Sunday, 28 October 2007

Cyanotype & Platinum/Palladium Workshops

I will be starting my workshop programme from November 2007 and it will include separate workshops on Cyanotype and Platinum/Palladium printing. They will be held at my home in Cottenham (6 miles north of Cambridge).

The workshops will be one day either in the week or weekend, which ever is most convenient for the participants. I have deliberately kept the maximum class size down to 2 people as this will facilitate more personal tuition. Both workshops will include all materials such as transparency materials for creation of negatives, printing paper, chemicals, paper, Printing Handbook with cd etc.. and lunch.

A workshop handbook is provided on the day and covers in detail the following themes, all of which will be addressed on the day.

1) Introduction: Platinum printing in the 21st Century
2) Introduction to Digital Negatives
3) Chemicals needed to create your first Platinum/Palladium Print
4) Health & Safety
5) Importance of Keeping Notes
6) Suitable Papers for Platinum/Palladium Printing
7) Methods of Contrast Control for Platinum/Palladium printing
8) Creating your first Platinum/Palladium print
8.1) Preparing and coating the paper
8.2) Exposing the coated sensitized paper to Ultraviolet light
8.3) Developing the print
8.4) Preparing the Clearing baths and Clearing the print
8.5) Drying the print
9 ) Calibrating your own system

The workshop hand book also includes 2 cd’s

Workshop cd 1 includes : Platinum printing curves
Calibration images
Step wedges
Examples of platinum prints

cd 2 includes : all edited images with correction curves made on the day

Below shows two participants of the workshop viewing their final prints at the end of the day

Examples of prints produced on the workshop by participants have included the following :

The Lone Tree,Mark Burley

Portwrinkle Beach,Mark Burley

Train Wheels,Phil Dresser

Sea Alter,Mark Burley

Steps, Phil Dresser

Ridge, Phil Dresser

If you are interested and would like further information including the workshop program please email me at

Sunday, 14 October 2007

Major Edward Steichen Exhibition

I have always loved Edward Steichen's work and was fortunate enough to view some of his gum over platinum prints at Photo Paris last year. I will be going to this years Photo Paris which takes place at the Carrousel Du Louvre from 15-18 November. It just so happens this large Exhibition on Steichen's work will be displayed in Paris too at the Jeu de Paume from 10th October to 30 December.

For those that have not heard of him, Edward Steichen was one of the key figures in the history of photography. Beginning as a leading exponent of the 19th-century romantic movement called Pictorialism, where he produced some extraordinary prints, his most famous being Moonrise, printed in 1904, For this print Steichen used unique alternative photographic printing techniques to establish depth and richness of tones. I believe there are only three prints of ‘moonrise’ in existence and they are all printed slightly differently. Below shows one that was a multiple gum over platinum print :

Edward Steichen (1879– 1973): “The Pond-Moonlight” (1904); New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art; multiple gum bichromate over platinum, 15¼ × 19".)

In February last year this print sold for the highest price to date for an art photograph. (This has recently been eclipsed by a Gursky print)

Another version of 'Moonrise' was a cyanotype over platinum print shown below :

(Edward Steichen (1879–1973): “Moonrise-Mamaroneck,New York” (1904); New York, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA); platinum, cyanotype, and ferroprussiate print, 15¼ × 19".)

After Steichen's Pictorialism phase he metamorphosed rapidly into one of the leading photographers of modernism. For more than half a century he occupied centre stage as the most famous living photographer, the medium’s first household name. However, until now Steichen, a Luxembourger by birth has never been the subject of a significant retrospective in Europe. This show will have around 450 vintage prints and I can’t wait to view them. I will write a short review when i return from Paris.

For further information on the Paris exhibition visit :

This exhibition will move to other European Venues including:

Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne January 17-March 23, 2008

Palazzo Magnani, Reggio Emilia April 12-June 8, 2008

Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid June 24-September 22, 2008

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

The Genius of Photography

I was looking around my local Borders and came across a book called 'The Genius of Photography' which has just been published to go alongside the BBC show of the same name. The book actually looked quite interesting and worth a read.

Touted as ‘the first comprehensive television history of the most influential art form of the present day. This landmark series for BBC2 and BBC4 will explore the key events and images that have marked the development of photography. At the heart of the series will be a quest to understand what makes a truly great photograph.’

The series begins in a palazzo on the Grand Canal, Venice. Using bin-liners and masking tape, photographer Abe Morell turns a room into a camera. He cuts a small hole to let a tight beam of light into the blacked-out room and, with it, the outside world comes pouring in – upside down and twice as natural, thereby demonstrating one half of the simple but profound physical principles on which photography is based.

The other half – the problem of "fixing the shadows" – took longer to solve but, when that was done by two rival methods announced in 1839 by Henry Fox Talbot and Louis Daguerre, photography was born.

The series is six 1 hour shows, the first episode called ‘Fixing the Shadows’ tells the story of the inventions of photography and the way in which it became an integral part of the modern world. It describes the remarkable achievements of the pioneer photographers, the revolution that took place when George Eastman made photography available to the masses with the invention of the Kodak brand and the story of Jacques-Henri Lartigue, the child photographer and ultimate amateur.

For those of us in the U.K this is listed as airing on Thurs 24th Oct as 9-10pm, BBC4.

For a video clip check this link

Dye based negative vs Pigment based negative

Over the last few days I have been testing the difference between Dye based ink jet digital negatives (Epson 1290) and Pigment based digital negatives (Epson 3800) when printing with platinum/palladium.

The above shows the two prints side by side, the print on the left I used a pigment based inks to create the negative, dye based on the right.(click on the print to see larger version) The difference is quite obvious and I would be interested to hear which print people prefer.

My initial findings show that the dye based negative seems to be blocking a lot more UV light than the pigment based negative and resulting in a significantly more contrasty print. The print has more ‘punch’ to it. I like it, as it has a certain luminosity to it, however I am not arriving at the print I expected when I finished editing the negative in PS.

The pigment based negatives on the other hand gives a good rendition of what I see in P.S but lacks the luminosity of the dye based negative print. I need to find some half way point between the two prints and believe I have two options to achieve this.

Either adjust the curve in PS for the pigment based negative or try and boost contrast through the platinum/palladium chemistry (i.e more drops of ferric oxalate #2) I prefer the former option to the later as this will add more grain to the final print. I will try both options and post the result.