The film photography & darkroom work of David Kirby

Finishing in the Mountains & Digging into the past

  My previous post was regarding the prints i made from a roll of film i shot whilst away on holiday in Glencoe, Scotland... and so is this post!  This week has been one of those wonderful weeks where Jess has had a lot on in the evenings, so i've been pretty much left to my own devices.  An we all know what that means don't we - key out, gate open, electric cable in, red light on!

  On the roll i shot there were two more prints i wanted to make.  I may end up printing some of the other frames at some point in the future but at the moment i don't find the "subjects" particularly interesting on one of them and the other one is ever so slightly out of focus (dammit)! 

  I started off in my usual manner on my first print - test strips, proof prints etc but after an hour or so i couldn't seem to get a decent looking print.  I knew i wanted to lith print the other two so i decided to try and lith this first one as well.  I mixed up some LD20 (15A, 15B, 10 old brown and make it up to an 800ml solution).  For the first print i decided to dig into my mini-stash of Orwo BN118 which is a paper i know nthing about except i have used it on a few prints previously and it tends to give a nice brown colour overall with not very much infectious development (much like Agfa Brovira which i'm a huge huge huge fan of).  Previous prints i have made on this paper didn't really have many highlight tones so i was interesting to see how it would handle the sky in this shot.  I did a test strip, determined the correct exposure, added 3 stops, exposed and started developing.  Eventually i pulled the print, stoppped, fixed and rinsed as usual, gave it a little dunk in selenium toner (1:9) and this is what i got:

  Not the greatest print i've ever done i reckon but a good start.  The paper has handled the highlights well (not that there are tonnes) and the shadows are nice and gritty.  To be honest the composition and light on this shot isn't the best but not much i can do about that now is there?!

  My next print was one i took on the road to Glencoe.  There's a huge layby on a sweeping bend of the road which was practically made for tourists.  I was there for about 45 minutes and i think at least 5 coach loads of people came and went in that time, compact cameras a-flashing.  I found myself chuckling when i pondered how their images would turn out.  For some reason people's holiday photos just amuse me - "here's a lovely landscape with my wife stood in front; here's an interesting statue with my daughter in front, here's a hedge with my brother in front".  Bizarre how most people seem to think shots are improved by having family members stood in front of them.  I think it may stem from my parents who overload on holiday photos, every single one having my mum or dad stuck right bang in the middle of the scene!  Anyway - back on track!  I did two exposures at this scene, one standard and one using a cheapo 10 stop filter i got off ebay/amazon (i can't quite remember).  After inspecting the contact sheet i decided to print the long exposure one (seriously, the exposure was like 8 minutes or something - i'd give you an exact figure but my notebook is buried in the under-stairs cupboard and going in there is an undertaking that requires at least half a day and a hearty breakfast, neither of which i have), predominantly because the sky had a better looking shape and also because there was a huge drying mark on the standard one.  I decided to use my precious precious supply of Fotospeed Lith paper for this print.  This paper is long gone but i got 20 sheets on ebay months ago and i'm saving it for very special prints and this felt like one of those.  In my mind i pictured something dark with emphasis put on the lake and sky.  I chose an exposure accordingly and started to develop.  When the time seemed right i pulled the print, processed and selenium toned in 1:9 again.  This caused a boost in the blacks as usual which resulted in some slight loss of detail in the foreground landscape - i expected this though and it was what i wanted.  I wanted the foreground to look almost blocked up so as to add further emphasis to the lake (which took on a lovely pale lilac type colour).  Here's the final result:

  I think it works well and i like the pale pastel tones taken on by the highlights.  Now if only Fotospeed would bring the lith paper back out (only 16 sheets left)!  On your screen you may be seeing some brownish areas in the dark foreground, that's just come from scanning - the print wasn't entirely flat and so some light got in, a bit of a pain but i'm not going to rescan and edit it all over again - just imagine everything in the balck areas is entirely black!

