11/06/2016

Ilford Digital Paper: Printing Kodachrome Black and White

My saga of printing Kodachrome processed as a black and white negative continues. I had posted my earlier efforts to process an old roll of exposed Kodachrome film here. I was stymied by the high orange content due to the orange filter base. Normal photographic paper is insensitive to red and it frustrated all attempts to print it. I thought that if I could find panchromatic paper I could have better results. In another post I reported on using some old panchromatic Kodak Panalure I bought online. Alas the paper was too fogged with age to give any satisfactory answer to my idea.

I had found out about Ilford Digital Silver paper which is meant to be laser exposed and is panchromatic. It is only available in 100 ft to 500 ft  rolls. Not affordable for a little experimentation. Eventually I ran into a company in the US that sells boxes of 8x10 sheets of the stuff. It is aimed at pinhole camera users. Photo Warehouse sells a lot of old-school and different photographic and graphics arts supplies. In 2015 I placed an order for a box of 100 sheets of 8x10 Digital Silver and when I got it home I found every sheet I tried was black. I was very cautious as you cannot use a safelight. I even took a sheet out of the middle of the pack and developed it without exposure. Deep black was all I got. I called the company and explained what happened. They shipped a new box without quibbling. I have finally gotten around to trying it out. I started with some photos I took around Cambridge using some old Kodachrome and developing it in Ilford LC29 developer per my earlier post. This is one I took of the Round Church and the scanned negative looks like this...

Kodachrome Negative
The strong orange tint shows why it s a challenge to print on normal paper. I ran a test print first at f16 which was underexposed then at f8 which looks about right.

Test strip at f8 from 8 sec to 64 sec in half stop intervals.
This confirmed a 45 second exposure. The print I made using a special printing frame I had made for 35mm prints on 8x10 paper that gives 6"x9" printing area. Here is the print...
First print on digital paper
A few things to note on this print. First there is a dark horizontal bad through the middle of the paper. This is a defect in the paper. Photo Warehouse makes this paper by cutting it from rolls. They clearly have not kept the paper in the dark during the process. This is annoying. There is also a light vertical streak like a crack running up the right third of the print. This is also present on the negative. This is a hard water mark left after the negative was rinsed. These low contrast negatives seem to highlight this problem. I re-rinsed the negative with dish soap and distilled water and ran another print with the same exposure. The print also seems slightly out of focus. This was because the photo was taken out of focus. It was one of the first times out with my Yashica Electro rangefinder and I probably got the focus wrong.  You can also see the alignment in my printing frame is a little off. These are the challenges of working by feel in a a completely dark darkroom.

Re-rinsed negative result.
Next I tried a print from my original posting on the subject. The photo was taken at Eagle Creek in the Columbia River Gorge at Devil's Punchbowl. The scanned negative looked like this.
Negative
Next a test strip at f8...
Test strip f8
I selected the first print at 45 secs. It gives a dramatically dark image.
f8 at 45 seconds
I made another print at 23 seconds. I like this best. And I think it compares to my photo-shopped version in the original post shown below it.
f8 23 seconds
Photo-shopped version from original blog post. 
Finally I went for a very high-key version. This is a two stop lighter version. Ruined by the dark band of course.
High key f16 23 seconds
So in principal the Ilford Digital Silver paper is a useful tool for printing from color negatives; even ones as challenging as these Kodachrome ones. Soon I plan to use normal color print film as it has pretty wide latitude and with it and this paper I can have color and still print useful images in the darkroom.

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