Category Archives: Large Format

U Street Graffiti – Palladium Print

In my latest iteration of my Intro to Platinum/Palladium printing class, I dug up some old negatives I had made, since my student this time was sufficiently skilled with wet darkroom processes and not interested in getting into shooting large format (in my standard group class, we take my Canham 5×7 out around Glen Echo and make a dozen or so negatives for students to work from). This was a print from that session.


It’s a memorial to the transitions on U Street. This is graffiti art that has since been obliterated by gentrification and re-development – the alley where this was has been re-graffiti’d, but with “sanctioned” artwork a bit more sanitized and easier to interpret.

This print is a 5×7 palladium print. The usual chocolate-brown color is missing because I gave this emulsion mix a shot of NA2 contrast agent to give it a bit more snap. The NA2 contains platinum, which is what cools off the image and makes it more neutral. If you’d like to learn how to print this way, contact me through the blog and we can schedule a class, either one-on-one or I can fit you in to an upcoming class at Glen Echo Photoworks.

High Desert, Mono Lake

A few scenes from the high desert around Mono Lake. You’ll forgive my ignorance of desert flora and not naming the plants properly, but I’m an east coast city boy at heart, so I’m lucky I can tell an oak tree from a blade of grass. Well, not entirely true, but you get the point – a horticulturalist I’m not.

Golden Bush, Mono Lake
Golden Bush, Mono Lake

Thinking of horticulture, that reminds me of an old joke about Dorothy Parker – she was invited to speak at a meeting of the Ladies Auxiliary of the New York Botanical Gardens. Knowing of her penchant for a quick wit, one of the more naive members of the group asked her to use “horticulture” in a sentence. Her response? “You can lead a horticulture but you can’t make her think”. For repeating the joke in this context, the quip is probably about me, but I have a good sense of humor about such things. More scrub brush on the top of the plateau:

High Desert, Mountains, Mono Lake
High Desert, Mountains, Mono Lake

These are taken in the scrublands atop the volcanic uplift plateau on the north edge of Mono Lake. For geology buffs, the plateau was uplifted perhaps 10 to 15,000 years ago in an event so rapid and violent it created fissures resembling miniature slot canyons. I went out in search of said fissures and hiked around on top of this plateau for perhaps two hours, looking for them, not finding any, all the while wary that I would miss one and inadvertently plummet down into one and get stuck. As it turns out, they’re on and near the leading edge of the plateau, and had I stuck to the edge, I would have found them perhaps fifteen minutes after ascending to the top of the plateau. But I had a lovely time all to my self, communing with the great open spaces, and I saw these scenes, so no great regrets.

Uplift Face, Mono Lake
Uplift Face, Mono Lake

I think I goofed the movements on the camera with this one, as there is some out of focus in the foreground that in retrospect really shouldn’t be there, but I’ll blame it on the altitude getting to me – I was fat and out of shape, and hiking at nearly 9000 feet of elevation with 30+ lbs of camera gear on my back.

Peoples Choice Voting – Onward Compé 14

Here’s one instance of where Richard Daley’s admonition to “get out, vote early, vote often” is actually legitimate! Please go visit my entry in the Onward Compé `14 competition, and vote for me in the Peoples’ Choice category. You can vote daily, so please do!

Jose, Torso, Kneeling
Jose, Torso, Kneeling

More Personal Work

Tho V., Androgyny
Tho V., Rear View
Tho V., Standing

Three from a series I did of a friend of mine from California who is a dancer and massage therapist. Since these were taken, he apparently had a previously undiagnosed heart defect that decided to make itself known and required open heart surgery. I haven’t seen him since, so I have no idea what the scar looks like. I’ll try to connect up with him again and see if he’d pose, scar and all.

All images shot on a 4×5 camera. Film is Ilford FP4+.

Variations on a theme – Palladium versus Ziatype

Dupont Circle bus stop, Palladium over Fumed Silica
Dupont Circle bus stop, Palladium over Fumed Silica

Here’s another of my 5×12 panoramics of Dupont Circle here in Washington DC. This was several exposures on the same negative, yielding an approximate minute and thirty seconds or thereabouts. We were printing from this negative in my Advanced Topics in Platinum/Palladium Printing class out at Photoworks Glen Echo this past weekend. The print I scanned for this image was printed on Bergger COT320 pre-treated with fumed silica. The fumed silica yields a definite boost in dmax.

The next print is of the same negative, but printed as a Ziatype. Ziatypes are a variation on palladium, but they use either Lithium Palladium or Cesium Palladium and Ammonium Ferric Oxalate instead, which yields a neutral-to-cool tone image more like platinum in color, and they are a printing-out process developed in water as opposed to a develop-out process that requires Potassium Oxalate or Ammonium Citrate as a developer.

The distinction between printing-out and developing-out, in addition to the chemistry variations, is the fact that a printing-out print’s final exposure is judged by visual inspection – what you see when you pull the print from the contact frame is pretty much what you’re going to get when it is washed, cleared, and dried, but a developing-out print will have some kind of ghost image that is anywhere from almost imperceptible to a partial rendition of the final image prior to development. Neither one is better than the other, except that the Ziatype is easier for beginners until they gain confidence in their coating and printing skills. Ziatypes also have a wide range of contrast controls that will also affect image color in addition to contrast.

Dupont Circle bus stop, Ziatype
Dupont Circle bus stop, Ziatype

Today’s Darkroom Work


Here’s a 14×17 portrait I shot a while ago and just got around to developing. I love what I can do tonally with FP4+ and platinum/palladium, but when you are shooting this big, the slow speed starts to hurt – its tough getting the f-stops you need when a headshot is also a 1:1 macro and costs you two stops (or MORE) just from the bellows extension.


Here are the first few from my outing to the Arboretum with one of the camera clubs I joined recently. These are 6.5×8.5 (whole plate) sized negatives.

I’d been in a bit of a blue funk as far as darkroom work was concerned, but getting ready for Artomatic has helped me find new motivation to get back in there and start working again. That and teaching my class this coming weekend. Can’t wait to finish developing all my film and see the results!

Busy photo weekend ahead

Well, I just got finished loading up film holders in preparation for the next few days’ shooting. I have one shoot scheduled for tomorrow evening after work, and another for Saturday evening. I may well be certifiably crazy for the amount of darkroom work this will have me doing – I’ve got 10 sheets of 14×17, 20 sheets of whole plate (6.5×8.5 inch), and 16 sheets of 5×12 loaded and ready to shoot. I may be even more insane for even considering the jumps between formats. I’ll risk it though because I have so many ideas – I want to try and shoot my three-panel “folding screen” idea on the 14×17 with at least one of my models, I’ve got some more ideas for the “human commodities” series, and I also have ideas for the body panoramas. I’ve got to remember to bring some of my costume pieces from my RenFest outfit tomorrow as well as the shopping bags for the Human Commodities bit. See what I mean about crazy? At least this is a GOOD crazy.