Making your Own Gelatin Emulsion for Film and Dry Plate Negatives

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Mark Osterman, Apr 3, 2013.

  1. Mark Osterman

    Mark Osterman Member

    Sep 7, 2011
    Large Format
    Our Recent Silver Bromide Gelatin Emulsion Workshop
    Looking Back at the Recent Workshop

    We scheduled a four day silver bromide gelatin emulsion workshop at George Eastman House this March and the response was very encouraging. Soon after posting our 2013 workshop series we filled the first workshop ... and with the people on the "wait list" we had enough to schedule a second session for the next week. The premise was simple; to teach the very basics of silver bromide emulsion making. Nothing fast; just easy to make and clean working. In the past two years we had already taught workshops in Gas Light [AZO] silver chloride emulsion for paper and Collodion Chloride printing out emulsion, so this seemed to be the next step.

    Each four day workshop when like this. With the help of volunteer research assistants Nick Brandreth and Chris Holmquist and my good friend Ron Mowrey, we demonstrated how to make an actual emulsion with the lights on so that it was easier for the class to see and also to take reference pictures. We then divided the class into two groups that made their own emulsions in separate darkrooms with the help of Nick/Ron and Dave/me. After the first day we had our emulsions, which were noodled and washed the next morning.

    Glass plates were cut, cleaned, coated and dried. While they dried the entire group went to the photograph archives to see masterworks of gelatin silver prints and early hand coated negative plates. They also saw rare antique emulsion making and coating equipment from the Eastman Dry Plate and Eastman Kodak Company in the technology collection. After the plates were dry, the class made exposures using an old 4x5" press camera on the Eastman House property. The test plates were developed and processed and the dried plates evaluated the next day. The rest of the workshop provided the class enough time for everyone to coat, expose and process eight 4x5 plates..followed by evaluation and class discussions which included the theory of how to make the same emulsion more sensitive. At the end of the last day Chris gave a demonstration of coating paper and subbed film stock.

    We were very pleased with the pace of our schedule, the energy of the groups and the great results. All the groups made emulsions that were virtually fog free, had amazing density potential and could be used for a variety of printing options depending on the developer choice. We'll schedule this workshop again for 2014 and we're contemplating adding a more advanced class [faster speed and increased spectral sensitivity] if we see that there's interest and people who have already basic skills. If we do this, it will no doubt include using a film coating machine for 2 1/4 and 35 mm.

    I've attached a few images from the workshop.


    Our next emulsion workshop is in May featuring collodion chloride printing out paper emulsion with both gold and platinum toning. The easiest emulsion to make and produces a very sophisticated factory like finish. See:
    Attached Thumbnails

    Attached Files:

  2. horacekenneth

    horacekenneth Subscriber

    Aug 10, 2012
    Multi Format
    Very cool