And now for something completely different… a Rolleiflex

I do on occasion actually shoot smaller format images, and even color once in a while. Here’s a graffiti grab shot I took with my Rolleiflex 2.8 E. Exposure unrecorded.

Graffiti, Wall, 14th Street

This was as much a test of film as it was playing with a camera. I was trying out the new Kodak Ektar 100. I’d say from this it was a great success. This was a scan from the negative, using Digital ICE for dust removal, a tiny bit of Unsharp Masking, and a little bit of color correction. No other manipulation.

New studio space!!!!

I have a copy of the lease in hand now, so it’s official. I will be moving in to my new (shared) studio space January 15. I’ll be shooting and teaching classes out of 443 I (Eye) Street, NW. It’s walking distance from Chinatown and Mount Vernon Square Metro stations, a short bus ride from Union Station, and there is on-street and off-street parking available nearby. Watch this blog for an announcement about a studio open house, and a schedule of classes. I expect to have my first class in March.

Pre-acidification of Rives BFK

Well, my experiment with pre-acidification of Rives BFK for doing palladium/platinum/Ziatypes was a success. I got a flawless Ziatype over which I will now try several gum layers. My pre-acidification consisted of a 5 minute bath in 5% Oxalic Acid. I sized the paper AFTER the acidification bath. Image to follow.

Here is the image with the first two layers of gum over Ziatype. Colors are Alizarin Crimson and Sepia. I’m planning on doing at least two more layers, probably another sepia or burnt Sienna and then another red, maybe something deeper red.

Heart In Hand

Prep Work

Well, today was spent prepping paper for gum and gum-over-platinum printing. I did two batches of 10 sheets of 11×15 Rives BFK. The first batch had an oxalic acid pre-bath. The last time I used Rives BFK for a platinum/palladium print, I got these funny discolored blotches, which could be attributable to paper pH, so I’m trying the acid pre-bath to see if that makes a difference. Twenty sheets doesn’t sound like a lot, until you realize that I can really only size paper in 10 sheet batches because that’s about all my clothes-drying line in my darkroom can handle. In any case, it’s enough to get me printing for a few weekends, so I won’t have to do it again for a while. It’s a necessary evil in the gum printing process, because without it your gum image would dissolve off the paper in the development step.
Here’s my darkroom sink with ten sheets of sized paper hanging up to dry:

Freshly sized paper, hanging to dry

Sizing is an interesting creature – basically it’s Knox unflavored gelatin with a hardening agent added. To make it, you put a box of four 7 gram packets in 300 cc’s of cold distilled water, let the gelatin bloom for 30 minutes give or take, then mix the bloomed solution with enough water to bring it to 1 liter. Place this new solution in a water bath and heat until the gelatin solution reaches 140 degrees Farenheit. Add your hardener, mix, then you’re ready to coat. I have a bain marie pot that I use on a hotplate for heating the gelatin so it doesn’t scorch, and I can do it in my darkroom instead of on the kitchen sink.

Here’s a shot of my sizing mixing setup-

Sizing prep station

Sizing needs a hardening agent to help it stand up to repeated soakings in water. Hardeners are all something other than pleasant chemicals – typical hardeners are Chrome alum, Glyoxal and Formaldehyde (Formalin), in ascending order of toxicity. This time I decided to give the chrome alum a try because it doesn’t off-gas, has minimal effects from exposure, and requires the least safety gear for handling (latex gloves are sufficient). I had been using Glyoxal before, which requires good ventilation. My darkroom has minimal ventilation, and at this time of year, fresh air comes with a massive temperature penalty. Formalin pretty much HAS to be used outdoors, so that’s not happening either.

Here’s my Chrome Alum, 5% mix-

Chrome Alum

Isn’t it a lovely purple color? Don’t mistake it for grape Kool-Aid though…

Off to the Large Format Club meeting tonight

I’m going to the large format club meeting tonight. This will be our first meeting of the year, and in a new space, the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church in Bethesda. Tonight’s theme is marketing your work. I’m hoping it will go well – we’re mostly a bunch of artists with day jobs so self-promotion is nobody’s strong suit. I’ll be talking about Facebook and this blog, however, as I think that not only are they important, but I think they’ve been fairly successful for me as marketing tools.


At the club meet, we didn’t have a discussion of marketing after all, but rather we got a demo of doing emulsion lifts and recovering the negative from Fuji instant film. While I don’t know how well you can print from the Fuji instant film negative, especially color, it is recoverable. Furthermore, it is possible to lift the emulsion off the print. It used to be that this only worked with Polaroid instant film, but not Fuji, but apparently that is no longer the case. Here you can see the emulsion lift working –

Lifting the emulsion from a Fuji Instant print

New batch of Rives BFK arrived today!

I got a new batch of 100 sheets of Rives BFK from my favorite supplier, Bostick & Sullivan, today. I’ll be having a sizing marathon this weekend getting all that paper ready for gum printing. I’ve not tried a lot of other papers yet, to keep the variables down, but I’ve been quite happy with the Rives BFK so far. It’s a 90# watercolor paper with good wet strength, and I’ve been able to coat up to five layers so far without having to re-size. After I get through this lot, I’ll have to try the Lana Aquarelle I have sitting around. I’m also going to try using an alum-based hardener in the sizing instead of glyoxal because it’s not exactly practical to try and size paper outdoors in this weather, and my basement darkroom doesn’t have good ventilation.

Photography, Alternative Processes, Really Big Cameras, and other cool stuff

%d bloggers like this: