Monday, 29 October 2012

Back to lith printing

These are the results of a few recent lith printing sessions with use of medium format negatives, created with Holga camera.
It's really amazing how this process is transforming images, revealing something completely new from the photograph with each print.
I've used both colour and B&W negatives. Generally colour negatives can give good results with lith, but not all are suitable and orange mask creates difficulties and increases exposure time. It’s especially challenging with moody, misty, low contrast holga images I’ve used. 

These are the test prints of a possible bigger series of a pictorial landscapes I'd like to create. 

All images printed with Rollei Vintage Lith Developer on Fomatone MG classic paper.(first, third and fifth printed with colour neg.)

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Collodion prints without a camera.

I know what some of you may think about it and I've got ambivalent feelings about this too. But it is good to experiment a little bit sometimes and check what comes out from the connection of 'the new' and 'the old'. I think it's exciting.
Recently I did some contact prints and enlargements on collodion, using transparencies.

This is a collodion contact print of a positive image printed digitally on transparency, exposed under the enralger light:

This digital (sic!) image was taken a while ago in Italian Dolomites, (while climbing ferrata Giuseppe Olivieri, Tofane). I printed it as a rather week, B&W transparency and gave it 90s exposure @ f4.5, (5 months old collodion, poor boy).
I put the transparency directly on the wet plate (printed side up), but I was lucky it came out well. I think it would be better to put it somehow with a little distance to the plate.When putting it on the plate it is quite easy to create some stains, get air bubbles between transparency and the collodion film or scratch the plate. (and this was just 4x5 print, I'd imagine it would be even more difficult with something bigger)

The second image is an example of an enlarged print, from 6x6 colour transparency, 90 s exposure, with  dodging/burning the sky :).(it is cropped, enlarged on 4x5 glass)

I must agree that once you know how the image was made you can feel cheated. Someone may say there is no 'life' in it,  it's like an image of an image. But on the other hand it opens a lot of interesting possibilities, overcoming the limits of the collodion process and allowing to use collodion expression with any image.
I'd rather concentrate here on 'technicalities' and possibilities and leave the decision, if it's right to use collodion this way, to you...

I didn't make too many tests, just wanted to check how it goes and works. I have a very limited sources of transparencies (rather don't use them) and I randomly chose an image for printing on transparency, giving it one-off try. I've made an enlargement of 6x6 digitally printed B&W transparency and it's also working.
With neither of the image I got the quality that I'm getting from the camera and taking into account some loss of the quality caused by the enlargement, I guess it would be difficult.
However, I think that a little bit more experiments with different densities and contrasts of the transparencies would allow to achieve quite nice and interesting prints.

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Van Dyke Brown printing

VanDyke printing was on my list of the 19th century ‘techniques to try’ for a long time.  While working with cyanotypes, collodion and other techniques I had most of the chemicals needed for VDB handy and the only new ingredient I had to buy was a tartaric acid (easly accessible, for example, on ebay).

VanDyke Brown process is based on iron (iron ferrous citrate) and  is one of the POP techniques, similarly like cyanotype, platinum or palladium. VanDykes have a wide tonality range compared with pl/pd prints, when printed with the right negative, but the process is cheaper and less complicated.  
As Sarah van Keuren explains in her book 'A non silver manual', Van Dykes (along with pl/pd) have self-masking characteristics - shadow areas turn reddish brown during the exposure, acting as a filter. It allows for longer exposure of hightlights without losing details in the shadows. (It doesn't happen with cyanotype)
Kallitypes (similar process, but using ferrous oxalate) and Van Dykes are often called 'the poor man's platinum prints'.

VDB Receipt:

Ferric ammonium citrate 9g
distilled water 33ml

tartaric acid 1.5g
distilled water 33ml

silver nitrate 3.8g
distilled water 33ml

/mix 3 parts together/

I processed my van dykes in water with an addition of a pinch of citric acid (5 min bath) plus ca 2min in running water, and fixed with 3% hypo fixer. Washed for 30 min after all.

I experimented a bit with different negatives, single and double coating and papers. 
The main issue stays, of course, a proper negative. In my first tries I realised it’s not easy to get a good print from original B&W negative (I think it’s easier with cyanotype) and decided to stick to digitally printed transparencies for a moment. From the papers, I had, I like the results with Fabriano Artistico the most. Double coating makes the browns stronger, but  for some  reason I prefer single coating prints. (I'm also having problems with second coating streaks visible) Didn't use any contrasting agent so far.

Scanning doesn't really make them a justice as it exagerates the structure of the paper,(I'm struggling with this for a while - not sure how to scan papers like that), but here are the first prints that I'm quite happy with:

Fabriano Artistico, 400W halogen lamp, 30min exposure (one coating) 

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Collodion meets Holga

Finally I've tried it. I didn't transform my holga at all as I still want to use it with film. I just stick my aluminium plate inside the camera body with an electrical tape, along two edges, to prevent it from moving. Working with such a small plate is challenging, but it's a good fun. Wondering if it will be feasible with 35mm?
Exposure times not that bad:

Holga 120 GN
Optical lens 60mm
6x6 tintype, 40s exposure:

6x6 tintype,1min 15s (low light conditions, a bit overdeveloped) :

Monday, 9 July 2012

Close To Closure

Close to Closure is an ongoing group exhibition, in Dublin, where I'm presenting a series of wet plate portraits I took recently. The exhibition brings together eight photographers (myself, Rebecca McGetrick, Artur Sikora, Sharon Murphy, Jeanette Lowe, Calin Ploscar, Fiona O’Donnell and Hugh McCabe) from different backgrounds and nationalities who first came together in NCAD in 2009. 

Close to Closure is our first time exhibiting together and it is a of part of Irish photography festival -PhotoIreland 2012. We had a vibrant and nice opening on last Wednesday night with artist Sean Hillen launching the exhibition. Below is an example of some of the nine portraits I'm showing, but there is much more intersting projects on the walls, so if you are around please drop in. Tomorrow is the last day! 
Location : Backloft Gallery, Augustine Street, Dublin 8.




and the instalation itself, on the wall:

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Wet plate gathering in Killruddery 2

Last weekend I've met with a group of lovely people (Martin, Dermot, Sarah & Cindy/from left to right) to pour some plates in Killruddery. 

What, I think, I like the most about the workshops is watching how the creative people find their individual approach to work with collodion (what sometimes is very inspiring). For example - Sarah brought many different objects to photograph and we also tested her father's old wooden 5x7 camera and tintypes.
Cindy got lost in Killruderry's old stables and sheds discovering interesting requisites. Martin was playing with different patterns and holes created by a specific pouring of collodion and tested his pinhole camera. And Dermot tried a little bit of everything with his own Graflex camera.
It was a great weekend and we've poured away o lot of chemicals. Irish changeable weather didn't make establishing exposure times easy, as usual, but even though we did a lot of nice plates (examples below)
Backstage images on FB: link

photograph by Cindy Morrissey

photograph by Sarah McNally

Photograph by Martin Hughes

Photograph by Dermot Marrey

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lith printing

Lith printing is my new adventure, started just recently.
I thought it may be a nice technique for printing collodion glass negatives and I truly find the results much more interesting then with traditional B&W printing.
I did only two printing sessions - with film negative and with collodion ambrotypes and I still have a lot to learn, but I really like it so far. 
I like the fact that the results are unrepeatable and a bit unpredictable. On the other hand the choice of paper, exposure and development times give many options of controll and allows for creating completely different prints for the same negative. 
The interesting fact about lith printing is the way of controlling the contrast - brights are controlled by the exposure and darks by the development and can be adjusted separately. Short exposure time and long development will result in bigger contrast and fine grain, while long exposure and short development gives less contrasty and grainy, often 'dreamy' like prints. It will also influence the colour of the print. But a lot depends on the quality and age of the developer, which is exhausting very quickly. Development in this process is called 'infectious' what means that dark tones develop faster then bright ones and the darker they become the faster they develop. Watching this and waiting for the 'snatch' point can be very exciting. 

