anything about this process, unfortunately my search methods are not sophisticated enough to target what I am looking for. I want to make my own B/W negative that will be then exposed in a home made camera, so basically everything from chemical through to final print is, for want of better words, hand crafted. I have no clue where to start as far as the negative is concerned, and have found no articles on this at all, even glass plate will do if this is possible. All I need are some pointers to references and perhaps some information from anyone who has done this. I appreciate this.
  2. On line "book" archives like Project Gutenberg will have things like
    and many others that will detail the steps needed to do "early" photographic methods. That's just an example, and probably a little more "primitive" than you want, but searches there for other photography books should yield results.
    A good modern source of older techniques and the like is
    Crawford, William
    1979 The Keepers of Light: A History and Working Guide to Early Photographic Processes. Morgan and Morgan, Dobbs Ferry, New York.​
    but it can be hard to find and expensive to buy. Try your local library or a library loan for it.
    Chemicals of the sort you need to mix your own are available at various 'film'-oriented places, but the Photographers' Formulary is a good place to start. Especially look at
    You will discover quickly that silver nitrate is expensive...
  4. The basics are easy. You need an opaque material and light sensitive chemicals that will react with light in the split of a second. A no brainer :)
  5. Hallo guys, thankyou all for this useful info - primitive is what I am looking for. Ann, I think you need more than that, I do all my own chemistry and make some of the chemicals myself, but coating acetate paper with light sensitive chemical will not make a negative. John and JDM, thanks for the tips, silver nitrate is not a problem I made my own. On a side note here in Ireland even in Cork's biggest library the number of photography books is counted on one hand, and they are all about pretty picture making with digital. Many appreciations for taking the time to reply.
  6. What you can do is search for the patents, Chris. And if a book you are looking for is in a library in Ireland, your local library will most likely be able to order it for you.
  8. Look for the book "Primitive Photography" by Alan Greene. It covers making your own camera, lens, paper negatives and printing paper. Google "Google books primitive photography" to find where the book is available.
  9. One way is to draw on tracing paper.
  10. Ron Mowrey (Photo Engineer on APUG) warns that patents in photographic technology are often very deliberately deceptive. The formulas in them have fatal flaws.
  11. How would an engineer know that? :)
  12. Your best bet is the collodion process. Sally Mann's series What Remains is probably the best-known modern example of this, but many of the American Civil War pictures were taken this way as well.
  13. Search for Wet Plate Collodion, Sally Mann's process, and many others'. The positive image forms on a metal or glass plate, no negative is involved. Sally Mann also did many other wet plate photos besides the What Remains project. You might also coat your own glass or paper and use a special holder that goes in the back of the camera. All this implies a large format camera and the size of the format will be the size of the final print or image you display.
    BTW, Mobrey's comment doesn't make sense. The scheme could backfire on the original patent owner if someone else figures the right formula and patents that honestly. The original guy is then left with a worthless patent.
  14. David, I think they idea is that you patent the right formula, and then five or ten incorrect ones. Or perhaps you patent two things that don't work, but actually make up Solution A and Solution B of the working formula.
  15. A lot to go on. My most grateful appreciations for everybody's contributions. One thing hat stick out is the collodion plate process. Thanks Zack and David. Still do not quite get the Patent search that Ann suggested? And tracing on paper by Feodor? We are thinking of building a camera to suit the process that we use, so building it as big as the negative/plate that we want to make.
    I have read about the process of etching a photograph onto copper, but have there been any uses for thin wafer copper plate in photographic history?
    In the meantime I will be looking up your suggestions and very many thanks for all your pointers.
  16. Chris,
    Wet plate collodion or tintype would work. The image is capable of quite fine detail and shading the right hands but not sure 'primitive' fits. The Fox Talbot salted paper negatives can be softly 'artistic' and may be called primitive.
  17. Thanks Chris.
  18. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    Ron Mowrey worked for Kodak and owns a number of photographic patents.
  19. Thanks Karl. The video is interesting. The 200 dollar package not so....but thankyou anyway.
  20. You could go back to the beginnings of photography and use Talbot's process, as it was he that worked on the positive/negative version of photography that we use today. Daguerreoptypes were just a dead branch on the tree of photography.

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