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.

27 February 2022

Hovenweep National Monument – A Folio

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Pt/Pd Prints,Road Trips — Frank @ 9:00 PM

Back in October 2018, during our road trip to the Southwest, Joan and I made a stop at Hovenweep National Monument. This site, located near the Utah/Colorado border in southern Utah, preserves several ancestral Puebloan villages that were inhabited by groups related to those who lived at the better-known sites in what is now known as Mesa Verde National Park.

Hovenweep is a quiet, peaceful place compared to much-visited Mesa Verde.

Back in January I selected ten of the exposures I made at the Square Tower site in Hoveweep and prepared digital negatives from these files with the intent to make platinum/palladium prints.

As is my habit these days, I initially made small (4×5 inch) negatives/prints to work out the adjustments (mainly dodging and burning) necessary to make a good print. Once I have a small print that looks good to my eye, I then print a larger negative (usually for an image that is 7.5 inches on the long side) and print that on 8×10 inch paper.

Last week, I spent roughly twelve hours (in two sessions) making the ten final prints that are shown below.

My original intent was to place the ‘bare’ prints in a folder with an appropriate title page and colophon. However, making prints that are precisely placed on the paper and that do not have any extraneous marks on the sheet has proved to be difficult. Thus, I am having second thoughts about that presentation and may end up mounting and matting all of the prints to 11×14 inches and placing them in a traditional print box.

As is often the case, the scans do not do full justice to the original prints.

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01-of-10
01-of-10
02-of-10
02-of-10
03-of-10
03-of-10
04-of-10
04-of-10
05-of-10
05-of-10
06-of-10
06-of-10
07-of-10
07-of-10
08-of-10
08-of-10
09-of-10
09-of-10
10-of-10
10-of-10

25 January 2022

More Pt/Pd Prints

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Pt/Pd Prints — Frank @ 9:00 PM

I have been ‘mining’ my archive for photos that I think will look good as platinum/palladium prints.

The first photo below, an industrial building on the shore of Lake Michigan was made in 2007 while I was on sabbatical in Milwaukee.

The botanical photo was made in 2010 according to the data the camera recorded. I have no recollection of where it was made.

The reflection photo was made on Star Island in 2017.

The photo of the Goodell Mill building is the newest of the bunch. The exposure was made in 2019 using my camera obscura.

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01_industrial
01_industrial
02_botanical
02_botanical
03_reflection
03_reflection
04_goodell-mill
04_goodell-mill

11 January 2022

More Pt/Pd Prints

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Pt/Pd Prints — Frank @ 8:45 PM

I have spent two more days in my dim room (i.e. the basement) making platinum/palladium (Pt/Pd) prints.

I have the wood stove cranked up so the basement is a good place to spend a couple of very cold days. It was 6 deg F below zero when I got up this morning. The high today was 6 above zero. It is -2 deg F as I write this about 8:30 in the evening. Brrrr!

All of these are small “draft” prints (4×5 inch images on 5x7ish Lenox 100 paper). I will eventually make larger prints (6×7.5 inch images on 8×10 inch paper) of all or most of these.

As with all alternative process prints, the scans are barely adequate facsimiles. One really needs to hold the actual object in ones hand to get the full effect.

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Skull
Skull
Ruin (Hovenweep National Monument, AZ)
Ruin (Hovenweep National Monument, AZ)
Bison (Yellowstone NP)
Bison (Yellowstone NP)
Beaver Lodge
Beaver Lodge
Headland, Cape Breton Island, NS
Headland, Cape Breton Island, NS

2 January 2022

First Finished Pt/Pd Prints

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Pt/Pd Prints — Frank @ 1:00 PM

Since my last post about platinum/palladium prints (one week ago), I have spent two full days and one partial day in the basement ‘perfecting’ (are things ever perfect?) my Pt/Pd process. I have learned a lot but I won’t bore you with the technical details.

Here are four finished prints. All either 4×5 inches or 4.5 inches square on 5×7 inch Lenox 100 paper. I have made larger (6×7.5 inch images on 8×10 inch paper) versions of the first two as well.

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Coquina Lake (Idaho)
Coquina Lake (Idaho)
Church Window/Stairs
Church Window/Stairs
Flag/Shovel/Window
Flag/Shovel/Window
Barn (Chichester, NH) (with the camera obscura)
Barn (Chichester, NH) (with the camera obscura)

26 December 2021

Pt/Pd Prints — Five Papers

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Pt/Pd Prints — Frank @ 12:30 PM

Having discovered that Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag (HPR) paper gave a much warmer platinum/palladium (Pt/Pd) print than Legion Lenox 100, I decided to try a few other papers just to see what happens.

