Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve party on the river.

Just like two years ago, we will celebrate New Year's Eve in the Grand Canyon, around a fire.  The bridges in this picture are the last signs of modernity that interrupt the natural scenery for a few days.

Unlike two years ago, however, we will have everything inside our kayaks, without raft support.  The mission is not totally minimalist, however, since the 10' kayaks we are using have ample storage space.


"Navaho Bridge"
Graphic Chemical Sepia on Rives BFK

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Meeting the crew in Flagstaff

and preparing for a winter trip on the Grand Canyon.

Today, all 16 of us will meet in the parking lot of a hotel to modify our boats for the trip, go to the grocery store, and figure out which vehicles will act as shuttles from Flagstaff to Lee's Ferry.  We will be in parking lots, on paved roads, in fluorescent-lit stores, preparing for and thinking about more beautiful and natural scenery; growing more excited to have this experience in one of the great National Parks.

"South Rim Snow"
Graphic Chemical Sepia on Rives BFK

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Page, AZ (looking forward to the trip)

Driving through the desert, from southern Colorado, gets me psyched for the Grand Canyon.

Those who have followed the Grand Canyon Gravure project know that this Fall has been all about getting the plates made, and pulling prints.  I encountered several delays, some more challenging than others.  But now, I am happy to say that I have several new plates made, and have been able to make initial test prints from each of them, so the project is well under way.

I should mention that one of the things that has delayed the completion of this project is preparing for another trip through the Grand Canyon.  I was invited on a unique mission that I could not turn down.  Preparing for the trip has taken much time away from making prints from the last trip.  In the long run, however, it will allow me to documents some of the places I couldn't the first time around.

This website has new images ready to appear over the next 15 days (including this one).  All of the images are test prints from photogravure plates.  They will play as I am in Arizona, during the two prep days for and the 12 travel days on the Colorado River.

"Horseshoe Bend"
Graphic Chemical Sepia on Rives BFK

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Postcards From The Edge

A cyanotype from this negative will be in the show.
If you are in NYC, stop by the show!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Launch Pad Cooperative

is a new coop gallery in Toledo, OH
and they are having a fund raising art show/sale
December 15, 2012
(continues online Dec 16 - Jan 4)

I donated this laserjet transfer over cyanotype to their sale.  If you are in Ohio, stop by and see the show.  If you are not, then check out their website and keep them on your list of places to stop when you are traveling across the country.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Masters and Pelavin (Art in a Box)

the annual Art Exhibition Benefit for Art in a Box
that will help keep their programs running;
programs that help children at risk.

Pre-Exhibition Online sale starts at midnight, Friday, December 14, 2012

Live Exhibition and Art Sale opens to the public
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
11am - 6pm
at Masters & Pelavin Gallery

Holiday Party and Art Sale (last chance to purchase art)
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
5 - 8pm
Masters & Pelavin Gallery
13 Jay Street
New York, NY 10013

This cyanotype diptych will be available for sale at the show.
If you are in NYC, please stop by to see the work,
and consider buying some art to help a good cause.
If you are not in the city, then consider making a donation to Art in a Box
by visiting their website.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pictorico vs. Fixxons

Pictorico transparencies have become the standard for making digital negatives.  When starting out, I understand ordering either the Premium OHP transparency or Ultra Premium OHP transparency because so many people already use it (several excellent artist with tremendous digital negative skill), and many of the blog posts & web pages you stumble upon demonstrate a workflow using it.

However, after trying several different brands of transparency material, I have found that Fixxons Waterproof Inkjet Screen Positive Film works as good at the Pictorico film.
Since the Fixxons film cost $33 for a pack of 100 (8.5" x 11") while
Pictorico film cost $22 for a pack of 20 (therefore $110 per 100) ,
I was compelled to switch to Fixxons.

These scanned prints are side-by-side comparisons of the two transparency films in my own workflow for KM73 photopolymer plates.  For each image, the step wedge on the top is Pictorico and  the step wedge on the bottom is Fixxons.

The final prints were scanned with an Epson Perfection V500, with all color controls/profiles turned off.  I made my new curves with the top print.  You can see that, for each of the large rectangles (11 step wedge), I used the blur-->average filter in photoshop to get an easy/accurate reading.  The photo on the bottom is the same plate, with slightly less pressure on the etching press.

What is most encouraging is that 50% density is about the same with both films, and close enough to 50% in reality to be left alone in the adjustment curve (a nice feature in any process).  

