non-gelatin emultions - do they exist?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by terence_spross|1, Mar 22, 2007.

  1. Curiosity,
    While I can eat a hamburger without guilt, I was talking to a person from India
    who was appauled to find that film had gelatin (derived from animals) in it. His
    religion did not allow for consumption, in any context, of animals. That got me
    to wonder if any films color or B&W ever had a non-animal based emulsion. I am
    aware that some films have a reduced amount of gelatin, with the addition of
    various polymers mixed in, but I don't know of any emulsion without gelatin.

    I know the pharmacutical industry uses a lot of gelatin for pill capsules, and
    has an alternative that is not used very much due to patent issues. (I wonder if
    this is percieved by many in India as a problem?)
  2. Shoot digital. No animal parts in any of my DSLR's (gremlins don't count.)
  3. Guessing the a person from India is likely Hindu, it is not all animals they object to. Cows are sacred to Hindus. Most of the gelatin in photographic film is from cattle bones. There was a time when much of it came from the bones of sacred cows in India. After the cows died their bones would be gathered by untouchables. Partly for political reasons and partly for quality control reasons, gelatin makers switched to US slaughterhouses for their cattle bones. Today there are import restrictions on cattle bones because of mad cow concerns.

    Some layers in color films use gel made from pig skins. I know of experiments with fish gel.
  4. It's called collodion. The "wet-plate" process, where you coat a glass plate with a solution
    of salted collodion and immerse in a silver nitrate sensitizing bath for a period of time,
    then take the plate immediately to the camera and expose it while the plate is still wet,
    and then immediately develop it. Can produce almost grain-free images, but only
    sensitive to the blue end of the light spectrum. This was the process used by many of the
    most highly respected photographers of the 19th century. Names such as Matthew Brady,
    etc. Since collodion is made from cotton fibres and an acid, there are no animal products
    in it.
  5. Another non-gelatin (but not animal free) media is albumin prints. People like Mathew Brady and Timothy O'Sullivan captured their images with wet plate collodion and printed on sensitized albumin paper. I've heard of albumin paper still available as print-out paper (requiring no development).
  6. There was a b/w print film that was processed by hot water! When boiled, microscopic nitrogen bubbles in the plastic would create an image that was really quite good.

    Aren't you glad that I gave you that great piece of trivia.


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