Photogravure questions

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by photoguy, Nov 19, 2004.

  1. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    After many years of traditional shooting / printing (6x6, 4x5) I'm intersted in trying the Photogravure process.

    My questions are:

    What is an approximate cost for materials to produce a print? (16x20 or so)
    How long does it take to complete a print?
    Are the chemicals used very toxic?

    I've looked here and searched on the web, and can't seem to find answers to these specific questions. I'm just trying to get some idea of what this would cost and take in time.

    I live in the San Francisco area, and would love to hear from others nearby if they have any info. or links that would help-

    Thanks!

    Dave
     
  2. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    One thing you might try is contacting Brooks Jensen at LensWork. They have done this in the past. I own a photogravure of John Whimberley's "Descending Angel" tha I'm pretty sure they produced. I believe Brooks knows a lot about the process and equipment and could give you a ballpark on the investment. If you find out anything, please post it here. I've always been curious, but never seriously intersted in getting into it. I think the floorspace required would be a problem for me.

    -Mike
     
  3. Mateo

    Mateo Subscriber

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    Do you have an etching press and experience etching, aquatint or other intaglio processes? I'm working up to photogravure but don't have a press right now.
     
  4. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    No, just printed traditional silver so far.

    I saw a photogravure recently and it just knocked my socks off. It was done on warm paper, beautiful tones, soft and contrasty all at the same time.

    From what I've been able to find out about it, there are many steps involved, very time consuming, I would imagine not very inexpensive (but not sure on that). Also you need a large press of sorts to complete the final step.

    Since ther aren't many resources that I can find, I'm assuming it's not done much these days. I'm not planning on doing this in my home- I'd like to find a workshop or class to learn how to do it.
     
  5. photomc

    photomc Member

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    I think Mike is correct to contact Brooks Jensen, I don't recall the guys name that was doing them for Lenswork, but he has gone off on his own (which is one reason they don't have them any longer - I think). Sorry I don't recall his name, but he had a good description on his website of the process. Point over to Lenswork and see if they can help, - then let us know what you find. :smile:
     
  6. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    Actually I just read about this 20 minutes ago! His name is Russ Dodd, and he was doing the Lens Work images, but now has chosen to move on to smaller projects. He works at Working Theory Press.

    I can find short descriptions of the process, just no mention of costs or time involved to make a print. I found one place in Berkeley called Kala Art Institute that does a workshop once a year or so, I might try that one.
     
  7. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Earlier this year, I had Russ Dodd make a small edition set of gravure prints from a palladium print of mine, and I have to say that his work is fantastic.
    www.workingtheory.com
     
  8. SusanV

    SusanV Member

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    You could start by reading the excellent book " Copper Plate Photogravure: Demystifying The Process", by David Morrish. Also google "solar plate photogravure" for info about a similar, but less toxic type of gravure. There is a member here on APUG making photogravures, whose work i have seen in the gallery. His name is Lasse Mellberg and the work is in the "Experimental" gallery.

    It's a very involved process, and you need the use of an intaglio press ( and you have to know how to use it to pull a print ). It's a discipline that requires photographic skills AND intaglio printmaking skills, but the results can be spectacular. Good luck!

    Susan
     
  9. photomc

    photomc Member

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  10. rbarker

    rbarker Member

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    Another question to consider, I think, is whether the process is being used to produce moderate numbers of prints from the same negative with high consistency between prints vs. individual prints as an alternate process.

    Photogravure has always struck me as being an excellent alternative for the former, rather than the latter. I'm not sure I'd see it as a subsitute for original silver (or alt process) prints, however.
     
  11. mobtown_4x5

    mobtown_4x5 Member

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    Holy time-consuming batman! Wow- my hat is off to anyone who puts that much work into something- I would love to see one of these in person.
     
  12. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    If you're ever in NYC, the John Stevenson Gallery has some absolutely stunning photogravures by Cy DeCosse. Several such works can be seen here: ( http://www.artbooks.de/21st/21st-vol4-1.html ), but they don't even begin to convey the beauty of this work. That gallery (Stevenson) is a good place to view lots of alternate process work as well.

    As stated above, photogravure is an excellent technic for duplicating, with great consistancy, multiple 'pulls' from one negative.
     
  13. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    I don't see this process at all as replacing silver printing, as it is much more involved I'm sure. I just wanted to try a new process, make a few prints of them, just for the experience and fun of it-
     
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  15. N O Mennescio

    N O Mennescio Member

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    Photoguy,
    I participated in a workshop some years ago. And I would strongly recommend you take one to. IMO this is NOT something you would want to do on your own without prior knowlege to the process.
     
  16. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Just in case anyone is interested got an email today from Photographers Formulary, they will be having a workshop July 3-8 of 2005 on Copper Plate Photogravure by Lothar Osterburg.
     
  17. photoguy

    photoguy Member

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    I found a workshop also in Berkeley, Ca. that is also 5 days (30 hrs.). Kala Art Institute offers it once a year.

    I thought spending 8 hrs. in the darkroom to prouduce a print was a long time!
     
  18. Landrum

    Landrum Member

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    Gary Kolb wrote the bible on photogravure, he was one of my professors at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. This is the traditional way of making them. The newer book that was described above uses the new aquatint plates, I think, don't kill me if I'm wrong. I saw the book on the web many many months ago and read about it, but apparently wasn't yet available.

