August 22, Some Not Very Scientific Sunflower Tests

In the August 20 post I was complaining about the lack of available sunlight for the long exposure Lumenbox shots I’ve been experimenting with.

Roger Isaksson kindly wrote in and suggested I soak the photo paper in a mild ascorbic acid (vitamin C) solution prior to exposure to increase the sensitivity of the paper and reduce exposure times. What follows are my not very scientific exposure tests. Thanks again Roger, I found this experiment fun and interesting!

Roger suggested I use a 1:6 ratio of ascorbic acid, in this case, 5g in 30ml of water, or at least that’s how I read it. I thought I might begin with an even milder solution of 1:10 or 3g in 30ml of water. That’s my disclaimer, because I modified the solution, my results may not be very similar to what Roger was suggesting.

Today was a bright, sunny and windy day. I thought I would leave up the tripod in one spot and just change exposure times. I soaked the paper for the recommended 30 seconds in the ascorbic acid solution before exposure.

I began with a 1 hour exposure, then a half hour followed by 10 minutes and then 5 minutes. Very last is a control exposure with the photo paper (Arista Edu Ultra) soaked in plain water and exposed for 3+ hours.

Of course the sun was moving constantly throughout the day, that’s partly why I declare these tests to be not very scientific.

Below are the exposures beginning with the shortest and ending with the longest control exposure.

5 minute exposure
10 minute exposure
30 minute exposure
1 hour exposure
3+ hour exposure, no ascorbic acid

What I noticed immediately from these tests was the dramatically increased contrast over the Lumenbox exposures that I’ve become accustomed to. It seems like the longer the exposure, the more contrast but I also noticed a loss of color, or rather a more even balance of colors to create much more monochrome images than what I’d been getting.

Because I was using the very long exposures to enhance the chromatic range of the images, I probably won’t do this particular ascorbic acid soak unless I’m specifically looking for increased contrast and decreased chromatic range. I do have to say though, that the ascorbic acid soaked photos do have tonality and subtlety lacking in the psychedelic colors of the control photo. I think they may continue to grow on me.

I hope to soon try soaking my paper in the stronger solution that Roger suggested.

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