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  1. #1
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Michael Kenna print quality

    I just visited the Michael Kenna "Mont St Michel" exhibition. I was really impressed with his print quality. 10x10" squares with evident grain.

    It was hard to tell exactly the color because they were lit by the small warm gallery lights but his prints were neutral grey and deep blacks with the higher grey tones going very warm and the very bright whites back to near neutral.

    I don't really have any idea how to accomplish that. It wasn't like lith printing and it wasn't warm tone really but the zone 6 and 7 tones were definitely light warmish brownish color while darks felt much cooler. It is possible that the paperbase whites were warm tone but with that lighting I can't be sure.

    Anybody know what I am talking about and how to achieve it and does anyone know Michael Kenna's technical details.

    He had quite pronounced edge affect like he used a compensating accutance developer and that would explain the grain at that small size. Clearly 120 film with beautifully sharp details.

    Here is where I just was:
    http://www.hartmanfineart.net/exhibition/gallery/21/

    thanksDennis

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    payral's Avatar
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    Michael Kenna has his web site. The best way is to directly ask to him. Better to do it when he is still alive :-)))

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    Micheal Kenna Interviews Hint at his Techniques

    Michael Kenna’ site has a section of past magazine interview in which he talks about his techniques ( http://www.michaelkenna.net/html/iviews/index.html ). Some of the older interviews have been deleted. Basically, he is a master printer with an apprenticeship from Ruth Bernhard to boot. Curiously, he seems rather cavalier about development/treatment of negatives, in contrast to zone system photographers, and he refuses to print larger than 10 inches. Fine by me. His work is grand!

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    Quote Originally Posted by payral View Post
    Michael Kenna has his web site. The best way is to directly ask to him. Better to do it when he is still alive :-)))
    Wow. Do you know something that the rest of us including Michael doesn't know? As far as I can recall from an earlier exhibition that I went to in his home town of Banbury, Oxfordshire, he's still quite young. Well not yet 60 so plenty of life left in him, I hope.

    pentaxuser

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    I believe he favours light sepia toning followed by intensification with dilute selenium toner.

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    You are asking an unanswerable question. No one on this list will know how he actually printed the prints you were looking at. Do you know what paper he used? Do you know what paper developer he used? do you know whether the prints were toned and if so in what?

    A 10x10 print is small and is quite capable of showing no grain but also capable of showing lots of grain.

    I wonder why you immediately think the answer is in film developer.

    For what its worth, a few years ago I developed a web site for a client and we used some Kenna images in it. I received scans from negatives direct from Michael Kenna. Grain was highly evident even in the small low res scans supplied which were perfectly adequate for web usage.

    Grain is one of the pallette of useable options to create atmosphere in a print. It always amazes me that so many photographers get hung up about not having any visble grain in an image as though it is some kind of virtue of the print. Not saying you are one of them but using grain usually adds to the visual aesthetic of a print IMO.

    Prints could also have been lith prints but done in such a way or on a paper with little colour change in lith.

    i.e. no one can answer your question but I guess lots will speculate.
    And just because an old article says he uses one technique doesn't mean those prints were prinetd that way.

    On the other hand, if you are asking how do i get grain and sharp edges in a print then the answers should be less speculative.

  7. #7
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Rob. I am merely asking if anyone knows. I researched a bit and found no info. OK?

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    Michael Kenna's prints are 8x8 and not 10x10. I do collect some of his work and have had the chance to speak with him in person. For most work Michael uses ilford multigrade paper, ilford pq universal print developer and sepia split toning. Some older work was sepia and selenium toned. I believe he has also switched papers a few times for various projects. For film he uses tri-x and sends out to a lab for processing and that's really it.

    Regards,
    John

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    Alex Hawley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Simmons View Post
    Michael Kenna's prints are 8x8 and not 10x10. I do collect some of his work and have had the chance to speak with him in person. For most work Michael uses ilford multigrade paper, ilford pq universal print developer and sepia split toning. Some older work was sepia and selenium toned. I believe he has also switched papers a few times for various projects. For film he uses tri-x and sends out to a lab for processing and that's really it.

    Regards,
    John
    Stated another way, no magic bullets save for the man's experience and ability. Common materials available to everyone.
    Semper Fi & God Bless America
    My Photography Blog

  10. #10

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    I've been to a few exhibitions of his work and viewed his prints "in hand". The thing that struck me, beyond the fact that his work is exquisitely presented, is that the colouration of his work varies from one image to the next. Some look distinctly sepia, some vaguely pinkish, and some a beautiful indeterminate warm tone that I find it impossible to describe as a particular colour/tone. At the Banbury exhibition mentioned above the prints covered a long period and the differences in tone were very apparent. I think he has changed papers and approach to toning prints very substantially and from what I've sen of more recent work, is still doing so.

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