has anyone used Rockland Selectacolor?

Discussion in 'Alternative Techniques & Photo Gallery' started by shell23, Dec 5, 2005.

  1. shell23

    shell23 TPF Noob!

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    My experimental photo class was just given an assignment to make prints with "Selectacolor." It is a process of coating with uv sensitive pigments and exposing much like a cyanotype. The problem is that there is virtually no literature on this technique. The only instructions we have are the ones that came with the Rockland pigments, which are vague at best. There is nothing that any of us can find online, and my instructor hasn't even made a successful print. My whole class is very frustrated, everyone is doing the same thing and having a different freakish result....I'm beginning to think that the stuff just doesn't work (which would explain why no one knows anything about it). If anyone has used it and knows what my class is doing wrong I would appreciate the input. Or if anyone has tried it and agrees that it is junk I would feel better too.
     
  2. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I have not heard of "Selectacolor". Strange that your instructor would have you all doing something that he hasn't mastered, leaving you all floundering. Ah well, interesting experiement, but if everyone is "failing" I would hope you all get a passing grade. ;)

    Sounds like a contact print method - why isn't it working? Are the images just not showing up?

    Have you called someone at Rockland for advice? Sometimes these folks can be very helpful.

    Hopefully someone who might have heard of this will weigh in here for you. :)
     
  3. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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  4. jadin

    jadin The Mad Hatter

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    Sounds like just the right choice for an 'experimental photo class'. ;) I can't figure out how to do it, maybe one of these young punks can. :mrgreen:
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    But doable - sounds like basic contact printing to me:


    It could be they're not laying on the sensitizer thick enough, or not exposing it long enough, or that they weren't allowing the sensitized papers to dry in complete darkness and they're being fogged. There are any number of things that could cause erratic results.

    I appreciate Jadin's joke, but I also think it's irresponsible for an instructor to be unable to instruct. Don't try it if you can't show them how - otherwise, you end up with the situation that's being described: everyone in the class is frustrated. What a waste of time and money!
     
  6. shell23

    shell23 TPF Noob!

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    After about 7 tries I finally have begun to see results. I tried both sunlight and blacklight exposures and the sunlight gives the best results (although difficult in winter in Michigan!). The selectacolor pigments are not overly sensitive, and really do not fog unless in direct sunlight. I think the problem is the paper sizing. Rockland suggested to size with Acrylic polymer....but it was streaky and the pigment practically washed right off. I had some extra paper sized with arrowroot for an upcoming salt printing project and I gave it a try. (I had also tried pre-sized printmaking paper which was too absorbent, the pigments wouldn't rinse out in the unexposed areas). I finally began to see results with the arrowroot.
    The pigment takes much longer to develop than Rockland suggests...in bright sunlight it still takes upwards of 35 minutes. Also the pigment is easy to coat evenly, but if your sizing isn't really smooth & even then the colors end up looking streaky and sloppy. The prints are interesting, they end up looking like a rich watercolor. I'll probably try it a few more times and see if I can get a cleaner looking print.
    So basically the process is possible, it just seems inconsistent and takes a lot of trial and error. I appreciate all the input and I hope some one else ventures to try this process!

    (In defense of my instructor, there were students in the class that really wanted to try the process and that's why she agreed to get us the materials, which we did not have to pay for at all. Also, it was made very clear that no one would be marked down if they did not get results)
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good luck with it! It looks like fun, but all contact printing looks cool to me. :D
     
  8. leighann0

    leighann0 TPF Noob!

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    I am now experimenting with selectacolor on glass. I will update my results soon. Thanks for posting the time exposure for sunlight, that is a big help as I started off only exposing for 20 minutes and it wasn't working at all!

    I am now doing 45 minute exposures. I'll keep you guys updated!
     
  9. windrivermaiden

    windrivermaiden TPF Noob!

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    For what it's worth, this is what I know about exposing any colloid/gum dichromate mixutres:


    Selectacolor is an aluminum dichromate colloid. It is pre mixed and I don't know what the dilution is. Dilution makes a great deal of difference to the exposure times in Dichromate solutions as does the "freshness" of the solution. Even in light proof containers at room temp, it looses it's predictability relatively quickly.


    In my opinion, Aluminum Dichromate is harder to deal with than Potassium Dichromate. It is harder to get consistant exposures. Colloid and casien ( milk protien) are harder to control than gum arabic.