  For regular readers of this blog (if indeed there are any) you may pick up on the vibe that i begrudge wasting chemicals - they're expensive and i want to squeeze everything out of them that i can.  Some would coll that anal, i call it thrifty!  I knew that would be power for at least one more print in the lith developer so i hit the negative folder hard in search of something to print from my past.  I eventually stumbled upon  roll of film i shot at Whitby Abbey a few years ago on my honeymoon (7th May 2011 - a real man remembers when he got married) and realised i had never really printed from it (at that time i was still scanning all my negatives - terrible)!  The whole roll was pretty much a write-off mostly due to lack of ability to not chop the tops of images off when using a Diana camera.  One shot looked great though (even if it is from the exact same angle that everyone seems to take pictures of Whitby abbey from) so i decided to lith it and see what we got.  I spent a few minutes pondering what paper to use (because as you should all know by now paper choice has a massive effect on final print in lith).  As i was feeling somewhat devil-may-care a decided to use a sheet of my even-rarer-than-fotospeed-lith tapestry paper.  This is a textured "art" paper that liths incredibly well and when put into selenium toner will give at least 3 colour splits.  I have used one sheet before to create a watercolour style effect - see here for details.  I decided to give it a go with this print as it was somewhat heavier on the shadows and lower midtones than i have previously lithed on this paper, i was interested to see what i would end up with.  I determined exposure, processed and dipped into the selenium toner (1:9 again) and as expected colours kept changing from the shadows up through to the highlights.  I kept the print in the selenium until i got a nice cool grey in the lower mids and lovely pale pastel yellows and lilacs in the tones of the sky.  When using this paper previously i would paint the toner onto areas i want to alter the colours of but i thought this print looked fine as it was so i left it to dry (keeping in mind that when wet it is a yellowy colour but would dry-down to a salmon pink tone).  Once dry i was pleased with how it looked:

  Again - scanning problems!  Because this paper is heavily textured it wouldn't render the blacks actually black so they have the kind of look you get when you're trying to scan through dense colour film.  Again, just imagine that the shadow areas are solid black! 

  So, a successful darkroom session from which i learnt the following things:
  • I hate scanning
  • Lith printing continues to rule
  All i need to do now is actually go out and shoot some more film (it's been 2 months since i've even touched my camera - naughty me) so i can crack on printing.  Perhaps in the meantime i should go back through my old negatives and see if there's anything i've missed.  until next time - happy printing!

Lithing Glen Coe

  As I STILL haven’t replaced my broken Bronica SQ-A body I am stuck without a camera.  That being the case I have hardly been in the darkroom at all lately.  I managed to get an evening a few nights ago though and decided to dig through my negative file and see if there was something I missed.  I ended up looking at some rolls I had shot on holiday in Scotland earlier this year.  I had printed most of the good frames from it but there was one frame in particular I just couldn’t get a print I liked from.  It was of some mountains in Glen Coe close to dusk and the shadows were all blocked up.  I was in a rush at the time of exposure so it’s not really the best negative I could have got from the scene, and what’s more there are spots, marks and scratches all over it (bad processing on my part)!  

  I decided that maybe it was time to give it another try.  I went through a few sheets of paper but couldn’t really get anything close to what I liked, and those spots and marks were an annoyance.  I decided to try and lith it and settled on Agfa Brovira as my paper of choice.  With Brovira I can get a good range of tones and it still retains great highlight detail so was ideal for this situation.  Plus with lith marks and spots annoy me much less for some reason, maybe it's because of the gritty nature of hte final print.  

 I mixed up the developer, exposed the paper and slid it into the tray.  It took about 25 minutes to get to an appropriate snatch point, but unlike most of my other prints I pulled it just before the shadows became too dark.  There is shadow detail in this negative that would be lost if I let the blacks fully develop – a road and the texture of the mountainside – and I wanted them to still be discernible in the final print.   

