Photographs by Frank

23 May 2022

Keeping Cool

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 2:00 PM

I spent the last two days keeping cool* in my basement dim room making salted-paper prints and experimenting with gold toning.

In addition to the five new images (shown below), I made larger finished versions (6×7.5 inch image on 8×10 paper) of another five images that I worked on in the recent past.

All of the images shown here are scans from 4×5 inch images on small sheets of Hahnemühle Platinum Rag paper. For the last two images, I show the entire sheet of paper thus revealing the ‘raw’ edges of each image. All of the others are similar but I have cropped them down to show only the image area.

Each image is shown in an un-toned version and a version toned with gold in sodium bicarbonate. It the past I had experimented with a gold-borax toner but I have trouble keeping the borax in solution in my cool work space. Thus, I decided to test out gold-bicarbonate this time.

The difference between the toned and un-toned prints is subtle but significant. Toning cools down the warm tone of the native salted-paper print and increases the contrast slightly.

All of the original exposures were made in either December 2021 or January 2022.

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Window with Vines (gold-toned)
Window with Vines (gold-toned)
Window with Vines
Window with Vines
Window with Steel (gold-toned)
Window with Steel (gold-toned)
Window with Steel
Window with Steel
Naval Prison, Portsmouth, NH (gold-toned)
Naval Prison, Portsmouth, NH (gold-toned)
Naval Prison, Portsmouth, NH
Naval Prison, Portsmouth, NH
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH (gold-toned)
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH (gold-toned)
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH (detail) (gold-toned)
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH (detail) (gold-toned)
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH (detail)
Battery Farnsworth, New Castle, NH (detail)

* The high both days was near ninety deg. F

15 May 2022

New Salted-paper Prints / Old Photos

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 6:45 PM

A few days ago, I decided that I wanted to get back to salted-paper printing. My specific aim was to make myself a print of the photo titled “Harvest Still Life”. I printed this image back at the end of March during a lecture/demo I did for the Tuttle library. However, I did not end up with a final print for myself.

While I was at it, I looked through my archives for a few other photos that might look good as salted-paper prints and prepared some additional negatives for test printing.

Then, I spent most of yesterday afternoon, when the outside temperature was a very unseasonable 85 degrees F, in the pleasant cool of my basement dim room.

Harvest Still Life is about 6 by 7 1/2 inches on an 8 by10 inch sheet*. The other two prints are about 4 by 5 inches on 6 1/2 by 7 inch sheets**. The paper is Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paper for all.

The first and last prints were gold/bicarbonate toned***. This treatment cools down the warm brown of an un-toned print resulting in an almost neutral tone. I left the middle print is un-toned, as I thought the natural warmth of a salted paper print suited the image well.

I printed three other negatives as well, but none of these are ‘ready for prime time’. They will all need a bit of tweaking before I print them again… stay tuned!

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Harvest Still Life (exposure from Oct 2011)
Harvest Still Life (exposure from Oct 2011)
Train Depot (exposure Jan 2012)
Train Depot (exposure Jan 2012)
Tip Top House, Mt. Washington (exposure Sep 2013)
Tip Top House, Mt. Washington (exposure Sep 2013)

* This has evolved to be my standard-size for alternative process prints.

** This is my usual work print size; used when I am working out the details (mostly dodging and burning) of the negative.

*** This was an experiment. Previously, I have used gold/borax toner exclusively if I toned prints. However, I have trouble keeping the necessary amount of borax in solution in my cool (OK… downright cold at times) basement dim room.

1 April 2022

Yesterday’s Lecture/Demo

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 10:08 PM

Yesterday evening I gave a presentation titled “19th Century Photography” at the Tuttle Library here in Antrim. The presentation accompanied an exhibition of my cyanotypes, salted-paper and platinum/palladium prints* that are currently on display in the library.

Along with the talk/slideshow I did a demonstration of salted-paper printing; shown below is the print that resulted from the evening’s festivities. I have matted the print and will take it down to the library for their collection.

