U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re. Paper Negatives

Re. Paper Negatives

Hi Everyone,

I can only speak from my own experience with paper negatives, but I have
found that the ability to work them has been a real blessing. When I first
started to learn the carbon transfer method I used transparency material in
my printers to make digital negatives. I've tried a number of types of
material that were locally available and eventually even bought several
large rolls of Mylar to use. This turned out to be a rather expensive

When making only a single negative for a monochrome carbon, the consumption
of the material was reasonable, but when I began to print the multiple
negatives required for color work I found my material costs were going up
exponentially. The bottom line was that by switching to paper negs, I saved
an incredible amount of money (to me anyway) while working my way through
the more difficult parts of the learning curves. When I go back to
transparency material in the future, I will obviously need to retest, but I
will have the experience to deal with it without wasting a vast amount of

As far as sharpness issues go, I have never had the privilege of being able
to print with large format film negatives so I have no experience there. But
in comparing the sharpness of my prints made with paper as opposed to Mylar
in relation to the amount of money I was saving in materials costs, it
turned out to be a no-brainer. By the time I factored in the aspects of the
paper texture of the final support and light diffusion through the gelatin,
I could see only a negligible difference (if any) in sharpness, not enough
to worry about. I've had greater sharpness issues in just enlarging my
source material up to the final image size.

I print using high power Olec light sources so that could quite likely
influence the final result as well. I have never used a much more diffuse
fluorescent light bank and I imagine that may cause sharpness issues with
paper negs. Paper also has it's own esthetic, which I do not find
unattractive, and each paper is different so experimentation is key.
Besides, if you don't like the effect you get as a negative, you can always
use it for the regular run of the mill printing you need to do every day.

I plan to post my experiences with paper negatives to my web site as I am
able to do so, and will be covering the details of my methods of working
with them as well as comparisons between the papers I have tested, so maybe
check it from time to time. I won't post the actual links because they may
change as I work on the site, but the info will be available through the
"Articles" menu of the site.



----- Original Message -----
From: "John Grocott" <john.grocott403@ntlworld.com>
To: "The List" <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 5:02 PM
Subject: Re. Paper Negatives

> Jaceck  (  and All  ),
>              I think it safe to say that what you thought about less
> with paper negs is generally true.  Those working with paper negs dont
mind this.  It depends on the style of the work in progress.
>   We are in the field of alternative photography processes ( sometimes )
which, of course, often swings away from the purist silver
> gelatine approach to picture making and  loss of detail is quite
> in the finished print. Even with silver gelatine work loss of detail was
> often sought after by the use of various means, as with some pictorialist
and the ''Linked Ring''  and '' Sessionists''. ( Alvin Langdon Coburn and
> others. )
>                 Having said that it is surprising how much detail can be
> retained from the original negative using paper negs.  Silver gelatine
> negs can achieve greater detail,  using the right paper, than digital
> negs. Its a useful topic with many opinions based on the experience of
those who have actually made and used paper negs.
>                   Looking forard to the discussion, maybe.
> Best
> John- Photographist - London - UK
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Jacek" <gonsaj@iinet.net.au>
> To: <alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca>
> Sent: Sunday, December 02, 2007 12:29 PM
> Subject: Paper negative
> >
> > Other than the transparency route of producing negatives for alt
> > processes, what are the pros and cons of the Paper negative route?  I
> > always thought a paper negative wouldnt give all the detail a
> > negative would give?
> > Cheers
> > Jacek