Alan Ross has earned an international reputation as a specialist in the art of black-and-white photography: as an artist, educator and printer. He was Ansel Adams' Photographic Assistant in Carmel from 1974 to 1979 and was integrally involved in Adams' books, teaching, and production of fine prints. He has been the exclusive printer of Ansel Adams' Yosemite Special Edition negatives for over twenty-eight years. He operated a commercial photography studio in San Francisco for twelve years with projects ranging from world-wide campaigns for the Bank of America to landscape murals for the National Park Service. He relocated to Santa Fe in 1993 to devote more of his energies to his personal work, teaching, and assignment work for select clients, including Boeing, Nike, IBM, and MCI. His photography hangs in collections and galleries throughout the country and internationally, and he has led workshops in locations from Yosemite to China. In spite of his time spent with Ansel Adams and his ongoing involvement with Adams' work, Alan considers himself something of a Zone System heretic. It's perfectly all right to make your own rules, and the Zone System is not the Zen System. And neither are for everyone! Alan regards himself as a classicist with regard to his photographic approach, but not a purist. His work in the last twenty years has been mostly with an 8x10 view camera but he has no philosophical objection to a digital "point-and-shoot" camera. He has one and likes it very much. The 8x10 is getting bigger and heavier every day. He used to object to being pigeonholed as a Landscape Photographer, when the truth was that he liked photographing all sorts of things. Since his hair started to fall out he's mellowed a bit and he doesn't mind being called a Landscape Photographer because he still photographs whatever he wants - it's just that he's encountered a number of landscapes that needed photographing!
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Ask The Experts
What is the story with storing film in the refrigerator? Does this actually prolong the life of the film? Thank you
Hi Alan, All chemical reactions proceed at a slower pace at lower temperatures. Film deterioration is a sort of chemical reaction, so in theory, cooler is always better. In practice, modern BW films are quite stable, and unless you live in a tent in Tucson or plan on hanging on to a batch of film for years, shelf storage is generally fine. Color films can be a bit more finicky and any lengthy storage is better in the fridge. Infrared should be kept as cool as possible. Best,
Dear Alan, Something has been a source of confusion to me for years that perhaps you can help me with - Variable contrast papers and cold light color. I have replaced my cold light tube with the Aristo V54a cyan color light. Here are my questions: Do I have to use any kind of filter with this light source before the light enters my vc filters, which are below the lens? Someone told me that I needed a yellow filter. Before the VC Filter. What is the best way to deal with graded papers? Is any filtration required on the V54? Thank You, Dan
Hi Dan, First - you don't need to use any "correction" filter with the V54 tube. VC papers are sensitive to blue and green light - with green activating the "soft" contrast and blue activating the "hard". Since the V54 is slightly blue-heavy, it prints a bit "harder" than "normal" but the full range of contrasts from 00 to 5+ is possible with most VC papers. (Some papers are themselves limited in available contrast) The Ilford, Oriental and Foma papers are excellent. For practical purposes, just figure if the filter is a #2-1/2 what you are actually getting is something like a 3 or 3+ contrast. If for some reason you wanted to REALLY approximate ISO contrasts with numbered VC filters, then some modicum of yellow filtration would do the trick. Personally I think this is a waste of energy - and printing speed! Contrast numbers never really meant anything anyway. In the days of graded papers, an Oriental 2 could easily be more contrasty than an Agfa grade 3! As for graded papers, don't make any correction. Graded papers are blue-sensitive and any yellow would just act like neutral density. Hope this helps!
I am an experienced large format photographer who has been printing almost exclusively with AGFA MCC 111 VC Fiber for over 20 years. I have exhausted my supply of paper waiting for the ADOX MCC 111 replacement and can wait no longer. I have narrowed my choice for replacement down to Kentmere Fine Print VC FB or Seagull VC FB. Obviously I will have to test both and decide but what are your thoughts/experience? I should mention that I shoot 4x5 TMX and TMY developed in D-23 and enlarge to 16x20 using a Chromega D5XL with Dichroic head. Developer is Dektol or D-72. All prints Selenium toned in KRST. Thanks for your advice. Terrance
Hello Terrance, I did some testing on a number of papers about two years ago and I have to say that I was not favorably impressed with the Kentmere. Compared to other papers I tested at the same time it only seemed to have a contrast range of from about grade 1/2 to 3-1/2. The Oriental was excellent as was Ilford Multigrade and Foma. Another paper, Foto also performed well but had a base color I didn't care for. I would suggest trying the Oriental and the Foma. The Agfa was a lovely paper and it will be interesting to see how Adox does with it. Good luck!
Dear Alan This question regards processing of the negative and temperature control. I can keep the temperture between Dev/Stop/Fix pretty tight. But the wash water is more of a problem. Hard to keep that to stay close to my development temperature. What would you say is an acceptable latitude in temperature difference with the final wash water and the temperture of all the chemicals used. Thank You, Dan
Hi Dan, Ive never really thought about it in terms of emperature difference - you just don want to shock the film. Here in Santa Fe, the water comes out of the tap at 73-74 degrees in the summer, so I have standardized all my processing times for 73°. Easy to keep that temperature in the winter months. I would say that if you dunk your fingers in water the same temperature as your processing chemicals then dunk in your wash water and find it to be DISTINCTLY hotter or colder you should try to make some adjustment. If its just a little warmer or cooler you shouldn have any problem. Also, you don really NEED running water for a wash! Assuming you use some sort of wash-aid, just transfer the film to a tank or tray of water at a suitable temperature. Agitate it a bit and let it sit while you prepare another tank of fresh water. Transfer the film to that tank and agitate and let sit while you dump and refill the first tank. Five or six changes should give you an archival wash. This works for prints, too, but I do seven or eight changes. Hope this helps!
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