Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Kentler International Drawing Space

100 Works on Paper Exhibition
on view April 10 - May 10
Reception April 10
6 - 8 pm

353 Van Brunt Street
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Here is a link to all of the images in this show

Friday, March 27, 2015

more work on it's way to Open Shutter in Durango

Here is a quick snapshot from my work bench, of some of the work headed to Open Shutter Gallery in Durango, CO.  Similar ones sold well at the last show, so this is the second additional shipment they asked me to send.  I don't know where (if) they will be displayed on the wall, but they will be in stock one way or another, so feel free to ask to see when you stop by the gallery.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Back to the future: photography becomes as impermanent as the earliest experiments

Wedgewood and Davy's experiments with photography (like so many others at that time) would fade quickly with exposure to light.  They were not fixed/stopped/permanent.  Niepce and Daguerre made permanent photographs in 1826 and 1835.  Niepce's first "fixed" photo lacks detail.  Daguerre's Daguerreotypes are small one-of-a-kind works on metal.  Soon after, Talbot's calotype produced a negative, from which many prints could be made.  From that point forward, photography quickly advanced in both resolution, permanence, and ease of production.  I argue that resolution (grain size, pixel size) and ease of production have superseded permanence.

Daguerreotypes last as long as the metal does not corrode.  Photogravure prints last as long as any other intaglio print can last.  Intaglio printmaking is proven to last for hundreds of years if created and cared for correctly.  Daguerreotypes are not yet proven to the same degree as intaglio prints, but the daguerreotype process was developed a few hundred years after intaglio printmaking (and I readily accept the argument of daguerreotype enthusiasts who claim the plates can last as long as an intaglio print).

I recently helped clean up after a flood at my family's house.  Fortunately, the flood was caught within 24 hours, so photographs did not have any extended time in water.  The clean up prompted me to think about the subject of permanence, and how it seems to be increasingly ignored by the popular photographic world.  The flood short circuited an electric circuit.  If a computer was connected to that circuit, the information on the hard drive could easily have been corrupted beyond recovery.  Digital photographs could have all vanished at the same time.  The smallest amount of water that reached inkjet and laser prints immediately damaged the photographs.  Even the photos made by "professional" inkjet printers were effected.  The photos produced by a professional photo lab, most likely on a modern inkjet style printer, faired better, but indicated that they would not have lasted more than the 24 hours.  The only damage to chemically developed photographs was some wrinkling and an occasional piece of cheap backing, postcard, or other paper that had stuck to the image surface, gluing the two parts together.  Otherwise, the chemically developed (or "wet darkroom" developed) photos are in very good shape.

The modern inkjet prints, which faded and bled with minimal exposure to water, seem as impermanent as the early Wedgewood and Davy prints that faded in the sun.

Additionally, three intaglio prints were soaked in the flood.  The frames and mats were ruined, but he prints are fine.  The only threat to the intaglio prints on cotton paper would have been mold.  But, mold would have taken a week to start developing on those expertly crafted prints.

I have colleagues and friends who have been through similar flood events.  None of them were as fortunate as my family was.  Most of them had running water for several days (or weeks).  Some of them had to contend with rising sea or river water that mixed other chemistry and abrasives into the flood, speeding the damage.  It only strengthens my resolve to keep making intaglio prints.  They won't survive flooding rivers, storm tides, or the abrasive effects of excessively turbid water.  But, intaglio prints have a better chance at survival than most other methods of photographic reproduction.

Of course, I must consider ease of production and resolution.  Photogravures are difficult to make.  Even the polymer plates that I am using, while easier to produce than traditional copper plates, are still finicky and time consuming.  Additionally, any color must be painstakingly introduced, and really amount to split toning, or spot toning (though it can be quite beautiful).  Resolution of the digital world has passed what I can do with photogravure.  It is catching up to the largest analogue negatives (if it hasn't passed it already).  So, if I need a large image, in color, I do not have any other choice but to use my digital processes to produce either a high quality inkjet print (faster, less expensive option) or send the digital file to a lab, who then makes an internegative to use in the creation of a wet darkroom color print.  I could make color gum prints of a certain size (and want to), but I have not even begun to learn that process.

This is an informal blog, so I will sum up by saying that recent events have forced me to seriously consider which images are most precious to me; which stories I want to preserve through the intaglio process; what I can do to spread those stories around.

update (April 16, 2015):
I was happy to have the following article forwarded to me.  It seems that the Royal Photographic Society and Photo Marketing Association are thinking along similar lines as me.

update (July 19, 2015):
Found this article about bit rot by Michael Ernest Sweet and how a real print will last longer than all of that digital data.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Expanded and revised edition of book planned.

