Monday, February 25, 2013

How to do Emulsion Lifts using Polaroid films

How to do Emulsion Lifts

This handout is a heavily modified version of a Polaroid handout.
Seder Burns

Emulsion lifts are the easiest and most exiting Polaroid creative technique to master. All they entail is soaking a print in warm to very hot water until the image comes loose, then re-depositing the freed emulsion on a new receptor sheet. Because emulsion lifts involve separating the image from the photographic paper, there is enormous potential for manipulating the picture to create different shapes. Traditionally, emulsion lifts are done using color prints from Polaroid ER films (Types 669, 59, 559, 809), but the same technique also works in B&W using Polapan Pro 100 films (Types 664, 54, 554, and 804) - albeit with the need to use boiling, rather than just hot, water. Prints must be fully dried before being subjected to emulsion lifting. Drying can be accelerated using a hair drier, but to be safe it is often best to allow at least overnight drying of prints before use. Step One Heat water up in the coffee machine. Fill one tray with hot water from the coffee machine, and another tray with room-temperature tap water. In the tray with room temperature water, submerge the substrate that you are going to transfer the emulsion to. Step Two Immerse a fully-dried Polacolor ER print face up in the tray of hot water for about four minutes. Agitate the tray to keep the print under the surface of the water. It is not necessary to keep the water heated during this time. After four minutes have elapsed, or if the emulsion begins to float free from the substrate/backing/photographic paper, remove the print from the hot water using tongs and place it in the tray of room temperature water. Step Three Lightly push the emulsion from the edges of the print slightly toward the center. Lift the emulsion and slowly peel it away from the substrate. Carefully float the emulsion onto the new substrate. Use your fingers to push and stretch the image to further manipulate it. You can also dunk the emulsion/paper in and out of the cold water to further manipulate the image. When finished, roll the image with a soft rubber brayer roller from the middle to the edge. Start with just the weight of the roller, gradually increasing pressure only after all the excess water and air have been removed. You are done when all the folds, wrinkles and other effects look pressed down. Hang dry when finished. If you are in a hurry, you can use a hairdryer on a low setting to speed things up. Step Six If desired, spray with a clear UV protective lacquer coating. When completely dry, the image can be finished with pastels, watercolor paints, dye and pencils if desired. Materials needed for Emulsion Lifts: • Polaroid camera or Daylab • Polaroid film, type 669 • Light meter • Tripod • Coffee maker • Transfer Substrates-watercolor paper, glass, tiles, or other porous materials • Slide projector or data projector • Images to project • Instructions for using a Polaroid back • Examples of Polaroid lifts • Hairdryer • Extension cords • Thermometer • Timer/Watch For more information on creative uses of Polaroid products, visit or call Polaroid’s technical number at 800-225-1618

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Monday's class -

Turn in your Cyanotype prints for a grade.

I will do a demo on reducing the density of VDB prints.

Hang up some VDB and Cyanotype prints in the hall.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Van Dyke Brown - next project

Hello all,

At the beginning of class on Wednesday the 13th, we will spend a few minutes looking at the Van Dyke Brown prints that you have thus far.  We will also look at any final Cyanotype prints.

On Wednesday February  20th, we will have a critique of your VDB prints. 2 prints of original, new imagery.

So, you will have to create at least two new negatives and print/reduce/tone them until you get them as desired. You will have to use class time effectively and possibly come in to the lab outside of class to pull this off.


Wikipedia summary of the process

Great write - up of the process

A great resource on the process including how to chemically reduce the prints after they dry.

Nice article on Van Dyke Brown including information on chemical reduction and toning.
There is also a really great step by step write up to make a negative for VDB prints. VDB prints are very flat by nature. I read somewhere that it is like printing onto Grade 1 photo paper. So, you have to make a very high contrast negative to account for this.If you use your negatives that you made for Cyanotypes, you can expect to get very flat prints. Given the color of VDB prints, they will really look like mud. Here is the article about how to make the curve for VDB.

Beyond the Blues - good overview of the process and ideas for combining the process with Cyanotypes

Orgins of the name

Another nice write up on the process with an emphasis on making archival VDB prints

More notes on the archival processing pertaining to VDB