on photography

Early steps into Bromoil

After my initial foray into Bromoil I decided to switch papers from Slavich Unibrom to Fomabrom Variant 113 to see whether it inked more easily. This post describes how I got on …

My method:

  1. Print from the negative with half a stop over-exposure and a grade lower than ‘normal’.
  2. Process in Multigrade for normal time ( 2 minutes).
  3. Water stop bath
  4. Non-hardening fixer, 5 minutes.
  5. Sodium Sulphite bath, Wash then Dry
  6. Superdry
  7. Soak in water at 20 C degrees for 3 minutes.
  8. Blot dry
  9. Bleach-tan for 15 minutes at 20 C.
  10. Wash 5 minutes running water
  11. Fix – Sodium Thiosulphate for 5 minutes
  12. Wash 30 minutes
  13. Dry then Superdry with a hair-dryer.

At this point I decided to do a soak test to gauge the soaking time necessary for easy inking. I cut a duplicate bleached and tanned picture into strips and soaked the strips for 5, 10, 15 and 20 minutes at 20 degrees Celsius. Here were the results:

Results of soak test strips – iphone image

The inking was fairly rough and ready, but you can see that clearing the highlights improved with increased soaking times. I settled for a soaking time of 18 minutes. The ink was #1796.

Here is the final result:

Learning Brmoil Printing
Bromoil- scanned from Print. Hasselblad Planar 120mm, Ilford FP4+ in Rodinal 1:50, Printed on Fomabrom Variant 113.

I need to learn how to reduce the contrast, but the result is OK. I would like something more subtle but at least the paper is taking the ink. Things I need to do in my next attempt:

  • Reduce contrast of the initial print through a combination of reduced film development time, reduced printing grade and use of a softer or more dilute paper developer (I think I will make up some Selectol-Soft from raw chemicals). Finally, reduce temperature of soak time by 2 degrees.
  • Improve inking process: Use ink more sparingly; Start with hard ink for shadow areas but use softer ink (cut with linseed oil) with softer brush for highlights at a higher temperature. Perhaps incorporate a small amount of Burnt Umber ink to soften the overall feel of the picture.
  • I need to sort out the edges of the print – the inking is too uneven.
  • Look out for better brushes. My brushes lose their hairs too easily.

2 Comments

  1. Guy Brooker

    I came across your latest posting on Bromoil as a result of using the search term ‘bromoil how critical is inking temperature.’ Allowing for the time since you posted, we appear to be at similar points on the road to acquiring the skills that we regard as adequate from a personal perspective. Perhaps, like golf, early improvements create great promise and then hopes are dashed by continuing blockages to incremental improvements? Where we feel we have increased our understanding of the process, subsequent results fail to bear this out; inconsistency seems a hallmark of Bromoil, for beginners. At the current point in my own journey, I’m trying to improve on the results from Ilford MG FB Cooltone (the Ilford suggestion for their best product for Bromoil) to the Foma 113 BO, via Foma 112 (recommended on a YouTube video and, in my latest trial, it certainly seems better than the Ilford Cooltone). Then there are inks and brushes. The GC & I Senefelders 1803 seems unavailable right now. Intaglio Printmakers normal litho ink is a little thicker than GC & I 1796 and I have achieved better results in using the Intaglio ink with a 1 + 1 addition of magnesium carbonate (by volume) to thicken it. Brushes – there’s a million of them and I am quite undecided. I tried Tetenal Centrabrom S soft working print developer as an alternative to more mainstream print developers and would have continued with it, except that the concentrate degraded and was useless after about three months. Now discontinued. The Kodak D165 (Selectol Soft) is easy to formulate and I shall probably try it soon but, then again thanks to YouTube, I gather it does little more than drop one grade against normal print developers (see The Naked Photographer, Kodak D165). I had better results in the warmer weather (my darkroom is heated but in an outbuilding) in a 20 degree ambient; currently (January, south west England) I struggle with nearer 14 degrees. We certainly share a common observation of lack of ink rejection on the boundaries of the image. I fancy this is the result of pre-inking soak water ingress at the paper edges – it’s certainly more noticeable on my prints with longer soak times and a 2.5cm free edge is necessary all round.

    • Sidewayseye

      Thanks Guy. Will reply by email as there’s a lot to get into

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