darkroom-based photography

Bromoil investigations

A while back I acquired 15 sheets of Finesse bromoil paper. This post looks at how I handled it for Bromoil.

I tried to look the paper up using search engines, but I found no information about it. The label says that the paper is a fixed grade 2.

Step 1

The first step was to test some small strips to ensure that the paper was not fogged and to find out an exposure value. I decided to use a fairly high contrast image, thinking that this old paper might have lost some of its grade.

I found an exposure time for the paper for my enlarger set up and processed two prints and some soak test strips using Ilford Multigrade 1+9, Ilford stop bath and non-hardening fixer, Hypam. The first print and set of soak strips were exposed in line with my exposure test strips (normal exposure: ‘n’). The second set were exposed with an extra third of a stop (‘n + 1/3’).

I washed the prints and soak strips in 20% Sodium Sulphide for 5 minutes to reduce washing times, then washed for 30 minutes. I left the prints to dry overnight.

Step 2

The prints and soak test strips were bleached and tanned with 10% Gilberts solution for 10 minutes, then fixed and washed. They were then left to dry overnight.

Step 3

The next step was to determine optimal soaking times so that the matrix/paper both accepts ink and clears ink in the highlights.

The ‘n’ soak strip were superdried for 2 minutes under a hair-dryer and was then cut into three and soaked in water for 5, 10 and 20 minutes at 20 C . The idea was to narrow the soak time down using ‘f stop logic’. I inked each strip with a sponge for 5 minutes then attempted to clear the highlights with a foam roller.

Below are the results. :

Top 5 minutes; middle 10 minutes; bottom 20 minute soak

The 5 minute soak strip shows no clearing in the highlights. The 10 minute strip shows some clearing but the 20 minute test strip looked more promising. So this soak time was taken forward into the next step.

Step 4

The ‘n’ print was superdried, then soaked for 20 minutes at 20 C. I inked the matrix with a sponge using #1796 ink. There were 3 inkings/clearings interspersed with 2 minute soaks.

Here is the intermediate result:

Intermediate stage after 3 light inkings

I left the print to dry overnight in a warm kitchen.

Step 5

I resoaked the print for 20 minutes at 20 C. Using the remaining #1792 ink on my inking tile from the previous day, I reinked then reinforced some shadows with a fine brush and cleared with a foam roller. I then mixed some Raw Umber ink (# 1925) with a very small quantity of linseed oil, resoaked the print at 25 C then lightly inked those parts of the image which I wanted to have a a touch of colour. I resoaked for 1 minute then worked the ink joins together using a roller.

Finally, I cleared the whole print with wet tissue paper.

Here is the result:

Iphone image of ‘n’ print.

A bit scruffy but I could see some potential. The left and right sides are weak and the tree is not sufficiently imposing for my taste.

The ‘n + 1/3’ print

I repeated steps 4 and 5 with the matrix that had been slightly more exposed.

The only variations were as follows: on a hunch I soaked the matrix at 30C. I added an extra step after the ink on the print had been completely dried – I worked some of the highlights with a scalpel.

Here is the result:

© Tony Cearns, Bromoil. Abandoned Farmhouse, North Wales.

More satisfactory. More attention to detail is required in some of the key areas of the picture. I also need to learn how to add cloud detail. My experiments with this have shown me how hard it is to make clouds look natural.

Final words

The paper works with n+1/3 exposure and 20 minute 30 C soak.

In this experiment I mainly used sponges, a sponge roller and tissue paper. Very little brush work was used, partly because my brushes are poor. This technique gives a more photographic response than some bromoils that I have seen. The ‘grain’ is smaller. I don’t necessarily prefer this – it just gives a different style.

2 Comments

  1. Liz

    Really interesting article especially the stage testing soaking times which I have never done but it does explain my failures. Thank you Tony

    • Sidewayseye

      Thanks Liz, Best regards

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