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Shooting the Sheet - X-ray Duping Film and Positives from Litho Film

Apparently you can teach an old dog new tricks. Or at least that old dog can learn tricks on his own. I'm the dog in this metaphor, but by most people's standards the old is not metaphorical.
Photography has been an important aspect of my life since I was in my mid-teens and now I'm 51. By trade both my dad and grandfather were/are professional photographers. So when it comes to film photography, I feel I know alot compared to most.

I've been playing around with X-ray film for a couple years now.  A sheet of conventional 8x10" film can cost from about $3 to $15. Some X-ray films are going for less than $0.50/sheet. But there are a lot of quirks.

Most X-ray films are coated on both sides which is problematic for methods most of us use for processing. All (?) X-ray films are Orthochromatic (not sensitive to red) and as such can be processed under a safelight. 

For conventional photography I found Carestream Ektascan BR/A film to be a good option even though it was about twice as expensive as other films. The reason this film worked well is that it was coated only on one side. Unfortunately it is no longer made so far as I can tell.

On my journey playing around with various X-ray films I found an anomaly. I bought a 100 sheets of "X-ray duping film" which believe it or not promised to create a duplicate (chemically reverse) in regular chemistry. 

Unfortunately I found that there wasn't a practical way to expose this film either in camera or in the darkroom. Or that's what I thought before. Turns out my grandfather's old contact printer that I donated to the college where I work (Mills College/Oakland) was unwittingly tricked out by my friend/predecessor with UV bulbs!

I used a projection print scale and put a quarter sheet of the X-ray duping film in the contact printer. And Voila! More or less normal paper printing chemistry and times were used here.

The possibilities of such a film are still unclear to me. One possibility is to try and dupe a smaller neg and enlarge it in an enlarger. I've already made some copies intentionally increasing density and contrast that appeared to make good conventional contact prints. What else? Solarization? Multi-image composites? Adding texture? Using the duplicate negative in ways you wouldn't dare with the original: draw on, scratch up, emulsion lift?

Well go on and give it a try! Just don't buy up all the X-ray duping film, leave some for the rest of us!

1: Original in camera negative (old Ilford FP4, 2: Positive transparency made by contacting (1) with Litho Film, 3: X-ray duping film copy made from Lith transparency (2) as original, 4: X-ray duping film copy made from (1) as original.
1: Original in camera negative (old Ilford FP4, 2: Positive transparency made by contacting (1) with Litho Film, 3: X-ray duping film copy made from Lith transparency (2) as original, 4: X-ray duping film copy made from (1) as original. Photos are of my adorable daughter Ella "Max". Please pardon the flopped images- I wasn't paying attention when I took this.


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