Tag Archives: Experimental

Paper negative book – second edition

First posted 4 February 2011

Just before Christmas, I wrote and self published a book on the paper negative process. This technique is something I’ve worked with since the late seventies and one which I am particularly fond of. For those of you unfamiliar with it, in it’s simplest form it is just using photographic paper in the camera instead of film. The reduced ISO, paper texture and Orthochromatic response give a look totally unlike film and not easily faked digitally. In fact, there would be no point trying to fake it, as most of the pleasure comes from the slight unpredictability of the process.
Occasionally this is frustrating, but the flipside is when beautiful surprises occur and provide you with amazing images.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.20.41

The book was self published on Blurb.com using the Booksmart software. Previous books done this way had all been purely images. This time I had to marry up text with image and attempt page layouts.
That in itself is not too difficult, the Booksmart software gives templates for drag and drop simplicity. However, I hadn’t bargained for how totally bloody frustrating the software could be!
It allowed me to drop sections of text in, but as soon as I tried to change a word or add a new bit, the font size would jump from 8 to 16 and the line below would drop down two spaces. Each time I tried to rectify the problem things just got worse! Whole pages of text would jump across to the previous page and lay themselves over a full page image! Aaaarrrggh!
I battled on and just got the book out in time for a few Christmas sales, only to find that there were one or two typing mistakes and the colour cast of some scanned prints had given a very green look to a few images. Also, the font size was a little too large when seen in hard copy, something that is difficult to judge on screen.

I set about producing a second edition immediately and came up against all the previous problems. Hopefully, this version is a little tidier.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 10.26.15

The second edition of the book is now available and I apologise to anyone who bought and was disappointed by the style of the first. The information is still sound, take consolation in the fact that you have a very rare book -only six copies sold I believe.

The new book can be seen here;



  1. Russ Young
    Posted 08/06/2011 at 3:00 am

    Well, I’m a proud owner of the first edition!
    Russ Young
    Floyd, Virginia

  2. John Hamlen
    Posted 08/08/2011 at 9:51 pm

    Hi Andrew,

    I wonder if you can help me.

    I’m just getting into using the Harman Direct Positive paper and found you web-site when trying to find out more information about pre-flashing. (Particularly in-camera pre-flashing as I don’t have access to a darkroom!).

    Which issue of Black and White Photography Magazine was your article on the subject published in, as I’d like to order a back issue to get hold of it.

    Failing this, does the 2nd edition of your Blurb book include any info on this? If it does then you can count me as a buyer of it!

    Many thanks in advance!

    Best wishes,

  3. James Jasek
    Posted 09/06/2013 at 4:42 pm

    Is the Paper Negative second edtion still available?

    Thank you

  4. Andrew Sanderson
    Posted 12/06/2013 at 5:06 pm

    Yes James, it is available on Blur.com

Harman direct positive paper

First posted 28 September 2010

I have just written a technical review of the new Harman Direct positive Paper for Black and White Magazine here in the UK. The piece will probably be in the January issue, but I thought I’d like to share my enthusiasm for it here.

The paper comes in RC and FB versions and is pretty high contrast if used straight out of the box, though a pre flash will bring the contrast down dramatically, as seen in this test shot;

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 00.33.21

For my test I loaded a 5×4 darkslide with a sheet of the FB paper and pulled the darkslide half way out. I preflashed the paper in camera by exposing through a sheet of white paper (this needs to be metered correctly, -see upcoming magazine article), then I pulled the darkslide out all the way and did the main exposure. As you can see from this example, the pre flash makes a huge difference to the tonal range.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 00.34.42

Because of the short latitude of this paper, a good, reliable hand meter is recommended. An incident reading will give you the quickest accurate reading, though a spotmeter could give more information once the range of the paper has been established using your own developer.


Always use fresh developer, Only develop under red safelight and don’t turn on the lights until the print is fixed.

Screen Shot 2015-01-12 at 00.36.33

The paper is really great for photograms too, as you can see from this image of a jar.

