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  1. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera View Post
    Processes: Platinum/Palladium, Gum bichromate, occasionally others. Platinum/palladium is by far the favorite.
    Why: back a number of years ago, there was a big scare that Ilford might go out of business, and Kodak had stopped making black-and-white papers. I didn't want to be beholden to a manufacturer to keep producing images with the tools that I loved using, so I decided to teach myself how to work in alternative processes.
    Alt processes may be a "niche market" but if anything it is a booming, growing market. As others have mentioned, it is gaining artistic practice market share in reaction to the over-mechanized, virtualized world of digital photography. I think for a lot of people, having a physical object to hold in their hands (and that they made with them) instead of look at on a computer screen is a very important factor in why they work in alternative processes. The irony in this reaction is that digital technologies make this democratization of alt processes possible - before, you had to shoot large format or make an enlarged wet-process negative to make alt-process prints. Now you can make a digitally enlarged negative from just about anything, even your camera phone, and print away.
    +1. Hand-made has never been more highly valued, in every form: Photography, woodwork, sewing/knitting, jewellery and metalwork, you name it. And for precisely the reasons you mention.

  2. #12
    Klainmeister's Avatar
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    1. PT/PD, Carbon, Oil printing, Albumen, Cyanotype, VanDyke, Wet Plate...favorite is Carbon.
    2. Dissatisfaction with all BW images looking so similar.
    3. I think it's more relevant in the digital age. You can do digital negatives, making the processes much more controllable and easy for most, but most of all, now that all it takes is a click of a button to make a 'print', doing alt process is a way to distinguish one's work as original, one-of-a-type, and part of a mastery of technique.
    K.S. Klain

  3. #13

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    1. I have so far done VDB, Cyanotype (original formula) and have started with gum bichromate, but also find it quite tricky like you. More on that later. I am getting Cyanotype II up and running as well. Have also done paper negatives, not sure if that counts as alternative process.
    2. I was really impressed with the work of alternative printers on exhibition etc. Plus, I'm a chemical engineer, and like working with chemicals. It seemed like a good idea to bring photography and alchemy together.
    3. See what TheFlyingCamera wrote - I cannot put it more eloquently. I do want to add, that the medium alone does not make the craft into art. The image must still be convincing in its own right. But bring the right image and medium and technique together, and one can have something that is really magical. A convincing factor for analogue in general, and alternative printing in particular, is that it offers ways of image making without having to resort to computers. I work in front of a computer all day long, so being able to ply my craft not having to use a computer offers me the escapism and tactility that is missing from the digital medium.

    About gum bichromates: Are you doing single-print gums or multiple-layers (tri-chromates or such)? My early failures were mostly related to inadequate preparation of the paper. You HAVE to coat it with gelatin first, otherwise the pigment will bond with the paper fibers, and no amount of soaking will get the last unwanted bits of pigment out. I would guess you know how to, but if not, you basically coat the paper with a gelatine emulsion, harden it with an aldehyde (formaldehyde, glyoxal etc), and the leave it to dry before applying your pigment emulsion. If you want to do multi-layer printing, you have to subject the paper to a full wet/dry cycle first so that it can shrink to its final size. Otherwise, you may have difficulty getting registration between the different negatives. Choosing the right pigments for trichromates is also tricky. Generally the higher the quality and longevity you desire, the better the product you have to use. I know of at least one website where the sunlight-stability of aquarelle pigments is explored, and it is well worth reading for the sake of gum printing. Finally, I am still using sunlight exposure. The UV-printer is on my to-do-list for this year. Sunlight is somewhat inconsistent, and makes for fun but unpredictability. Its UV content also fluctuates widely depending on season, altitude and latitude. So you have to basically do test prints for every print run, and adjust when the lighting changes. If you are serious about alternative printing, then you have no choice but to invest in a proper UV-printer.

  4. #14
    winger's Avatar
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    1. So far only gum, cyanotypes, and Mordançage. The last is my favorite.
    2. I wanted to try something different. AKA - it was there
    3. Sure, everything can coexist. If you do something well, how you do it matters more to you than to the general public (as much as we might wish it to be different). Creating something that's one of a kind is perhaps even more important in this time.

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