BROMOIL For The Beginner
HERMAN A. SCHERRER
Illustrations by the Author
Other bromoils by H. A. Scherrer appear on pages 42-43
Art and photography are nicely blended in this flexible medium. An interesting description of the technique is given here by an expert who is well known as a salon judge.
NINE out of ten amateur photographers shy away from the timehonored bromoil process. Some frankly feel that it is too involved or too difficult to tackle. Others scoff at any photographic process which involves much or even any manipulation of print or negative.
That the process is not nearly so difficult as is commonly believed, this article will attempt to show. Regarding its justification as a photographic procedure we will not attempt to write. Suffice it to say that bromoils and transfers lend themselves to the production of prints having beautiful and distinctive quality, a number of effective textures, and depths of tone not so easily obtainable in other media.
The term bromoil is traceable to the fact that in this process the making of bromide (or chloro-bromide) prints is combined with the use of oil pigment to produce a photographic image. Briefly, a bromoil is distinguished by having its final image composed of a pigment upon the surface of gelatin or paper rather than imbedded in the emulsion. The image therefore is much easier to get at; pigment may be added or removed with ease and assurance, permitting considerable modification and changes in values.
If you read several of the books and articles dealing with this subject you may be deterred from attempting it yourself because there seems to be great variance among the methods of procedure set forth. This is misleading, since the theory remains the same in all cases. Any differences lie in the preparation of the matrix. This is explainable in two ways.
First, each particular make of bromide or chloro-bromide paper requires individual treatment to prepare it for the best results. Secondly, the pigmenting process, being purely manual, becomes individualistic with each worker. Since each sort of brush stroke produces different results, it becomes important to prepare the gelatin so that it will be most receptive to the brush stroke adopted.
It therefore behooves the beginner to adhere closely to one technique before combining several, if he wishes to avoid pitfalls. Hence this description will follow one procedure without modifications. To accomplish this it will be necessary to name certain makes of materials, but in so doing we wish to make it clear that these are by no means the only kinds fitted for the process.
To make a bromoil we start with a bromide or a chloro-bromide print which has been fixed and dried, and which was made either by contact or projection printing. This print is then immersed in a bath which has the double function of bleaching the print and of tanning or hardening the gelatin in direct proportion to the amount of silver which it contained. This resulting matrix is then washed and again fixed so that all remaining silver salts are removed, leaving us a tanned gelatin-coated paper. After another washing this matrix is again dried and aged.
Upon soaking such a prepared matrix in water we find that the gelatin will absorb water in inverse proportion to the tanning, i.e., it will absorb most water in the original lights, and least water in the original darks, with proportionate amounts for the intermediate values of the print. We find further that this absorbed water has a repelling action towards the greasy ink pigment used in bromoil work, so that ink will be repelled in direct proportion to the lights of the original print. However, sufficient ink will adhere to the gelatin for us to build up our picture, and this resulting print is a bromoil.
If we lay a freshly inked bromoil face down on a sheet of paper and apply sufficient pressure to cause the ink of the bromoil to leave the gelatin surface and ‘adhere to the paper, the image thus produced on paper is a simple bromoil transfer. And if we re-ink the same bromoil and repeat the process of transferring the ink one or more times on our original simple transfer (each time registering perfectly with the preceding impression) , we produce a multiple transfer.
In entering upon a detailed description of bromoil I shall assume that the reader is sufficiently familiar with the basic principles of photography to be able to make a negative and a projected bromide print of whatever quality he may de-
sire, but that he is a novice in bromoiling. With this in mind, perhaps the best method of approach will be for us to retire to the workroom and together go through the various steps necessary in making a finished print.
Any negative that renders a full scale of values from light to dark on a projected bromide print may be used successfully for bromoil. However, the most suitable negative is one which has been fully exposed and softly developed. It should have a short scale (or low gamma), with a trace of silver deposit in the deepest shadows. Such a negative will result in the least trouble when we come to pigment our print.
The size of the negative is of little importance, except that larger sizes may be treated with New Coccine so as to hold back portions which might otherwise print too dark.
THE BROMIDE PRINT
Having made the negative we must decide upon the bromide or chloro-bromide paper we are to use, for as stated above, papers require individual treatment for best results. My choice is Defender Velour Black, Surface DD, Grade 22. The maker of this fast chloro-bromide paper requests that when it is intended for bromoil use the fact be made known with the order.
