Albumen Printing

9/30/2011 4 Comments A+ a-

Albumen printing dates back to the 1850's and was one of the first methods of negative-to-paper contact printing. The process gets its name from its very first step; photographers use egg whites (albumen) as the binder on the surface of the printing paper. Rumor has it, authentic instructions for albumen printing actually included soufflé recipes, so as to not let the yolks go to waste. 

To do this kind of printing, you will first want to chose the paper that you want to work with. Thinner stock paper tends to work the best. I chose a high-quality drawing paper with very little texture. It is best to work in batches because the process of getting your paper ready to use is timely. I suggest cutting several sheets down to the size you want your prints to be so that you will have some extra on hand. Since you will be contact printing for this, remember that your final image will be the size of your negative, so cut your paper accordingly and leave about a three inch border to allow space for framing. 

The great thing about albumen printing is that digital and film photographers alike can experiment with it. Whether printing a digital negative or shooting your own film, all you need is a negative with very flat density in the size of the print you want to make. Although some of my shots were taken with 35mm film, I scanned and printed my images onto digital negatives in order to have more control over the size. I made my negatives approximately 6x8 inches. It was also great to have control in order to edit the density of the negatives. You want them to appear less dense than what is normally acceptable. 

Once I had my paper cut properly and my digital negatives printed, I coated each sheet with the albumen mixture. You will want to use a darkroom tray to carefully float the paper face-down into the egg mixture to get an even coat. I did this by pinching my paper at the corners, creating a place to hold the paper in order to lower and pull the paper in and out of the tray. Get the coat as even as possible and blow off any small bubbles that may be on the surface of the paper. Let the paper hang until the sheets are thoroughly dry. A clothes line and clothes pins work great for hang-drying. 

After my paper was dry, I sensitized each sheet with a silver nitrate mixture. Recipes for both the albumen and the sensitizer can befound here. You can use the floating method again or brush the silver on the surface of the paper. Foam brushes work the best for an even application if using the brushing technique. Hang the paper up a second time in complete darkness until it's completely dry.

You will want to use the paper within a day or so of making it. When you are ready to print, initially remain in an area of low light and put your negative emulsion-side down onto the paper. I used a hinged-back printing frame to help keep the negative in place. Then, I found an area of direct sunlight (window light works also) to expose the negative to the paper. The printing frames allow you to check your exposure one side at a time. Most of my exposures took anywhere from seven to fifteen minutes. Once I played with it enough I was able to control some of the tones very nicely. You want to stop exposing when your highlights look a tad “overcooked”. After a water rinse and two baths of non-hardening fixer, the highlights should lighten up a bit.  

After I got my prints washed and fixed, toners were very fun to play with! Anything from coffee to gold can be used to change the tones of albumen prints. The natural tones of albumen prints range from dark and rich eggplant, to a faint sepia. 

While shooting for this project, I chose to use vintage or timeless themes in my photographs in order to attempt to match the imagery with the process. Albumen prints are quite beautiful and  the process is very hands-on and so much fun to work with. I really enjoyed the messy creation of these images and felt a strong connection with our founding fathers of photography. I highly suggest trying this technique out at least once.

- Kelly Latos

Bakelite in Photography

9/29/2011 3 Comments A+ a-

Bakelite is an early plastic or resin made from synthetic materials. It was developed in the early 1900's and used to make items such as jewelry, billiard balls, toys and game pieces, radios, flatware sets, and many other products produced from the early to mid 20th century. In photographic equipment, the most common items produced in Bakelite were cameras, light meters, lens caps and cases, developing tanks, and projectors. Kodak and Coronet are two of the more popular brands to use Bakelite regularly.
Coronet camera made of Bakelite
The manufacturing process was labor intensive and the material was formed from an elimination reaction of phenol with formaldehyde, usually with a wood flour filler. It is still being produced occasionally for industrial uses, but no longer for consumer merchandise due to the labor and cost involved to produce. This makes Bakelite fall into the “retro” or “vintage” material category, and is often classified as a rare and more valuable plastic than modern plastics. Because there are so many different types of plastic, and some are very similar to Bakelite, it is often questionable as to whether an item is truly made of Bakelite or not. When it comes to vintage cameras, being made of Bakelite typically isn't a huge concern as it is with vintage jewelry, but the retro aspect still appeals to some camera collectors. Some cameras were only made out of Bakelite, and in these cases, it's easiest to check a McKeown's for that information. Otherwise, there are also a few manual tests you can perform to determine if the plastic is indeed Bakelite.

