Reticulation

Reticulation is another one of those darkroom processes that can either ruin your film or generate some "I meant to do that"-style images. It results from rapid temperature changes during development. As you probably know, conventional photographic film consists of a silver-rich (and relatively soft) gelatin emulsion coated on a thin, but tough substrate such as polyester. When developing, black-and-white film is moved from a warm developer to a significantly cooler solution, the soft gelatin warps in strange-looking patterns, and the grain in the image increases dramatically. The result is an interesting texture that can be used as a creative tool.

Like solarization, reticulation effects are difficult to plan or duplicate. In the darkroom, a slow-working developer is used at, say, 100 degrees instead of the more usual 68 to 75 degrees, and its action is stopped by plunging the film into ice-cold water or acidic stopbath, prior to normal fixing and washing. Done properly, and with a bit of luck, you'll end up with some interesting film effects. With bad luck, you may end up with emulsion that slides right off your film substrate, as has happened to me a few times.

There's no such danger when using Photoshop to produce reticulation. While this effect is considered a black-and-white process (rapid changes in temperature ruin color film in ways that are rarely artistic), I'm going to show you a way to get the same look in full color. We're going to use an image called Tower, shown in Figure 3.12, which you'll find on the website. When you've loaded it into Photoshop, just follow these steps.

Figure 3.12. Start with this image to begin the reticulation process.

Figure 3.12. Start with this image to begin the reticulation process.

1. Create a duplicate layer of the tower image (Layer > Duplicate Layer), to give you a fresh canvas with which to work.

2. Choose Filter > Sketch > Reticulation to produce the Reticulation dialog box shown in Figure 3.13.

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