Not every make of paper will give satisfactory results, for many emulsions have hardeners incorporated into them which will not permit of long scale differential in tanning. It is therefore unwise for the beginner to experiment with unfamiliar brands.
Our developing formula is made of the following ingredients:
Water .................32 oz.
Sodium sulfite.......... 1 oz.
Potassium bromide......30 grains
The prints should be developed for four minutes. No stop bath is needed or desired between development and fixation, but prints should be well rinsed in clean water^
The fixing bath is as follows:
Water ....................32 oz.
Hypo ..................... 8 oz.
Fixing time is fifteen minutes. Prolonged fixing will bleach the prints to a marked degree.
The above quantities of developer and fixing bath will suffice for about one dozen ll"xl4" prints, provided that these twelve prints are developed within a period of two hours.
An amidol developer will not keep and must be made up fresh immediately before using. The fixing bath, while not exhausted, should nevertheless be dis-
40 SEC. EXPOSURE
35 SEC. EXPOSURE
30 SEC. EXPOSURE
25 SEC. EXPOSURE
20 SEC. EXPOSURE
15 SEC. EXPOSURE
10 SEC. EXPOSURE
5 SEC. EXPOSURE
carded after twelve prints have been fixed in it.
Before making the enlargement we must provide ourselves with a suitable mask or arrange the enlarging easel so that our finished print will have a white margin about Vz" wide on all four edges. This margin is called a safe edge and its purpose is to keep the brush from the damp blotter support during pigmenting.
We are now ready to compose the picture within the area of our mask—for it is well not to rely upon trimming for the final framing of our print. This becomes essential in making bromoils for transfer.
The making of graduated test strips of varying exposures will be almost a necessity, especially for the beginner. It should be borne in mind, however, that the test strip must be developed for four minutes before selecting the section for printing time.
It has always been our custom to place the test strip across such a section of the composition that it will cover a highlight and a correspondingly deep dark at the same time. In this way we can determine from a single strip the time required for the lights as well as the reduced time (if necessary) for the darks.
In making our choice of the section of test strip we must choose one showing a perceptible deposit of silver on the very highest light, while at the same time the deepest dark must fall short of an absolute black. In other words, our print should not exhaust the range of the paper; it should be rather dull and lacking in sparkle.
Thus having determined our proper printing time we make our exposure, dodging if necessary to prevent darks from burning too deeply. The paper is then developed in the amidol formula for four minutes; rinsed ten seconds in clean water; fixed fifteen minutes; and washed thoroughly in running water for one hour. Now lay the print face up on newspapers after all surface water has been carefully mopped up with a moist chamois. After the print has sufficiently dried to permit it to stand on end, it should be hung by means of clothes-pins on a line for thorough and rapid drying from both sides.
BLEACHING AND TANNING
While bleaching and tanning of the gelatin are two separate and distinct actions, they take place simultaneously in a single solution and this double action is usually referred to as bleaching. The bleaching of the print is caused by the reduction of the black silver to a white silver salt, which is in turn removed from the gelatin by subsequent fixing and washing.
While the silver is being acted upon, the potassium bichromate in the solution is acting upon the gelatin in such a manner that it is hardened or tanned in direct proportion to the amount of silver in the original print. Hence we may say that our gelatin matrix contains a latent image of our original picture in degrees of hardness.
It is this proportionate hardening or tanning that makes the bromoil process possible, because the gelatin will now absorb water in inverse proportion to the amount of tanning. And this absorbed water has a repelling action towards the greasy ink used in pigmenting. This action will be greatest where the water content of the gelatin is greatest (in the lights of the print) ; it will be least where the water content is least (in the darks of the print) ; and it will be proportionate to the water content in the intermediate tonal values. Thus we will be able to reproduce our original picture with ink on the surface of the gelatin.
The bleaching process is carried on in daylight or by white artificial light at any time after the original print has been thoroughly dried. Inasmuch as bleaching solution keeps well, and since some of the ingredients dissolve slowly, it is wise to make up a concentrated stock solution as follows:
Copper sulfate ......... 2 oz.
Potassium bromide..... 2 oz.
Potassium bichromate... 50 grains
Sulphuric acid C. P......40 drops
Sulphuric C. P......40 drops Working solution: 1 part stock solution to 5 parts water. This working bleach
(Continued on page 107)
(Continued from page 22)
solution may be kept and brought up to ■ strength from time to time, but it has al| ways been our custom to discard the hath j after twelve ll"xl4'' prints have been : bleached in a 30 oz. quantity of it. The fixing bath is the same as the fixing bath mentioned previously, and should not be used for more than a dozen prints. Some advocate a fresh bath for each print.
