Archive ”altprocess”

Gum over cyanotype on a half sheet of Stonehenge Rising warm white paper.
This print is a direct result of a morning of failures last week. My cyan pigment wouldn't stay on the paper - a combination of two different problems related to two variables I changed simultaneously. After three poor prints I decided I would forego the cyan for the morning and use cyanotype for the base layer to get me started.
I miscalculated the amount of cyanotype solution I needed (resulting in the large cyan area around the edges), and an hour of exposure was about a stop shy of what I wanted, but I managed to correct it with a subsequent layer of cyan gum (for which I again changed two variables, but at least it worked).
From memory, I believe this was 5 layers of gum (M/Y/M/Y/C) on top of one layer of cyanotype. I seem to be settling in on 6-7 layers per print on this paper.


April 23, 2012
This is probably my busiest art-related year ever. A number of things have fallen in to place, all at the same time. I'm a little saddened that it's taken me further away from posting regularly, but on the other hand, it means that I have work like this that I can post when I have the chance.
Meet Monk E. Burnswell, of Frank's Kitchens. I've accidentally found myself working with these great folks, as part of one of my "I want to do this someday" projects - photographing a build for the Kensington Kinetic Sculpture Derby.
This is both the largest and most successful of my gum prints to date - a 16"x10.5" print, digitally composited from five distinct shots (both film and digital originals). I took many risks on this print, and it paid off.
First: this is printed on a half sheet of Stonehenge Rising White. Until this point, my largest gum print was a quarter sheet.
Second: I usually forego with the sizing, or cheat with acrylic/PVA sizing. Knowing that some day I'd want to "do gum right," I sized a few full sheets of Stonehenge (white and warm white) last summer - multiple hits of gelatin, hardened with gluteraldehyde. And then they sat around for about 10 months, suriving the "great dimroom flood" last year. (Well, all but the one on top.)
Third: I winged it. I almost always studiously measure everything. This time, there was a lot of "yeah, that looks good" that went in to the printing. I changed gum in mid-print (ran out of higher-quality Windsor & Newton gum, had some Photo Formulary lower-grade opaque stuff). I changed pigments mid-print (ran out of Sennelier C/M/Y, switched to Schmincke Horadam).
I took some reasonable precautions, though - I printed two copies simultaneously, this one (which was to be the "beater" test image) and a slightly larger one (the sheets of warm white are a few inches larger). The larger image has problems in the dark gum areas that I don't like as much. Go figure; the test image became the final print.
So, there you go. More in the pipeline. At least these only take weeks and not months like the casein/glass prints.


April 16, 2012
Hot off the heels of my glass-on-casein in the annual juried Phillips' Mill exhibition, I'm looking at my next set of research: fumed silica.
This piece is a gold-toned kallitype, printed on Herschel (a handmade linen paper) pre-treated with fumed silica. The pretreatment generally deepens the blacks, with some other more subtle differences in contrast and overall response. I've been slowly pulling together a project to more scientifically test different kinds of fumed silica with different Kallitype processes, and I'm almost there. Except the money to fund it. :O
SO... look for a Kickstarter campaign soon! I'm hoping to get enough funding for a couple of weeks of dedicated research. I predict the results will have application across all siderotype printing techniques and I'm really excited to move this along!

Sheila and Bob

March 21, 2012
I'm FINALLY returning to the Burlesque shots from Jim Thorpe's burlesque festival last year. Between my last post on this subject and now, I've been more or less focused on casein-on-glass for some shows this spring, and that's mostly out of the way now (just have to deal with some paperwork and delivery, but the prints are done).
This was originally shot on a Canon 5D, ISO 3200, with a 70-200 f/2.8L. I reduced it to B&W and printed this kallitype on Herschel paper (a handmade paper from Ruscombe Mill). It's toned in a gold thiourea toner, and then a weak palladium toner.
My previous experience with gold toners says this should have come out purpleish. Instead, the paper stained somewhat. I'm not entirely sure what happened and I'll be revisiting this combination again; I'm satisfied with teh blacks that came out of this.

Burlesque Nr. 5

February 11, 2012
Spent quite a lot of yesterday printing bigger than I've done before - getting up to the maximum sizes I can manage with my vacuum frame and light box. This is a 10x15 print on a half-sheet of Herschel, a wonderful handmade siderotype-friendly paper from Ruscombe Mill. It's far and away my favorite kallitype paper, and this palladium-toned kallitype shows it well. To get this kind of black density on other papers I have to use multiple coats and/or multiple hits.
I had expected to crop a shot of this and post just the print, but I decided I really liked the meta-print - the environment around the print in my dim room.