  I’m pleased with the final print, there are patches of a golden yellowy tone that appeared upon drying.  I’m not sure if that’s to do with the lith process or just down to the age of the paper, I like it anyway.  I’m starting to run low on Brovira so I need to start saving it for the most important negatives, or find someone with a huge stash for sale!

  It just goes to show how important it is to keep going back to old negatives as well as printing new ones as your printing skills improve with time and you may be able to get more from your negative than you could when you first tried.

Feeding The Monkey

  After not shooting a roll in months to say my trigger finger is itchy is an understatement.  To satisfy my urges last weekend I dug out some old 35mm film and loaded up my Yashica FR-1 and took some randomly selected shots around the house and out and about.  Mostly of Jess eating her tea (much to her disdain).  I do not like Ilford Delta in Rodinal so I opened a pack of ID11 I got with my darkroom and gave that a try.  The negative seems to have come out with good contrast and hopefully I will be able to do some printing this weekend.

  Now, on to the main point of this post.  Due to the complete lack of recent shooting I decided to dig through my old negatives.  I decided to try and print an image I had tried and failed before.  It’s from a trip Jess and I took to Bowland back in summer of an animal shelter in the hills with a nice puff of cloud above it.  The problem is I just can’t seem to get it right using straight printing.  The image is extremely low contrast due to the fact I used too heavy a grad on the sky.  I should probably dedicate more time to it I suppose (and learn to master my metering and filtration better).  But for this short session I decided to try and lith it.  I have been suing Agfa Brovira a lot lately but didn’t think it would suit this image and I didn't want to use my few remaining pieces of Fotospeed Lith.  I wanted something gritty and super-high contrast.  I decided to once again try Slavich Unibrom.  Here I learn't an important lesson.  When trying to “feed the darkroom monkey”, don’t use a paper you haven’t mastered yet.  As usual I got grossly uneven development.  I tried a few sheets changing my method slightly; a pre-soak, more diluted developer, but didn’t get anything near the image I had in my head.  I gave up after a few hours and went inside.

  The next day I was looking through a few of the prints and found one I actually rather liked.  Although the development wasn’t as even as I had hoped the image was still quite pleasing.  And at this point we learn lesson number two – don’t immediately dismiss a print.  Sleep on it (not literally) and come back to it the next day.  Don’t rush towards the final image because you may discover something different that you prefer.  It’s advice I have read in books many times but far too often I get carried away trying to get something finished, but maybe it’s just me that does that.

  So lessons learned – I need to slow down and I need to work harder at finding my own way of taming Slavich Unibrom.  For now I leave you with the image I made and the promise of further updates soon:

Substitute Graduates

  I'm sure (or i hope) that many of us have been in the situation where we've ordered new chemicals, they've arrived and then we've realised we forgot to order more graduates and bottles etc.  If, like me, you live nowhere near a darkroom supplies shop and you need to mail order everything this causes a problem because let's face it - noone wants to pay postage costs.

  Well fear not for Tesco has come to the rescue!  In some of the larger Tesco's they stock beer fermenting supplies.  Included in this are 100ml graduates such as this one:

  It only cost around £3 but saved me from having to pay postage and wait for my order to arrive.  I may even go back and buy a few more - you know, just in case...

For I Am Man!

  Being a man i am possessed with a regular need to build and fix things.  This mood tends to come in cycles where, after months of laziness, i suddenly decide to make some shelves for a cupboard, hang some mirrors on a wall or (in this case) convert a shed into a darkroom.

