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Thread: Window vs Art Object

  1. #1

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    Window vs Art Object

    Life threw me a sequence of curve balls about 8 years ago which resulted in an epic dry spell. This has been a good thing, because it allowed space & time to dig down into a troubling dissatisfaction I had with my finished prints.

    Quality wasn't the issue as I was using a fairly complex method of sharp & unsharp masks with Lynn Radeka's Contrast Masking Kit: http://www.radekaphotography.com/maskingkits.htm to produce the best prints I'd ever made, with more control I thought was ever possible. So...what was the problem? I came to realize my work was like looking through a window to the subject beyond. Distant. Removed.

    The desire to print was gone. Why expend all that effort for something which leaves you flat? So began a quest to find a way of turning my negatives into positives which 'mean' something to me, that resonate, that had the power to fuel The Passion to print again.

    Photogravure whispered to me for a while as it hinted at giving the 'art object in the hand' experience I was looking for; where the paper itself was part of the image/experience. On a recent trip to Vancouver I was able to hold one in my hand, and felt underwhelmed. There was no hair on the arms rising up experience. This may have been due to the paper and inks chosen, but I feel confident that if photogravure was what I'm searching for, I would have recognized its value/potential for my own images.

    Recent Internet searches have revealed multi-layered platinum printing. This hints at being the one; where the paper itself is part of the image, where the image doesn't reflect the surrounding room (like with a glossy FB print) allowing one to become fully immersed, yet doesn't have the black sucking effect of matt silver gelatin papers and achieves a depth of black beyond the normal platinum range. Being a mere mortal of frugal means, multi-layered pt/pd toned Kallitype is the probable route forward.

    The irony isn't lost on me (if multi-layered pt/pd toned Kallitype is indeed the answer) that having learned Radeka's pin registered masking techniques was the perfect training ground for visualizing the potential in this process for my work. The most interesting path between two points is not a straight line.

    A major house renovation doomed the darkroom to storage for years, but work has recently begun to turn our old 15'x12' bedroom into a darkroom. Its final layout depends on which process is chosen, so the time crunch is on. Having read this, do you have suggestions for other processes which hint at what I've been looking for? I'm pretty sure multi-layered pt/pd toned Kallitype is the way to go, but you never know what lurks out there, undiscovered...
    Last edited by MurrayMinchin; 14-Apr-2017 at 14:38.

  2. #2

    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Quote Originally Posted by MurrayMinchin View Post
    Life threw me a sequence of curve balls about 8 years ago which resulted in an epic dry spell. This has been a good thing, because it allowed space & time to dig down into a troubling dissatisfaction I had with my finished prints.

    Quality wasn't the issue as I was using a fairly complex method of sharp & unsharp masks with Lynn Radeka's Contrast Masking Kit: http://www.radekaphotography.com/maskingkits.htm to produce the best prints I'd ever made, with more control I thought was ever possible. So...what was the problem? I came to realize my work was like looking through a window to the subject beyond. Distant. Removed.

    The desire to print was gone. Why expend all that effort for something which leaves you flat? So began a quest to find a way of turning my negatives into positives which 'mean' something to me, that resonate, that had the power to fuel The Passion to print again.

    Photogravure whispered to me for a while as it hinted at giving the 'art object in the hand' experience I was looking for; where the paper itself was part of the image/experience. On a recent trip to Vancouver I was able to hold one in my hand, and felt underwhelmed. There was no hair on the arms rising up experience. This may have been due to the paper and inks chosen, but I feel confident that if photogravure was what I'm searching for, I would have recognized its value/potential for my own images.

    Recent Internet searches have revealed multi-layered platinum printing. This hints at being the one; where the paper itself is part of the image, where the image doesn't reflect the surrounding room (like with a glossy FB print) allowing one to become fully immersed, yet doesn't have the black sucking effect of matt silver gelatin papers and achieves a depth of black beyond the normal platinum range. Being a mere mortal of frugal means, multi-layered pt/pd toned Kallitype is the probable route forward.

    The irony isn't lost on me (if multi-layered pt/pd toned Kallitype is indeed the answer) that having learned Radeka's pin registered masking techniques was the perfect training ground for visualizing the potential in this process for my work. The most interesting path between two points is not a straight line.