The next logical experiment is to shoot a plate with the adjustment(compensation) curves applied and see if the step wedge can be made closer to the digital version. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Canyon Shadows (test)

Continuing to work with Grand Canyon pictures in photogravure I have decided to challenge what can be done. This process preserves a lot of information in the dark end of the tonal scale, therefore interesting photos can be printed that will initially appear too dark, but on closer inspection there is great detail in the shadow areas. I don't know how far it can be pushed. The available information is not as great as contemporary photographic processes, but that is part of the motivation for doing this labor-intense process: seeing how far it can reasonably be pushed.

Note: this is an initial test print, photographed with my phone. More detail will appear in the final version (and when that print is photographed with a good camera. Think of this both as a teaser and a compositional sketch)

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things. Not because they are easy, but because they are hard." -JFK

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Robins in the Shop

Set up a small camera to trigger every 2 seconds, then walked away.  This is the best shot out of almost 2000 over-exposed captures, printed in cyanotype (toned).

The video footage turned out a bit better.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallows Eve

Monotype with Oil Paint on Canson Edition Paper

Monotype with oil Paint on Canson Edition Paper

Thursday, October 25, 2012

A Nightmare on Helms Street

to benefit Spirit of Children
October 26 - November 9

  The POP Gallery
3505 Helms Ave
Culver City, CA 90232

Opening Reception:
Friday, October 26, 2012
7 - 10 pm

(The image is a 9" x 12" monotype made with Akua Intaglio inks on 100% cotton printmaking paper.  It is titled "A Fellow Of Infinite Jest".)

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Monotype self portraits

Sometimes, while teaching a class, I will get jealous that the students are working on their own projects while I'm running around helping each of them. This week I decided to delay putting the printmaking paper away and do some work of my own after the class had finished.


...and since there was a ghost image left on the plate (almost always is), I decided to work a new version of the same pose right away...


The plate size is 9" x 12" on 11" x 14" paper.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

International Photography Annual

by the folks at Manifest Gallery has arrived from the printer, and they are starting to ship this week.

There is reception for the book on October 26th from 6 - 8 pm at the gallery.

The book can be purchased at the reception or through the online website.
This reception and book launch coincides with FotoFocus in Cincinnati.

The photos I have in this book have not yet been widely seen, and are from a very different body of work.  (the image on the front cover is not mine)

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Diffusion IV

Campsite Quanta photogravure in Muse Showcase

my photogravure titled "Campsite Quanta"
is part of the Muse Showcase in 

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Altered" show

October 5 - 31

at Open Shutter Gallery
735 Main Avenue
Durango, CO 81301

Juried by Mark Sink

I won't be there for the opening reception
(October 5 from 5 - 9 pm),
but I'm happy to be included in the show at such a great gallery,
and psyched that I'll be in town a week later,
so will be able to see all the beautiful work that was selected.

(here is the photogravure of mine that will be included
titled "Winter Canyon"

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Transparency for inkjet negatives

This post is an encouragement to all artists who make inkjet negatives and are reluctant to experiment because of the expense of high-quality transparency material.  Why not look to other industries?  Photographers are not the only ones who require high-quality transparencies that hold a lot of ink.  My background is in printmaking.  Screen printers have made the transition from image setters and wet darkroom negatives to inkjet transparencies too.

This is the stuff I use, and have yet to find any difference between it (Fixxons Waterproof Inkjet Screen Positive Film) and Pictorico Ultra Premium.

See what I use here...

Below are links to films I found with a quick internet search.  I have not tested them, but wanted to give you and idea of how much is out there.  Some is proprietary, some is just relabeled transparency from the same factories overseas.  Less than $50 for a box of 100 (8.5 x 11) should encourage great experiments.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Curves by Intuition (and some experience)

Energized by the good fortune of being able to set up a workshop this summer on a beautiful lake in western Maine, I found the courage to test my understanding of compensation curves used to create digital negatives.  The mountain spring water may be better nourishment for my body (and spirit?) than the city water on the university campus, but the radically different chemistry in the water liked to wash out anything in my images that was less than 50% black.  The standard solution for this problem would be to print a step wedge, analyze the resulting print, and create a correction curve that will stretch the tonal scale to compensate for the odd UV blocking properties of inkjet negatives.  But, this time, I decided to do something less rigorous.  With each image, I manipulated the compensation curve by estimating how much darker/lighter different segments would need to be.  This practice removed many steps in the editing process and forced me to visualize the entire workflow from Photoshop to real printing in the wet darkroom.  After making some big mistakes, I started to get the hang of it, and developed some unique curves for each image.  