  As regular readers will know i recently moved house, downsizing from a 4 bed to a 2 bed house.  Naturally the spare bedroom would have the computer in and all my guitars, instruments, amplifiers and pedals; and my large collection of cd's and dvd's.  This left a minor problem - no darkroom.  Originally the plan was to use the little breakfast bar area at the end of the kitchen but Jess didn't seem to happy with this.  Being the devious, scheming lady that she is she suggested i get a shed - a suggestion i immediately dismissed as foolish.  However, as days went by i began warming to the idea.  Could a shed make an effective darkroom?  I began to investigate online and saw that it could indeed be done - but at great cost.  I found a few articles where people had converted a shed into a darkroom but they had gone the whole hog - electric supply, running water, insulation panels, kitchen units etc.  I needed to do mine at as small a cost as possible but still make it useable.

  First things first - find a shed.  I went to B&Q because i needed to get some gear for decorating the new house.  Special offer on a 4x6 shed - £120.  I considered it for a while but then came to the conclusion that it was too small.  I hit EBay and found a few but they were all too far away for me to collect.  I tried Preloved and Freecycle but to no avail.  Then i found one on Gumtree a mere 10 miles away.  It was an 8x6 and it was listed at £175 or nearest offer.  I offered £150 and got it!  The next problem was how to get it home.  Enter my good friend Steve who has a nice big estate car with roof racks.  We went to the house, dismantled the shed, loaded it onto the roof racks and took it home.  As a side note let me just say that if you ever need to dismantle a shed make sure you have an electric screwdriver.  And make sure the guy you buy it off doesn't keep letting the shed walls drop onto you - it hurts!

  So, after an hour or so the floor was down, the walls were up, the roof was on and the doors were attached:
  The next job was to get it insulated in some way as the weather here in England is very changeable, especially this year.  We've had snow follow by blazing sun followed by snow again followed by rain, it's mental!  If i'm putting electronic gear inside i want to make sure the temperature is as stable as possible or damp will get inside and destroy everything.  And fluctuating between hot and cold is definitely not good for photographic paper!  So, what were my options?  Well i could get loft insulation or polystyrene panels, or i could just use foil or bubble wrap.  In the end i went kind of in the middle.  The local B&Q sells this stuff - B&Q insulation which is basically bubble wrap coated in reflective aluminium on each side.  It's about £12 a roll which isn't too bad compared to other types of insulation, and each roll covers about 4.5m2.  There is a cheaper option available but only one side is coated in foil.  I decided that although more costly, the double sided stuff would be best.  So, i bought a few rolls and began stapling it to the inside of the shed.  The idea is that the foil would keep heat inside and reflect the heat coming in form the outside, thus keeping the temperature in the shed a bit more stable.  Make sure you buy a decent staple gun - i got a £5 one from B&Q and it died the next day.  An extra £5 would have got me a good sturdy metal one.  So, once the insulation was stapled in i had what looked like a set from Dr Who:
  Note the hole on the bottom left.  I left that open to use as a vent and to run an extension cable through from the kitchen.  There was no way i was going to be able to get a water and electric supply to the shed as i'm living in a rented house so couldn't do anything permanent.  This hole would be ideal for putting a cable and, potentially, a hosepipe through.  You can't see i
t in this photo but i also stapled insulation to the inside of the doors as there will be a lot of heat loss through there.  I had about half a roll spare so i put an extra strip over each side of the roof as this is where the majority of heat loss will be.

  Next job is to board up the walls.  I considered just using card but thought if i'm going to all this effort to make a darkroom i may as well fork out and do it properly.  So, i scoped around for prices for sheets of chipboard.  When it comes to sheets of timber it's best not to use B&Q or Homebase etc as you can get it cheaper from a local timber merchant.  In this case i was quoted £7 a sheet from Preston Plywood which was a great price.  If you can get oriented strand board (OSB) instead of chipboard that would be better as when chipboard gets wet it just crumbles whereas OSB is a lot more solid.  But i thought i would be ok with chipboard so went ahead and placed my order.  For a small extra fee they could cut the wood to size and deliver it to my house so i gave them the sizes i needed and my address.  When you're measuring out your sizes remember to deduct the thickness of the board from the adjacent piece e.g. the board at the back would need to be 24mm (2x12mm) narrower than the width of the shed so that the board for the two side walls could fit alongside it.  Once the wood arrived i started boarding up the walls:
  Next i had to board the roof.  Now, at such an angle 12mm chipboard was going to be a pain.  I just needed something to go over the insulation to add that little bit extra.  Preston Plywood came through again with some 3mm MDF/Hardwood.  I got two sheets delivered and cut them down to size myself.  It was easier not to saw them, i just used a sharp blade and scored down the sheet so i could just bend the wood and snap it in the right place.  I commandeered Jess to help me hold the sheets while i screwed them to the roof.  It was awkward but we got it done eventually.

