Preparing for Bromoil

I like to play at both ends of the expressive scale: silver gelatin photography in the straight style at one end and something much more expressive at the other, such as Bromoil.

But it’s taken me some time to get the necessary things together to make a start. Perhaps the hardest two things to get were some form of tanning and bleaching solution and a suitable lith ink.

In the end, as I could not buy neat Potassium Dichromate, I found some already made up in the form of Gilbert’s solution. If this works, then it’s a good buy as I don’t have to waste time mixing it up myself.

For ink I settled on Litho Black #1796. I think I got the last available jar in the UK as there seems to be a problem with the supply line from Graphic Chemicals in the US, although when I spoke to them they denied this. It should last me quite a few years.

The brushes and rollers were easy to find – in B&Q. I will cut the brushes down so that they resemble the old Mortimer brushes. The rubber roller I found in an Arts supply shop in Liverpool.

I bought a 6mm thick square of perspex from an on-line company as it offered to round off the edges for me. The perspex is used as a base for the bromoil print.

I have just one more decision to make on the purchase front: what paper to use. There are very few non super-coated papers around, at least readily accessible in the UK. I have read that super-coated papers work but quite a bit of trial and error is required. I will probably settle for Adox MMC 112 semi-matt, which I understand was Gene Laughter’s favourite bromoil paper.

I expect this to be a steep learning curve. Very few people still work in this old tradition, so there aren’t many people to ask for advice. The Bromoil Circle of Great Britain seems to be defunct, and I have not been able to find anyone else to speak to yet. So I might just have to got it alone.

Here is a bromoil print that I like by Maija McDougal.

© Maija McDougal FRPS

Update 2022/23

The Bromoil Circle is not defunct. My emails to it had gone unnoticed, but subsequently I have established contact and learn that the Circle is still operating.

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