Friday, September 19, 2014

It's Whatever Day It Is, So I Must Be Printing

Woodbury, Connecticut

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.


richardplondon said...

One obvious variation from print to print, is the over-brushed edge of emulsion all round. I guess some variation in that may be seen as part of the charm of the medium; certainly, a mark of the uniqueness of each item.

I did notice a kind of glass or plastic squeegee doodad being used in someone's web presentation of the process, which seemed to offer a more mechanical and straight-edged spread of the fluid (though perhaps that is, also, less satisfying to do.. [smile])

So. Do you regard the brushed application as a significant aspect of the print, or is it more a neutral byproduct of the procedure?

And what is your own attitude toward showing that brushed edge's individuality, vs concealing it (window mount/mat)?

Carl said...

Thanks for the question.

Techy point: it's not an emulsion, the coating solution simply deposits metal particles directly into the paper, not in an emulsion layer, which is part of the look of the print. Some people mask off the surround with Rubiliht® to have a perfect image edge against a white surround, others spend minutes after completing what I'd call the real coating of the sheet to keep brushing a signature fancy border treatment with the leftover sensitizer in the brush. To each his own.

Coating with a rod, instead of a brush that absorbs lots of expensive chemicals, was thought up twenty or so years ago. I used a glass rod back then. Some papers also respond better to rod than brush treatment. Then someone (Richeson, in GB) came up with ultra-luxurious watercolor wash brushes made not from sable, but from plastic. Damn, they work great, and don't absorb any coating solution. Coating with a tube obviously doesn't soak up and waste any solution, but it's actually quite difficult—the primary difficulty being that you can't recover from a mistake. With a brush you can be casual, though it takes longer, and I think you can get more solution into the paper, resulting in a richer print.

I have matted to the image area for framed presentation of my work in shows, but I'm not adamant about it. If a collector wants to see the border, tube or brush, that's fine with me if they want to have the picture. I try to make the best print possible. Then it's yours.

richardplondon said...

Thanks for the detailed reply. Interesting - (I couldn't think what other word to use for the fluid!)