  So, that was the whole inside of the shed boarded out now.  Although it was only cheap and thin insulation you could feel the difference in temperature compared to how it was with nothing on.  obviously, more expensive and thicker insulation would have a greater effect.  Insulation has a thermal resistance rating - the higher the rating the more insulation you get.  This stuff only has a rating of 1.5 but it is certainly enough to make a difference, especially with board covering it.

  At this point i turned my attention away from the shed and began to think about workbenches.  I'd need somewhere to put my enlarger and a surface to put my developing trays etc.  I thought about using computer desks, kitchen units and even considered buying a workbench.  it's shocking how much workbenches cost!  So, i decided to build my own.  For about £35 i got the materials required to build my own 2 shelf workbench that would measure 1.2 x 0.80 x 0.60m.  It was a squeeze to fit it all in the car but i managed it.  I spent the afternoon sawing, screwing and assembling all the pieces until i had my bench.  Solid as a rock and the perfect size.  I was so impressed with it that i went ahead and built another one but made it slightly shorter so that my enlarger would fit on it.

   I put them in the shed and then put in the shelving units i had from my previous house.  Then i started shifting in all my gear.  A few hours later and it was all done...
...well, almost.  I still need to figure out how to lightproof the vent but still pass an extension cable through it. and i still need to lightproof the doors.  Ill probably velcro some lightproof plastic over the inside when i'm in and hang a curtain there too to keep out some of the cold when the shed is locked up.

  So there you have it - a darkroom shed on a budget.  Hopefully this weekend ill be able to get in and start making some prints.  If there are any improvements i need to make i can do it as i go along.  It's nice and roomy though and i think i'll be happy printing in there.  The main thing is that, should we ever move house (which i have no plans to do), i can dismantle it and take it with me.  I really have to thank Jess for coming up with the suggestion and managing to cook me a delicious tea everyday despite the kitchen being full of darkroom gear!

  I don't know what my next bit of DIY will be (probably making some shelves for our towel cupboard), and i'm sure the mood won't strike again for many a month; but i know that when it does i'll be unstoppable - for i am man!

The Last Shot

  I seriously don't know how people can shoot 35mm film.  Not the format, that doesn't bother me - it's the fact that you've got to shoot either 24 or 36 frames!  I honestly can't go out and shoot that many frames!  I shoot mainly 6x6 which means i get 12 shots to play with.  Even so, i still often find myself shooting randomly just to finish up the last shot or two on the roll so i can go home and develop the film straight away.  I'm not the kind of person who can spread a roll of film out over a week or so, it preys on my mind and i picture all manner of light leaking through my camera onto my film.

  That being said, when it comes to taking holiday snaps 35mm is the way!  Jess and I recently went to Greenman festival in Wales as we do every August, and this year we took along our Yashica FR-1 and some rolls of Provia 100F.  We went a bit trigger happy but still only shot 3/4 of a roll (the curse of also having cameras on phones).

  The next weekend, however, we were off to Maryport in the Lake District to visit some friends of ours.  We took the Yashica along, of course, in anticipation of good times.  Good times were had, but mostly indoors in the dim light - not suitable for 100iso.

  Our friends have horses though.  Really nice horses.  I'm not really a horse fan but these horses are lovely.  I decided to finish off the last few frames on the roll taking photos of the horses because the light was nice and soft and one horse in particular had a lovely grey coat.

  The weekend ended (as it always does alas) and we headed home.  I posted the film off the next day (i don't yet develop my own E6) and then counted the days until it would come back to me in the post.  Back it came and i'm sat at my computer flicking through my holiday shots.  To my surprise the most stand out picture on the whole roll is one of the horse ones:

  I know it wont be everyone's cup of tea and it's not going to win any awards, but I like it because it is nice and soft and just has lovely detail.  And here we get to the point of this blog post - sometimes the shot you take to finish off your roll is the best thing you'll shoot all day.  It has happened to me many times, just taking a quick snap to complete the film and then that picture turning out to be the one you spend your time printing and framing.  It's strange how you can spend ages metering, filtering and exposing one frame and getting a very bland result, yet use guesswork and quick focusing on another and get the best shot of the roll.

  But this is photography and this is what we do.  Never be afraid of the final few frames on your roll, and never underestimate the power of a quick snap!

A Bank Holiday with Eddie

  Finally at last i got a decent session in my darkroom.  As many of you will know today is bank holiday Monday here in the UK.  Basically that means that everywhere is shut and everyone is out mowing their lawns and washing their cars.  Well they would be if it wasn't raining for a change.

  As Jess works at a hotel she doesn't have the day off so i dropped her off at 7 this morning and then headed straight into the shed to start printing.  Now, i recently shot a friends wedding on film and had a few frames left over which i went on to use on the coast at Lytham.  I decided to print one of the shots from that roll which i  really thought would let me get creative.  You see, i've been very inspired lately to give my printing skills a boost.  The book 'Creative Elements' by Eddie Ephraums is to blame entirely.  I saw it sitting on a shelf in a used bookstore and had a thumb through.  It looked interesting enough so i bought it and ever since i've been dying to have a good go at some negatives.  If you're into darkroom work i highly recommend you get this book.  In it Ephraums basically goes over ten or so of his shots and explains in detail how he got from camera setup to final print.  You know those shots you take and when you print them they just look dull and uninteresting?  Prepare to be inspired to dig them out again!  That's all i'm saying for now - if you want to know more then get the book!

  So, i decided to try and apply some of the things i had learnt from Ephraums' book to the negative i was planning on printing.  A straight print from the negative is just a bit...well...meh.  it's nothing special, very grey and flat.  Considerable dodging and burning was going to be required to get on paper what i saw in my head at the time of exposure.

  To start with i did a test strip (i should note that i have started using the f-stop printing method and i find it so much easier than dodging and burning by time - i'll be using this method from now on i think) and chose 18 seconds as the correct overall exposure time.  This gave me the tonality i wanted in the wood, which is the most important part of the picture.  The highlights were spot on where i wanted them but the shadows were weak, even though they had good detail.  I decided to step up from grade 2 to grade 3 to give the shadows a kick, even though it would mean a little loss of detail in the shadows.  I kept the exposure time the same and after processing the paper i was happy with the final result.

  Now came the fun of trying to realise the print i wanted.  I ended up using a lot of trial and error (and paper!) trying to get the sky how i wanted and getting the foreground nicely burned in etc.  You can see what i finally decided upon in my notes below:

