Help With Bromoil : LUSENET : B&W Photo: Alternative Process : One Thread

Can anyone help me troubleshoot my bromoil problem? I watched Gene Laughter and Ernie Theisen demonstrate their technique at APIS (Alternative Photography International Symposium) in Santa Fe last month--they make it look so easy. Anyway, I bought Gene's book "Bromoil 101" and some ink from Bostick & Sullivan. I'm using Agfa Multicontrast Classic matte paper, printing soft but overexposing a stop, fixing in plain hypo, and bleaching for 8 minutes. I didn't mix the three-part bleach that Gene recommends because I wanted a single solution bleach. I had some concentrated sulfuric acid on hand, so I mixed a formula that requires a small amount of it. The bleach concentrate is diluted 1:19 for use. I think the formula was in Farber's book.

It took me a while to figure out that my ink wasn't stiff enough, so I've been stiffening with pastel dust and candle wax. So far I haven't had much luck using a brush, but a soft brayer seems to work. The main problem is that my prints are very faint and low-contrast. I soak them for about 20 minutes in water at about 78 degrees. Sometimes I get pretty good detail, but when I use an uninked brayer to clear the high values the low values go soft.

I need some advice from someone who knows what they're doing. I have several theories:

1. My negative isn't contrasty enough.

2. I'm not printing dark enough.

3. My bleach isn't tanning the gelatine enough--or is tanning too much.

Any suggestions?

-- Ed Buffaloe (, August 10, 2001


Ed, let's start over. Try making a matrx from a test strip and then ink it. One strip exposed normal. One strip normal plus 50%. one strip normal plus 100%. One strip normal plus 150%. One strip normal plus 200%. You didn't mention the fixing baths. I use 10% hypo - not rapid fix. No more than 5 minutes. I swear by the bleach in Bromoil 101. It's really not a three part bleach. It's just comprised of three chemicals: copper sulphate, pot. bromide and pot. bichromate. Acid is not necessary provided you use distilled water. Try stiffening the ink even more. Good luck!!! Gene

-- Gene Laughter (, August 17, 2001.

Gene: I'll try the test strips ASAP. I tried both rapid fix and 10% hypo and got the same result. I note that Farber says rapid fix with no hardener works just fine. As for the bleach, I realize your formula doesn't require three steps, but it requires 3 bottles to store the solutions, and I was looking for something I could put in a single bottle. However, if none of my next batch of test prints inks properly, I may try your formula. I'm pretty sure I've got the ink stiff enough, but I'll keep trying different additives. I won't give up easily. --Ed

-- Ed Buffaloe (, August 20, 2001.

I recommend you get 'The Art of Bromoil & Transfer" by David W. Lewis. This is sold through Photographers Formulary in Montana, or better yet, go to one of his workshops. He is a Canadian who teaches a workshop at the Formulary every summer. I attended a workshop of his and this man is a master who studied with the masters of years gone by. He also sells a complete line of Bromoil supplies. If you are interested, I can give you his web address Carl

-- Carl Maier (, February 01, 2002.


I too recommend you get david lewis's book. I also recommend you purchase sone of david's brushes and a batch of his stiff ink. I have used many different brands of ink (Including the Bostik & Sullivan) and nothing compares to David's for workability.

Luminos makes a single weight paper that is very easy to use for bromoil. It its limitations, but for people starting out , the results are very promising, and motivating.

I would contact David by email. He is truly an expert and could shed some light on your problem. His book is alo an excellent resource for developing technique. It also has working soak times and temps for a whole list of modern papers, with a troubleshooting section that addresses a multitude of common problems.

Good Luck


-- Don Sigl (, May 30, 2002.

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