Lens cap made of Bakelite
Appearance and sound tests: Bakelite is a heavy, denser material than most plastics. It typically feels thicker and has a smooth finish. The finishing methods used to produce Bakelite removed any seams in the material so true Bakelite shouldn't have edges that visibly come together- it should look like it's all one piece. There were also certain colors that were and were not produced in the material and can be researched further for more detailed inspecting. The sound of two pieces of Bakelite clanking together typically produces a lower-pitched “clunky” sound. The sound is a little more subjective though, and shouldn't be solely relied upon as a testing method.

Smell tests: Because Bakelite contains formaldehyde, it has a certain smell when it's warmed. You can warm the material by rubbing your fingers over it creating friction until it's warm, or by immersing the piece in hot water. Some places also recommend a hot pin or needle test to test for smell, but this is NOT a good idea since some plastics are flammable, and the hot pin test can also damage the piece by leaving a melted mark on it. The intensity of the smell can vary, and this only works if you already know what formaldehyde smells like.

Cleaner tests: 409 All Purpose Cleaner, Scrubbing Bubbles, and Simichrome Metal Polish are all known products used to test for Bakelite. For these tests, you put some cleaner on a cotton swab and then wipe it on a small area of the Bakelite. If the swab turns yellow, it's Bakelite. If it turns any other color- brown, gray, no color, then it's not. Be sure to clean off the Bakelite or other plastic after using the cleaner with a little soap and water and keep in mind that cleaners may strip some of the shine from the Bakelite, so proceed with these tests with caution and do your test in a small, discreet spot.
Light meter made of Bakelite
Although many people stand by these different tests, keep in mind that none of these tests are always 100% conclusive. For example, black Bakelite is said to be finickier in testing than other colors. And if you're not already familiar with what the material smells, feels, and sounds like, then some of these tests won't be able to help you.

Click here to find in-stock Bakelite items at

DIY Filters For The Darkroom

9/27/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

This post is for the newer generation of photographers who may have learned photography on a digital camera, but are interested in film and printing in a traditional darkroom. 

In pretty much any digital editing software, there are filters or different effects to add to your photos. Some of these may add textures, or make your image look like a painting or charcoal drawing. Taking this idea out of digital and transferring it to film, you can also create some similar effects in the darkroom by using everyday objects as do-it-yourself, or make-it-yourself filters. Below are a few ideas...

For this image, a piece of pitted glass was used to create the texture. The glass was placed directly on top of the paper with the image (and texture) projecting through the glass and onto the paper.

For this image, a pair of pantyhose were used to create a softening effect. The pantyhose were cut, stretched, and taped to a matboard frame. The frame was then held up above the printing paper under the enlarger.

The possibilities for items to use to create different effects are endless. Look around your house and see what you can find. Keep in mind that the item you use will need to have some translucency to it, or areas in it that allow light to pass through. You will also most likely need to increase your exposure time, since the light is being reduced by having to pass through another object or material. Some other fun items to experiment with in this way are: fabrics such as crinoline or lace, and plexiglass or plastic wrap with liquids, gels, or powders on it.

Where To Find Serial Numbers

9/26/2011 4 Comments A+ a-

There are numerous times when you may need to find where the serial numbers are located on your photographic equipment. One of these times is when you're getting ready to sell your equipment to KEH, as our quoting and buying system requests these numbers. Another time is when you should be recording what equipment you own for proper record keeping, such as in insurance instances (read: Gear Theft and Damage Tips). There are many possible spots for the serial numbers to be located, some more hidden than others. So here's a quick visual guide to where the more common serial number spots are on most equipment.

Camera Bodies:

back of camera, top corner

back of camera, bottom corner

bottom of camera or grip

underneath the lens mount on camera

on hot shoe (flash mount)
top, front of camera- medium format
next to back door hinge- Olympus XA's

under side of flash head

back of handheld meter


front lens ring

back of lens above mount
on lens mount

on side of lens. shown: front of large format lens

Photo Tips For The Fall Season

9/23/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

I personally love shooting in the fall. The crisp weather feels great and gives me an extra kick of enthusiasm after a long, hot summer in the south. It's a great season to consider shooting your normal stuff outside (if it permits of course). It's also a great time for adding in some additional photo fun- Capture images of the food, activities, decorations, festivals, and colors of the season.