For the sake of instruction, I ran an experiment in which I applied some of the curves to images for which they were not originally made.  This made for an interesting comparison that reveals what compensation curves are doing.  Below you will see an image chart.  Each row of pictures corresponds with the curve that was applied (screen capture of the curve at the top of each column).

(click on image to view larger)

The image below was an interesting challenge because most of the visual information exists on the far ends of the tonal scale.  Cyanotype is already a high-contrast process, and this high-contrast image meant that the compensation curve had to extend both sides of the tonal scale and flatten the center.

Friday, August 10, 2012

12 Different Cyanotype Tones Compared

(click on image to make it larger)

1.  Overexposed.  No Bleach.  Very long tannic acid bath.
2.  Brief bleach.  Long tannic acid bath.
3.  Medium bleach (half of cyan color left, half gone).  Long tannic acid bath.
4.  Bleach all cyan color out.  Tannic acid bath.
5.  Long bleach (almost all cyan color gone except in darkest shadows).  Tannic acid and coffee mix for toning bath.
6.  Medium bleach (half of cyan color left, half gone).  Tannic acid and coffee mix for toning bath.
7.  No bleach.  Coffee bath over night (about 7 hours).
8.  Completely bleach all cyan color out.  Coffee bath for about 2 hours.
9.  No Bleach.  Coffee and tannic acid bath for about 3 hours.
10.  Long bleach (almost all cyan color gone except in darkest shadows).  Coffee and tannic acid bath for about 3 hours.
11.  Completely bleach all cyan color out.  Black tea bath for about 3 hours.
12.  No bleach.  No tone.  Native cyan color.


* The bleaching solution used was Borax in water.

* The tannic acid solution is from Bostick & Sullivan.  It is part of their bleaching/toning kit.  It is cyanotype toning solution B.

* The coffee is a dark roast.  I do not remember the brand.  I brewed an entire pot.

*  The tea is Tetley classic black tea. 

*  All the images had a standard exposure time of 10 minutes, with the exception of #1, which had a 12 minute exposure time.

*  The prints were scanned with an Epson Perfection V500 PHOTO scanner.  All color corrections were turned off so things might look a little bit flat.  But, while considering the differences that exist with each person's monitor, web compression, and jpeg compression, I decided to leave the images alone so that, even though they are a little dull, the relative differences would be preserved for comparative analysis.  

Navaho Bridge

cyanotype (toned)

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

basement bathtub photography

who needs a fancy darkroom?

wash bin under faucet, bleaching tray balancing on edge of tub

coffee toner on left, tea + tannic acid toner on right

Monday, August 06, 2012

making cyanotype cards

to say thank you to all the people who supported the Grand Canyon Gravure project, and helped it start the second phase of development.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

A Collision: Media and Environmentalism

 This is an interesting concept. I'm not sure if they have a deeper agenda or are relying only on the juxtaposition of a billboard and nature (much of that probably depends on the content of the billboard itself).  In trying to decide whether or not to support this project, i went through many scenarios in my own head about how I would do it myself. It brought up major questions that orbited around the intent of the project. It could be overtly didactic, pushing an agenda of either environmental conservation or technical progress at all cost. It could be simple juxtaposition without the slightest hint of artist(s) intent. Irony would be easy (and probably gain much immediate attention).

 In the end, I decided that I wanted to see what these two artists would do with the idea, so decided to back the project.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

What We Tell Each Other

How many people know what wet plate collodion is?
It goes back to photography's chemical/alchemical roots and makes beautiful pictures that have a quality which cannot accurately be depicted in the digital realm.   The small individual imperfections of each wet plate image mimic the small imperfections that make each individual person unique.  The process of making a wet plate collodion demands a certain kind of intimate attention that translates across the entire session to help create an intimacy with the subject revealed in the final image.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Big Thank You

to everyone who is supporting the Grand Canyon Gravure project.

I will post updates on the project's web page at Kickstarter.

If you are in the area, stop by the Kawanhee Inn. I'll be hanging out with some friend, celebrating both my birthday and the successful funding of this photogravure project.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

only today and tomorrow.....

then the deadline passes.....

This project has reached it's funding goal already and some of the art is still available if you picture yourself liking it and wanting to have it. is the link if you are curious

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

If you have ever wanted any of my art

this is the week to contact me;
not just the Grand Canyon stuff;
any of it.

I'm in full-on organization mode, printing, matting, framing, etc. so that I can make sure everyone gets the work they chose by the end of the summer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

New Orleans Community Printshop

is moving to a permanent home

Check out some of the cool work coming from this artists' center!!!