* These processes were all invented in the 19th century: salted-paper printing in 1839, cyanotype in 1842 and platinum/palladium printing in the 1880s.

15 August 2021

New Salted-paper Prints

I have spent the past week making a new batch of salted-paper prints. In doing so, I mined my archives for photographs that I think will work well as salted-paper prints. The initial exposure for all of these photos were made between five and ten years ago.

Making salted-paper prints is an iterative process.

I process the image in Photoshop making educated guesses as to how the negative should look to give me a good print. Then, I make a negative and use that negative to make a small test salted-paper print on 5×7 inch paper.

I probably get things exactly right the first time about two-thirds of the time. If the print is not to my liking, I go back to the computer and make further adjustments in Photoshop. Most often these adjustments involve dodging and burning… adjusting the brightness of very localized areas of an image. It is very rare that I need to make more than a second negative.

The photograph of the dragonfly in this series is one of those rare images. After the second iteration, I was still not satisfied with the print. In this case I went back to the original file and began anew. Of course, I had the ‘education’ gleaned from the first two unsatisfactory versions and thus the third version “hit the nail on the head” as they say.

The first five images below are all 4×5 inch prints (on 5×7 inch paper). Many times, after making a successful print at that size, I will make a larger negative (6×7 1/2 inches) and print that on 8×10 inch paper. The last two prints in this series are of the larger size.

This process illustrates why I much prefer working with digital negatives for alternative processes compared to analog (film) negatives. Both ideas (making detailed adjustments to the negative and printing an image at different sizes) are possible but extremely difficult in the analog realm.

I often have thought of making even larger prints, maybe up to 11×14 inches. My light source is large enough for a 16×20 inch contact printing frame. However, when I begin to work out the logistics of the larger trays and the space they would require as well as the cost of the materials for such large prints, I run smack into the wall of reality!!!

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Autumn Harvest
Autumn Harvest
Common Whitetail (female)
Common Whitetail (female)
Bluejay
Bluejay
Mockingbird with Prey
Mockingbird with Prey
Western Chipmunk
Western Chipmunk
American Avocet
American Avocet
Willet Feeding
Willet Feeding

4 July 2021

Grange Print Sale

Filed under: Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 12:00 AM

Using one’s talents to do good in the world is always a good idea.

A few weeks ago, I approached my friends at the Antrim Grange offering to sell salted-paper prints of three photos to aid in their fundraising towards a renovation of their very old building. The details of this offer can be found here.

As part of the “kickoff” for this effort, we sent a press release to the local papers. The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript in Peterborough picked up on this and a very nice article appeared in Thursday’s paper. A scanned copy of the article (as a pdf file) can be found here.

I guess that this counts against my proverbial fifteen minute of fame!

2 June 2021

New Salted Paper Prints

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 4:00 PM

I have been ‘mining’ my archives looking for photographs that I think would do well as salted paper prints.

Here is the latest batch made yesterday evening. The images are 6×7.5 inches or 6.5 inches square on 8×10 inch Hahn. Platinum Rag paper. I made two copies of each.

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Bass Harbor Light (Mt. Desert Island)
Bass Harbor Light (Mt. Desert Island)
Birches & Fence
Birches & Fence
Stone Church (Antrim Center)
Stone Church (Antrim Center)

27 May 2021

Salted Dragons

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Odontates,Salted-paper Prints — Tags: — Frank @ 9:00 PM

Hopefully you were not expecting a new snack food!

I have been ‘mining’ my archives for photographs of dragonflies that might make good salted paper prints. Here are three examples made yesterday.

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Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (salted paper print)
Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (salted paper print)
Halloween Pennant (salted paper print)
Halloween Pennant (salted paper print)
Calico Pennant (salted paper print)
Calico Pennant (salted paper print)

19 April 2021

Dodging and Burning

Warning… photographer talk ahead!!!

Dodging and burning are terms that describe making local adjustments to a photograph during the making of a print. Dodging is the process of selectively lightening an area. Burning is the opposite; selective darkening.

