Photographs by Frank

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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indoor-exposure
indoor-exposure
outdoor-exposure
outdoor-exposure
playing with 'treatments'
playing with 'treatments'
Untitled #1
Untitled #1
Untitled #2
Untitled #2
Untitled #3
Untitled #3
Untitled #4
Untitled #4
Untitled #5
Untitled #5

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)

1 April 2021

Reflections on the End of Winter

Filed under: Landscapes,March,Monadnock Region — Tags: — Frank @ 5:00 PM

Made on my wanderings over the past ten days.

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End of Winter Reflection #1
End of Winter Reflection #1
End of Winter Reflection #2
End of Winter Reflection #2
End of Winter Reflection #3
End of Winter Reflection #3

17 March 2021

Two Trees, Two Cameras

Filed under: Landscapes,Monadnock Region — Tags: — Frank @ 11:05 AM
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Cemetery Walnut #1
Cemetery Walnut #1
Cemetery Walnut #2
Cemetery Walnut #2
Hayfield Tree #1
Hayfield Tree #1
Hayfield Tree #2
Hayfield Tree #2

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

13 March 2021

Thaw!

Filed under: Landscapes,March,Monadnock Region — Frank @ 11:06 AM

Spring is not quite here yet, but there are faint signs that it is coming.

We had a few days of temperatures in the 50’s, in might have actually reached 60 the other day. We even had a night in which it stayed above freezing. The snow is rapidly receding, the ice is pulling back from the edges of the lake and, of course, there is lots of mud in the road!

However, the next few days the high temperatures will be in the 30s and there are two nights predicted to be in the single digits. So Spring is not quite here yet!

The photos shown here were made on walks over the past four days.

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Walnut Tree - Center Cemetery
Walnut Tree - Center Cemetery
Maple Tree
Maple Tree
Grasses
Grasses
The Thaw Begins
The Thaw Begins
Untitled #1
Untitled #1
Untitled #2
Untitled #2

5 March 2021

Trees

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 12:00 PM

I have been making photographs of trees in winter, showing their “bones” for a a couple of years. Most of these photos are made using my camera obscura.

I decided that these photos might look good as salted-paper prints and thus prepared negatives from six images in this series. I finished making 4×5 inch prints on Stonehenge Warm paper yesterday.

I have many more images in this series, that I think I will print this way in the coming weeks/months.

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Apple Tree #1
Apple Tree #1
Apple Tree #2
Apple Tree #2
Pine Tree
Pine Tree
Maple Tree
Maple Tree
Tree
Tree
Apple Trees & Crotched Mountain
Apple Trees & Crotched Mountain

Missouri River Homestead

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 11:03 AM

The end of September 2017… Joan and I had left Yellowstone National Park via the northeast corner of the park and Cooke City. We were headed north through central Montana; our eventual goal was Malta.

After spending a night in Roundup, we continued on our way north. We made an unscheduled and very productive stop at the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge where US191 crosses the Missouri River. There is a wildlife drive through the refuge on the north side of the river here.

In addition to river access, this gravel road is a hot spot for viewing elk during rutting season, i.e. at the end of September! However, this post is not about those photos!

Rather, this post is about the photos I made of an old river bottom homestead that is a short walk off the refuge road; I wrote about this site and showed the photos I made back in 2017.

Recently, I revisited these photos as I thought they would be good candidates for warm tones of salted-paper prints, an old, so called “alternative” photographic process. Or, in the words of Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer, an “ancient but still unconventional medium”. (Said about cyanotype, but equally applicable here!) I wrote about this process a couple of weeks ago when I made my first salted-paper print.

On Wednesday, I finished making salted-paper prints of nine photographs of this riverine homestead. The prints are 4″x5″ on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paper and are untoned. The scans I show here are a inadequate representation of the actual artifacts. The prints really need to be seen and held to fully experience, but in these days of COVID this will have to suffice for now.

I am planning to make a set of larger prints, but I am still mulling over how large. I have the trays needed to make prints on 11×14 inch paper (i.e. an image size of about 8×10 inches. However, I’m not sure that I have the space needed.

I would really like to make 11×14 inch prints but I have neither trays large enough nor a large enough space for all of the trays needed. The cost of the chemicals also becomes a factor in making large prints. An 11×14 image is almost eight times the area of a 4×5 image and thus requires eight times the chemicals.

I’m thinking that I should work out the mechanics of making large prints with cyanotype before attempting prints involving silver! I’ll probably have to also wait for warmer weather when I can set up tables for trays in the garage… we’ll see!

Anyway, here are the 4×5 inch prints:

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Missouri Riverine Homestead #1
Missouri Riverine Homestead #1
Missouri Riverine Homestead #2
Missouri Riverine Homestead #2
Missouri Riverine Homestead #3
Missouri Riverine Homestead #3
Missouri Riverine Homestead #4
Missouri Riverine Homestead #4
Missouri Riverine Homestead #5
Missouri Riverine Homestead #5
Missouri Riverine Homestead #6
Missouri Riverine Homestead #6
Missouri Riverine Homestead #7
Missouri Riverine Homestead #7
Missouri Riverine Homestead #8
Missouri Riverine Homestead #8
Missouri Riverine Homestead #9
Missouri Riverine Homestead #9

19 February 2021

A Response to Joe’s Questions

In his comment on my “first salted-paper print” post, my friend Joe raises some interesting questions (in italics below). I thought that I would reply publically here rather than in an email to him alone.

So, do you prefer this process to your cyanotypes?

It is not so much as preferring one process over another. Rather the key, I think is to fit the photograph to the process and to the “mood” (aesthetic?) that one wishes to convey.

And, for me, why?

I think that I can answer this on many levels. The fun of learning and hopefully mastering something new. Having another tool for artistic expression. Or to paraphrase Sir Edmund Hillary… “Because I can”!


You have a good image that would be a great print via the usual ways of printing.

It is interesting that you raise this point. Back a month or so ago, as I was setting up a printer with Piezography Pro inks, I make prints of this series of photographs using the “full warm” inks*. These prints (scans shown below), on a satin paper, are very nice but not as ‘special’ as the salted-paper prints.

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Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print
Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print
Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print
Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print

* The Piezography Pro system modifies an Epson printer to use only black/gray inks. The inkset consists of two sets of four inks. One set is warm toned and one is cool toned. The software allows one to mix the two set of inks to arrive at a final print of any tone in between, including dead neutral, if that is the desired result.

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