Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Monday, September 29, 2014
Sunday, September 28, 2014
One of the frustrations of showing or viewing pictures online is that web JPEGs just don't have the presence, or the legibility, of even a modest sized print. In, say, a 9x12 on 11x14, the hand-painted lettering on the gray shed in the upper left background just grabs your eye and brings you in to look closer. Even more so in a 15x20-inch print. Of course Blogger will give you a somewhat larger and clearer presentation if you click on the image, but even so I think that the detail, and so the whole point of the picture, still gets lost unless I point it out this way:
So, having found the detail, does the main picture make sense? Read a little closer to the way a print would? I don't really know, but then, all this web stuff is pure experimentation.
Saturday, September 27, 2014
Decided to take a day off from printing today. Still put in some time doing the inspect/sign/sleeve/sort/count routine. Looks as though I should comfortably finish the printing by the end of the coming week, then easily get everything shipped out by the end of the next week.
Friday, September 26, 2014
New Haven, Connecticut
The thrift shop is right at the corner of the hospital campus, with street-level space and windows that would seem to have high retail value, but it hardly ever seems to be open. Not sure about the "Asian Wedding Gown," either.
Thursday, September 25, 2014
Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Midpoint in two ways—the print of The Church on the small UV unit is just over halfway through its four minute exposure, and today's set of prints got me almost to half the 115 needed for the TOP Platinum print sale orders. The materials, and the digital negatives, are tracking flawlessly as the printing moves to newly-mixed batches of ferric and metals solutions. Not only have I not needed to move even to the first set of back-up negatives, but I'm seeing essentially no need for retouching. Earlier versions of Platine had the annoying (that's being kind) tendency to throw random dark specks once the print was made. You might or might not be able to etch them out successfully. So far I've seen none of that. There's also no dust. I think there are two reasons for that. First, my new dehumidifier throws an enormous volume of air, and, it is filtered! I don't think the lab has ever been as dust-free as it became after running the dehumidifier/air-filter for a couple days. Also, I think the OHP material is less static-prone than real film. I'm forever inspecting and working with an anti-static brush to get big film negatives pristine for each print. So far, for these, I've done nothing but blasts of air from the cutely-named Rocket Blower® at both sides of the negative before placing it on the sheet of paper and loading the assembly into the print frame.
Here's another look at what the exposed but undeveloped Pt/Pd print looks like. The large, bold, form of the church in this picture, with its surround of relatively dark material, makes it easy to see the ghost of the image that will emerge almost completely in a few seconds when you pour on the developer.
Monday, September 22, 2014
Arches Platine's basic parent sheet is nominally 22x30, but is actually at least a quarter of an inch oversize on the short dimension because of the feathery deckle there. Shipping supplies however, are precision cut to 11x14 inches, if that's the item you order from Uline. So, as I work on the TOP Platinum Print Offer orders, I can't simply cut the sheets into quarters. I have to quarter them in a way that ends up with printing sheets that are exactly 11x14, and that leaves a certain amount of wastage.
I've never done any handmade papermaking, but I've seen it demonstrated and have had contact with folks who do it as part of the Artist Book milieu. You can also make your own paper for Pt/Pd printing though that's not a place I'm interested to go. I know that for many, making your own artisanal paper begins with finding scraps of "rag" paper (meaning cotton, not wood pulp) to sort of melt down and begin the home brew. Well, these scraps are from about the most primo all-cotton paper imaginable (25 sheets ships in at just short of $200) so if anyone reading here has something better to do with this than throw it in the recycle with the cardboard, let me know.
Tech details for anyone interested. Cutting down paper for Pt/Pd printing is very picky. If you use a knife and metal straightedge, or the superb RolaTrim cutter I use with the roll paper output of my big HP-Z3200, or scissors, all these tools have a metal-on-metal action that is apt to scatter microscopic particles of metal. What does Pt/Pd-coated paper and developer think of those particles? Yum! Attack! Dense black spots in the print.
