Photographs by Frank

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!

14 June 2021

Hardware (Anthotype Photograms)

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 10:30 PM

Saturday evening, I sat down with my jar of ‘stuff’ for making photograms and played with patterns. Early Sunday morning, I set up some photograms based on my ‘play’ the evening and headed for Brattleboro. Shortly after I returned home in the middle of the afternoon I processed the now well exposed anthotype paper.

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3 June 2021

Another Set of Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 5:30 PM

Yesterday morning, I started a bunch of anthotypes early and then spent the rest of the morning finishing up the batch of salted-paper I had sensitized earlier in the week*.

I put the anthotypes out at about 9:30. This is as early as the sun reaches my ‘anthotype spot’ (AKA the bulkhead leading to our basement). At about 5:30, I began the process of disassembling the frames and spraying the anthotypes. I finished the clean up just in time for a 6:30 webinar on ‘hand-made photographs’ sponsored by the Photographic Resource Center in Boston.

The astute observer will note that I have expanded the subject matter of my anthotypes! There will be further expansion to follow as time and sunny days permit… I have ideas!!!

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A (about 6.5 inches square)
A (about 6.5 inches square)
B (about 6.5 inches square)
B (about 6.5 inches square)
C (about 6.5 inches square)
C (about 6.5 inches square)
D (about 6.5 inches square)
D (about 6.5 inches square)
E (about 4.5 inches square)
E (about 4.5 inches square)
F (about 4.5 inches square)
F (about 4.5 inches square)
G (about 4.5 inches square)
G (about 4.5 inches square)
H (about 4.5 inches square)
H (about 4.5 inches square)
I (about 4.5 inches square)
I (about 4.5 inches square)
J (about 4x5 inches)
J (about 4x5 inches)

* There were no new images in this batch of salted-paper prints, so there will not be a post about them. I am trying to get in the habit of making an ‘edition’ of two or three copies of each image I print on salted-paper.

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)

21 May 2021

Two Day’s Worth (of Anthotypes)

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 12:00 PM

Anthotypes take a lot of time but little effort.

If I have paper already prepared, it takes only a little time in the morning to find a few subjects, to think about compositions, and to load up the printing frames. The exposures take five or six hours in strong (for New Hampshire) sun. Then, in the late afternoon it takes another small amount of time to disassemble the frames and spray the photograms with sodium carbonate (washing soda) solution. After that the paper has to dry overnight.

The past two days were as bright and sunny as it gets here and I made anthotypes both days. I put the exposure interval on both days to good use doing errands and doing chores… no sitting around for me!

I am out of both turmeric extract and treated paper and I want to get back to making some salted-paper prints. Thus, I think that these may be the last anthotypes for a while.

Additionally, my motivation for making these anthotypes in the first place, the vernal renewal of plants (i.e. new leaves!!!), is rapidly waning… everything is more-or-less fully leafed out at this point.

However, I could change my mind on a whim, so who knows!

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Untitled #18

19 May 2021

More Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 4:30 PM

Yesterday was partly sunny… Sunny enough for anthotypes, I thought.

After a late breakfast*, I prowled the yard, scissors in hand, for plant material. I ended up exposing about a dozen sheets of paper for six hours. The four ‘keepers’ are shown below.

Perceptive viewers will note that the first image (Untitled #5) has a lighter background that the others. It was done on a different paper (Rives Heavyweight) than the others (Strathmore Vison drawing paper). The Strathmore is an inexpensive, acid-free, wood pulp-based paper that seems to work quite well for anthotype. The Rives is a 100% cotton rag paper that is fairly lightweight (175 gsm). It too seems to work well.

Yesterday, I also tried some Stonehenge Light (135 gsm) that did not work well at all. The color in all the of these prints ran when I sprayed them (even very lightly) with the washing soda solution to ‘develop’ them.

