iPhone negative in the enlarger - it works!

Discussion in 'Digital Negatives' started by Robin Guymer, Nov 1, 2018.

  1. Robin Guymer

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    The darkroom is a great place to try some crazy stunts. On my morning river walk I wondered if a smart phone could project an image onto multigrade paper.

    To achieve this I removed the negative carrier from the enlarger and placed my iPhone 7 face down to the lens at max brightness with a negative photo on the screen. A black cloth was draped over the enlarger to stop the side light escaping from where the neg carrier should be. The grain focuser mirror is interesting as you can achieve focus right onto the phone screen pixels. A few test strips indicated that at about 25 seconds at F2.8 and a Grade 3 filter would produce an image. I placed the red block filter in place and kept a large book over the 10x8 paper as I positioned it. Keeping the book over the paper I swapped the red block filter over for a Grade 3 filter. Removed the book and watched a clock for 23 seconds before placing the book over the paper and changing the filter back again. Developed and fixed the paper and here are the results. The first image is then a scan of the printed 10x8. What is interesting is all those flowing lines caused by the scanner which are not on the printed image. The second image is an iPhone photo of the print and is more realistic to how the finished product is. The third image is the original negative I put on the iPhone.

    I think this method has potential as my print is okay for a first go. What is needed is an app on the phone that will allow the image to be squeezed into the same size as what is available in the carrier area with a black outside background. Then the full image would be projected through the lens to the print paper. With some more experimenting of the lens F-stop and the filter grades and times this could give some great results. So I guess this could be full circle for digital camera fans as they can take a digital image, convert it to a negative in Gimp, then use the smartphone through an enlarger lens to put it on a paper print in the darkroom. At least I kept to a real film negative that I had scanned in.

    Hopefully you have enjoyed this and will post some of your own results. Enjoy and let me know if you come across the photo shrinking software app.

    iPhone enlarger.jpeg iPhonetaken.JPG RafaNeg.JPG
     
  2. nmp

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    Very interesting.....there was a thread here recently about using an iPad to make contact prints along the same lines.

    You don't need to have a special app for making the image fit. If you are using Gimp, just make a black border (or white if done before inverting) of appropriate size around the image.

    :Niranjan.
     
  3. mshchem

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    Looks good .
     
  4. locutus

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    I used this method for testing my homebrew 5x4 enlarger, quite useful for testing alignment and coverage
     
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    Robin Guymer

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    Thanks Niranjan, that is a good idea about using Gimp. I have found an app called Square Fit which will work. It centres the image to all the common sizes but only puts a black border on two sides. I guess a bit of black tape could do the other two. It wouldn't be hard to make a hybrid carrier for the iPhone that stops the light leaks. This was just my first result from the idea so I think with some more work the quality could improve and will certainly be better on smaller paper. I'm never happy with my inkjet printer results so this could my answer to printing digital photos.
     
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    Robin Guymer

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    Exactly my thoughts on what can be done with this. Digital photographers don't need to buy an enlarger as all is needed is an enlarger lens and a mounting box on a vertical slide with a filter mount. The box could be a box inside a box that adjusts like enlarger bellows to get perfect focus. The iPhone would just sit on top. This same hybrid enlarger would also make a good film scanner by using the iPhone as the light source, place the negative under it, remove the lens and use the DSLR vertically.
     
  7. OP
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    Robin Guymer

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    My first idea was contact prints by having the paper directly on the iPhone screen. I couldn't work out how to instantly turn on the iPhone with the image on screen. The start screen always comes up first. Now there is an idea for an app which from a black screen will show the image for xx seconds and then go black again. You could lay the iPhone flat on the multigrade paper with a grade filter between or use grade paper. The iPhone then exposes the image directly. Hopefully this would be in focus as there would be a difference of the glass screen thickness to the screen pixels. Using an iPad could give the bigger paper size results or go the whole hog and use the TV.
     
  8. Andrew O'Neill

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    My students and I have been doing this for years with any cell phone...
     
  9. wyofilm

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    Looks like great fun.
     
  10. nmp

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    Yeah there are some issues that have to be worked out in the iPad contact printing. If one has an enlarger, your approach seems more promising. If the enlarger can handle medium format, you can use much larger area and get more pixels on to the image.

    Good fun!

    :Niranjan.
     
  11. Cholentpot

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    Practically this would be pretty cool, clean up all the dust and stuff in photoshop, maybe some dodging and burning then flash to paper...hmmmmm.
     
  12. Sauer

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    I imagine this could be handy for aligning as well. Project a grid and measure with a ruler to make sure all lines are even and parallel.
     
  13. Kino

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    I used to shoot directly off of a CRT and found that slightly defocusing the image would help hide the pixels.

    This same method should work with an ipad or phone, but use a enlarging grain magnifier to see JUST when the trade off between sharp in noisy is the best.

    What an irony; using a grain enlarger to focus a digital screen! :smile:
     
  14. bsdunek

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    Talk about backward. When the usual way is to start with film and then go to digital, this is reversed. I never would have thought of this. I'll have to try it - sounds fun.
     