    These are fussy mixtures. Humidity affects them, Light affects them, especially flurescent lights like in class room spaces, It may say "daylight" but that means very subdued light, not working with the lights on or near a window.

    They suffer greatly from not being brushed enough when applied. The solution needs to start to "tug" the brush before it makes a stable layer of emulsion and then again too much brushing will pile the pigment up and leave bunchy areas with too much pigment and thin areas with too little. Speaking of brushing....the metal in some brush furels, react with the chemicals in the emusion and render it useless,

    Once the emulsion is applied, it needs to be fully dry before exposure or it will sluff off the paper. Dry to the touch is not always dry. Rushing to expose, as is apt to happen in a classroom situation when one is ruled by time, will ruin the print .

    The paper has to have the proper sizing. Too little and the pigments will stain, too much and the emulsion will slid off the paper.

    There is a critical zone of exposure, I find it between 30 seconds to 5 minutes in sunlight at a dilution of 10% Potassium dichromate solution mixed 1:1 with gum arabic/pigment mix in which the gum is more than half the quantity by volume of the pigment mix. I'd have to look up my colloid and casien times, but they are similar.

    There is a failure point at which the emusion is over exposed and will wash away as if it were not exposed at all. With my few times trying to expose with UV light indoors ( months of experience now vs years of printing in sunlight.) I am finding 8 to 12 minutes for decent exposure and a failure point at about 15 /17 minutes.

    my suggestion is to buy the freshest batch you can find. Better yet, Go to Bostick and Sullivan and get the gum dichromate kit. you have to mix your own emulsion but your results will be better.

    Make a step table, a transparency of value bars from 0 to 10 and then make trial exposures with the solution in a consistant light. Mid day sun is the best. using a dark slide to cover the negative, expose it in 10 second increments up to 5 minutes and then wash the test strip.


    BE PATIENT!!!! Proper washing takes a lot of time. I use 4-20 minute baths of clear water MINIMUM!!!. sometimes it takes longer to clear the unexposed emulsion. Often, it will be in the third bath that I finally think "OK, This one is going to work." Before that, I will be looking at the print and seeing no real progress in clearing the unexposed gum and start to worry...yep, even after printing with this method for 8 years (omg is it really that long?) I still have days when it just doesn't want to cooperate! (today was one of those days...prints took over 2 hours to clear completely! )

    I have not had much experience with doing prints on glass. I'm too much of a Klutz to want to put one more dangerous item into the mix. Its bad enough to be playing with harsh chemicals. LOL
     
  10. windrivermaiden

    windrivermaiden TPF Noob!

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    OH! and skip the acrylic size and get ossified gelatin.. Knox brand, edible is easy to find. Harden it with a few drops of glycol, if you plan to do more than one layer of color. Acrylic polymer is a plastic, ... Gum, colloid and casien are organic polymers and don't like to cling to the plastic base of acrylic.

    Again, for the beginner, I can't recommend B&S's gum dichromate kit enough. It might have arrowroot size, which is also good but has to be applied between layers if doing multiple colors. Also, If you have problems with their product, you can visit their web page and drop an email or call them. They want you to be successful.
     
  11. rarale

    rarale TPF Noob!

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    Hi there,
    I've just been researching the Selectacolor process, which I found out about via www.alternativephotography.com and from there I went to www.rockaloid.com which has some instructions on the page and a contact form too. I found it really interesting to see that they recommend using a hallogen light (which has a wavelength close to sunlight apparently) to substitute or shorten exposure times for processes such as selectacolor and others too, like the cyanotype process. This sounds good, if it works (which it must, as far as I can see), because I also had problems regulating my cyanotype printing times in the past. Sunlight is, well, unreliable in the UK!
    I'd be really interested in hearing any other comments on this process. Especially printing on walls or silver....
    Also - apart from First Call Photographic, does anyone know where to get Selectacolor in the UK?
    Thanks!
     
  12. rarale

    rarale TPF Noob!

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    I just ordered |Selectacolor from Rockland, they suggest ringing their support line for help! Which is nice of them
    This is the number they gave me.
    (USA) 845-359-5559
    Anyone else out there using this???????? Any experiences, tips, ideas would be really welcome.
    R.

     

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