Community printshops (darkrooms, studio spaces, etc) are an important part of the support network for artists.  How many people can afford their own studio with all the equipment needed to do the projects they want?  How many people have graduated from school and suddenly found themselves without a means to make art?  Community art studios and workshops are the real-world equivalent of social networks.  Artists have a place to work and interact with other artists.  Sometimes it's simply an excuse to get out off the couch and out of the house one night each week.  Many times it's the difference between someone creating work that will become an important part of our society at large and not being able to find a place to make that important work.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

John, Paul, Ringo

(were the names of our rafts rented from Canyon REO)

I'm super excited and very flattered by all of you who helped the Grand Canyon Gravure project reach it's funding goal.  Thank you very much!

For those who are just now deciding to become backers of this project, you'll still get some good art at the fund-raising price.  Anything pledged that pushes the project beyond the original minimum goal will help take steps towards making the book portion a reality.  

There are some other very cool projects out there too, not just his one, so take a look.  You just might make the difference between an artist funding their dreams of making important work.

Invisible Cities Photo Exhibition

What We Tell Each Other

New Orleans Community Print Shop

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Art at the Kawanhee Inn

The work has been hanging for more than a month, but because I did not do an official announcement or host a reception, some people are surprised that part of the Grand Canyon Gravure series (along with other more straight-forward photographic work) is hanging at the Kawanhee Inn.

The photogravures that are hanging in the Moose Room include:
Campsite Quanta
Camp 118.6
Winter Canyon
Tequila Beach
Chief Kawanhee
Moonset O' K

Here is part of the information sheet that I wrote for customers of the Kawanhee Inn.

Q:  What is a photogravure?
A:  Photogravure is a photo-mechanical process that dates back to the earliest years of photography.  It is still the most archivally stable printing process available for photography, which means that, under normal conditions, the image can last several hundred years.  The photograph can be captured with any camera. Whether that means using modern digital equipment or one of the large format glass plate cameras from the 19th century.  The unique look of photogravure, as well as its longevity, is a result of a printing process based around intaglio printmaking techniques well established by the year 1430.
The original photograph is reproduced on either a metal (traditional) or polymer (contemporary) plate as a collection of engraved pockets and lines.  Ink is manually wiped onto the plate, and forced into the recesses.  A multi-step process of wiping removes the ink from the top of the plate while leaving the ink in the recessed lines and pockets.  Specialized cotton printmaking paper is evenly dampened with water, placed on top of the plate and run through a high pressure etching press.  The damp paper dips into the recessed areas that contain ink and starts a wicking process that draws the ink onto the paper, leaving an impression of the image.  The process also leaves a depression on the paper that can be seen as a rectangle surrounding the image.

Q:  What is an archival pigment print?
A:  Pigment printing is the current name for museum-quality ink jet printing, which uses longer lasting pigment-based inks instead of quickly fading dye-based inks.  Some people refer to an archival pigment print as a “giclee” print, which is a term coined in the 1990’s by the first printers to use archivally stable inks in IRIS printers.  To be able to use the word “archival”, the ink and paper used must maintain 90% of its color gamut (the range of colors) for 50 years under normal indoor lighting conditions.  The inks used in these prints are rated for at least 80 years.

Q:  How do I make sure my print lasts as long as possible?
A:  The two most important steps are protecting your work of art from immediate physical damage and direct sunlight (UV).   Other than hiding the image in a dark safe, the best option is framing under glass or acrylic (plexi).  Everything framed in this series uses acrylic.  Acrylic will not break as easily as glass, thus provides more protection from physical harm.  It also has a natural tendency to filter some ultraviolet light (UV).   If your work is going to be displayed in direct sunlight, you will need to visit a frame shop that can install glass or acrylic which contains an additional UV coating.

Q:  Where did you get these frames?
A:  The frames you see at the Kawanhee Inn are made, one at a time, either from wood that is recycled from docks, barns, cabins, or new wood that was harvested and milled at least one year ago from local trees.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Invisible Cities

This wonderful project from Danielle Ezzo has a direct connection to crowd sourcing, but goes far beyond that to explore the meaning of connections; whether it's family, friends, cities, or networks of other sorts.

Artists need to support each other.  Every year there are multiple stories about the millions of dollars in "the arts".  Those stories tend to focus on the large organizations that have access to those funds.  What those stores do not mention are that the large organizations tend to suck up all the grant money and other funding, leaving thousands of individual artists wondering how to find the time and money to make art.  While I don't begrudge any individual's success, I must ask you if you really want another million dollar piece of art from a big-name artist (and all the expense tacked on by dealers, galleries, press agents, etc.) or are you willing to support someone local who would directly benefit from your appreciation of art?