    Heres a link to the Kolb book, I guess it's out of print. Lucky me I have one.
    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/t...f=sr_1_2/104-2766155-9042358?v=glance&s=books


    Greg
     
  19. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Photgravure Book

    Abebooks has the title above/same book for 24.95. The link at Amazon.com is asking $500 (?) Duh?
    Regards Peter
     
  20. kamprint

    kamprint Member

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    In response to the questions about the cost per photogravure print: The ultraviolet light source with vacuum frame (Richmond Graphic makes a good one) costs $2,000, the etching press (Ettan Press makes an excellent press) costs another $2,000, though cheaper used models are sometimes available. The unit costs of the materials (copperplates, etching inks, etching papers, chemicals, etc.) are not much if purchased in quantity. If all goes well, the platemaking, etching, and edition printing can be completed in a week or two, sometimes more. Having taken the considerable amount of time to etch the plate, it would not make sense to print only one impression; the costs can only be calculated on the basis of the entire edition. These costs are naturally far greater than for silver photography. Lenswork was engaging in philanthropy when it sold photogravure prints below cost, which is why that arrangement was unsustainable.

    Some of the chemicals used in photogravure are toxic, but perfectly safe to use if you don't drink them or splash them on clothing or skin. The less toxic photopolymer techniques are easier and faster, but without etching it is impossible to get the depth and range of tonality that occurs only in photogravure.

    In the SF Bay Area, Crown Point Press and Kala have workshops in photogravure, as do Osterburg in New York and others elsewhere.

    Detailed technical information on photogravure is available at my website www.kamprint.com along with Web versions of my gravures, and gallery and dealer contacts for those who wish to purchase them. I will be conducting a photogravure workshop July 28-30, 2005 in Gubbio Italy. Information on that as well as seven other workshops in Italy is at www.kamprint.com/paese.html. (The cost info is in Yen, for residents of Japan, but US and European residents can pay in Euros.) Questions welcome.

    Cheers, & happy new year,
     
  21. roy

    roy Member

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  22. Keith Taylor

    Keith Taylor Member

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  23. Keith Taylor

    Keith Taylor Member

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    If you're ever in NYC, the John Stevenson Gallery has some absolutely stunning photogravures by Cy DeCosse. Several such works can be seen here: ( http://www.artbooks.de/21st/21st-vol4-1.html ), but they don't even begin to convey the beauty of this work.
    Hello again,

    They're not all photogravure, only the portfolio. The majority of Cy's work is still in platinum. Currently, Cy has a show of three-color gum dichromate prints at John Stevenson's gallery.
    http://www.johnstevenson-gallery.com/gallery.html

    Regards,
    Keith.
     
  24. kamprint

    kamprint Member

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    Photogravure

    The DeCosse prints are exquisite on-line and must be even moreso live.

    But the essence of photogravure is etching, as this is the only way to get the profoundly variable depth of ink and tonality that is characteristic of the medium. It was clever of the inventors to attach the word 'gravure' to 'polymer', but the actual meaning of gravure is etching. Polymer can also deliver fine results, saving a few processing steps, but it would be helpful to use clear terminology so that collectors and others are not confused.

    Etching with ferric chloride carries virtually no health risk, contrary to some much-publicized opinion. The real health risks are in the sensitizer and the ultraviolet light, which are common to all plate exposure processes. With proper precautions these present no problem.

    On the question of proper density for analog positive films: The short answer is between 0.2 and 1.8 if you have a densitometer. Eyeballing it, the basic idea is to place ALL the tones on the straight-line part of the sensitivity curve, to preserve shadow and highlight detail. On the 'toe' and 'shoulder' of the sensitivity curve, the tones dissolve to pure black and pure white respectively. So the positive film should look less contrasty than you want the photogravure print to look. Then you bring the contrast back in the etching. This is one of many reasons why etching is so important -- without it you lose the near-whites and near-blacks and a lot of interesting detail on the edge of visibility. More details at www.kamprint.com and many more details in Gary Kolb's book which was mentioned in this thread.

    Digital positives can be substituted for film positives in photogravure, and since these tend to be less dense than film, the problem of excessive density range is automatically solved.
     
  25. donbga

    donbga Member

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    I own several Photogravure prints and I happen to know they were made from metal plates. However I've seen prints made from polymer plates and have found them to be excellent. I'm not savy enough about the process to make fine distinctions about either method but I don't see why it would matter to a collector one way or another, unless perhaps a vintage print was being considered such as one made for Edward S. Curtis.

    Can you explain why this distinction would be important?

    Thanks,

    Don Bryant
     
  26. kamprint

    kamprint Member

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    The difference is in the details, particularly the highlight and shadow details which can get lost in non-etch processes. The unique thing about real photogravure is the absolutely linear response of UV-sensitive materials to light together with the ability to etch each tone separately. The subtlest tonal gradations become visible, traces of snow or cloud at one end of the intensity scale, shadows within shadows at the other end. And all the midtones too. This may not matter to some collectors, that's true. It depends on the kind of images they find appealing, how closely they look, whether they will continue to find a particular image interesting after living with it for a while.