Salvaging Polaroid Type55 Negatives

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by avid, Mar 7, 2005.

  1. Although the answer perhaps is an obvious NO, can a Type55 film be
    pushed even after it has gone through a Sulfite wash once? I haven't
    put it through any Fixer or Hardener yet. Some shots I took of a hard-
    to-get-to place, came out a bit too thin. I was hoping I can put it
    through a developer and push it further. If there is a way, can
    someone please tell me of the exact process and the exact chemicals
    involved? In haste, I metered the shots at 40 asa. From what I got, I
    imagine I should have gone to 32 or even 20. Thanks a lot
  2. There are a couple of tricks you could try. One is to tone them in selenium. This will give some slight additional density, and additional contrast.

    Another possibility would be to try intensifying them. There are a number of formulae out there for various intensifiers - Kodak used to sell a commercial product based on chromium but I think it's no longer available. Of course, the classic process is mercury intensification. Intensification tends to involve chemicals that are environmentally unfriendly, and intensified negatives tend to pick up a little grain, but considering that you are starting with a Polaroid negative, you can afford to have a little more grain.
  3. There shouldn't be any undeveloped silver in a properly processed Polaroid negative, so an additional developing step won't accomplish anything.
    If there is no developed silver in the shadow areas, nothing will bring the information back. Probably the easiest technique in this era, if you like some digital output method, is to make high-quality scans and work on the files in an image-editing program such as Photoshop. Using "curves", you can boost the contrast in the shadows. This approach has the advantage over chemical methods of reduced risk of making the negatives worse.
    As Lyle says, the older books had various intensifier formulas, but today, selenium toning is the most popular chemical treatment. Selenium toning will give a modest contrast boost. There are directions at
  4. If the negatives are thin, the prints are probably just right. You could have them copied or scaned. You did keep the prints right ?
  5. Thanks all for your response to help. Sounds like the chance of salvaging the negs are rather bleak. I do have the positives, but I already coated them. I have a feeling that might impede a good scan.
    I will try the selenium toning method at least on one. I read in one of Ansel Adams' books where he went back and further manipulated one of his negatives much later. The other thing I noticed is that some of the negs are solarized. It looks almost positive in the negative itself. That, of course, is all bad. I must have given very little time to process in the field in the dropping mercury. You live and learn.
  6. As others have mentioned, selenium will give a modest density boost. If you have any sepia toners around, these can also be used, and will give a stronger increase in negative density than selenium - as long as there is silver there to take the toner.

  7. Although I have no experience with this on Polaroids, the selenium trick is well established for helping properly exposed but underdeveloped negatives. It may well work with these Polaroids. I think I might also try a brown toner (selenium plus sulfide) to see if that boosts the thinnest parts a bit more. This will probably be more effective if you are scanning the negative but might also work well with an enlarger.


    But you could still scan the properly exposed positives. The coating ought not be a huge impediment.
  8. One technique that I have used in the past is to bleach your Type 55 negatives in potassium ferricyanide/potassium bromide to completion and re-develop in PMK Pyro or other Pyro formula. You can then control the length of development and try to correct whatever your problem is or was.

    The one caution is not to overdevelop in PMK as your negative will become very optically dense and printing times will be incredibly long.

    Good luck.
  9. You should have them scanned before you screw them up :)

    You will be able to dig WAY more information out of them wiith Scanning than you will will
    any intensifiers.

    You could even have it output back to Film if you want to.

  10. Correction--

    I meant PolyToner, which has both sulfide and selenium as toning agents, and the sulfide when used at the correct didution will more heavily tone the lighter parts of the image. But this you will need to work out in advance on disposable polaroids. You can later scan then do filtering/color correction and turn to grayscale.

    I do also suggest FIRST having the valuable negs scanned so that any disasters are not totally catastrophic and irretrievable.
  11. Jeez, all this scanning talk makes me sick. Why would anyone scan a perfectly good negative?
  12. "Why would anyone scan a perfectly good negative?"

    Well, I guess the obvious answer is that the negative in question apparently isn't so "good", so at the very least backing it up in digital makes good sense.

    Second is that it may be possible to pull information out of it that might be difficult at best to get by enlarging or duplicating it in film.

    Finally, if I were throwing a bunch of chemicals at something I couldn't easily replace, a digital scan would sound real good to me regardless. And once I did the toning I've suggested, I also believe that a full color scan of the negative might allow for further image manipulation that couldn't be done otherwise and thus pull out image definiton that was otherwise lost.

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