In the past, I have tired a number of heavier (250-300 gsm) watercolor papers as well. These did not work well either. The prints were low contrast because, I think, they held too much of the yellow pigment. With these papers, the background was fairly dark even after a very long exposure.

Today is bright and sunny, so I did the same again although breakfast was at the usual time. I have exposures going outside as I write. They should be done shortly. If there are any good ones in the batch, you’ll see them here tomorrow!

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Untitled #5
Untitled #5
Untitled #6
Untitled #6
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Untitled #7
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Untitled #8

* Complications involving cousins delayed breakfast

14 May 2021

Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Anthotype — Frank @ 10:30 AM

A few days ago I coated some paper with turmeric extract in anticipation of the next sunny day. Yesterday was that day!

I set up eight printing frames for exposures (four on 5×7 paper and four on 8×10 paper) and had them out in the sun by 10 AM. A little after 4 PM (i.e. a six hour exposure), I removed the paper from the frame and sprayed with a solution of washing soda (sodium carbonate). This changes the bright neon yellow of the turmeric to the nice red-brown you see here and (hopefully) stabilizes the print against further changes upon exposure to more light. Borax is more commonly used for this and gives a fairly neutral brown. I like the red-brown seen here better!

I think these four might just get matted!

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Untitled #1
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Untitled #4

23 April 2021

Spicy Photograms – Anthotypes

Filed under: Alternative Processes — Frank @ 11:00 PM

Just a bit of fun photochemistry… I’m not sure that this will lead to any serious art, but you never know!

A couple of definitions, before we proceed…

Photogram — an image made by placing objects on a photosensitive surface during exposure to light

Anthotype — an image made using photosensitive pigments derived from plants

The images shown below are anthotype photograms made using the spice turmeric.

Very briefly, I took some turmeric, added it to some 70% iso-propanol (rubbing alcohol) and stirred it around a bit. Next, I filtered the mixture through a paper towel to remove the solids. The resulting solution is a nice yellow-orange color. This solution was painted on to paper and allowed to dry. The paper becomes very bright yellow.

I then placed objects atop the paper, covered the stack with a piece of glass and exposed things to the sun (or in one case my UV light box) for a period of hours. The light bleaches the yellow pigment giving an image which is then stabilized (and made more contrasty) by dipping the paper in a solution of borax.

The first two images shown below are photograms I made yesterday. The first image is a two hour exposure using my UV-LED light source. The second image is a four hour exposure outside on an partly cloudy afternoon. Both were treated with borax (sodium borate) after exposure.

While these photograms were exposing, I returned to my roots as a chemist and did a experiment. I took strips of coated paper and dipped them into various solutions I had around for other processes. The results are shown in the third image below. The top of each strip is the unexposed, untreated paper showing the bright yellow.

Clearly borax is not only compound that can cause a color change in the tumeric yellow. Every basic solution I tried caused a color change, the two acidic solution did not cause a visible change. The ammonia solution (far right) turned the paper bright red initially. However, the color faded as the paper dried.

I continued my experiments today. The last five images are four hour exposures made today under mostly sunny skies. These were all treated with sodium carbonate (washing soda) after exposure.

In addition to making these exposures, I took the test strips shown in the third photo and placed them in the sun for about eight hours. There was little, if any, fading of the colors produced by treating with borate, carbonate or bicarbonate.

A note on the paper… all but the last two images shown were made using inexpensive, nothing special, drawing paper (Strathmore 400 or Strathmore Vison papers). The last two image were made using somewhat ‘fancier’ papers; Stonehenge Warm (Untiled #4) and Artistico HP watercolor paper (Untitled #5). The fancier papers seem to hold more pigment (especially the Artistico) and thus the images are darker.

Lastly, the large majority of this is not new (just Google ‘turmeric anthotype‘!). However, a quick search did not turn up any mention of bases other than borax to treat paper after exposure. Thus, that bit may well be new knowledge.

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playing with 'treatments'
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