When used in camera, it produces images which are reversed left to right and for portraiture this is often flattering to the sitter as they always see themselves that way in the mirror, so they view these images as being more accurate.

I intend to do a lot more with this paper, I think it has a lot of potential. I hope they consider producing a lower contrast version in the future if this is at all possible.


  1. Posted 28/09/2010 at 11:55 am

    I rather like the stuff too. I develop in really weak developer which seems to tame the contrast as well as the pre-flash. Might even buy B&W to read your article!

  2. Posted 03/10/2010 at 12:43 pm

    I usually get my B&W about 4th hand, but yes, I’ll be buying this one too. Thank you.

  3. Posted 19/10/2010 at 2:53 pm

    Great post and fantastic imagery! :)

  4. Andrew Sanderson
    Posted 28/10/2010 at 9:14 am

    Thanks, good luck with your fisheye stuff, I went wild with my first one too! -but that was years and years ago, I’ve not used one for so long now. Seeing your shots reminds me I should dig it out again.

  5. Posted 10/01/2011 at 11:10 pm

    Interesting post, I’m dying to try this paper for pinholing so I shall no doubt buy B&W as well!

  6. Dan Smith
    Posted 13/04/2012 at 4:07 am

    Where do I find a copy of the article you wrote about this paper? I looked on the B&W(UK) site and did not see an article listed on the magazine cover for January.
    Is it posted online for me to read?

    Or, can you let us know for sure which issue it is published in so I can order that issue to be delivered to the US.



  7. David Linton
    Posted 07/06/2012 at 3:33 pm

    I come across this sometime after the January magazine has been published. Is it possible you could add some more detail to the level of pre-flash you have experimented with.

  8. Andrew Sanderson
    Posted 20/07/2012 at 8:58 am

    Dear David, I will be doing a follow up article here sometime soon. I’m currently busy with Gum printing which takes up quite a bit of time.

  9. Andrew Sanderson
    Posted 20/07/2012 at 8:59 am

    Dear Dan, I’ll have a look through my back issues and drop you a line when I find it.

  10. Posted 19/07/2013 at 12:59 am

    Do you have any reference or follow-up on the use of DPP for photograms?
    The image you posted is fantastic. However, typically photograms are left in the sun for hours and treated with fixer only, no developer or caffenol etc. I have been able to get fairly good images with limited exposure (1 hour+), but even gold will not preserve the image and Hypam following only produces a completely white paper. Image lost or in hiding. Would not take selenium toner either.
    I there is no need to pre-flash if using natural UV, but where to go from there once the image forms? Thank you!

  11. Andrew Sanderson
    Posted 24/09/2013 at 11:55 am

    Dear Mariana, I haven’t tried this paper for daylight/UV photograms in this manner. I think the long exposure will totally overexpose the paper and once gone, it will not return.
    Regards, Andrew.

Flexible film

First posted 19 October 2009

Different photographers have different expectations from a film. They may buy a particular brand because they have seen that someone they admire has used it, or because it is a new type. Some buy films looking for good latitude, others for speed, acutance or fine grain. Others may be expecting contrasty, gritty results.

Buying a film and exposing/developing at the manufacturers recommended settings will usually produce negatives that are a compromise between all of these expectations. Producing the results you really want depends on an understanding of what happens when film is treated differently.
One of the first ways that new photographers try to get different results is by uprating. They read somewhere that a 400 ISO film can be exposed at a higher speed such as 1600, and then stewed in the dev to bring up the image.
This does indeed work, but occasionally at the expense of quality (not always a concern for some). Uprating can produce quite acceptable results with dilute/static processing (see the section at the end of this article) and I have rated Ilford HP5 at 1600 ISO and got results almost as good as when rated at 400.