General season inspiration:

* Capture the colors of fall

* How to shoot a silhouette 

* Create a filter

Halloween inspired:

* Spooky Effects for Halloween Shooting

* A Creepy Effect for Darkroom Printing

* Jumping off for dramatic lighting

* More Halloween shooting ideas

Other things/Holiday prep:

* Photo Charities (while these are great to offer your services to year-round, it's an especially great time to think about getting involved since the holiday season is coming up!)

* It's a great time to take care of your equipment- send your gear into our repair center for a little cleanup and preventative maintenance work.

* And of course, start working on your Christmas (or other holiday) camera gear wish-lists, and send in your used gear for cash or trade-in value.

Happy 1st day of Autumn!

Pinterest and Svpply

9/22/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Have you ever wanted a place where you can easily create digital inspiration boards, product wishlists, save cool ideas, and share your favorite items? Meet Pinterest and Svpply.

Pinterest is a "virtual pinboard" website. It lets you organize and share all the cool things you find on the web. You can also browse pinboards created by other people with similar interests.
Some "pins" from KEH

Some ways to use the site to organize your favorite things found on KEH and on the KEH blog: Create a Camera pinboard to save the things you love, want, and want to share...

Create a pinboard of ideas, DIY projects, and techniques you've seen on the KEH Blog that you either like or want to save to try yourself. It's also great for saving photo shoot and prop ideas.

Svpply is "a growing community of people discovering the products they love. Use Svpply to keep track of the things you want to buy, or browse a personal feed of products from across the web, curated and filtered by the people and stores you find interesting."

Svpply is a great site for making virtual wishlists for holidays and for saving items you want to remember for later.

Both of these sites are fun and totally additive. And one of the best parts- it cuts way down on the amount of Internet bookmarks you will have to save and attempt to organize!

What Type of Photography Interests You Most?

9/20/2011 6 Comments A+ a-

For today's post, we're simply asking you, what type(s) of photography are you most interested in? What do you currently shoot? What types have you thought about branching out into? What do you want to learn more about? We want to hear your thoughts and get to know our customers and readers a little bit better.

Here's a few categories to think about: Portrait, wedding, children/newborn, maternity, commercial, editorial, documentary, fashion, fine art, experimental, landscape, architectural, nature, pets/animals, still life, travel, abstract. Or, maybe you have another type of photography to add?

Let us know via email at

Battery Guide

9/19/2011 1 Comments A+ a-

Today we're providing a list of some of the more common disposable batteries used in photographic equipment. Many of the older cameras took batteries that were made with mercury and have since been discontinued. There are however, modern replacements for most of these batteries.

The most common types of equipment that take batteries are cameras, flash units, power drives, winders, data backs, light meters, metered prisms, and wireless flash trigger systems. Other larger and more modern pieces of equipment typically take rechargeable batteries (not listed) such as digital SLR's and studio lighting gear.
There are tons of different batteries available, and it can be overwhelming to find what you need if you're not sure what you're looking for. Many battery types or sizes also have numerous names depending on what brands are making them, and the time period that they were made. Understanding the most common ones is a great place to start, and keep in mind that if you are in need of a battery that has been discontinued, there is most likely a modern replacement that will work, and if not, there are usually adapters made that take modern batteries and make them work in the older equipment.

Below, we use the words "common" and "rare" to represent how easily accessible and/or how common the different batteries are in your typical local store that carries batteries. Of course, most of the "rare" batteries are much more accessible online.

Left: 9V (PP3), Right: CR-V3

L: 2CR5, R: CR-P2

L: 5/V500RH, R: 28L

L: AA, AAA, R: CR2, CR123A

L: CR-1/3N, 357, R: 625, CR2025

L: LR50, Center: V27PX, R: V400PX

* 9v:  9 volt alkaline. Also sometimes referred to as a PP3. Used primarily in light and color meters, and in adapters for Hasselblad 500 EL models. Common.

* CR-V3:  3 volt lithium. The size of 2 AA batteries. Used primarily in digital Olympus and Kodak cameras. Rare.

* 2CR5:  6 volt lithium. Use primarily in Canon EOS film cameras. Common.

* CR-P2:  6v lithium. Also referred to as a 223. Used in a variety of film and digital cameras. Common.

