In books I bought in the 1960s, Minor White and Paul Caponigro included a few photographs shown as negatives. But it wasn’t until nearly 2000 that I decided that a couple of my photographs should be presented as negative images. Pleased with the result, I wrote an article called Negative Prints (PHOTO Techniques, Nov./Dec.2000). It included a detailed description of a method for contact printing a negative on film to get a positive from which to make a negative print and also, a procedure for planning the density range of the film positive.
In recent years, I have made several photographs that I like better as negative prints, increasing my interest in this technique. Here, I will suggest a starting point for people who want to try making film positives without the aid of a densitometer. However, if you have a densitometer, you will doubtless appreciate the control offered by the article mentioned above.
All of the examples were made with a 5×7 Deardorff, negatives and positives were developed in D-76, and masks were made with Kodak Pan Masking Film developed in HC-110. Kodak P.M.F. is no longer made; T-Max 100 and Ilford FP4 Plus are good alternatives, with appropriate neutral-density filtration.
A film positive is exposed in a contact-print frame under an enlarger with the emulsions of the film and negative touching. To eliminate Newton rings, you may have to replace the glass with anti-Newton-ring glass, which is available from Focal Point in Florida. (They have moved since my 2000 article, and their phone number is now 386-860-3918; their Web site is www.fpointinc.com.) Because the film positive needs long development to have a density range approaching that of the negative, I suggest the use of T-Max 100 to minimize grain.