Friday, August 22, 2008

Goredale Scar

You might think that after 3yrs in college this would get easier but...

The first part went OK I am new to this particular 5x4 but the Janet's Fosse shot went ok this has full drop and is 1/5 @ F16 on the 150mm lens. The sacrifice sheet had 9mins in HD Pyrocat but lacked shadow detail so this got 15mins.

The hard part is scanning the negs. I have spent far too long working out how to set white and black points, gamma etc but it finally pulled though. The pyro negs are coloured so I am scanning them as colour neg and there are differences in the channels. This opens up all sorts of opportunities for blending the channels later in Photoshop. The thing is that it varies between negs. The main fall shot was simply much better in the green channel so I applied that channel to the rest. In the case of Janet's Fosse The green and red channels were better in different tonal ranges.

The main fall was shot with full rise. The 150mm only just covers so it smeared a bit at the top and vignetted along the bottom so this is a slight crop.

Those who don't know the area may not realise that James Ward cheated a bit. The canyon bends so his view point does not exist. This is the best I could manage on the day. There did seem to be a better viewpoint on the other bank but that meant waging across the river and then climbing a slippy bank to a point on the cliffs on the other side. Sorry dear reader I wimped out.

I will try an approach from the other bank next time I go.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

James Ward

James Ward has a lot to answer for. Several times a year I end up lugging the 5x4 up from Malham to Goredale Scar to see if this time I can get a shot.

Well if you live in this part of the UK you will understand that the weather recently has been to say the least inclement - so it should be good for waterfalls? Thus I spent today trying to keep the rain out of the camera and wasting film. I don't have a lot of hopes for the pictures. There was water but the skies turned out good old English leaden not the stormy cumulus I was after so probably some other trip.

So far as technical details go I am sticking to 64 iso on the FP4 and intend to brew about 10 mins in the pyrocat. I know this will not produce a short scale neg but I am going for a receipe that scans well and juice it up in photoshop when building the negative.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Size Matters

I would normally feel bad about using someone else's image on here but somehow it seems fitting to do it with this one. I have blogged about Richard Prince before but that was based on my viewing of his work on the web and printed in magazines and books.

There is currently an exhibition of his work "Continuation"at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park so I popped along for a look while I was in London last weekend. The show includes the cowboy image above and a triptych "A girl called the other day" as well as a number of paintings and sculptures.

Now the issue of size caused a lot of soul searching when I was preparing my own small exhibition and Pixchannel have recently published a Duane Michals video interview in which he criticises the modern trend towards large photos but there is something about a wall sized print. The cowboy is almost life size and when you understand that it is a magazine advert re-photographed you will realise that on that scale it becomes impressionistic. Not only can you see the half tone dots you can see all the off sets and dithers. I am still nervous about the simple rephotographing of someone else's work but I think I can see some justification.

The Girl triptych is more about selection and similarities so the same issues do not apply, however the same system of massive over enlargement is used. A similar use of the halftone elements of the image is used on one of the car sculptures which is covered with photos of semi naked women.

This idea of the ready made found or borrowed runs throughout the show with most of the sculptural work comprising parts, mainly bonnets/hoods of American muscle cars with little if any modification. The joke paintings also recycle jokes culled from crackers.

All in all an interesting show that leaves you thinking.

I came away realising that for this work the scale is important, small reproductions miss the point and so they lost out on a catalogue sale.

I did make a purchase however the bookshop had a copy of The New West so my bookcase has more weight to bear.

Progress on the albumen front

The salted albumen has been maturing in my fridge for two weeks now so today was the day to get on with making some coated paper. Now choosing the base paper (substrate) is one of the reasons to make your own sensitised paper but this is a learning curve so the paper was chosen for none artistic reasons.
  1. I have heard of Windsor & Newton
  2. The paper is not too thick 190gm/m2
  3. It is fully sized as it comes
  4. Its a good size 10" x 7" so will print my half plates with a nice border
  5. It is fairly flat. There is a texture but not too pronounced
  6. Its gummed not wire bound so it separates easily from the pad
I will let you know if it turns out to be a good choice

Stage 2 the albumen I made a couple of weeks ago nicely fills the sandwich tray which is in turn a nice size for the paper

The first sheet of paper floating in the tray. This seemed too easy and so it proved. The paper starts to curl after a few seconds and being quite stiff is hard to hold flat. Fingers at the corners works sort of but the curl is quite firm and the paper bent under the surface getting albumen on the back. You also get it all over your hands which is a bind when you need to handle clean sheets. This may be why some of the books recommend a thinner base paper, but this was the thinnest sized paper I could find.

Enter bright idea. The books talk about folding the paper to make a boat with stiff edges but what if you just put a weight on top to hold it down. Obviously the weight must be heavy enough to do the job but not so heavy that the paper sinks. Enter a sheet of corrugated cardboard. This worked great you can lift it off after a minute or so once the paper has relaxed.

The sticky paper is lifted by one corner allowed to drip into the tray then hung up to dry.

  1. 190gm/m2 may be a bit thick
  2. Bubbles form in the albumen. I used a little wetting agent as recommended but found the best answer was to use a plastic teaspoon to fish them out between sheets
  3. The paper drys much fasted than you would expect. I found that I had room for about 6 sheets on my improvised dryer and when it was full the oldest sheets were dry.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Testing Testing

7 Mins 1:1:100 @ 20 C

8 mins 1:1:100 @ 20 C

10 Mins 1:1:100 @ 20 C

15 Mins 1:1:100 @ 20 C

It's at times like these you wish you knew more about Sensitometry. There is much less variation in these negatives than I had anticipated. When I opened the dish after the 10 min session I thought I had gone far enough but pressed on for the full set.

The images are not as well chosen as could be but the weather has not been great and so I shot what I could in the conservatory. This at least has the benefit of facing north so the light is quite even. Using a long bellows extension did give rise to a few problems but I'm pretty confident about metering and am therefore happy that the exposure was OK. FP4+ 64 ISO 1/8 S at F8.

I shot some more at F45 but I haven't processed them yet. Obviously reciprocity failure set in so the exposure there is a bit more of a guess so they were not suitable for this test.

I do not have a densiometer so I am stuck with a scanner and photoshop for taking readings but suspect that the flat light answer is in the 8 to 10 min area.