Digital Negatives w/ Canon Pixma Pro 100


I’ve been surprised to find such little information about making digital negatives with this printer, as it’s been such a popular printer for so long (almost a decade?).  I recently purchased one with its holiday rebate that dropped its price to $150 with a large box of paper, with the intention of printing digital negatives.

After testing, I would much rather have purchased a printer that uses pigment based inks, preferably an Epson printer compatible with QTR.  But this printer can produce negatives with enough UV light blocking capability for processes like cyanotypes, gum bichromate, and collotype printing.  I have yet to test its output with more demanding processes.  It seems somewhat doubtful as evidence of exposure can be seen under the most opaque areas of the negative with cyanotype (although those areas clear during washing).

But for those who already own this printer, or can’t afford a higher end printer, these are the settings which I found produces an appropriate negative for cyanotype printing.  It follows Christina Z Anderson’s Digital Negative instructions on Freestyle Photo’s website.  (I’ve tested Dan Burkholder’s old colorized negative technique, but I find this method uses too much cyan and magenta inks in the midtones that results an unpleasant grainy texture.)

The setting below utilize more yellow and light gray inks that produces much smoother separations. In the main print menu, select Glossy II and the highest quality (1) setting. Below are the settings for manual color adjustments.

I use Precision Colors Refillable inks, so I use their Printing Profile.

For linearization, I prefer this 101 step scale from Peter Mrhar’s website. I stretched it to fit as large as possible on a scrap sheet of transparency. I prefer this step scale because it is easy to determine the darkest tone of the negative, by covering the 10-row with a ruler and looking for distinctions of the gaps between the blocks in the 0 row begin. In my case, the line between the 6th and 7th blocks is not visible, but it is visible between the 7th and 8th blocks. Therefore, the maximum tone of the negative needed is the tone of the 7th block, which translates to 237 on the photoshop light curve.

The curve that linearizes a negative for cyanotype printing needs to be lower than the -50 contrast setting of the printer.

For convenience, I only flip and invert the image in the Output menu of the main print settings. This is done by checking Negative, Emulsion Down and choose a background color 0,0,0 RGB. You may add a masking border and registration marks in this dialog box if needed.

Metol Development of Calotypes


This was my research during an internship at Renaissance Press a few summers ago.  My goal was to quicken the development of calotype negatives to a few minutes instead of the 30-120 minutes necessary to build up enough density with gallic acid.  (Pyrogallol is too aggressive and produces too coarse of grains for my taste.)  Thus I began experimenting with Metol developers.

I would consider this research incomplete, and will begin more tests soon.

Waxing Calotypes


3.25″ x 4.25″ calotype negative
Bienfang Vellum (100% rag)

I am currently trying out a new calotype recipe, and need to fine-tune its exposures.  Due to the size of the calotype, the screen pattern of the paper is very prominent in the image.  So I decided to make a comparison of a waxed and unwaxed calotype.

My waxing method is as follows.  First saturate 2 sheets of newsprint larger than the calotype with paraffin wax using an iron set to medium heat.  The negative is placed between the saturated newsprint, and, and that sandwich between two sheets of dry newsprint.  (Ironing the saturated papers directly builds up black marks that can transfer onto the negative.)   Iron the pile until the negative become completely transparent.  It is easily visible when the negative is back-lit.  Then iron the negative between two sheets of newsprint until the excess wax is removed.

Left: Silver gelatin print of unwaxed calotype. (10 seconds @ f/2.8 no filter)
Right: Silver gelatin contact print of waxed calotype. (2 seconds @ f/2.8 no filter)


Left: Unwaxed close-ups
Right: Waxed close-ups

Potash Alum Hardeners


Paper prep is important for most historic processes.  An additional sizing step before the light sensitive processes can really improve the print quality, and remedy problems.  Gelatin is a commonly used sizing agent with a hardening agent like chrome alum or formaldehyde that polymerizes the gelatin, rendering it insoluble.  I’ve experimented with plain alum (Potassium Aluminum Sulfate) from grocery stores as a hardener with success, even with carbon printing.  Pictured is two different sizing techniques that I’m currently testing.

Left: Floated on a hot bath of 5% gelatin, 1.5% alum, 15% vinegar.

Right: Two bath sizing. Submerged in  5% gelatin .  Hung to dry.  Then submerged in 3% alum bath for 15 minutes.

The two bath sizing has a less textured, less glossy, and clearer sizing.  The one bath sizing has a thicker coating, and a yellowish discoloration.  Perhaps just more noticeable because the thickness of the coating, perhaps the vinegar reacts to the gel/alum.  The vinegar addition is necessary as the gel/alum bath immediately thickens to the point of being inoperable.  Vinegar will remedy this, even after the effect takes place.

E6 Processing w/ RA-4 Update

New E6 formula + Process.

The odd formulas are from a combination of the leftover supplies in the darkroom and chemicals for other historic processes.  Also, I found a lot of help troubleshooting color balance problems from the following website.

All solutions used is at 100F (38C).

5 Minute Warm up (loaded developing tank in hot water bath)

6.25 Minutes Sprint Print Developer (Diluted 1+3)

1 Minute Stop Bath (I use Ilford, but any B/W should work)

Rinse thoroughly with water.

Expose to 300W Photo bulb for a minute per side @ around 12″)

3.5 Minutes in Color Developer

Silver Pixel 66ml Part A, 33ml Part B, 66ml Part C to 2L Water

New Stop Bath & Rinse again (100ml vinegar + 400ml water)

5 Minute Bleach (8% Ferricyanide, 2% K Bromide + a tsp of baking soda)


5 Minute Sprint Fixer (Diluted 2+8)

Wash for 6 Minutes

E6 Processing with RA-4 and Dektol


Rediscovering some gifted film (Kodak Ektachrome 64, expired in 1996) and newly found RA-4 chemistry, and worrying about a lack of darkroom in the future, I thought I’d use some hoarded materials, and do some experiments processing color film.  And I’m happy (somewhat) with the results.  I overexposed the film 2 stops, and I think I still underdeveloped the first development (1:3 Dektol for 6minutes @ 100F) since the highlights still appear somewhat dull.

First, I found two great online resources where I based my formulas from, though I improvised most formulas depending on the materials that I have.  The two sites are and

The RA-4 is a 3 part concentration replenishing kit for 25L tanks, silver pixel.  I did a couple tests to find what concentrations to mix them, to process C-41 films at 3:15 minutes.  10ml part A, 5ml part B, 10ml Part C to 300ml water.  For the blix, a separate bleach: a slightly akali ferricyanide, and fix bath: sprint 1:4, 5 minutes each.  This gives me acceptable results to scan, so I’m not too worry about its archival properties.  Also, according to smarter photo engineers on APUG, straying from the standard formulas voids the archival properties of the slide film.

After the first stop bath, (30-35g soda ash in 500ml vinegar) I turn and keep the lights on.  I rinse the film for a little longer after the color is removed for the tray, expose the film to 300W bulbs, both sides for about a minute a piece, nothing exact.  I then color develop in the formula above for 3:15, then again stop and rinse.  After, bleach and fix for 5 minutes each rinsing in between.  Finally, I wash the film for 5 minutes and stabilize with Sprint’s stabilizer for a minute.