Tearing it doesn't work either with Platine, though it's OK with some other papers. With this stuff, torn sheets seem to bleed tons of cellulose into the developer, which I don't need to deal with. To get a clean cut, I simply use my matt cutter, with the flat blade intended for cutting down parent sheets of matt board before you cut the windows. The blade floats about an eighth of an inch from the guide rail, held by the slot in the tool. So it touches nothing but the paper, can't make contamination, and is easy to use.
Sunday, September 21, 2014
Working with the Church picture today. After the two clearing baths, the print gets a 12 minute wash in slowly running water with frequent—every couple minutes—full dumps for complete change of liquid. After the wash I turn the tray sideways to let the print drain. If everything is running smoothly it has about four minutes to drain, then get transferred to the drying screens, before the next print finishes the second clear and needs to get into the wash tray. Processing is simpler than for silver prints—no stubborn hypo to clear from a gelatin emulsion—but the image surface of the wet print is delicate so everything has to go in single file. No batch processing like silver film or prints.
Saturday, September 20, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Printing today of course, along with a meeting at the end of the afternoon with another contractor for bid/proposal for the emergency replacement of the house heating system. On top of everything else, preparing for such a major job is just about as much trouble as moving. Everything has to be packed up, away from the walls making room for installation and workers. Not what we need right now except that, of course with the boiler dead, we really do need to do all this at once. Above a digital negative in a print frame on top of the small UV unit, right after the exposed print has been removed.
Another look at the faint print-out image that forms during exposure, before development. This print-out causes a certain amount of self-masking which is another component of the tonal look of the Pt/Pd print.
Last print of the day is in the wash tray. First clearing bath was showing slight discoloration so has been dumped and moved into second position, while former second bath has been moved to first position. I'll mix up a new second bath early in the morning tomorrow as I use the heater and dehumidifier to correct the overnight conditions to where I need them for printing.
Some of today's prints on the drying screens, which are racked under the coating table. While printing I have the room light quite dim, not for "safelight" purposes—the paper wouldn't care about exposure to much brighter tungsten light—but to help me evaluate the wet prints in the trays. Usually this is in order to see how a new print of a negative is working compared to what I wanted. With these, it's to keep careful watch to see if anything is changing, inconsistent, from print to print. So far, the Steep Rock negative is repeating reliably. Printing the same picture over and over also helps to track any variation, but I think I'll spend tomorrow printing the Church. Variety, however limited, is the spice of life.
Thursday, September 18, 2014
This morning went to discussing the heat situation with the head tech for the firm we've been using, doing a full survey so he can come up with an estimate on completely replacing the antiquated single pipe steam system with the latest high efficiency furnace and baseboard circulating water radiation. Then we needed to get some things, including moving boxes, to get everything in the house away from the walls and stacked in the center of the rooms so the work can be done. I finally got into the darkroom about half-past noon and did a short session just to see that everything's working. Luckily, the lab is the one place in the house that already had circulating water baseboard (which had been shut down for several years), so no new work has to be done there, just tie the lines and wiring for the thermostat in with the new equipment. A really big benefit of the new system is that I won't have to shut down the lab for the winter months.
It was cool overnight, so the platinum solution, which is saturated at about 70°F, had formed feathery crystals at the bottom of the bottle. A few minutes on a coffee mug warmer heats it up enough to go back into solution.
UPS was here. The little box contains a small fortune in Pt/Pd printing supplies from ArtCraft Chemical. The big packages are shipping supplies from Uline. I'll be trying to make as many prints as possible before all hell breaks loose around here.
We had been hoping to do extensive restoration on the place next year, and wanted a new heating system to be part of that. The last thing in the world we want is to spend thousands of dollars on a replacement boiler to continue to have lousy, inefficient, and parts-of-the-house-cold steam heat. So we have to replace the entire heating system on a semi-emergency basis. Just when I'm buried in work to complete the orders from the TOP Platinum sale.
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
Amenia, New York
Rt. 44 heads west out of Amenia climbing a steep hill out of the valley, then as you approach the top of the ridge, it swings around a 270°+ tight curve. The black & yellow traffic sign you see in the middle right of the frame is essentially telling drivers, "there's a lot more of this curve coming up." The view back southeast into the valley is always interesting.