In the days of yore, when working in the darkroom, dodging and burning were done one print at a time. One manipulated the light falling on the photographic paper as one exposed the print. Master printers were able to make these adjustments with a fair amount of precision, but there was always some print-to-print variability even with the best printers.

For the UV sensitive contact printing processes (e.g. cyanotype, salted-paper printing, et al.), dodging and burning were not practical for a number of reasons. The main one being that there is necessarily little space between the light source and the print. Thus one’s ability to see where you were attempting to dodge or burn was limited and thus imprecise.

Using digital negatives to make contact prints has changed all of this. By making adjustments to the digital file we can make very localized adjustments that are “frozen” when one make the digital negative. Thus, one gets the same adjustments in each print when one makes a contact print. Furthermore, since those adjustments are made in the negative, one can apply them to the UV sensitive contact printing processes without the need to actually get one’s hands in the space between the light and the paper.

With experience, one’s first draft of a digital negative is usually pretty close to ideal, but after one makes that first print from a negative you often see that a small amount of fine tuning is necessary. Thus, one goes back to the computer to make a few tweaks to the image before printing a revised negative and making another print. I probably make second drafts of about half of my negatives. It is very rare that I need to make a third draft these days.

The four images show below are examples of the end result of this process. I had made initial prints of these images previously but each of them needed a bit or dodging and burning to be ‘perfect’. I made those adjustments and printed new negatives on Saturday. Yesterday, I made new salted-paper prints using those negatives.

The differences between the two drafts were small. A bit of burning in (darkening) on the shoulder of the marmot. Similar adjustments on the lily pad in the second photo and the dead tree to the right of the gate in the last photo.. The third image had a bit of dodging (lightening) of the pinecone and a bit burning in of the lightest leaves throughout.

The resulting prints are, to my eye, subtly but significantly improved over the initial prints.

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Marmot
Marmot
Lily Pad and Pine Needles
Lily Pad and Pine Needles
Untitled
Untitled
Old Gate
Old Gate

17 April 2021

Tonight’s Fortune / New Salted-Paper Prints

Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought.

— Found in a fortune cookie this evening.

The ‘fortunes’ usually found in Chinese restaurant fortune cookies usually leave much to be desired. However, this one seems worth sharing.

Early spring (and that is stretching it… we had eight inches of snow yesterday) is tough photographically. The light is often drab, as is the landscape. Thus making new photographs is hit-or-miss.

However, I have been staying busy experimenting with salt-paper printing. I’ve been trying different types of subjects and different papers.

The prints shown below were made on three different papers. Artistico Hot Press is a medium weight (200 gsm) very traditional water color paper; it is just a little bit warm. Crane’s Cover is a moderately heavy (240 gsm) paper that is often used for alternative process printing; it is a fairly warm paper. Platinum Rag is a heavy (300 gsm) paper made specifically for alternative process printing (especially platinum printing, as the name suggests); it is pure white. All of these papers have very smooth surfaces.

Each paper has its idiosyncrasies when it comes to coating and exposure. It is amazing to me how different the same negative can look when printed on two different papers. This is all part of the fun!

Here are a few salted-paper prints made in the past few days…

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Shorebird (on Aristico HP)
Shorebird (on Aristico HP)
Dragonfly (on Crane's Cover)
Dragonfly (on Crane's Cover)
Dragonfly (on Platinum Rag)
Dragonfly (on Platinum Rag)

16 March 2021

Three More

Yesterday was cold and blustery; the high was in the teens. We had the stove in the basement going so the temperature there was in the upper 50s. All of which made spending the afternoon in my basement dim room appealing.

I made ten salted-paper prints from four negatives and added some experiments in toning the prints with gold/borax.

The first print below (“Untitled”) is on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag and is untoned. The second print (“Cobblestones”), on BFK Rives, is toned for a short time. The last print (“Farm Field Fence”), on Rives Heavyweight, is toned pretty much to completion.

As usual, showing the subtilties in these prints after scanning them is always suspect. The artifacts are best experienced in hand.

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Untitled
Untitled
Cobblestones
Cobblestones
Farm Field Fence
Farm Field Fence
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