Sunday, 3 May 2020

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day 2020

Paper negative on Adox MCP 310 RC paper, inverted and flipped in Photoshop
Last Sunday was Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. Being unable to go out to take photographs as in other years (although carrying around a large format camera, tripod and film holders could arguably be defined as exercise), I did want to mark the day and made four exposures in the garden using the MPP Micro-Technical Mk VIII camera with the 0.3mm pinhole lensboard I'd made for it. As the camera's focus moves the lensboard, the focal length can be changed: in the past I've shot pinhole photographs at a 'normal' angle of view for the 4x5 inch large format; here, I used approximately 100mm for the focal length, moderately wide. At longer focal lengths, exposure times start to get frustratingly long; the four photographs were taken successively over about an hour.

Having been working with paper negatives recently, I thought that I'd shoot a negative and a positive on photographic paper rather than use film or plates as on other years. The negative was shot on Adox MCP 310 RC paper, which I've used for some of the recent paper negatives and which, for variable contrast paper, has a certain amount of latitude. I did flash this to reduce contrast further, and used a light green filter.  I rated the paper at an exposure index of 12, and doubled the exposure time for the filter factor. Shooting on variable contrast paper, green is useful as a minus-magenta filter: the high contrast layer(s) in the paper are sensitive towards magenta. This seems to make sense to me; a similar result could probably be achieved by using a low-number Multigrade filter when shooting. The subject, raspberry canes, were lit with sun coming through the leaves of a tree, so this made for high-contrast subject to begin with. The positive was shot on Harman Direct Positive Paper. This is around ten years old, and the result wasn't as good as I had hoped. I rated this at 6, and flashed the paper. The highlights look overexposed, but the paper hasn't developed anywhere near dark enough. The shadows are all a mid grey, and there's the kind of texture running through it that one sometimes get when backing paper reacts with the emulsion on medium format film. The Harman Direct Positive Paper hasn't been stored with any care since I bought it a decade ago, so this might not be surprising, but I have had good results with other kinds of photographic papers of much older vintages. The image at the top of the post is the inverted paper negative, which worked well enough on its own.

Harman Direct Positive RC paper
Paper negative on Adox MCP 310 RC paper
I developed the paper in Ilford Multigrade paper developer diluted 1+20; the dilution of the developer doesn't seem to affect the contrast that much, but diluting it further than usual does make it easier to control the degree of development as it extends the time, although both papers in this case were left to develop to completion. This may not have helped the Harman Direct Positive Paper, but this doesn't explain the texture. I also shot two sheets of Rollei ATO 2.1 Supergraphic film, one of which was fogged, and developed these at the same time in the same paper developer; the negatives are high contrast, as one might expect. Currently without access to scanning for large format negatives, I made a contact print on Silverprint Solar Print paper - a form of ready-sensitised cyanotype paper, for which the contrast of the negative worked well.

Rollei ATO 2.1 Supergraphic film contact print on Solar Print paper

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