In my first steps I have used Fomatone MG classic matt and gloss papers and Rollei Vintage Lith Developer, and here are the examples:

contact print from 8x10 collodion plate, 40s exposure (f8,just to have comparison with times used for enlarging film negs) 6min development, Fomatone MG classic gloss:

25x25 cm print of 6x6 B&W negative, 2min exposure (f8), 11min development, Fomatone MG classic matt:

contact print from 4x5 collodion plate, 35s exposure (f8) 6min development, (gloss):

contact print from 8x10, varnished collodion plate, 90s exposure (f8) 7min development, (gloss).:

more about lith printing:

Thursday, 10 May 2012

WPC workshop, Killruddery, 23rd&24th June

Attention! the date of the Killruddery Workshop is changed. 
It is moved on the 23rd and 24th of June.

2 days, intensive, group of 4, 
chemicals, equipment, manual and lunches provided,

Brief Program:

Day 1, morning

1. Introduction:
History and overview of the process, chemicals, equipment needed,
darkroom set up, organization,
Health and safety recommendations.
Care and maintenance of chemicals. 
Mixing chemicals.

2. Preparation of glass plates, sanding edges and cleaning.

3. Demonstration of the complete process. (camera set up, pouring a glass
plate, sensitization, exposure, development, fixing and washing)

Day 1 afternoon, day 2

4. Practicing, practicing, practising

Making plates by student – as many as you can, 
Individual guidance with the process, trouble shooting, 
work with natural and artificial lightning, 
work with darkbox in more remote areas of the Gardens

5. Demonstration of the varnishing technique. Varnishing.

for more information contact me at:

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Old photos, new prints. Cyanotypes after a long break.

After a long break in cyanotyping I did a few new prints of my old photographs, and it was a nice change after WPC,(comparing the complexity of these processes), that I was concentrated on for the last year.
I have used different papers that I found in my studio and was a bit surprised with a Fabriano 5 HP smooth paper, that I've used for the first two images. First of all  after applying the chemicals on the paper and after drying there were still brush strokes visible. They are visible on prints. Secondly highlights never got bright, but stayed quite intensively blue. All that may be connected with my chemicals getting a bit old now, what in connection wih this 50% cotton paper gave unexpected results.
However I quite like these prints and their more ' dreamy' aesthetics.

8x10 print,35 min exposure, halogen lamp, digital negative of collodion scan

8x10 print,45 min exposure, halogen lamp, coffee toning, digital negative of collodion scan

The following two were made with accordingly Winsor & Newton and Fabriano Artistico papers, and gave the results similar to my earlier prints:

13x16cm print,45 min exposure, halogen lamp, coffee toning, digital negative of collodion scan, Windsor & Newton

4x5 print,15 min exposure, halogen lamp, coffee toning, collodion glass negative, Fabriano Artistico 

All the above were made with my recently build DIY printing frame, that works very well:

Sunday, 22 April 2012

WPC workshop Killruddery summary.

Although it's already 3 weeks after the workshop in Killruddery I'd like to make a short resume of this event and introduce a lovely group of brave photographers, who decided to take part in this dangerous and exhausting venture :)
This is an ending portrait, so, as you can see they stayed in quite a good form after all this.

my lovely workshop group: Alice, Nick, Stephen an Sally (from left to right)

They worked very hard  throughout the whole weekend. They cleaned a huge amount of glass:

this is just a small part of what was cleaned, they seemed to enjoy it ....

they were blinding themselves with bright lights, trying to sit still and motionless for a loooong time....

they were concentrated...

...very concentrated....

and they were choosing their subjects very carefully...

But sometimes they had enough and were trying to hide....

....well,  'Mystic, awful was the process.'(Lewis Carroll, 'Hiawathas Photographing')...

All in all everything went very well and a couple of nice plates were done. Here is the proof - a sample of their results. Well done everyone and thank you all, it was a great weekend!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Collodion with Marta

On Sunday I met with Marta and we went through the whole wet plate process and did a few plates together.
Marta is a very talented and ambitious photographer and picked up easly all the stages of the process, having a perfect 'pour' (of collodion and developer) from the beginning to the end of the workshop.
Some backstage images:

and the results:

Marta by me: