Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Black Monday

I had my own little black Monday yesterday. Ok, it wasnt as bad as the stock market plunge of 1987, but it was one of those days where everything I set out to do turned to crap.

I was in the basement trying to get some printing done. The sink in my basement is in horrible shape. Yesterday, the cold water had two settings: trickle and full blast. Because the faucet leaks like mad, having it on full blast meant I was sending sprays of water a couple of feet into the air, soaking everything as I tried to work. Yes, I know I need a plumber. I’m trying to find a larger utility sink first, so that I can have it installed along with the other plumbing work. Unfortunately, I’m having a hard time finding one. In the meantime, I bear with it.

First up was a Van Dyke brown print of this image:

It’s a sort of panorama made from two photos taken with the Nishika four-lens camera. The black and white original looks pretty good, but the first negative I made looked light to me. Sure enough, when I printed it a few days ago, it was way too dark. So, I went back tto the image, lightened it and made other adjusments, and printed a second negative. This one looked much better, so I reprinted using the new negative.

This is what the resulting print looks like:

Still too dark, and the streaks caused from brushing the Van Dyke brown chemistry onto the paper are really annoying. I’ve been doing Van Dyke brown prints on Rives BFK paper, but I’m thinking of trying this image again using the Arches cold press I use for cyanotypes.

Meanwhile, I printed a cyanptype of a collaged panorama image made from photos I took of the first Mc Donalds in Des Plains, IL. It came out beautifully, but as it dried, started getting splotchy looking. It’s especially noticiable in the sky.

While that print was washing, I started tryng some more toning processes on cyanotype prints. I really liked the first one I mentioned in my last entry, so wanted to try some more. Unfortunately, none of these were very sucessful.

Here’s the first one:

This toner works by placing the print in Dektol (Kodak’s basic B&W print developer) until it bleaches, then soaking it in a bath of tannic acid. The book said it would turn the print a smoky black, which is what I was hoping for. What I got was a muddy purple-brown, similar to but not as nice looking as the eggplant-black toner I tried a few days ago.

Here’s the second toner I tried:

This one involved soaking the print in ammonia mixed with water, then in the tannic acid. The book said it would turn brown. As you can see, I got purple. Not bad in itself, but the eggplant-black one is still better.

On to toner #3:

This used the same ammonia and tannic acid baths as the ‘brown’ toner, but also had a third dip into a tray of sodium carbonate to achieve the red tones. The book said this would be red-brown. I got a slightly more red and slightly less muddy version of the black toner mentoned above.

Feeling underwhelmed by these toning processes, I decided to run one more cyanotype of the McDonalds image, to correct for the splotches in the sky. Unfortunately, I wasn’t paying atention, and got this:

Yes, I printed it backwards. Would have been a beautiful print if it was done right.

So that’s it. A pretty uninspiring day in the studio. I do have some really nice Van Dyke brown prints I made a few days ago. I’ll post those soon. For now, I’m trying to build up enough ambition to do some more printing.

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