Friday, 20 December 2013

Branching Out With Slavich Unibrom

  I have made no secret on this blog and on various groups and forums of the struggles I have had with Slavich Unibrom.  I have had no end of trouble trying to get even development and retain highlight detail and I have pretty much given up on it until I can try out an alternative developer to Fotospeed’s LD20, which is all i have in my stock at the moment.

  Having a few hours free (a rare gift from Jess) to print I made a lith print using some old Agfa Brovira (see previous post).  I had to mix up some fresh standard developer for the test strip so instead of letting that go to waste I decided to try some straight up printing on Unibrom (sacrilege?) using a negative from about a year ago when I went on holiday to Scotland.  The image is of a very small plant that I discovered growing out of a bed of moss on the edge of a forest.  It has good contrast and was well exposed so I thought it would be ideal for seeing what Unibrom can deliver when it comes to straight up printing. 

  I made a test strip, chose an exposure and did a flat print.  It looked good, strong cool blacks and good highlights.  

Ignore the dust etc, my scanner is currently filthy!

   It would need some dodging and burning to get the most out of it though, and i was considering what needed to be done i found my thoughts turning to the lith developer I had just used.  It still had some life left in it so why not try some second pass lith?  I have seen some fine examples of this paper using the second pass method and now seemed like a good opportunity to try it out.  I got out my potassium ferricyanide/bromide bleach, bleached the print all the way back, rinsed it and then put it in the lith developer.  The colours were superb!  The shadows started to build up from a dark coppery red through to a vivid orange before finally cooling off into grey. 

Sorry about the orientation - blogger wont let me rotate the images!

  Unfortunately I pulled the print too late and lost the lovely copper tones in the foreground foliage so I re-bleached it and tried again.  Alas the print solarised (I’m no fan of solarisation) so I made a fresh print and tried again.  Unfortunately it failed this time too.  It is going to take a bit of work to make sure I keep the colour in the foreground at the same time the highlight detail comes in.  That’s something for me to work on in my next darkroom session – maybe only partial bleaching…

Here's the solarised version
   The only drawback I discovered is that once the print goes into the fixer the lovely copper tones disappear and turn into a pale golden yellow – still very pleasing but something of a disappointment after the copper tones.  It's something to keep in mind for future prints though.

The print after the fixing bath.  I need to try and get this lovely colour into the foreground more.  This print is going to take some work i think.
  But still, at least I have found a new use for my supply of Unibrom – it’s a lovely paper and it’s a shame that I can’t seem to get it to work for me with straight lith.  As I mentioned before, perhaps a different developer would serve me better.  Until I can try that out second pass seems to be the order of the day.  I’m looking forward to trying it out with some other negatives, hopefully this weekend.

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