Monday, March 26, 2012

A Good TA Knows How To Run

New York, New York

In the "Introduction to Platinum" workshop I teach every few months at CAP, we begin by shooting ten 4x5 negatives of subjects I ask the students to choose from what's available to see from the fifth floor roof of the building on 30th street and the beautiful daylight studio taking shape on the third floor. This is to start the process at the beginning and show how to plan the approach to the pictures so that we'll end up with good platinum/palladium prints. Then I demonstrate how to tray-develop the negatives in PMK pyro. It's amazing how much everyone learns by watching me develop film in total darkness. The resulting negatives are ideal for Pt/Pd, but also print well in silver and are scanner-friendly, so pretty much cover the gamut of what you might want to do to come up with a print. In the weird world of New York's time sense, the day runs from 10AM to 6PM, so when the film is hung up to dry it's about 2:15 and time for lunch break.

After lunch, I demonstrate how to coat a sheet of paper with sensitizer to make a palladium print, and begin to work with our new negatives. Then the participants begin to try coating for themselves. Saturday, by the time we got to that phase, the lab had gotten incredibly dry--about 28% Rh, which makes it just about impossible to make the process work, at least in the way I choose to do it. We struggled through and made a silk purse out of the sow's ear by showing how to cope with less than ideal lab conditions for the process.

When we were putting everything away a little after six, Lindsey, my teaching assistant, and I left a full jug of water going in the steamer, filled the sinks with a two-inch layer of water, and did what we could to raise the humidity overnight. We decided to meet at 9:00 on Sunday to have a full hour to restart the steamer, run hot water into the sinks, etc, etc, to try to get the room up to the 55% humidity level that's a good starting point for the process. Lindsey has to deal with public transit to get in from Brooklyn (while I just had to walk from my crash pad on 92nd street) and so I was standing across the street and a little west of the CAP entrance when I saw an elfin figure racing for the entrance at 9:07...

By the time we got the Sunday session going, we had nearly ideal lab conditions of 71° and 55% humidity, and it held steady right through the day so the participants produced a prodigious number of prints, learning from the mistakes and getting a feel for the process. Bonnie and Charlotte, our two interns, were kept busy with support work, Bonnie doing a great job keeping track of six participants' prints moving properly through the wet processing steps.

A hectic weekend but with some good results I think for the participants, and on the side a lot of shooting for me on those walks between 30th and 92nd streets.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Nice summary of a splendid experience. Thanks for an instructivqqe weekend, Carl