Meta Workroom

December 5, 2011
Originally shot on Delta 3200 in a Diacord G; developed in Microphen. This is a palladium-toned kallitype. I'm reasonably happy that it came out (yay, my chemistry survived the flooding) but not so thrilled with the density; this is my first kallitype on Fabriano Artistico HP 300 and I'm not sure if the paper or my technique lead to this thinner-than-usual print. I'm hoping to preshrink some FabArt and try a double-hit kallitype on it.Regardless: as you might gather from the title, this is Joe of Abacus: a Chinese restaurant in Lansdale, PA. I think it's the best Chinese food available in the greater Philadelphia area. I've been eating at his establishment since about 1986. Joe reports they're in the middle of selling the business, and it clearly pains him greatly. If I understood rightly, he's getting ready to move back to China to take care of his father.Joe reminds me of my great uncle, who was also named Joe: they share a terrible sense of humor and are of the same temperament.


October 13, 2011
As with the other prints I've posted, this doesn't really translate to digital very well; everything I've done to try to bring these online leaves the images somewhat washed out and thin-looking. Perhaps someday I'll have a breakthrough and re-post all of these.
Brooke, owner of Dragontown Corsets in Jim Thorpe, PA. This was, I believe, from the 2007 St. Patty's parade.
5 layers of 3/16" glass, for a total of 9 printings (double-printed most of the layers). I think I only wound up discarding 3 layers while making this one.


August 27, 2011
From 2009's Jim Thorpe St. Patty's parade, originally shot on a Canon 5D.
This is a 6-layer casein-on-glass print; two layers of each magenta, cyan, and yellow. Visually, I'm happy with it. But it doesn't fit well in the frames that I like, so I'll probably double-up the printing of the magenta and yellow layers. I want to leave the cyan as two distinct layers, which helps the tartan over this man's shoulder (upper-right) appear to "float" over the rest of the print.


August 21, 2011
Sheila of the Gilded Cupid B&B in Jim Thorpe, PA surveying the St. Patty's Day parade route in 2010.
This was originally a digital shot, printed as a casein bichromate on six layers of glass - about 30 hours of work, including the dozens of layers that I printed and discarded. The final print is just over half an inch thick.
During the process of making this print, I've cataloged about 20 different variables that are affecting the print quality of each individual layer. The most pernicious so far: potassium dichromate in suspension instead of solution, crystallizing on the plates before exposure. Time to switch to ammonium dichromate, which has a higher saturation point.

She Drank a Little…

July 9, 2011
Happy Father's Day! I got three awesome presents today.
First, a bowl of radishes from our garden. Yummy, but photographically uninteresting.
Second, some sodium citrate and tartaric acid. Yay more kallitypes!
Third, the first hints of success with the process that I've been trying to get a hold on for something like 7 months now.
This shot is a reasonable but somewhat untrue representation of a shot through my first monstrosity: a 10x12" casein print on glass. More specifically, this is five layers of glass, each with a color print. Behind them is a sheet of drafting vellum. The entire thing is about a half-inch thick, and you get a different view depending on where you're looking at it from.
I've been flirting with success for a few months now. First, I tried to get this effect with gum. I found gum too unpredictable; it just barely holds on when you've prepared the glass *just so*. I went as far as using etching paste to very very slightly etch glass, and I found that I could mostly get gum to do what I wanted under those circumstances. Hydrofluoric acid (which is what you use to etch glass) is really, really nasty stuff. I hated using it.
In doing research in how I might be able to achieve this effect, I stumbled on a very small number of people doing casein printing (around February, I suppose). Casein, by all accounts, is stickier than gum. The few casein dichromate printers that I found use cottage cheese or dried milk as their source. I couldn't justify ruining a kitchen appliance (the food processor) putting ammonia and casein in it, so I looked for another route - and found it. A company called Earth Pigments sells pure dried casein powder. Perfect.
And this is my first full print using this method. There are a few printing errors in it that I can easily avoid (like putting the negative emulsion in contact with the casein colloid - just print other-side-up, which softens the image a little tiny bit, but nothing like the softness of the misregistered glass plates anyway).
I am in awe of having been able to produce this thing - I found myself staring at it for about 20 minutes this afternoon just moving back and forth and examining its properties for the first time. I'm looking forward to making more of these. Now I just have to figure out how to frame them...
SO - about the shot, quickly - this is a digital capture from St. Patty's Day in Jim Thorpe this past year. The civil war re-enactors somehow found some way to call St. Patty's their own. I love it.
Hopefully, I will be part of a group show *in* Jim Thorpe this coming year. If that happens, you can bet I'll have at least one of these prints in the show.

Marching Ever Onwa…

June 19, 2011
Shot on Delta 3200 in a Mamiya 7, developed in Perceptol. Printed on Arches Aquarelle hot pressed 140# as a kallitype and toned with palladium.

From his fifth birthday, our good friend Nate.
Note that this is Nate building with Legos. Not to be confused with Nate's other roles as truck driver, rock star, superhero, trampoline artist, and so on.

