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'TLF#2' Negative Emulsion, 2nd ed.

December 29, 2011

Along the Deschutes River, Oregon, Christmas Eve 2011, with a Baby Graphic and 'TLF#2' film.


f/8, 1 second. The straight, untouched negative scan.

The day before Christmas in a canyon along the Deschutes River was heavily overcast, but the cold wind had died down and the sky had just brightened enough to add a magical glow to one of my favorite hiking spots. The ground was frozen solid, but there wasn't any snow — perfect conditions for getting closer to the water than is usually safely possible. I had enough film along to fully bracket a couple of scenes, and the day before yesterday I ran tests on a number of different developers — great info that will end up on a page of its own soon. But first, making the emulsion.

I'll start with a medley of lines from my favorite sermons. Making emulsions is Art, Craft, and Science. All at once. At all times. I hope the art aspect speaks for itself. Given that there are still gorgeous analog products available commercially (and almost certainly will be for at least our lifetimes) and that nothing in this business is more 'perfect' or easier than digital image capture, it must be assumed we are doing this for the Art of it all. Hopefully, too, there are many who want to be a part of nurturing the artisan era of photographic history.

The science aspect is very much overrated. It is on par with the science 'required' to be a good cook.

The craft aspect is very underappreciated. Think any skill — art, music, sport — which requires dedicated persistence over time, and emulsion making is there. There are few rules that will hold for everyone or even for anyone all the time. Superstitions about procedure are infamous — and unavoidable while learning any intricate skill. The trick is to embrace them as part of your personal process without thinking they must be true for everyone. Practice, practice, and practice, and openly share and exchange your observations and results.


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