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  1. #51
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Hurrell printed a significant portion of his work on Azo, so those would have been contact printed, which was generally the means for producing publicity shots in quantity, but that's an interesting practical consideration.

    The Hurrell prints I've seen in person don't look like they were made with thin negs. I had never been that interested in Hollywood portraiture before I saw some of these prints in an Upper East Side gallery in Manhattan. The skin tones all had a shimmering quality with beautiful and clear tonal separation. It may be that the negs started out thin, but I suspect there may have been enough hand work on them to change that by printing time.

    Does anyone know what film developer he used? If he used ABC pyro, like Edward Weston, the negatives would have been denser (higher UV density) than they would have appeared to a photographer unaccustomed to pyro negs.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  2. #52
    Christopher Nisperos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
    David - It would seem to ME (maybe it's just me) that the reason for the thin neg would have far less to do with the image 'aesthetics' (i'm not too sure they were even thinking that deeply about film characteristics this way) and, maybe, a whole lot MORE to do with the fact that they have to knock off 5000 prints from the same neg on an 8x10 enlarger - probably at f/16 (for neg flatness reasons). Just an idea...
    Hi Sparky,

    Those 5000 prints would most probably have been contact prints.

    Best,

    Christopher

  3. #53
    Christopher Nisperos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sanders McNew View Post
    Chris, I've been hunting around for a good retoucher. Will their retoucher work for me, do you suppose? I would be grateful if you could send me contact information -- I have a few negatives that are desperate for a skilled hand.

    Sanders
    Hi Sanders,

    I just spotted your post. Sorry for the delay in responding.

    Contact Nancy Staresina at Star Retouching. She's on the edge of retiring, so hurry: 219-759-3312. By the way, I believe that she has an Adam's retouching machine for sale, cheap (the only catch: shipping cost!)

    Hope this helps you out!

    Best,

    Christopher

    .

  4. #54
    Christopher Nisperos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    As far as the thin negative goes, one reason for this may have been that retouching could be used to push the highlights up. Hurrell would use powdered graphite over the whole face, for instance, to smooth out the skin, in addition to lightening up lines, wrinkles and blemishes with the point of a pencil, and this could easily add a stop's worth of density to the neg.

    I tried to see if there was a source for powdered graphite and realized that I produced plenty of it myself from sharpening my leads with a stone. It can be applied with a Q-tip or a blending tool that is essentially a tightly rolled cylinder of paper about the diameter of a cigarette, cut on an angle.

    It's pretty common on old portraits that have been retouched for the faces to be lighter than the lighting itself would have allowed.
    Hello David,

    I believe that you are correct: the addition of density to the negative will of course have a "dodging" effect.

    However, I really think that the "see through the highlights" rule-of-thumb for developing portrait negatives mainly had to do with guaranteeing highlight detail, and not necessarily the objective of providing a suitable threshold density for retouching. Afterall, not every photographer retouched their negatives. Don't forget that the maxim was always considered a general standard.

    Here's a suggestion for obtaining graphite powder, the easy way.
    I know you have a lot of experience in 8x10 portraiture and retouching. Perhaps you're familiar with the technique of sharpening your pencil leads in an "envelope" created by folding a sheet of emory paper in-two and taping closed two sides? The long point is then inserted and sharpening is done by rotating the pencil while similutaneously and continuously sliding it in and out of the envelope. This results not only in a needle-sharp lead, but a whole bunch of graphite powder neatly accumulated in the envelope!

    As to Hurrell using this powder for retouching —I know it can be used on paper negatives for Mortensen-like effects— but can you shed some light on how it can be successfully applied to a negative? Won't cotton swab or paper stub applicators leave visible results?

    Best,

    Christopher

    .
    Last edited by Christopher Nisperos; 04-28-2007 at 06:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #55
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Nisperos View Post
    As to Hurrell using this powder for retouching —I know it can be used on paper negatives for Mortensen-like effects— but can you shed some light on how it can be successfully applied to a negative? Won't cotton swab or paper stub applicators leave visible results?

    Best,

    Christopher

    .
    I forget exactly where I read this, maybe in one of Vieira's books and possibly elsewhere (I have a few old retouching manuals that may mention this technique), but the blending stump is also used for charcoal drawings and I would imagine pastel drawing to create smooth textures. I've done a bit of this, and I definitely haven't mastered it, but it's a technique that has potential. As to whether it leaves "visible results"--well if it's done right then the visible results are smooth and clean, and if it's done clumsily then the visible results are clumsy.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  6. #56
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Thanks Christopher and David, for your responses. Chris- while you're certainly an expert on the subject, where as I know precious little... it seems to me rather odd that they would contact print for production. Given the culture at the time, I'm sure enlarging (1:1) would be held in far higher esteem than lowly 'contact printing' (certainly people feel different now!) - it's just very surprising to me. You think he did his own printing also? -and not hand the job off to a lab? Regardless - if he was using azo (not disputing it - just think it's odd) - surely, you'd want to keep the negs thin for production with that process, too! Anyway - thanks again for your feedback. I'm just trying to absorb all this within the context of 'print production'.

    ps - I'll pick up a copy of the book!

    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Nisperos View Post
    Hi Sparky,

    Those 5000 prints would most probably have been contact prints.

    Best,

    Christopher

  7. #57
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Contact printing on a contact printer with individually switchable bulbs is a very quick method for producing large volumes of prints. Also the light from an enlarger is generally not bright enough for reasonable exposure times with Azo.

    The way a production contact printer works is that the bulbs are underneath the neg in a box, and there is a switch for each bulb for coarse dodging of sections of the negative. You can usually find these things cheap these days. There is usually a layer for placing dodging masks above the bulbs, and then another layer of glass for the neg, emulsion side up, and then the paper goes face down on the neg. You set a timer on the printer, and then when the lid of the printer is closed, there is a very short burst of light to make the exposure.

    At some stages of his career, Hurrell did his own printing and retouching, but I gather that during his busiest period, he was part of the studio system, which had its own labs and retouchers.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  8. #58
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Yeah - I remember seeing one of those once at Alden's in NYC in the early 80s (boy- that place was kind of a junkstore- are they still open?).

  9. #59
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I think Olden's is still in business. I haven't been by in a long time. I suspect they own the building, because I can't imagine that they could pay Herald Square rent these days from used camera sales. They would probably derive more income just from renting the billboard space. The big billboard that usually featured a Nikon ad for a long time could easily command a million dollars per year, and it's probably more than that. When I was there last you could see huge stocks of obscure third-party SLR lenses from the 1970's on the shelves in the back.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  10. #60
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Olden. That's right. Not alden. Thanks. Yeah - that place always seemed a bit odd to me that way. Only in new york, eh?



 

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