All of the prints show below were made under identical conditions (e.g. negative, exposure, processing) except for the paper used.

The papers I used were:

  1. Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag (300 gsm)
  2. Legion Lenox 100 (250 gsm)
  3. Rives BFK (280 gsm)
  4. Fabriano Artistico (Hot Press) (300 gsm)
  5. Arches Johannot (240 gsm)

All of these papers are high quality “art” papers and all, except for the Johannot, are 100% cotton. The HPR is designed specifically for alternative process printing such as I am doing here.

In addition to these papers, I tried to coat a sheet of Arches Platine (310 gsm), another paper designed specifically for alternative process printing. In this case the paper soaked up the sensitizer so rapidly that I could not spread out the puddle to cover the image area.

The results are quite striking. All of the papers except for the HPR resulted in a neutral print while the HPR gave a very warm print. All of the papers except for the HPR could use a bit more exposure (and maybe a tweak to the curve used to print the negative), especially the Johannot, but I wanted to change only one variable so the conditions were optimized for the HPR.

I have a few more papers that I want to try and then I’ll need to decide which one will be my “go to” paper for Pt/Pd printing. After that, it will be time to stop testing and make some larger finished prints.

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Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag
Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag
Legion Lenox 100
Legion Lenox 100
Rives BFK
Rives BFK
Fabriano Artistico (Hot Press)
Fabriano Artistico (Hot Press)
Arches Johannot
Arches Johannot

Pt/Pd Printing – “Dialing It In”

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Pt/Pd Prints — Frank @ 12:00 AM

Learning a new process such as platinum/palladium (Pt/Pd) printing involves two distinct things. First, one needs to learn the physical process of making a print… what solutions to make, how to coat paper, what exposure to use, etc., etc.

Additionally (at least with digital negatives), one needs to “dial in” the processing of your digital photo in order to match the negative to the process. Without going into any real details, this involves two things. One needs to get the maximum density (Dmax) of the negative correctly adjusted. Then one needs to get the contrast correctly adjusted using the appropriate curve.

Getting things “dialed in” is an iterative process. One makes changes based on prior experience, prints a negative and then uses the negative to make (in this case) a Pt/Pd print. The resulting print is used to make further adjustments and the process is repeated.

Yesterday, I made three versions of the “Salmon River” negative in order to get the first print shown below. The “Church Window” negative took only two versions and the “Courthouse” negative was pretty good on my first attempt.

Hopefully, as one gains experience a negative get “dialed “in” more quickly and easily. With cyanotypes and salted-paper prints, I rarely have to make more than one negative… maybe ten-percent of photographs get a second negative. For those familiar processes the changes are usually to the dodging and burning in order to “fix” nature’s light. With experience, I’ll get to the same point with negative for Pt/Pd printing.

For my first set of Pt/Pd prints I used Legion Lenox 100 paper. This paper has been working well for my salted-paper prints and so I tried it. For the current prints, I used Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag (HPR).

HPR is (as its name implies) designed for Pt/Pd printing… it is sort of the “gold standard” <grin> of alt process papers. It is a heavy (300 gsm), 100% cotton paper. Lenox 100, on the other hand, is a bit lighter (250 gsm) 100% cotton paper designed for traditional ink on paper printmaking. The Lenox 100 is about one-third the cost of the HPR so it has that advantage.

I was surprised on how warm the prints on HPR came out. Pt/Pd printing is know for being quite neutral in tone and certainly the prints I made on the Lenox 100 were quite neutral. Hmmm… to check and see if I had done something different with the new batch of prints, I made a second print (the last image shown below) of the “Salmon River” photograph on Lenox 100. The only difference between the first and the last print is the paper.

Very interesting! And… I haven’t a clue why they are different.

This result, of course, suggest a further experiment… what about other papers? I did that experiment today. The prints are drying as I write and I’ll scan them tomorrow. Patience!!!

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Salmon River (on Hahn. Pt Rag)
Salmon River (on Hahn. Pt Rag)
Church Window with Stairs
Church Window with Stairs
Courthouse (Newfane, VT)
Courthouse (Newfane, VT)
Salmon River (on Legion Lenox 100)
Salmon River (on Legion Lenox 100)

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
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