  I spent ages working on the sky and couldn't get white clouds on darker sky until i realised that the sky was getting a hefty bit of exposure at grade 3 in the base exposure (sometimes it's just the obvious things that elude you for ages).  So, during the base exposure i dodged the sky for 1 stop (9 seconds) to ensure the clouds would be quite white ready for burning in later.  Next i focused on the foreground as i wanted it to be a lot darker, leading the eye towards the centre of the picture.  The right hand side got +1/3 of a stop (+4.7s) and the left hand side got +2/3 (2 exposures of 4.7s).  The very top of the sky then got +1/2 a stop (still at grade 3) to darken it slightly ready for building on later.  All edges were then given a +1/3 of a stop burn to darken them slightly and gently push the eye towards the centre of the frame.  I then switched to grade 0 to burn in the long white grass along the horizon and part of the foreground.  Had i merely extended the base exposure this would have affected the tonality of the wood which i wanted to maintain as it was.  Grade 0 would burn in a little highlight detail without affecting the shadows.  I decided that +1/3 of a stop would suffice to bring those highlights down.  Next i switched to grade 4 1/2 to burn in the sky and clouds.  I did several small passes up and down the sky with a piece of card during the +1/2 stop exposure.  This gave a gradational burn to the sky and enhanced cloud separation which is exactly what i wanted.  Finally i used a little bleach from a toning kit to paint over the sky just above the horizon.  It was very grey and kind of melted into the clouds above.  Lightly bleaching (with diluted bleach) separated this sky from the clouds above and the horizon line below.  It's easy to get carried away bleaching as i found out on a previous print - i had to go back and reprint it all.  Keep water nearby to wash the bleach off!

  After a good washing i bleached the whole print back in potassium ferricyanide/bromide 1:7 for 5:30 whereupon much of the highlight detail in the long grass had disappeared and some of the cloud highlights were starting to go.  I washed again and then sepia toned to completion.  After another wash i toned in selenium for 1:30 which gave the print a little kick.

  Finally after all that work i got this:

  And i'm really really happy with it.  It was so nice to focus in on one print and really work it.  Figuring out the dodges and burns required to get the print in your mind onto the paper beneath the enlarger.  Ephraum's book was invaluable in giving me the kick i needed to get creative.  I'm really looking forward to the prints to come.   have a few projects in mind and i am hoping to apply the new skills i've learnt to those too.

How To: Do an Emulsion Lift on Polaroid Film

  I have recently discovered the joys of doing emulsion lifts on polaroid film and now im highly addicted.  Shooting polaroids is fun in itself but the different manipulations you can do with the film after you've got the image are amazing.  I currently only have 2 Polaroid cameras cameras that shoot both SX70 and 600 film so i haven't yet been able to try this with peel-apart pack film but im on the lookout for a pack film camera.  A bit of interent research has shown me that apparently this doesn't work on the original Polaroid SX70 and 600 films but will work on all films made by the Impossible Project.  I decided to give it a try using some Orange Flash film i recently got from them.  It worked great so i thought i would write a tutorial so you can all have a try too.

For starters you will need the following equipment:
  • 2 trays
  • at least 2 small soft bristled brushes
  • watercolour paper 
  • a sharp craft knife or a pair of scissors
  • warm and cool water
  The first step is to put some warm water (between 30 and 40 degrees celsius) into one of your trays and some cool room temperature water into the second tray.  Now use your knife/scissors to start removing the white borders around the film.  One this has all been stripped off you should be left with a transparent plastic rectangle with your polaroid image on.

  Now, put your polaroid into the warm water and push it around a little for around 20 minutes.
You may see the film start to wrinkle up a little-thats fine, its just the water getting in.  The corners may start to lift a little also.
  Now, use one brush to keep the polaroid still and use the other to very slowly and gently peel the emulsion up off the white under layer.  Take your time doing this as it is very easy to tear the emulsion.
 Once the emulsion is all off gently lift it out of the warm water and into the tray with the cool water in it.

   Now place in a square of watercolour paper and lay it under the emulsion.  Use your brushes to spread your emulsion out into the shape you want above the watercolour paper.

  Once you have it laid out how you want it then its time to lift the paper out.  A handy tip is to find a coaster made of cork and slide it under your paper.  This floats the paper with the image on to the surface of the water, allowing you to remove the paper without the emulsion sliding off.  Once your paper is out leave it somewhere to dry for a few hours then admire your finished article.

  And that's it!  Simple really.  Have a try yourself - you can even stick the emulsion to other materials like wood if you fancy!