Danielle Ezzo is supporting my Grand Canyon Gravure project and I support her Invisible Cities project.  I think that some of the people who read this would be interested in Invisible Cities.  At a minimum, the video is worth watching.  And, keep an eye out for Danielle Ezzo's work in the future!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Feeling Froggy???

then JUMP!!!

I'm going to Sheepscot

but thought I'd share this nice cyanotype (toned with a watercolor glaze).
I made it last night as a break from some of the other work I've been doing.  And, since I'm feeling amphibious...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Making Cyanotypes (and a simple contact frame)

(...just the visually interesting parts are show. There is a lot of work on the computer tweaking the negatives for this unique process. I also don't show the chemical prep. or the mistakes made while dialing in the exposure times. Lots of work goes into these)

A little more care is taken with the large cyanotypes, but it's too long to make into a video on YouTube.

click here  to view the video on YouTube

this is another good intro video on YouTube

The contact frame you see in the video is very simple:
*  $10 tempered glass shelf from Ikea.
*  3/4" plywood cut to 15" x 30"
*  self-adhesive cork shelf liner placed on top of the plywood
*  6 woodworking clamps

If you want one of these cards, visit the link above and participate in the Grand Canyon Gravure project before July 27th.  $10 is all it takes to get hand-made art sent to you in the mail.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Monhegan Cyanotypes

5" x 7" paper

Monhegan Island, Maine is another one of those special places that cannot easily be described with words. 

right now these are only available through the Grand Canyon Gravure project
when you decide to become a backer for $10 or more

Friday, July 13, 2012

Kawanhee Cyanotypes

At the two week mark mark (14 days left) I imagine that,
since some of the participants, potential backers, and curious people for the Grand Canyon Gravure project share a connection with Kawanhee, it would be helpful to show some of the prize options that also share that connection to Kawanhee.

The four in this picture above were sold through Colorado Mesa University, thus are gone, but they make a good example of what is available.  Each cyanotype is one-of-a-kind on 5" x 7" paper.  The natural color of a cyanotype is blue, but with bleaching and toning (and sometimes some drawing and brushing) the colors can be changed.

Become a backer and see more options.
Anything is appreicated.
$1 minimum to participate.
$10 is the first award/prize level.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Historic River Boats Afloat

Big Water Little Boats

I just finished reading "Big Water Little Boats".  It reads like someone telling a good story.  That's because it IS someone telling a good story.  Tom Martin did a great job with this book and I'm sure I'll read it again within the year.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Hands are the extension of intent and the instrument of compassion.  Without the ability to act, empathy and compassion are little more than nice words.  The manual dexterity of human beings has allowed people to DO good things, to BE creative compassionate caring and help not just our immediate circle, but to reach out and take action for the benefit of those outside ourselves. 

The feat of creation in the real world adds power to the ethereal.  Movement of hands adds, confirms, and teaches the mind the difference between real and not.  The tactile quality of a physical picture has a presence that projection does not.  A digital image can be printed, thus becoming an artifact, a physical thing.  A hand-made image reveals the work, tells the story of its creation, and the revelations had along the way as hands learned, corrected, and cared for the work of art during it’s making.

Monday, July 09, 2012

Sunshine and Fluffy Clouds

Bright sunshine, deep sky and bright white fluffy clouds floating by.  Your favorite weather and everything you need to be happy right there with you now.  Calmly, openly looking.  The decision for the next step is quiet yet sure.  This place is beautiful.  It is unique, one of a kind.  It must be held with gentle hands.  It must be taken care of, preserved with good intent, gifted to the future now.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

19 days to go

People juggle many different diversions.  Life is busy.  Friends we make are in various locations.  Toys and tools are scattered from use.  Did you ever feel like you had the urge to gather all your favorites in one place?

"The Fun Package"
includes a bunch of stuff from the Grand Canyon Gravure project.

hand-made cyanotype on cotton paper (optimally sized for easy framing)
archival digital reprint in a cotton mat (thoughtfully sized for easy framing)
signed copy of the book "It Must Be... (A Grand Canyon Trip)"
100% cotton Tshirt with the brushstroke circular design

it should be $165
but this Fun Package is only $125

Saturday, July 07, 2012

20 days left

Imagine a special place that takes effort to access.  Picture a process that takes work to make happen.  The surface of the place is seen by many, whereas the intimate details of the depths are only accessed and understood by those who are willing to take the extra steps needed to experience something so special.  The result of the process is rendered in easily understood form, and yet still to be appreciated fully, one must reach out to take the action necessary to be involved in the history of the thing.