Having had a certain measure of success with Eastman stripping films, I have been requested by your council to give a paper this evening dealing with the subject, and particularly with the method of working which my experience has found most successful. In according to their request, I feel I have imposed upon myself a somewhat difficult task.
There is, undoubtedly, a strong prejudice in the minds of most photographers, both amateur and professional, against a negative in which paper is used as a permanent support, on account of the inseparable "grain" and lack of brilliancy in the resulting prints; and the idea of the paper being used only as a temporary support does not seem to convey to their mind a correct impression of the true position of the matter.
It may be as well before entering into the technical details of the manipulation to consider briefly the advantages to be derived - which will be better appreciated after an actual trial.
My experience (which is at present limited) is that they are far superior to glass for all purposes except portraiture of the human form or instantaneous pictures where extreme rapidity is necessary, but for all ordinary cases of rapid exposure they are sufficiently quick. The first advantage, which I soon discovered, is their entire freedom from halation. This, with glass plates, is inseparable, and even when much labor has been bestowed on backing them, the halation is painfully apparent.
These films never frill, being made of emulsion which has been made insoluble. Compare the respective weights of the two substances - one plate weighing more than a dozen films of the same size.
Again, on comparing a stripping film negative with one on glass of the same exposure and subject, it will be found there is a greater sharpness or clearness in the detail, owing, I am of opinion, to the paper absorbing the light immediately it has penetrated the emulsion, the result being a brilliant negative. Landscapes on stripped films can be retouched or printed from on either side, and the advantage in this respect for carbon or mechanical printing is enormous. Now, imagine the tourist working with glass, and compare him to another working with films. The one works in harness, tugging, probably, a half hundredweight of glass with him from place to place, paying extra carriage, extra tips, and in a continual state of anxiety as to possible breakage, difficulty of packing, and having to be continually on the lookout for a dark place to change the plates, and, perhaps, on his return finds numbers of his plates damaged owing to friction on the surface; while the disciple of films, lightly burdened with only camera and slide, and his (say two hundred) films in his pockets, for they lie so compact together. Then the advantages to the tourists abroad, their name is "legion," not the least being the ease of guarding your exposed pictures from the custom house officials, who almost always seek to make matters disagreeable in this respect, and lastly, though not least, the ease with which the negatives can be stowed away in envelopes or albums, etc., when reference to them is easy in the extreme.
Now, having come (rightly, I think, you will admit) to the conclusion that films have these advantages, you naturally ask, What are their disadvantages? Remembering, then, that I am only advocating stripping films, I consider they have but two disadvantages: First, they entail some additional outlay in the way of apparatus, etc. Second, they are a little more trouble to finish than the glass negatives, which sink into insignificance when the manifold advantages are considered.
In order to deal effectively with the second objection I mentioned, viz., the extra trouble and perseverance, I propose, with your permission, to carry a negative through the different stages from exposure to completion, and in so doing I shall endeavor to make the process clear to you, and hope to enlist your attention.
The developer I use is slightly different to that of the Eastman company, and is as follows:
|Sulphite of soda.||4 ounces.|
|To be dissolved in 8 ounces of hot distilled water, then rendered slightly acid with citric acid, then add -|
|Pyrogallic acid.||1 ounce.|
|Water to make up to||10 ounces.|
|Pure carbonate of soda.||1 ounce.|
|Water to make up in all to||10 ounces.|
|Pure carbonate of potash.||1 ounce.|
|Water to make up to||10 ounces.|
|Bromide of potassium.||1 ounce.|
|Water to make up to||10 ounces.|
I have here two half-plate films exposed at 8:30 A.M. to-day, one with five and one with six seconds' exposure, subject chiefly middle distance. I take 90 minims A, 10 minims D, and 90 minims B, and make up to 2 ounces water. I do not soak the films in water. There is no need for it. In fact, it is prejudicial to do so. I place the films face uppermost in the dish, and pour on the developer on the center of the films. You will observe they lie perfectly flat, and are free from air bubbles. Rock the dish continually during development, and when the high lights are out add from 10 to 90 minims C, and finish development and fix. The negatives being complete, I ask you to observe that both are of equal quality, proving the latitude of exposure permissible.
I now coat a piece of glass half an inch larger all round than the negative with India rubber solution (see Eastman formula), and squeegee the negative face downward upon the rubber, interposing a sheet of blotting paper and oilskin between the negative and squeegee to prevent injury to the exposed rubber surface, and then place the negative under pressure with blotting paper interposed until moderately dry only.
I then pour hot water upon it, and, gently rocking the dish, you see the paper floats from the film without the necessity for pulling it with a pin, leaving the film negative on the glass. Now, the instructions say remove the remaining soluble gelatine with camel's hair brush, but, unless it requires intensifying, which no properly developed negative should require, you need not do so, but simply pour on the gelatine solution (see Eastman formula), well covering the edges of the film, and put on a level shelf to dry.
I will now take up a negative in this state on the glass, but dry, and carefully cut round the edges of the film, and you see I can readily pull off the film with its gelatine support. Having now passed through the whole of the process, it behooves us to consider for a few minutes the causes of failure in the hands of beginners and their remedies: 1. The rubber will not flow over glass? Solution too thick, glass greasy. 2. Rubber peels off on drying? Dirty glass. 3. Negative not dense enough? Use more bromide and longer development. 4. Gelatine cracks on being pulled off? Add more glycerine. 5. Gelatine not thick enough? Gelatine varnish too thin, not strong enough. 6. Does not dry sufficiently hard? Too much glycerine. - E.H. Jaques, Reported in Br. Jour. of Photography.
A communication to the Birmingham Photographic Society.