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2017 – Year of Photography

I hope everyone has had wonderful holidays and is enjoying the winter weather when it’s not too cold. Our holidays were quiet, as they are every year and like every year, I start wondering about my life and all the various things I could do to enrich it. So. This year is photography year. There. I said it, now there is no backing out.

Last year, due to a few house moves and consequently all of our stuff being in storage, I did not get round too much wet-plating, much to my chagrin. This year will be different; I dusted off my Model Mayhem account and created a casting call, to start photographing some plates in upcoming springtime. Yeah, I know, I don’t do cold weather shooting so I’ll have to be patient. I look forward to shooting a few fresh faces in an exciting new project. The theme was so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t think of it before! And – it will take me some time to finish it. Which could be a good or bad thing, we’ll see.

 

No, I’m not telling you what it is just yet! If you are truly curious, go find the casting call on Model Mayhem 😀

 

I did manage to do a couple of plates last year, but somehow they did not manage to enthuse me. They are just not exciting enough! For lack of a model, I used a small porcelain figurine that was left to me by my late great-grandmother as well as a small piece of a wasp nest that I found in the shed (and some wasps that were dead on the ground in summer). There was also a pepper, and a mortar and pestle providing the subject of the images.

 

I was mildly enthusiastic about this plate, where the top of the pepper emerging from the shadows almost looks like some monstrous stag beetle…This could be a fun image, after a bit of work.


I did get to do some medium format shooting last year though, with all that travel. I hope I’ll see more of that coming my way this year, that would be sweet! It’s a shame I don’t actually enjoy the scanning and retouching of my images all that much, it would make things a little easier. Hah! This time round, just like my belated holiday images in my last post, I have scanned them all small and did only the bare bone retouching on them. That way, I’ll finally not waste time on image that I’ll never use or will misplace at some point anyway. Again, time will tell if this is a good of bad way to go about it.

In my second round of scanning, I found a few beauties that I do not want to keep to myself. These are taken in the Chinese Garden in Frankfurt, Germany. It’s not a big garden, and it’s usually busier than this, but it certainly provided with ample opportunity for a few nice shots.

 

 

 

 

 

Making an – inkjet printed – digital negative

Last time I talked about salt printing, and how I used a inkjet printed digital negative to use for the contact print. Today I’ll show you how I made the negative and the printout.

 

This is the first time I tried making one of these negatives to use in my first salt-printing attempts, so I am not claiming this to be the best, most accurate or most technically insightful of tutorials – but it seemed to do the trick.

What you need to make a digital negative:

  • digital image
  • printer
  • (Pictorico) OverHead Projector Film (OHP)

 

Step 1: Choose an image. Select a file that is large enough for the size of the print-out you intend to make.

Step 2: Open up your image in your image editing software (Lightroom, Photoshop, GIMP) and edit it as you would normally do. I usually stick to spotting for any dust that may have gotten onto the film whilst scanning and adjusting the levels in Lightroom. Save your image.

Hong Kong, 2012

 

Step 3: With your image opened, save the file under a different name, so you won’t accidentally save over your original. I’ve done the next few steps in Photoshop.

Step 4: Make the image 16 bit & RGB. You can do this under Image > Mode > 16 bit / RGB in Photoshop.

RGB conversion 16 bit conversion

Step 5: Apply a ratio curve to the image, invert the image and flatten. Don’t worry too much about how messed up your image is looking right now – but try to judge the contrast that it will provide to your print. The contrast I’m showing here is actually not that great, but it’s a good example of a 1:1 image conversion.

Ratio curveinvertinginverted, flattened

 

Step 6: Add a new layer, set to ‘screen’ mode.

add new layer, screen mode

 

Step 7: Using the colour picker, set the foreground colour to:

Platinum printing (density 1.6) R: 127 G: 255 B: 0

Palladium Printing (density 1.9) R: 70 G: 140 B: 0

(some) Palladium printing (density 2.2) R: 50 G:100 B:0

Salt and Albumen printing (density 2.5) R: 25 G: 50 B: 0

color picker

 

Step 8: Fill the new layer with this colour. The idea is, that some colours block out UV light better than others and you’ll see in a cyanotype printing video I’ve linked below, that red is their colour of choice.

 

finished

Step 9: (optional) Taking the advise from another website (see links below) I added a step tab, so judge my exposure times. You can find a few via Google, but you could also opt for a classic exposure test by making a test strip.

Printer Calibration Image

Step Tab

Step 10: You are now ready to print your negative! Fire up the printer and insert one of your OHP sheets. The ‘sticky’ or non-slippery side is the one taking the image. Insert it with the paper strip first so your printer has something to hold on to. Print with the following settings if you have the option:

Working space: adobe RGB / US web coated (SWOP) Gamma Grey 2.2, Dot Grain 20%

Policies: Convert to working (all) – tick all boxes

Conversion: Adobe (ACE), perceptual – tick all boxes

Leave your print to dry for at least 24 hours.

 

 

As I did not believe that the above negative would have made a great print, I went back and made some changes in the original to bring out more detail in the shadow areas. Other than that, I followed the same steps as outlined above, resulting in quite a different negative!

Hong Kong Switches

 

 

Should you like to learn more about making a digital negative, I can recommend having a look the following sites and articles:

Alternativephotography.com

Article by Dan Burkholder on ProfessionalPhotographer.com

Article by Robert Hirsch on Masteringphoto.com

Article by Christina Anderson on Freestylephoto.biz

Bark-edu.com

precisiondigitalnegatives.com

 

Winter

After settling in well in our new Cambridge home, I thought it was time to turn my attention back onto my website. Lo and behold – there are technical issues with it! The pages are EXTREMELY slow to load and the guys at Justhost.com don’t really seem to know what’s going on, apart from that *I* need to fix it. *sigh*

Regardless, I’ve managed to update the resources page to include a few tips, tricks and DIY overviews I have blogged about over the last number of months, so they’ll all sit together happily in one place. I will add the building instructions of my second darkbox, as well as some wetplating troubleshooting information. Since the weather isn’t exactly suitable for me to go out at the moment and we don’t have the space to set up inside, I’m using this time to prepare for the next season. A car has been found and purchased, so I will be able to get out and about.

In the meanwhile I’ll have to stick to using my Rolleiflex TLR – Woe is me – and get to shooting again. The cemetery is lovely in the morning with the striking beams of the low sun, but I’m just holding out for that little bit of frost to start creeping over the grounds.

Regardless of the subject matter, I wonder if they’ll turn out as depressing as some of the images I shot last year. We had just come back from our failed adventure in Australia, to land in the snow covered Netherlands. My folks were kind enough to take us in for a few months, which can’t have been easy for them. I know it wasn’t easy for us. Not only to having admit defeat, but losing your independence (even if only temporarily) without being able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We didn’t know what would happen next – where we would live or work – and it was so grey, and so cold……..it was as if nature itself was mourning for us.

Coincidentally, Sean found work in Germany just as Spring set in, and we were on our way again.

 

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