Adventures in Emulsion Making - a Diary
I've always thought it would make a great fairytale: Excited, little photon meets hungry, repressed AgNO3, the magic thing happens and they see the light. Someday, I'll have to turn their story into a haiku (as soon as I figure out what exactly a haiku is). In the meantime, I've decided to try to learn everything I can about making silver gelatin emulsions.
The idea has been rolling around in my head for years. Last winter when I saw that the Photographers' Formulary was offering a workshop on silver gelatin emulsion making and coating by Ron Mowrey, a retired Kodak chemical engineer and photographic innovator, I decided it was now or never.
The June workshop left me inspired, but with more questions than answers. In other words, the perfect geek experience.
So, here goes.
An overview of the areas I am hoping to explore:
1) emulsion recipe ingredients, proportions, and work flow.
2) suitability and handling of various papers, including sizing and coating techniques
3) the response of the emulsion(s) to various developers and other processing chemicals
4) tailoring the characteristics of both paper and negative to best suit each other
Note: I am respecting Ron's desire to recoup some of the expenses of his research and development by passing on those results through his workshops. Although I have nothing but appreciation for how much time and money he has put into this, philosophically, I disagree. Science and art thrive and grow within an open community of explorers sharing observations. With respect for both of our philosophies and needs, I will share those of my results that are independent of Ron's. For my workshop classmates, I am taking as a starting point pages one and two of Ron's manual for making paper and film emulsions - 'Contact speed Azo type chloride paper', which from now on I will refer to as "prime". For all others, I highly recommend a workshop with Ron Mowrey.