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Thread: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

  1. #1

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    Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    After several years of no large format photography, I got back in. Been shooting 4x5 and 8x10 since 1978. Most of my work was Ektachrome and Fujichrome transparencies, enlarged on Cibachrome/Ilfochrome Classic. This latter process is practically gone with the exception of a couple of labs I understand. It always provided beautiful results this positive to positive process.

    Now I am finding that large format transparencies are basically dead as an option. So, what to do? Color negative film seems to be available, albeit pricey. So what are current color photographers doing? Are you enlarging the traditional way, or going to drum scans for your large format negatives and finishing in the digital realm?

    Thanks for any wisdom you can provide....
    "Photographs don't lie, they just don't tell the truth" - Lawrence Clark Powell

  2. #2

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    There are a million ways to approach this. I remember the days of Kodachrome 25 and Cibachrome. I switched to color negative and RA-4 years ago, and while I miss some things about Cibachrome, my results are great -- but apparently a lot of people still shoot color chromes. Then they make prints in various ways -- I'll let others offer suggestions.

    But switching to color negative sheet film is also wide open. Just like with chromes, different people will suggest different film -- and different ways to get them into prints.

    Tell us what gear you currently have for making prints.

  3. #3

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post

    Tell us what gear you currently have for making prints.
    Sold off most of the enlarging equipment, just contact print capabilities. My plan is to use custom labs for enlargements. Was also looking at dye transfer prints and other types of alternative processes.
    "Photographs don't lie, they just don't tell the truth" - Lawrence Clark Powell

  4. #4

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    Quote Originally Posted by Timothy Blomquist View Post
    Sold off most of the enlarging equipment, just contact print capabilities. My plan is to use custom labs for enlargements. Was also looking at dye transfer prints and other types of alternative processes.
    That narrows your options, but makes things simpler and easier. While I do my own enlarging, I have had great experience sending off digital files to be printed. All you need it a way to get your negatives or slides into a digital form -- and there are several ways to do that -- as you already know. I use an HP 4x5" flat-bed scanner or a Sony a850 camera for that.

    Dye transfer? Nice, but that and other alternative processes are all DIY -- and usually require an enlarger. What did you have in mind?

  5. #5

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    That narrows your options, but makes things simpler and easier. While I do my own enlarging, I have had great experience sending off digital files to be printed. All you need it a way to get your negatives or slides into a digital form -- and there are several ways to do that -- as you already know. I use an HP 4x5" flat-bed scanner or a Sony a850 camera for that.

    Dye transfer? Nice, but that and other alternative processes are all DIY -- and usually require an enlarger. What did you have in mind?
    For Dye transfer, I would have to use a custom printer. I have seen some incredible results from drum scans of 4x5 transparencies. Haven't done 8x10 yet, but I have a large portfolio of images, so I will have to be selective as price is rather high for that size of a scan.
    "Photographs don't lie, they just don't tell the truth" - Lawrence Clark Powell

  6. #6

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    Others may chime in on alternatives to drum scans -- perhaps you already know about that. From what I gather, it is pretty pricey.

  7. #7

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    Quote Originally Posted by xkaes View Post
    Others may chime in on alternatives to drum scans -- perhaps you already know about that. From what I gather, it is pretty pricey.
    If you already have a DSLR then DSLR "scanning" is a pretty viable option these days and only costs you the light source and camera mount.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    If you want the look of Cibachrome, yet with greater ease and somewhat more affordably, you can shoot color neg film, especially Ektar 100 with its more chrome-looking contrast and saturation, and then print it on Fuji Supergloss. But this particular medium is, unfortunately, only available on big expensive rolls which you'll have to cut down yourself, and at the moment, temporarily not available at all due to pandemic-related distribution issues, but should be again in a few months perhaps.

    Now the other method, using LF chromes themselves, and doing so via true optical enlargement : There's a distinct learning curve to it, but you can use your prior masking skills and punch and register equipment to make very high quality color internegs for sake of printing onto Fujiflex Supergloss or nearly any RA4 chromogenic paper. Porta 160 is an excellent interneg choice, especially if generated via contact along with a modest registered contrast mask. You end up with a master printing negative.

    So no, the direct optical pathway for LF chromes is not over at all. The new E100 chrome film is available up to 8X10 sheet size, and a number of labs still offer E6 processing up to that size or even larger. But cost-wise, shooting and printing 8x10 chromes is getting pretty gnarly. That's why I only interneg my existing older 4X5 and 8X10 chromes, and going forward ever since the demise of Ciba, now only shoot color neg film.

    But even retired, I still simply haven't had large enough blocks of time to warrant digging out my stockpile of dye transfer printing supplies. I've been getting such good results the color interneg method, it would hardly be qualitatively worthwhile to do so, though I'd still like to do some dye transfer work for personal interest reasons, with its own special look. Wonder what I'll finally do with all those supplies. Taming any color neg film for direct optical printing takes some patience anyway, especially if one wants those clean hues associated with chrome films rather than the traditional "muddiness" of color negs. But after the learning curve, I ended up with RA4 prints even cleaner in hue than my previous Cibas printed from trannies. There are some secrets to it, which I'm willing to share, that is, if anyone out there really takes serious interest in the same route. But NOBODY is going to mistake the result from something ink-jetted - this has way more potential for fine nuances of detail and tonality than going the scanned route.

  9. #9

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    Once other thought. You could shoot chromes and investigate the RA4 reversal process. Many people are using it to shoot "in-camera", although there are significant color and contrast limitations with that. It could be an interesting way to contact print old 8x10 chrome negatives.

  10. #10

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    Re: Life after E6 and large format transparencies

    I've never done cibachrome but I'm disapointed it went away, sounds like it would have been right up my alley from what I've read.

    I've done some color negative but haven't been thrilled with the results.

    I've just started working on fully analog tri-color carbon transfer. Spent some time on color separation negatives and currently testing cyan tissue. Not sure how much success I'll have with this though.

    I thought dye transfer was dead too (except for the supplies some still have on hand) due to the matrix not being made anymore. Is there another way to do this? Easier than carbon?

    Drew's color internegative process sounds interesting, I'm curious to hear about that. Actually, I'm not totally clear if this is for shooting color neg film or making color interneg from transparency.

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