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    Robin Guymer

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    Bad news this doesn't work because the focal plane of a smartphone or iPad is right on the liquid crystal display. The distance between the glass and the LCD throws the image out of focus. Contact printing from a smartphone may only work if the print is directly on the LCD. I've been able to print a couple of contact images direct off the iPhone and I will explain how and show examples tomorrow.
     
  16. OP
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    Robin Guymer

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    iPhone Contact Print
    Thinking of a few alternative ways to do digital contact printing from a smartphone or iPad, I still believe that it won't work unless the print paper is on the actual LCDs not on the iPhone glass above them. This is what I did in this experiment.
    1. Converted a positive colour iPhone photo to B&W then to a negative using Gimp.
    2. With the iPhone camera blocked out with black cloth I took a photo.
    3. Using an app called Slide Show Maker I made a movie with 5 black images + negative + 5 black images. Set the speed at fastest 3.3x. Set Style at Suspense because this keeps the image still (I think) and opens and closes it like a shutter. The movie runs for just under ten seconds so about 1 second per image.
    4. I set the iPhone at dimmest screen brightness.
    5. Under red light placed a print on the desk and partial covered by a No.3 grade filter to see the difference.
    6. Started the movie and whilst the screen is on black placed it on the paper then after 7 seconds turned off the phone without moving it so the screen was still black.
    7. Developed the print as normal.
    Here is the result and original.
    Digital contact print.jpeg IMG_1509.jpg This is in a chopper over the Grand Canyon. The smaller square is the Grade 3 filter. I think the image is blurry because focus cannot be achieved to the LCDs.
    Hope you enjoyed this experiment. Let me know if you get better results as it would be great if this could work.
     
  17. OP
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    Robin Guymer

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    Wet Print from iPhone in an Enlarger
    I have experimented some more with this to achieve a better result. It does work well with benefits and drawbacks. To make this experiment even more out there, I used an infrared image from the hybrid camera I built being a Nikon FE with a Sony Nex digital back
    Nikon rear.jpg
    This was the workflow.
    1. Converted the image to a negative in Gimp and loaded on the iPhone.
    2. Using an app called Square Fit I squeezed the image to a bit bigger than a 35mm negative so all of it would be projected through the lens. Used the preset canvas at 16:9 and saved to Photo.
    3. Rotated image 90degree in Photo and it displays with a black background.
    4. Set the iPhone to never turn off and maximum brightness and inserted in the negative carrier area of the enlarger.
    5. Using 18 x 12.5cm paper size I adjusted the enlarger to fill that and used the grain focuser to adjust till I could see clearly the individual electronics of the LCD screen. Its amazing how defined these look with a grain focuser.
    6. Set the enlarger lens to F5.6 and inserted the red block filter.
    7. Placed the multigrade print paper and covered with a book.
    8. Changed the block filter for a Grade 2 filter, removed the book and exposed for 35 seconds based on the test strips.
    9. Covered the paper with the book and swapped back to the red filter
    10. Developed the paper as normal.
    In order. The Original, The Negative, Scan of the Final Print
    BPnoir copy.jpeg BPnoir copy 2.jpg Digital neg print.jpeg
    On the Final Print there are a lot of marks so let me explain. Some are marks from when I built the hybrid camera back because I had to remove the IR filter from the sensor and with all the testing and sanding back to get focus, I made a few marks on the sensor glass. There is also some dust because the sensor in the film camera seems to attract a lot of dirt and with the film camera shutter so close to it this stirs up the minute dust a bit. The digital back is set at 3 sec to allow enough time for the Nikon to take the photo so there is some noise from that time the sensor is electrified. My used iPhone 7 plus screen is quite marked so these are also reflected onto the image. Then going deeper I can see all the individual LCD electronics that I focused on and the larger grid pattern that they were assembled in. So it appears that nothing escapes the fine detail reflected onto pearl multigrade print paper which is in some ways quite impressive. When I think about this maybe digital software must be blending all these in jpg files etc to give the smooth images we see otherwise they could appear like this print??

    Looking at the final print in my hand it looks a hell of a lot better than what you are seeing on the screen as the flat bed scanner has brutalised it. I think an image taken by a clean DSLR and cleaned up in Photoshop and a new clean smartphone screen would result in a pretty good final print. Close up I can just make out all those individual LCD electronics but with my print at arms length it looks good. So maybe this process has some merit. It is certainly fun to experiment with and certainly an interesting way to combine the digital and film medians. I will be using this to print some of my iPhone, DSLR and hybrid camera photos. Making a slide-in iPhone carrier for the enlarger won't be difficult which will speed things up, so I can see myself printing film and digital negs in the same darkroom session now. Opens up all sorts of possibilities don't you think!

    Hope you have enjoyed my experiments here. Have put a lot of work into this for your pleasure and spent some money on iPhone apps to make it possible. So don't be shy - show us some of your results from this. Have fun.
    Robin.
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2018
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