With the TOP Platinum/Palladium Print Offer over, yesterday I got to go and make an oh-so-glamorous purchase—at Lowes. A new dehumidifier. Our old one is simply ancient, certainly horrible on energy consumption, and also is completely useless in cool, damp, conditions. Those are exactly the conditions I'll have over the next month as I work on fulfillment of the orders. So I got a new one that is Energy Star rated, and claims to work down to 41°F. The materials I'm using respond best to an environment of 65-68°F and 55-60% Rh, so those specs looked perfect. With cool overnights I'd expect the "waste heat" produced by the unit (which is a problem in hot weather) to be not wasted at all but warm up the space.
Talk about exceeding expectations. It yanks moisture out of the air so fast, and so efficiently, that there is very little temperature change in the room, moving from 60°/69% to 61.7°/55% in a little over half an hour. I'll have to use a heater as well to control temperature.
I hate planned obsolescence, and find unavoidable obsolescence annoying. I'm bothered by the short lifespans of computer equipment, and digital cameras, which of course are computer equipment. Two of my ULF cameras are around 90 years old, two others probably in their 60s, like me, and they all work exactly the same as they did out of the factory. However, equipment in the "appliance" category has been improved dramatically over the past decades. If something like an air conditioner or dehumidifier still works even though it's thirty years old, make the jump and replace it immediately. The new one will use enormously less energy, which benefits not only your bank account but everyone on the planet, and it will simply work better, as well.
In case it's not apparent in the web size file (click on the picture to get a somewhat bigger and clearer view), the flag is painted onto the garage door. The garden seems to be a mix of flowers and vegetables.
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
So, OK, there can be something good about a bright, sunny, day. The shadows. Especially around mid-day in the summer. Long, raking-light morning and evening shadows are one thing, but the shadows cast by a high in the dome summer sun are a whole different matter. A thing that changes as well depending on how close to the equator you are.
Millerton, New York
Copake, New York
So I have to wonder where the name of this old-fashioned fast food place came from. The town of Copake is a metropolis of 3,600 people. It's set a little more than a mile west of an utterly empty section of Rt. 22, the two-lane state highway running north/south near the Connecticut border. The Hub lies about two-thirds of the way between the highway and the town. Hub of what, I wonder?
In other news, the TOP Platinum Print Offer ended at 7:00 PM Central last night. Something over a hundred prints will be heading out across the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, and all the way to Singapore and Japan. I'll be tied up with fulfillment till sometime next month, but I have a good backlog of recent photographs to keep this blog ambling along in the meantime.
Monday, September 15, 2014
The final installment of posts about digital/Pt/Pd printing is now up over at The Online Photographer. It should be of interest to anyone who might want to actually try doing it themselves. Also, as I'm posting this at 2:00 PM Eastern daylight time, the special TOP Platinum/Palladium Print Sale has just six hours to go. At 7:00 PM Central it's all over and the pictures will never again be available at this price.
This is behind one of the dugouts at the municipal ballfield. I'm surprised, given the current social climate, there hasn't been a hand sanitizer station installed nearby.
Also a reminder, there's just over 12 hours left in the TOP Platinum/Palladium print sale.
Sunday, September 14, 2014
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Hudson, New York
The weather turned to rain as soon as we got to our destination, and while I like rain it was a little too thick to do as much work as I might have liked in the interesting light at Catskill, NY, but I got a few things there, and some more back across the river in Hudson, killing a bit of time before the gallery opening. In between we had a genuine New York Style Pizza (if you grew up near NYC the style is unmistakeable) at a little place on Main Street, Catskill, that we remembered having lunch at perhaps fifteen years ago.
Meanwhile, over at TOP (link in sidebar at right) I have a post up telling some of the story of how I began to work with second generation digital negatives for platinum/palladium printing. And, of course, the TOP 2014 Pt/Pd print sale is in progress there.
Friday, September 12, 2014
Waterbury, Connecticut, 9/12/14
So, the picture revolves around the text, the sticker on the stop sign. The utility lines and strong vertical objects dominate the picture space. But, cover the walking figure at the center right of the frame, and watch everything get dull. The shot keys completely off that small element of action.