[Alt-photo] Re: Alt-pro chems through Airport Checked bags

J. Jason Lazarus jason at lucidperceptions.com
Sat Nov 16 07:17:21 UTC 2013

The FAC is the bright green variety.  I'm unaware of what type of tartaric acid it is - it's the stuff straight from B&S.

As well, last night I mixed an old Photographer's Formulary Van Dyke Kit I had around the darkroom and took care to mix it right, just as I did with my supplies from B&S - and although it had some residue at the bottom this morning, I sloshed it around and it's been taking a very long time for anything to settle out (3-6 hours at least) - but, I decided to put 0.2 grams of Citric in it, mixed it and tried printing with it tonight - it has yet to settle anything out of the solution and the prints are gorgeous.

So... that pretty much solves it and it's got to be one of the three chems I got from B&S - so which one?  The only visible difference between the two sets of chemical supplies is that B&S's Silver Nitrate is powder while PF's is flakes.... it seems that, from the group, the consensus is that it's probably faulty FAC... anyone think it may be a problem with the silver or tartaric acid?


On Nov 15, 2013, at 8:56 PM, Joseph Smigiel <smieglitz at gmail.com> wrote:

> I would have thought the addition of slightly more tartaric acid would have solved the problem.  The only other thing can think up are variations in the chemicals.  Is the FAC powder the green variety or the brown?  I also think there is a left vs right isomeric form of tartaric acid, but whether that could make a difference, I dunno.
> Joe
> On Nov 15, 2013, at 11:19 PM, J. Jason Lazarus wrote:
>> All -
>> Talking with Chris off-list, she suggested that I post an image of what I'm dealing with.  The following URL link is an image of two homemade mixes of VDB solution:
>> http://lucidperceptions.com/VDB/9-7-lazarus.jpg
>> Each solution used distilled water, but the left one used a different brand than the one on the right - so that eliminates the water as a culprit (somewhat).
>> Both solutions had hot water added to them prior to being mixed together.
>> The solution on the left had more scrutinizing measurements and I watched how slowly I added the silver nitrate more in that mixture.
>> A third mixture (unpictured) was scrutinized even moreso - grams rather than tsp measurements and the silver nitrate was added via eyedropper at approximately 2 drops per second.  Out of all three, this one actually has the most precipitate but it's... well, different.  It's much more loosely defined and would be more accurately defined as "settling" but not completely dropped out - it resides throughout the bottom third of the bottom and has an almost frothy look to it.
>> I've attempted both adding a slight bit of Tartaric Acid to get the silver into solution and a slight bit of Citric Acid (0.2 g) and neither fix has helped.  These are both suggestions included in Christina's book.
>> Let me know if this helps - at all - in determining the culprit.  I can post more pictures.
>> Jason
>> On Nov 14, 2013, at 11:18 AM, J. Jason Lazarus <jason at lucidperceptions.com> wrote:
>>> That might have more to do with it sitting on the tarmac and freezing;
>>> especially if it's winter.  I live in Fairbanks, so I know what frigid
>>> temps can do to things.  This is part of the reason I had it in my checked
>>> bag - one, shipping is exorbitant (as Alaska isn't "part of the US") and
>>> two, I know it won't be affected by the weather.  A package full of
>>> several packs of polaroid film was ruined before I could get home (which
>>> was fairly quick!) because temps dipped unexpectedly to -30F.
>>> Once I get home tonight, I'll take a picture comparing the color of my FAC
>>> from Bostick versus some old FAC I have still in a Photographer's
>>> Formulary mix kit from a couple years back.  That comparison may answer
>>> some questions - or at least provide more questions from me for the group
>>> here.
>>> Jason
>>>> FWIW last year I transported some sourdough starter in my checked
>>>> baggage when I flew from Alaska to Wisconsin.  To make the transport mix
>>>> I mix a tablespoon of sourdough starter with a cup of flour.  When I get
>>>> to my destination I mix in some water and in less than 24 hours have a
>>>> robust start going again.  When I did this last year my starter was DOA
>>>> - this had never happened before.  I'm speculating that HSA/TSA used
>>>> some sort of radiation but it's nothing more than speculation on my
>>>> part.  I assume that it would take a pretty healthy dose of energy to
>>>> modify the composition of a chemical, but then again it would take a
>>>> significant burst of energy to kill the yeast and bacteria mixed into a
>>>> cup of flour too.
>>>> Food for thought ;)
>>>> --greg
>>>> On 11/14/13 12:30 AM, J. Jason Lazarus wrote:
>>>>> All -
>>>>> I'm having a heck of a time getting decent VDB solution to mix from the
>>>>> chemicals that I recently brought back in checked bag from Bostick and
>>>>> Sullivan in Santa Fe and, because I'm searching for any explanation...
>>>>> ... could the x-rays that a checked bag goes through alter or expose
>>>>> either Silver Nitrate, Tartaric Acid or Ferric Ammonium Citrate?
>>>>> Perhaps a long shot, I don't know. I had asked staff at B&S prior to
>>>>> leaving if they had any reservations with me taking it back in that
>>>>> manner, and seeing none, I didn't give it a second thought... but after
>>>>> several unsuccessful attempts, I'm trying to figure out what it may be.
>>>>> I'm having a devil of a time mixing my own solution without having
>>>>> significant precipitate form and settle to the bottom of the brown
>>>>> bottle.  I've mixed three times, using the measurements out of
>>>>> Christina Z. Anderson's book, and have become even more scrutinizing
>>>>> each time.  This last time, I added all the mixtures exactly (with a
>>>>> very pricey contraption for reloading bullets), mixed with very hot
>>>>> water and even going so far to add the silver nitrate drop by drop via
>>>>> an eyedropper to insure I didn't add it too fast.
>>>>> Within a day, I always end up with a eighth to a quarter inch of silvery
>>>>> sludge at the bottom of the bottle.  Prints, if created with freshly
>>>>> concocted solution, seem normal - but within a week, the exposure
>>>>> dramatically alters and the print quality falls off a cliff and looks
>>>>> poor and overwhelmingly grainy.  I've tried shaking the solution up,
>>>>> letting it rest and taking only the top of the solution (which is
>>>>> unnaturally clear compared to B&S's premix solution) and my prints are
>>>>> of a very poor quality and grainy - very much unlike anything I've
>>>>> experienced with B&S's premix.
>>>>> Any clues?  Anything I'm missing?
>>>>> Thanks.  Any help would be greatly appreciated.  I apologize in advance
>>>>> if there's something utterly sophomoric I'm missing.
>>>>> J. Jason Lazarus
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org
>>> J. Jason Lazarus
>>> Alaskan Photographer
>>> Adjunct Instructor of Photography - UAF
>>> http://lucidperceptions.com
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org
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