so, i had a bit of a vacation recently. a week with lots of time to just think about things and i did a bit of research on some new photo processes including making Van Dyke Brown prints. so, while i was away, i placed an order for a bunch of new chemistry: Ferric Ammonium Citrate, Tartaric Acid (which sounds like something you might belch up after eating too much tartar sauce), Silver Nitrate. i also ordered some Gold Chloride to make a gold toner that i thought would go nice with the prints, if they turned out.
making the digital negatives always seems to be a bit of a touchy process. you’re never sure if you’re getting it quite right. but after a day of experimentation and test prints, i had what i thought was a usable adjustment curve. i started out with some smaller 5×7 inch test negatives printed on Pictorico OHC transparency film. the image i chose to start with was probably key to helping me get the highlights right. it was absolutely essential since there’s such a delicate transition between the white wall and Sienna’s figure in this shot. i went through about 5 iterations of the curve until i was satisfied. and all along, while you’re developing the prints, the tones shift each time you transition to the next chemical bath. its only when the print is finally dry that you know you’ve got it for sure. but the chemistry gods were smiling down on me that day and everything seemed to fall into alignment.
this print was processed with 2 baths of citric acid, about 8 minutes in the gold toner, fixed and washed. i also cut a mask, forming a nice brown border around the image instead of the usual haphazard brush strokes. the final print is about 9.5 x 7 inches.
the next day, i decided to test my curve against an image that had some more “bottom” to it, if you will. i pulled out a wonderful, contrasty image of Rhus shot last year in the forests of British Columbia. its got lots of rich dark tones and her skin is just all shimmery highlights. when i took this photograph, Rhus realized after we’d finished that her nails were painted black too. so, this was another test of how rich i could get the dark tones, an important quality for me. because if you don’t have deep shadow tones, the image just looks washed out. initial test prints of this image looked great and i dove in, making larger 10 x 7 inch prints with a mask. the final prints were processed almost the same as above, with the exception of toning time. this one and the next one i only left in the toning bath about 5-6 minutes, just to see how the tones would vary. for the most part, the toned prints have a tad more contrast than the untoned test prints and a color that’s a bit more eggplant than brown. really, rather lovely.
i aslo wanted to try something new and i had a shoot with Model Sarah last week. we shot mostly film with a new 4×5, but there was one digital image that we took that i thought would work really well here (um, and it was ready to go unlike the unprocessed 4×5 films)! i really loved the delicate mood that Sarah set here. again, the initial small test prints were spot-on. so, i printed a larger digital negative, cut a mask for it, and made some really nice prints.
these prints are some of my best examples of alt-printing so far. they are, at least for now, not for sale yet. i’m just going to keep them for my personal collection. hope you like the results.