I must admit to rushing to publish Making Photogravures With Polymer Plates.  I was only motivated to publish the book because about a dozen people had requested my workflow after seeing prints.  Honestly, I thought the book would only sell 30 copies.  I felt like I was writing notes to friends, not really writing a book.  This is why I kept it as a print on demand black and white book, and why the retail price was so low.  I'm tempted to use a large publisher for the new edition, but part of me is concerned that doing so would put the retail price out of reach for the average DIY artist (my intended audience).  

To my surprise, it has sold several hundred copies.  As a result, I feel that I should share what I have learned since publishing the first edition, as well as revise and expand the content.  The choice I face is to either do it fast, or take my time and do it right.  I am not in a rush.  The content is out there.  My workflow is published.  Others have published there workflows.  Do the research.  Take a workshop (which is more effective than any book or video can be).  Of course I teach workshops, but so does Dan WeldonClay HarmonPaul TaylorJosephine SacaboMark Nelson, (and more than I can remember immediately).

The images in the book (the current edition and future editions) are degraded by the printer.  Very few publishers have access to good printing.  Those that do, will not print high quality reproductions any where near the retail price that I want to keep this book.

The images on my blog are degraded by me, on purpose.  The highlights blow out and shadows block up because they are all converted to the smallest gamut possible (for web browsing).  It helps me protect my intellectual property.  Also, most people who read this do not have a calibrated monitor, so would not see all the subtlety anyway.  And, seeing art in person is far more important than looking at jpegs on a computer screen (no matter how high the resolution or how wide the gamut).

Kind of a random rant, I know.  But, I like to share what is going on with the few people who read this blog.  And, those who have used the email address in the first edition of the book have learned how much I am willing to share what I have learned and clarify what might not be clear in the text.  It will remain active as long as people are polite and it doesn't get filled with spam.  In the mean time, I'll continue to make and show my own art, with the hopes that you all are doing the same.  The new edition is just a statement of intent right now.  I don't know how long it will take.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

First sun exposure using PPM-1 UV exposure meter

Recently, I bought a light meter from LightMeasure.com that displays time, intensity, and total dose of UV light from 360 - 380 nm.  The device (often called an "integrator") is made by someone who has experience with Solarplates.  Since the UV light needed to develop Solarplates is the same as needed to develop the KM73 plates that I use, I thought it would be beneficial.  Here are the results of my first basic experiment over the past week.


February 21, 2015

Since my normal workflow uses RPX 16x20 uv unit (the one with tube lights and not CFLs) and a Takach10” x 12” stochastic screen for 5 minute screen exposure and 5 minute image/transparency exposure, I placed the PPM-1 over the RXP unit to measure the dose of a 5 minute exposure.

Dose 1:  5466                        cold unit, first firing
Dose 2:  5978                        lowered PPM-1 unit closer to lamps
Dose 3:  5683                        careful to place PPM-1 unit at exact same distance from UV tubes as the outer face of the contact frame class is from the UV tubes.

Average dose:  5709

February 25, 2015

Testing outside with PPM-1 to see how long it takes to get a dose of 5700
Direct sunlight

12:23 pm       169 seconds  dose = 5706  last intensity reading = 333
12:29 pm       157 seconds              dose = 5735  last intensity reading = 365

March 2, 2015
Direct sunlight           3:10 pm
Expose KM73 polymer plate to the “Gamelights…” transparency using same contact frame and screen as normal workflow, to make a new plate for comparision

Target dose = 5700 for each exposure (screen & image)

Screen  dose: 5761  time: 279 seconds     last intensity reading: 92
Image dose:  5813     time:  354 seconds    last intensity reading: 157

Using a plastic bag to cover contact frame from exposure is awkward.  Perhaps light leaks?
The current clamp system made holding the contact frame difficult and impossible to put down so I had to hold it (had to keep adjusting attitude of frame).

March 4, 2015

Printed new plate (outside exposure with PPM-1) and old plate (exposed with RXP 16x20 uv tube unit) using same ink and paper.

(Note:  image resolution degraded/grainy to protect copyright)

Old Plate
New Plate

PPM-1 is a good device that makes exposing any plate size possible.  Needs a new curve, probably a less aggressive curve, probably making the transparency more closely resemble that of a film inter-negative.  This first experiment was overexposed a little bit because I was not able to accurately control the exposure with just a plastic bag.  A good light-proof cover needs to be designed to control the exposure.  It might be worth making an entirely new contact frame that has edges that can rest squarely on the ground without the clamps getting in the way, so the exposure process can happen at the same attitude (angle facing the sun) throughout both the screen and image exposures. 

Since the sun is a single point source of UV, undercutting does not happen to the same degree as with fluorescent tubes.  This might explain the darker tone above 30% density (undercutting/scattering of UV with tubes over cures these sensitive tones, thus making them lighter).  Also, the darker areas (above 85%) are lighter, probably because the UV intensity is higher so they are a bit over cured.