Miscellaneous Photographic Formulas and Information
Page 2

A working knowledge of photography and chemistry is assumed here, and some of these are in the form of sketchy notes.

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Fixation Test

Stock solution:
Mix 2 grams sodium sulfite with
100 cc water

Mix 1 part stock solution with 9 parts water, use immediately.
Drop on margin of print.
Let stand 2 or 3 minutes.
Blot with clean blotting paper.
A light cream spot is ok, but a dark spot indicates print was not fixed or washed enough.

Selenium toner may be used to test fixation.
Use 1 part selenium toner to 5 to 10 parts water, drop on print as above.

This test may not work on baryta coated papers.

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Fixer Test

Mix together:

5 drops of a 20% solution of potassium iodide
5 drops of your fixing bath
15 drops water

A yellowish white precipitate (not slight milkiness) indicates fix is exhausted.

A quick fix test: drop fix on a piece of filter paper.
black on the edges of the spot
indicate fixer is exhausted; saturated with silver.

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Hypo Clear

(doesn't cut down on wash time much, but gets rid of hypo)

500 cc water
125 cc hydrogen peroxide 3% solution
100 cc ammonia 3% solution
water to make 1 liter

wash prints 30 minutes
put prints in hypo clear with agitation for 6 minutes
then wash prints for 10 minutes

32 oz of hypo clear for 50 8"x10" prints

mix only what will be used that day;
** this mixture could explode if stored in closed container**

§   §   §  

(I've heard that sea water will work as a hypo clear but haven't tried it.)

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Make Your Own Shroud of Turin

(notes from "The Turin Shroud: Fake? Fact? Photograph?", by Joe Nickell, Popular Photography,November 1979, Volume 85, Number 5, p. 97.)

Wet a piece of cloth (perhaps thin and shroudlike) and
mold it to the contours of 3-dimensional object (statue, body, what-have-you) and
allow it to dry.
Make a half-and-half mixture of powdered myrrh and aloes (ancient burial spices; which can be obtained nowadays at stores that sell herbs or alternative medicines).
Wrap the mixture in a piece of soft cotton and then daub and rub onto cloth wrapped object until image shows up.
This results in a sepia tone negative image of the object similar to that on the Shroud of Turin.

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Proportional Reducer

Solution A

0.1 gram Potassium Permanganate
1.0 ml concentrated sulfuric acid
water to make 500 ml

Solution B

12.2 grams ammonium sulficyanide
water to make 500 ml

to use, mix equal parts of Solutions A and B
soak negative in solution for 1 - 3 minutes
then rinse negative in 1% solution of potassium metabisulfate
wash several minutes and dry

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Recovering Silver from Fixer

(notes from "$ave Your $ilver" by Greg Lewis, Popular Photography,June 1980, Volume 86, Number 6, p. 106.)

Zinc mixed into old fixer replaces the silver, which settles to the bottom of the container.


plastic pail
plastic measuring spoon
large plastic mixing spoon
3 feet of plastic hose
copper wire
powdered or granulated zinc
small container, such as a film can.

See links on Oatmeal Box Camera main page for sources for chemicals.


Tips: To get the highest silver content, and maximum fixer life

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Sepia Toner

use with good ventilation
do not use with metal trays or utensils

Solution A
24 oz (~750 ml) water at 125 degrees F
1.5 oz (~42.5 gr) potassium ferricyanide
0.25 oz (~7 gr) potassium bromide
0.5 oz (~14 gr) sodium carbonate monohydrated
mix and add
cold water to make 32 oz (~1 liter)

Solution B
1.5 oz (~42.5 gr) sodium sulfide dessicated
water to make 16 oz (~500 ml)

Bleach print in Solution A
Wash in running water 10 minutes
Develop in Solution B
Wash 30 minutes

Handle wet prints carefully; it's easy to make fingerprints

ps. Sepia toner can be used like an intensifier. When printed, the reddish color of a toned negative makes the negative print as if it was more dense.

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Standard Printing Paper Sizes

(for printers, presses)

ANSI Sizes
Media Size Inches Millimeters
A 8.5 x 11 216 x 279
B 11 x 17 279 x 432
C 17 x 22 432 x 559
D 22 x 34 559 x 864
E 34 x 44 864 x 1118
Architectural Sizes
Media Size Inches Millimeters
ARCH 1 9 x 12 229 x 305
ARCH 2 12 x 18 305 x 457
ARCH 3 18 x 24 457 x 610
ARCH 4 24 x 36 510 x 914
ARCH 5 30 x 42 762 x 1067
ARCH 6 34 x 44 914 x 1219
ISO Sizes
Media Size Inches Millimeters
A0 33.11 x 46.81 841 x 1189
A1 23.35 x 33.11 594 x 841
A2 16.54 x 23.35 420 x 594
A3 11.69 x 16.54 297 x 420
A4 8.27 x 11.69 210 x 297
B0 39.37 x 55.67 1000 x 1414
B1 27.83 x 39.37 707 x 1000
B2 19.69 x 27.83 500 x 707
B3 13.9 x 19.69 353 x 500
B4 9.84 x 13.9 250 x 353
B5 6.93 x 9.84 176 x 250
B6 4.92 x 6.93 125 x 176
RA0 33.86 x 48.03 860 x 1220
RA1 24.02 x 33.86 610 x 860
RA2 16.93 x 24.02 430 x 610
SRA0 35.43 x 50.39 900 x 1280
SRA1 25.2 x 35.43 640 x 900
SRA2 17.72 x 25.2 450 x 640

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Tray Cleaner

32 oz water
3 oz potassium bichromate
3 oz sulfuric acid

do not use on chromium or stainless steel

§  §   §

Farmers Reducer may also be used as a tray cleaner.

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Wash Test

Stock solution:

1 gram silver nitrate
15 cc acetic acid 28% solution
water to make 125 cc (about 90 cc water)

Drop on print margin, let stand 2 or 3 minutes.
A slight discoloration is ok, but a dark stain indicates the presence of hypo.

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For More Information:

John Carroll, E. J. Wall, Franklin Jordan, Photographic Facts and Formulas,
Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 1975

L. P. Clerc, Photography Theory and Practice,
Pitman Publishing Co., NY, 1954

C. B. Neblette, Photography-Its Materials and Processes,
D. Van Nostrand Co. Inc, Princeton, NJ, 1964

Links to alternative photo sites and sources for chemicals on Oatmeal Box Camera main page.

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last update September 17, 2000