For those members who would like to hear more about the R&D phase of developing this new Duochrome film, we interviewed our CTO Stephen Herchen about the processes going on in the lab. This is a small batch test film for Polaroid 600-type cameras, available only for members, so stocks won’t last long. Read on to find out how to become a member, and take part in testing our new and experimental films.
Can you outline the R&D process for creating duochrome films?
To create a duochrome film we must first carefully replace the standard B&W developer paste that is contained within the pod with a colored pigment. This then tints the white in the image that is produced. The R&D process for this involves sourcing pigments that have the desired colors and that have several other required properties. We have to be careful that pigments do not affect the B&W imaging chemistry and sensitometry. They must remain in the paste layer and not migrate into the receiver sheet during development. They must be stable in the resulting duochrome print and not cause any defects in the final prints.
Does the structure differ a lot chemically to our other films?
The structure of the duochrome films is closest that of our standard B&W product. The main difference is the addition of the tint pigment to the developer paste in the pod. The black and green film is produced by adding a careful blend of a specially-designed cyan pigment, along with a yellow pigment to the developer paste. The combination of these two pigments blended in the right proportions is green.
Can you tell us about any difficulties you overcame whilst developing the duochrome films?
Some of the colored pigments tested caused instability of the white titanium dioxide pigment that is in our standard B&W developer past. This instability was visible as defects in the prints. Some pigments migrated into the receiver sheet causing the blacks in the image to be heavily tinted rather than just the white parts of the image. Some pigments were unstable to the final pH of our system so that the tint color faded away with time. We needed to find pigments that did not have these issues.
What’s the most exciting part about developing more experimental films?
Our instant films are very chemically complex but this complexity offers great opportunities to be creative. Much of what we do is aimed at getting our films to be more instant and capable of capturing images more accurately. These experimental films are fun to work on because in some cases we don’t know exactly what will happen when we make certain chemical changes until we do the experiment. Because our system is an instant film we get almost immediate feedback and the results can be quite surprising sometimes.
We held a vote for our member’s to choose the winning duochrome film from a selection. Which one would have been your personal choice to work on producing?
I liked the black and orange and black and red combinations best.
In the future, can you name another interesting type of test film that would be exciting for your team to play with in the lab?
Making an infrared sensitive film would be fun. This would capture colors in a surrealistic way that is quite different from how standard visible light sensitive films do and quite different from how our eyes see things. This type of film would be more challenging to do technically but pretty cool to experiment with.
This film is more difficult for creative techniques, for example emulsion lifts, as they dye runs off easily in the water. Is there a way to overcome that issue?
There is no easy solution for this since the emulsion lift separates the image layers in the receiver sheet and the pigments are confined to the paste layer in the image and for the most part are pretty water soluble. It might be possible to get the pigment to bond more to the image receiver sheet so that the emulsion lift would still contain the pigment color.
Any tips for our instant shooters on how to get the most out of this film and how it responds to light, temperature and care?
No special tips that are unique from how best to work with our B&W films. It is best to allow the prints to dry out naturally as opposed to preventing dry out by doing things like putting them in a zip lock bag.
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