    A major house renovation doomed the darkroom to storage for years, but work has recently begun to turn our old 15'x12' bedroom into a darkroom. Its final layout depends on which process is chosen, so the time crunch is on. Having read this, do you have suggestions for other processes which hint at what I've been looking for? I'm pretty sure multi-layered pt/pd toned Kallitype is the way to go, but you never know what lurks out there, undiscovered...
    I have also been looking at alternative print options , the Argyrotype Process is something that might be worth looking at,

    http://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/A...e_Process.html

    It appears to be a lot more straightforward and more cost effective than other alternative options, though as I have yet to test it I cannot vouch for its quality, I have also been down the gravure route, and I must confess I also found it less than splendid, I think the fact that its an ink process is something to do with it, if ink on paper is the medium then the word inkjet starts to resonate.

  3. #3
    bob carnie's Avatar
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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Gum Prints - duotone , tri toned and over Palladium speak loudly to me Murray, there is much depth and layering I think this would be a good place to go.. Singular hit Pt Pd do not do it for me..

  4. #4

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Hi Bob & thanks for the tip.

    Can't remember where I read (David Kachel?) about the value of "going too far" when printing photographs; a bit like when you manually focuses a camera you go past the point of focus a little, then back a bit too far, then finally to what you want to focus on...that's when you know that your subject is in focus. From what I've seen (via the web only, unfortunately) gum prints may be "going too far" down that road for me and my work.

    Pretty good rule for life as well, eh? Keeps one open to new ideas, exploring, and not in the middle of the herd!

  5. #5

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Guess the old brain isn't slipping so bad, yet...

    It is my belief that learning in photography is vastly aided by going too far (committing errors). Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the act of making a print. The easiest way to be sure of the right contrast in a print is to have a variety of prints, among them one that is definitely too flat and another that is absolutely too contrasty. When these recognizably unacceptable extremes are present, it is a much simpler matter to select the best contrast from the samples between extremes.
    From his article on zone system calibration: http://www.davidkachel.com/assets/calibrat.htm

  6. #6

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Murray,
    I would question the value of multi-layered platinum (if you mean multiple hits of platinum). I suspect this approach made more sense in the days before digital negatives. In my own printing, I get all of the tonal range I want from a good digital neg created from either a scanned original neg or a digital original. I'd be happy to be shown otherwise...

    On the other hand, I find a layer of gum over platinum can really make a big (positive) difference.

    Just my $.02.

    Denny

  7. #7

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Hi Denny, thanks for chiming in.

    My understanding, which is limited, is that multi-layered printing (dry mounting the paper to an aluminum sheet so it remains dimensionally stable through several coatings, exposures, and drying cycles) offers not only deeper blacks, but allows one to use different variations of the negative and/or masks for each exposure to control print values from the deepest blacks up into the highlights. Much different than double coating.

    Try searching "multi-layered platinum" Irving Penn for a much better description than I could ever give!

    Not suggesting this is 'better' than what you do or anybody else is doing, just that my instincts are humming when I think what it might do for my images.

  8. #8

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Murray, we're on the same page. Penn's approach is what I assumed you were referring to. Penn didn't have access to digital negatives, but I suspect that if he did, he wouldn't have bothered with multiple printing techniques. I'd think the coolest thing to do would be to see some Penn prints and compare them to some modern single-exposure prints made with digital negs. OTOH, if you don't want to deal with digital negs, Penn's approach could deliver higher quality prints. But I'm thinking digital negs are a lot easier way to achieve very high quality prints. AND if you would prefer fussing with multiple exposures anyway, that's OK too, just maybe not so necessary. (And it would get you ready for some nice gum-over printing.)

    Again, I'd be very happy to be shown otherwise.

    As an aside, I think it can be very easy (for me at least) to get sucked down the rabbit hole of searching out older "lost" magical techniques. DAMHIKT.

    Denny

  9. #9

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    Ahh, now I see where you were going. You're right that digitally enlarged negatives have changed the game altogether, where lots of controls can be used to manage difficult areas or diminish/enhance other areas. But then again, there's that multiple coating/drying bit that hints at magic at the end of this rabbit hole...

  10. #10

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    Re: Window vs Art Object

    On prodding from Bob & Denny I've been been searching for good gum over platinum examples. Found the work of David Eisenlord that looks very good, but me-thinks a tad heavy in colour for my images.

    http://www.davideisenlord.com/?page_id=79

    So...using the above work as an example, where it appears only one layer of gum/colour was used:

    A) does one have fine control over what density/effect the chosen pigment has, and
    b) does the gum/pigment layer soften or inhibit detail from the underlying platinum print from coming through?

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