But if the developer is one which is vigourous, the grain can be exaggerated and contrast can increase to a point where printing becomes difficult and burning in highlights is impossible. This is not always a bad thing, if you look at the work of Bill Brandt you see what can be done creatively with a film which is mistreated in this way.
Going the opposite way, if a film is downrated a couple of stops and the development time is reduced, a finer grain and a longer tonal range is produced. This can look absolutely stunning with larger negatives, especially when photographing subjects with a lot of subtle highlights such as sunlit clouds, or snow scenes at night.
The importance of agitation.
When I did lots of different ratings and development times in the early years of my career, I also found that agitation could alter the look of a negative.
Normal agitation is usually taken to be three inversions of a tank every minute and increasing the number of inversions/agitations will increase contrast. BUT, taken to an extreme, with continuous agitation, contrast actually drops!
I think it is because the developer is not allowed to sit on the surface and work properly when constantly in motion, -but I’m not a scientist, I’m a photographer, so I may be wide of the mark there.
Whatever the reason, there is a marked drop in contrast with continuous agitation as I have just mentioned, and when coupled with downrating produces a negative which has amazing latitude for highlights or overexposure. This means that a reading can be taken from the shadows to ensure detail, and the highlights will never be blown out.
Here is a composite image of four frames of the same film, The film was Ilford HP5 and the developer was Ilford ID11 stock solution at 20C with continuous agitation for four minutes.

all four

These frames are; top left 100, top right 50, lower left 25 and lower right 12 ISO. As you can see, any of these frames could be printed. From this you can understand how the technique could produce a ‘flexible negative’ (to quote my late friend Barry Thornton), and therefore how well they could compress a high contrast scene.

Dilute/static development (also known as stand development, though there are many different methods of this).

Mix up a 1 – 3 solution of Ilford ID11. That is, one part of stock solution (normal strength) mixed with three parts of water.
Get the temperature to 20C
Pour into the tank and agitate ten times.
Start the clock.
Give three inversions every 30 seconds up to ten minutes.
When ten minutes have passed, put the tank down and do not move it at all for 50 minutes. Try to keep the temperature fairly constant.
When that time has elapsed, agitate the tank three times and repeat this agitation each minute.
After ten minutes pour the developer away and use a normal stop bath (Not too strong, weaker is better).
Fix as normal, wash and dry.

With this development method, Ilford HP5 can be rated at 1600 ISO and can produce very good results.

Here is a scan from a 10×8 print made on a Grade 2 paper from one such negative. On the print you can see detail in the dark corners and the sunlit highlights.

 Train carriage

Adapted camera

First posted 26 July 2009

For many, many years I have played around with putting odd lenses on cameras and making my own cameras out of whatever has been available. An interesting lens which I have used for many years is the Kodak Aero Ektar 178 mm f2.5 (7 inch).

I first acquired this lens back in 1981 when I bought an old wooden reflex camera locally. The lens was really beautiful for portraits and the camera took quarter plate glass in the dark slides, so some jiggering around had to be done to load them with film. Often the dark slides would scratch the film and ruin a shot, so I removed the back and built a crude 5×4 holder.

From that point onwards, I was able to get a more consistent result and shot many portraits on Polaroid type 55  (See the portrait section of my website at; http://www.andrewsanderson.com ), until the shutter finally gave up about ten years later. The camera laid unused on a shelf for many years and I thought about looking for another wooden reflex camera, but instead I had a bit of a brainwave;

I removed the mirror, screen and shutter mechanism from the broken camera and cut the back of the camera down. I then attached a Pentax 6×7 body. See picture;

Thornton pentax camera

I could now shoot hand held on roll film and get the same result, although the angle of view was reduced dramatically.

Here is a shot from the first film I took on it;

staring horse

The small image here doesn’t do the lens justice, it is really sharp on the eyelash of the horse and falls away quite quickly into softness. The ‘bokeh’ (a word I hate) is better with this lens than any other I have ever used.

I put this camera together in June of 2008 and used it for a few months until the 10×8 Walker Titan I had commissioned was delivered. Once I had that, sharp images took precedence, so the ‘Thornton Pentax’ was left unused.

Having said that, the camera got another outing this weekend after the paper negative images I mentioned at first. I went out to do some landscapes using this camera loaded with Ilford SFX. and an orange filter.