Nate the Builder

May 21, 2011
Originally a digital shot, this kallitype (on Stonehenge 11x14) is toned with palladium. I suspect that the "pure" table salt that I used in making the toner is not actually pure. I expected this to darken and head more toward gray, and instead it gained some slight density and went to this light brown-ish color. Still, quite a pleasant print. And reason for me to place another order with Bostick & Sullivan as I'm also nearly out of silver nitrate...

Burlesque Nr. 4

May 5, 2011
Mamiya 7, HP5, Microphen, EI around 35000.
Yes, another 50-ish minute developing effort - then printed as a gold-toned kallitype. The print picked up more density during the toning than I expected. In the untoned print (a beautiful warm chocolate-brown) her legs had very little definition and very high contrast. About 8.5 minutes in a gold chloride toning solution just before fixing and the warm browns all turned in to cold grays, with more density and reduced contrast.
This print marks two milestones for me. First, it's my first toned kallitype. The entire process went smoothly but I've grown fond of the deep browns and I'm not so thrilled with the tin-like cold color. I don't think it suits this subject well. Second, this is my first print that's too big to scan. The image is about 10.5 inches square, printed on 11x14 Stonehenge.
Before anyone asks: yes, this is technically a crop of the original negative. I took this vertically: at the bottom there was dark stage, faded to black. At the top: no light, faded to black. It wanted to be square!

Burlesque Nr. 3

May 2, 2011
I love it when things just work.
From the Jim Thorpe Burlesque Festival: the negative comes from 4 rolls of HP5+, under-exposed at least 3 stops at the Mamiya's metered 3200 (which I find to already under-expose a touch). I optimistically developed the first roll at 6400 in Microphen (finding it very thin), and then the other 3 rolls at an approximate ISO 35000 - 40 minutes, based on the response curve I've calculated from repeated development work with this film and developer. All of this in a hotel bathroom while traveling for a conference, so I re-used the single liter of Microphen for all four rolls. This came from the fourth roll, which developed for a whopping 56 minutes.
This is a kallitype print of a digitally enlarged negative of that shot, using curves I generated from repeated test runs. I'm quite happy with the result; it's actually slightly darker "chocolate brown" than this scan came out.
I'm expecting some gold chloride and palladium salts in the next week at which point the toned kallitypes will begin!

Burlesque Nr. 2

April 22, 2011
From the Jim Thorpe Burlesque Festival a few weeks back. I've been working on various print techniques this year, one of them being these Kallitypes. It's been quite a learning experience (my background is in engineering, not in art) and I've finally got repeatable results.
This is an un-toned kallitype print on Arches hot pressed 140#, developed in a mix of sodium acetate and ammonium citrate. Interestingly enough, a second print developed in borax and rochelle salts looks almost identical, when I expected it to be more black - which might mean I've got a proportion problem in the sensitizer, or the water's playing in to the equation in a meaningful way, or that I have no idea what I'm doing. Probably the third! :)

Burlesque Nr. 1

April 15, 2011
This one takes some explaining; it's some of what's been eating up my time for the past few weeks.
This shot started life on HP5+ developed in Xtol. I digitally inverted and enlarged the shot and printed it on Pictorico Ultra Premium OHP before stuffing it in to my vacuum frame (yes, that shot shows me mis-printing a positive I printed first - oops).
Traditionally, Cyanotype has a "part A" (green ferric ammonium citrate) and a "part B" (Potassium Ferricyanide). Usually you mix equal parts together, put it on paper, dry it, and expose it to UV light for a few minutes (outside) to an hour (under a UV light). Results are generally high-contrast and very very blue.
This print was made with an alternative method - reportedly the same one that Sir John Hershel used, which has been generally forgotten. I stumbled across an old thread on some forum or other last week where this was mentioned in passing and decided I had to give it a try: instead of mixing parts A and B, you just coat the paper in part A and then expose it. Afterward you develop it in part B, and then wash it with water. The results are a substantially lower contrast print with excellent tonality.
After initial printing, this was a typical cyanotype blue. I soaked it in coffee for about an hour to give it this final tone. My next print was going to be bleached (in borax or ammonia) and then toned (with coffee or tea) - but I broke my UV lamp instead, so that will have to wait a few days. I'm using a backup UV lamp that's not nearly as bright and am printing 31-step wedges to see just how well this new technique works.
Of course this raised another set of questions for me: Mike Ware created a "New Cyanotype" recipe that is faster and offers a greater tonal range. (I use this too, and have to admit that it seems superior in many ways.) I have to wonder if it's possible to use Ammonium Iron(III) Oxalate mixed with Ammonium Dichromate like the traditional "part A", and then develop in Potassium Ferricyanide (same as the traditional "part B"). I think I'll have to try this out the next time I mix up a new batch!

It’s That Si…

March 28, 2011

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