When our original print has dried thoroughly, it is soaked in clean water until limp, but not longer than two minutes. Allow surplus water to drain off and plunge the print into the working bleach solution, making sure that all parts are immediately submerged. Agitate during the entire bleaching period.
The lights of the print will begin to fade almost immediately; the darks will gradually turn a reddish-brown and then a yellow-green. If the print has been properly timed all traces of the reddish-brown will have disappeared in from 1% minutes to 2x/i minutes. But the print should remain in the bleach bath for 4 minutes. In the event that it requires more than 4 minutes to remove all traces of reddish-brown color, we may ¡ be sure that those portions were over; exposed in printing. However, let the print remain in the bath until all such traces have been removed. Such an overexposed print is by no means a total loss, but it probably will be difficult to obtain detail in the darker portions thereof in our finished bromoil. When the print is removed from the bleach bath the original picture is still plainly but more faintly visible in a yellow-green color.
It will be well for the beginner to number his dry prints on the back before bleaching them in order to identify them later. On a separate piece of paper record the time required for the final removal of reddish-brown color after immersing the print in the bleach bath. Later, when the matrix is dry, these data may be jotted on the back of it since they have a direct relation to the first soaking required before pigmenting.
After the print has been bleached it must be washed thoroughly in running water for four minutes then placed in the fixing bath for a period of six minutes with occasional agitation to insure even fixation. The yellow-green image will fade in the fixing bath, leaving only a faint gray-green color in the deepest darks of the original print. After fixing, the matrix is washed in running water for fifteen minutes and then carefully surface-dried with chamois skin and again laid face up on newspapers to dry.
This second drying of the matrix is of utmost importance in conditioning the gelatin. You should avoid touching the face of the matrix with your hands (except on the safe edges) after it leaves the bleach bath.
After preliminary drying the bleached print (or matrix) should be hung up in a very dry place, free from dust, for a period of at least twenty-four hours. If
the atmosphere is humid, the matrix should be left for several days, after which it will be ready for pigmenting. There seems to be no limit to the age of a bleached matrix; in fact, the older they are the better they seem to work.
EQUIPMENT REQUIRED FOR PIGMENTING
The following equipment for pigmenting is recommended for the beginner. Many of the items are already in the possession of every photographer so that the initial outlay will probably not exceed $5.00.
2 hogr-halr bromoil brushes. Xo. 18 or Nro. 20 ; "Stel ling” brushes are good to begin with ; these cost from $1.50 to $1.75 each.
2 or 3 artists’ flat oil brushes ranging from to %" in width.
1 small camels’ hair brush.
1 tube of hard black bromoil ink, "Sinclair’s Encre Machine.”
An ounce or two of Canada Balsam.
Piece of soft chamois skin at least 12 inches square.
A working support ; this may be a slab of marble, heavy glass, a drawing board covered with linoleum or oil cloth, or the under side of a developing tray (the latter is my personal preference).
Sheet of blotting paper slightly larger than the print.
Pallet upon which to spread the ink —this may be a 6" x 6" square white glazed tile or a piece of smooth, heavy, light-colored translucent glass.
A tray large enough in which to soak the print.
Carbon pencil for spotting, “Grade B” preferred.
Swab of cotton.
Our matrix now is ready to be pigmented, and as soon as we have the necessary tools and materials with which to work we can commence the next process.
[Descriptions of the actual pigmenting of the bromoil and the making of a bromoil transfer are contained in the second portion of this article, which will complete the series. It will appear in the August issue of POPULAR PHOTOGRAPHY. Ed.]—fet
Ferrotype Tin Serves As Black Background
THERE are times when every amateur wants to photograph flowers or a
white object against a jet black back-
ground and has difficulty in obtaining such a background at a moment’s notice. I have found that ordinary ferrotype tins will serve the purpose perfectly. Place a fer-
rotype tin on a bookcase or table near the wall with your object on top of it and a second tin can be leaned against the wall. In both cases your tin has been polished perfectly clean and the shiny side is up or facing the camera. Your lights can be maneuvered so as to avoid reflections. Should you have a photograph that you want to copy with a black background, you will find, that a little rubber cement on its back will hold it to the tin during exposure. After exposure you can remove the cement with the rub of a finger without harm to your ferrotype tin or your photograph.—Walter Masson, Boston, Mass.