Carbon Portraits

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by sly, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I'm taking a carbon printing workshop in a couple of weeks and have been going through my negs looking for ones with really long tonal ranges.
    Something I've noticed looking at carbon prints by others, is that they all seem to be landscapes. I can't remember ever seeing a portrait done with carbon. Is there a reason for this? Is carbon unflattering to skin tones? Does carbon appeal particularly strongly to introverted, go-off-into-the-woods-by-myself types?
    Just wondering.
     
  2. ghostcount

    ghostcount Member

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    My experience shows that smooth tone transitions such as skies and skin are problematic - I get clearing problems. However, I do use home made tissues from X-ray film which are thicker than B&S - I think this is part of my problem. I haven't yet tried fixed out RC paper as a one shot tissue, it's thinner, so until then I can only speculate. If you look at sharpbokeh's print made from the thinner B&S tissue, the skies are smooth.
     
  3. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    I've seen some absolutely stunning carbon portraits. I think part of the secret may lie in using camera original negs at 1:1 (as opposed to using an enlarged neg.)
     
  4. cdholden

    cdholden Subscriber

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    Purely opinion here, but I think the process itself is more favorable with compositions that have more contrast. While I enjoy a portrait as much as anyone, I am one of those go-off-into-the-woods-by-myself types and do lean more toward landscapes than portrait work. I have a carbon print from someone proficient with the process. The contrast between light and dark seems to have more of an effect in the gelatin's relief/texture on the paper than do the smoother transitions commonly found in a portrait. If I had to pick one photographer's portrait(s) for carbon printing, it would have to be Yousuf Karsh. His harsh lighting style would be a benefit in carbon printing.
    Again, it's just my opinion. Take it for what it's worth.

    Chris