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Mastering Exposure – Vintage Camera

Very pleased with exposure of paper negatives today.
(Images here have been inverted in photoshop from a scan of the paper negatives)
Using ISO 6 and metering off an 18% grey card on a bright sunny afternoon, I achieved perfect exposure for my driftwood photos. F64 at 4seconds.
I forgot to turn the plate holder around when photographing the lighthouse in close-up so had a double exposure – I’ll have to go back and try again.
The first image of the afternoon I took was metered on the assumption the paper was
ISO 25 so was under exposed. But now I do feel I understand what I am doing.
It helped that I was able to set up a mini darkroom in my VW T5 Camper – with the curtains drawn and working  in the cupboard with a safelight powered off an inverter connected to the leisure battery – I was able to develop a few paper negatives to check I was getting the exposure correct and then go back and take these images with a bit more confidence in the metering.

Metering was done on my iphone using the app “Lux”.burnham low lighthouse-wp

burnham driftwood-2burnham driftwood-1

Another step in my etching eduction

Having another go with my Clevedon Pier photograph. This time I used a thinner application of oil for the sky and less etching time. clevedon_pier-etch-4533.jpgThe sky has come out much better, but the shorter etch time wasn’t long enough to allow me to make a decent print. So, I’ll have another go, this time with a longer etch and a similar treatment for the sky.

clevedon_pier-etch print-9647.jpg

Relief printing from etched aluminium

First prints from the aluminium etchings.
Very pleased with these first lifts – on 200gsm, glossy card. [Update! – when dry the ink rubbed off the glossy card – so I needed to spray with fixative]
Some more careful work to follow in the coming days to get the best prints out of the etchings.

Success every time!

I’ve cracked it! Using acetone to transfer laserprint onto aluminium plate ready for #etching.  Plates on the left in this photo the peeled-off prints on the right. What made the difference to getting success every time?

1. Preparing the plates with 1200 wet and dry emery paper then a bit of a polish with chrome cleaner – wash off the remains of the chrome cleaner with white Spirit and wipe clean. 

2. Pouring the acetone based nail-polish remover (Must contain Isopropyl Alcohol) on the back of the paper rather than onto the plate and pressing the paper onto that.

3. Smoothing and pressing with a bamboo baren and then removing the paper before it has dried and stuck to the plate.imagetransfers-9946

Progress with etching – Exmoor tree project

After my initial experiments with the etching process, I started today to apply what I have learned to my Exmoor tree images.
(See previous etching blog for my first steps in this process).

I opened one of my images into Photoshop, increased the contrast, applied the “Posterise” function and then deleted the background elements I didn’t want to print. The image was then flipped horizontally, and resized to fit the plate. This was then printed on the laser printer. The polished plate was cleaned thoroughly with white spirit, then covered in nail polish remover before applying the printed image, resting gently on the plate while the acetone softens the toner. Then a few layers of newspaper are placed on top of the image before adding a weight and leaving for a couple of hours. Once the weight hs been removed the now dry plate has the paper printed image stuck to it. The paper needs to be soaked off in warm soapy water and gently rubbed away leaving the toner image on the plate. To add some texture to the sky I brushed on some vegetable oil (Thanks Tony Martin – see reference – for this tip).


With the addition of Sodium Biosulfite to the Salt/Copper Sulfite solution to aid the etching process (See Reference), the plate was placed in the solution for 10 minutes, gently brushing away the copper deposits with a feather.

The etched plate was cleaned and used to produce relief prints. However the backround printed as intensely as the tree. (Print on the left, plate on the right).


After a number of trials it became clear this could be controlled with the stiffness of the paper.


It turns out that 200g/sm Inkjet/laser photopaper (Matte) works superbly. Very rewarding morining’s work.



Nik Semenoff
“When I developed my copper sulfate etch in 1992, I realized that mixing sodium bisulfate into the bath to keep aluminium hydroxide from forming, was actually making a weak hydrochloric acid that produced hydrogen in reaction with the metal, which gently lifted the pure copper particles out of the etched lines.”

Tony Martin

A new arrival for my #reliefprinting

Very pleased to take delivery of a proper printing press to replace my makeshift vice-press (was great for seeing of I could do this print thing). Bought from the “Portable Printing Press Company” – Very good service and the press looks sturdy and well put together. I didnt waste any time putting some prints through it to test it out. I tried taditional lino – the newer plasti “lino” and a 15mm thich piece of oak with my woodpecker woodcut. All of these produced good prints – eventually. Understandably it is important to get the rollers level- producing even pressure across the block and this took a few test prints to get right for each new block as each was a different thickness.

One problem took a google search to solve and that was the paper for the print was getting creased as it went through the rollers. The google search came up with a couple of discussion forums each recommending using a cutting mat on top of the felt sandwich. With that in place everything went through smoothly at low and high pressures.

Now I’m ready to print my Gurnsey rocks using inks I’ve made myself …..



Glorious Stourhead as the sun goes down

Noting the clear sky and thinking the stormy weather coming this weekend would strip trees of leaves, I thought it would be good to head down to Stourhead to catch the low sun illuminating the autumn clothed trees.

Using a neutral density filter I was able to use a very slow shutter speed to smooth out the water ripples and clarify the reflections.Stourhead