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Thread: ULF, alternative processes and the environment

  1. #1
    Marco Annaratone's Avatar
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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Happy Thanksgiving to everybody!

    Like many others I have become intrigued by ULF. The main reason for me to move to ULF would obviously be to do contact printing and explore alternative processes.

    I am still on the fence though because of a number of issues I have. An important one has to do with alternative processes and their impact on the environment.

    Can someone point to some workflow (development of negative, prepping and development of the paper) that is gentler than others on the environment? How does it affect the quality of the B&W print and its ability to last?

    Thanks a million!
    Marco

  2. #2
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Marco

    I am not sure where you are located, but here in Toronto you can go to most pro labs and have your chemistrys disposed of free of charge,. I believe there are folks here on this discussion group , who can give the implications of waste chemicals. Alternative process are not my specialty but if you are processing silver prints, do not dump the fix or any toning chemicals .
    Recently our lab was inspected by the Toronto Waste Disposal group. Fortunately we passed with flying colours . I will say it was daunting to say the least as they showed up unannounced and asked us to start our recovery unit and took samples at the floor drain.
    This may not happen in other parts of the world , but I was feeling pretty good about the results on a suprise inspection.
    Your local municipal office should be able to help you in your area.
    You should be proud of yourself for considering the impact on the envioronment

  3. #3

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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Environmental issues are one good reason to think about alternative processes, in fact...
    If I'm not mistaken, some printing processes, such as cyanotypes do not require a chemical treatment, thus eliminating one chemical treatment step.

    But if one begins to question one's environmental impact through photography, it is a sad truth that it is a very polluting hobby, and we should all be aware of that fact so it gives us an extra incentive to make every image count...

    Happy shooting

    PJ

  4. #4

    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    I agree with the above post. The larger the negative and print the more damage. The amount of environmental damage caused by the semicondector industry is off the scale but probably the best way to have the smallest impact would be to buy a state of the are digital camera, keep it till it goes belly up, and only view your work on the screen.

  5. #5
    Marco Annaratone's Avatar
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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Let me make sure I do not get misunderstood.

    My question did not intend to start a debate on environment and chemical photography---I know things do not look that good and since I am developing my own film I am also part of the problem.

    I am just asking whether there is someone who can comment on alternative processes that are GENTLER on the environment. That's all.

    As for where I live, the answer is California, but I have been changing continents often enough that I am not looking for the best solution in a specific geography but for a scientific/engineering answer that I can take with me to other Countries (although I understand the implications of local regulations re: chemical waste disposal).

    Thanks!
    Marco

  6. #6
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Marco

    I would then investigate the process and their make - up and make a logical decision based on their impact on the envioronment.
    Whether you change continents is irrelevent.
    There are good chemists in any large populated area that can give you the difinitive answers.

  7. #7

    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Most of the chemicals used in regular B+W photography, silver film and silver paper, aren't particularly bad for the environment. For example, acetic acid (stop bath, fixer) is the ingredient of vinegar. Sodium sulfite (developers, fixer, wash aid) is sometimes applied to food. Some toners are probably the worst.

    The range of alternative processes is so broad that it is hard to answer that question.

    I suggest picking a process and researching the chemicals involved, then asking about particular chemicals that you are uncertain about. Probably very few photographers have sufficient knowledge of chemistry and the environment to really answer this question.

    You can remove silver from used fixer with steel wool or copper pennies. This removes the silver but does not rejuvenate the fixer for reuse. There is a debate about whether the form of silver in fixer is harmful, but it won't hurt to remove it.

    For developers, manufactuers seem to be trying to move away from hydroquinone for environmental reasons. This is one of the assertions in the patent for Xtol. So I suggest using developers without hydroquinone. Developing agents metol, phenidone and ascorbic acid seem to be preferred. Possibilties include both off-the-shelf developers such as Xtol and DIY developers such as D-23, D-76H (not plain D-76), etc.

    Information on the ingredients in off-the-shelf products can be obtained in Material Safety Data Sheets. Manufacturers are required to supply MSDSs in the US. Most make them available from their websites. They are allowed to omit some ingredients of low safety hazzard and low concentration. Frequently the manufacturers use the full chemical names rather than common trade names. The CAS number can be helpful relating chemical names to trade names since the CAS number is supposed to be unique.

  8. #8

    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Hi there,

    I remembered an article on this and looked it up. Patrick A. Gainer did an article in Nov/Dec 94 'Darkroom & Creative Camera Techniques' magazine about a developer he engineered with vitamin C & phenidone. If you use Pure Grain Alcohol instead of denatured to dilute the phenidone, the whole system is actually edible. Table vinegar as stop bath and standard hypo for fixer, sodium thiosulfate is used as a preservative in table salt. It may be a hell of a laxative but it is all edible.

    You can remove the silver ions from the fixer by suspending strips of aluminium foil in the fixer. The silver attacks the aluminium and fall out as silver metal, the aluminium become alum. You now have a hardening fixer, just filter out the silver or let it settle for a week and pour off.

    I have used this vitamin C developer with Tech-Pan, works great.

    Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. #9

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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Carbon prints just use gelatine, pigment, paper and potassium dichromate. The dichromate is used in weak solutions and is disposable through mixing some other chemical in but I've forgotten its name, its in the modern carbon printing book I believe.

    Not too bad really. There are several other artforms that make photography look like an EPA wonderland!

    CP Goerz

  10. #10
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    ULF, alternative processes and the environment

    Cyanotype must be the way to go! Two ingredients, one of which is also used as a dietary supplement, the other for cleaning up toxic spills. Processing by washing in water; and if it's too blue you can tone it in tea. How's that for non-toxic?

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