* 5/V500RH:  6v Ni/Cd rechargeable. No longer made. Replacement battery is a 600 or 750 mAh NIMH. Used in Hasselblad 500 EL, ELM, ELX models. Rare.

* 28L:  6v lithium. Most commonly used in Canon AE-1's. Also used in select models of Bronica, Hasselblad metered prisms, Pentax 6x7, and Minox. Common.

* AA:  1.5v alkaline. Used in many photographic items including flash units, 35mm and medium format film cameras, digital cameras, wireless flash triggers, power winders, motor drives, and battery packs. Very common.

* AAA:  1.5v alkaline. Primarily used in select Minolta 35mm film cameras. Common.

* CR2:  3v lithium. Used in some digital point-and-shoot cameras, Konica Hexar RF, and Hasselblad XPan. Common.

* CR123A:  3v lithium. Used in many point-and-shoot cameras, Leica SF-20 flash, Yashica T4. Common.

* CR-1/3N:  3v lithium "button" cell. The same as using 2 357/SR44 batteries. Used in select Leica M cameras, Nikon film cameras and prisms, and many other film SLR's. Rare.

* 357 or SR44:  1.5v silver oxide "button" cell. Used in many 35mm and medium format cameras, metered prisms, and light meters. Common.

* PX-625:  1.5v alkaline cell. Used in select Yashica models and Canonet's. Rare.

* CR2025:  3v lithium "coin" battery. Very similar to the CR2032. Both are used in many data backs, and some light meters. Common.

* LR50:  1.5v alkaline. Replaces the 1.35v MR50 or PX1 mercury batteries. Used in the Canon Flash Coupler L. Rare.

* V27PX:  6v silver oxide. Replaces the older 5.6v mercury version. Used in some Minox and Rollei cameras. Rare.

* 400PX:  1.55v silver oxide. Replaces the older 1.35v mercury version. Is recognizable due to the plastic collar around the battery. Used in Pentax Spotmatic models. Rare.

* C and D batteries (not pictured): C (or LR14) and D (or LR20) batteries are both 1.5v alkaline. Used in some handle-mount flash units. Common.

Need some batteries to go with your order? Find our selection of in-stock batteries on here.

Portraits of Love

9/16/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Portraits of Love is a photography project created by The PhotoImaging Manufacturers and Distributors Association (PMDA) and the Soldiers' Angels volunteer organization. "The goal of the Project is to provide 10,000 U.S. soldiers around the world with portraits of their families and loved ones this holiday season, taken by the incredibly talented photographers within our industry. The Project will help soldiers create their own private world - one in which when they lay down at night, in the barracks, in the tents, or wherever they are, they can gaze upon their loved ones."

PMDA has designated the months of October through December to set up photo shoots and gather soldiers' families on military bases and in photographer’s studios across the country. Photographers are asked to take a free portrait of a family whose loved one is serving in the armed forces overseas, and to then upload the photos to a designated site. The actual printing and mailing of the portrait is provided. The photos will then be sent to the soldiers overseas and to their families here in the United States in time for the holidays.

For more information on the project, for a list of benefits and instructions for photographers, and to sign up as either a photographer or a military family, visit their website:

Interested in learning about more photography-related charities? Click here.

Photos of the Month

9/15/2011 0 Comments A+ a-

Fine Print - David Pool, Cowboy &  German Shepherd Pup
David Pool, Cowboy and German Shepherd Pup, by: Matthew Ravenhouk
Jess, by: Kseniya Bulavko
lofoten32, by: Trond Skoglund
Long Island, NY.
Long Island, NY, by: Brian Maryansky
Little Javi
Little Javi, by: RV Henretty-Jornales/ Run Jelly Pandas
Jumping Bride! | Alice's Bridal Portrait Glamour Session | Piedmont Park | Atlanta Wedding Photographer
Jumping Bride!, by: FengLong
Lightning [08.14.11]
Lightning, by: AHWagner Photography
under a blanket of stars, not even a speck in this universe, I said goodnight to Zion
Under a blanket of stars, not even a speck in this universe, I said goodnight to Zion, by: Little Pink Weeble
Sun Hatten
Sun Hatten, by: D Austin Photography
Turn the page
Turn the page, by: Robert Korn/ Yashica Lover
canon fd 135 2.0
Canon FD 135 2.0, by: Dave Fry
Knockoff, by: abe.o

All photos submitted to the KEH Flickr Group. Submit your own photos for a chance to be included in next months post.