My project is on the solarization of negatives to form a printed image. I began this project with very little knowledge on the process mainly because there is not a whole lot of information anywhere on the actual technique of solarizing photography. A man named Armand Sabattier discovered the process of solarizing photography, also known as sabattier printing, in 1862. The resulting effect of a sabattier print is a positive and negative image. It forms a tone reversal. The results of the sabattier process are very unpredictable. Almost everything done in the darkroom is very unpredictable. Photographers such as Ansel Andams have used this type of printing.
After the silver gelatin photography lab, I decided I wanted to spend more time in the darkroom. I began looking around for a different experiment with silver gelatin photography. I talked to Robin Paris, the visiting photography professor, and she suggested that I try out the solarization of prints. She warned me that the procedure might be a little difficult and frustrating but the result are some amazing images. I gathered a group of negatives and the materials listed below. From here I began my project on solarizing photography.
Contact printing frame
Kodak Dektol developer
Kodak Stop Bath
Printing Paper: Illford Glossy Multigrade RC
I began my project by making the four materials needed for developing my prints. The developer had a 1:4 dilution. I then picked out four negatives I thought would work well in this process. I turned on the safe lights and began my printing. The first group came out looking blurry and very gray. I came to the conclusion that the process I was using was not correct.
They did not look at all like sabattier prints are supposed to look. Frustrated I left the darkroom and came back the next day with new negatives and a better understanding of the process. I made a developer mixture of a 1:10 ratio and left the fixer undiluted. I placed my negative in the enlarger with an f-stop of 8. I made sure my negative was completely focused.
I exposed the image for 3 seconds then placed the print into the developer for 10 seconds to bring out the mid tones. I then returned the image to the enlarger and re-exposed the image to light only for 2.3 seconds and continued on with the developing process. The second developing is not as crucial as the first time. I left the prints in the developer for 5 minutes each and then continued on with the process, placing it in the stop bath, fixer and then washing it off. I varied the exposure time throughout my experiment with a range of 10 seconds to 3 seconds. Also varied the f-stop and the size and focus of the image.
The resulting prints are below. Click on the first image...and then subsequent ones
f-stop: 8 first
exposure: 3 seconds
second exposure: 2.3 seconds
CLICK on PICTURE FOR NEXT PICTURE
My project was very hard to watch and have equally comparing results. Like I said before, it is very hard to predict what will happen the dark room. With the glass negative, the best prints were made under an f-stop of 8 with a clear focus. When I varied my first exposure time, the amount of light let in changed the highlights and midtones of the resulting image. The second exposure time was also very crucial to the experiment. If you exposed it to the light for too long, your picture would have a much darker tone. This would take away from the positive aspect of the print. With the negative of the girl, I had to take a different approach. She has a lot of lightness in her face which makes the nose area turn very black. After the first exposure, you place the negative in the developer for 10 seconds. If she was in there any loner, the midtones in her face would appear too much and the resulting picture would be too dark, losing most of the white around her face.
When using the enlarger always make sure to turn the lights off before placing the paper underneath it. It is very easy to forget to turn this light off but it will ruin your paper.
The fixer works best if it is not diluted. I diluted it the first day and the pictures turned a yellowish-color over night. Always make sure to wash the prints off thoroughly. If you do not do this, the pictures will turn even more yellow!
I realized that the developer plays a large role in the photography process. The 1:10 solution worked best for me but it varies with each project and each negative.
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I would like to thank Robin Paris for all her help with this project as well as Dr. Bordley. I would also like to thank Mary Stuart Hall and Ian Saville for their negatives.