Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Back at it.

I can't believe it's been almost two months since I've done any printing. The silver stains on the counter are still there from the mass of pre-christmas present production. (I don't suspect I'll be removing them anytime soon, either.) It was nice that those in the family receiving Kallitypes for presents enjoyed them, despite not having a clue of what I was talking about with sensitizer this and gold chloride that. I'm okay with that since they understood they were handmade and recognized the amount of time that went in to making them.

Maybe it's the time commitment that deters all non-hackers from alt printing. I spent six hours last night making 10 prints with only 6.5 of those being acceptable. And that was just digital neg through falling asleep with prints floating around in my kitchen sink. Doesn't count all the time spent taking the images, developing, scanning and processing. And they still have to be toned. It's like running multiple endurance races and finding that sometimes the trophies smell like bad cheese.

Ricketts Glen State Park, PA - Untoned Kallitype
The other problem is that all the prints I made last night were tiny and more experiment than anything. They aren't destined to be display pieces. In a moment of anti-brilliance, I bought an awkward size paper and can only get one 8x10 per sheet while leaving behind plenty of scraps. I decided to put them to good use by using up my remaining dribbles of sensitizer and being a proving ground for images that may or may not make a decent Kallitype print.

One image, which I thought might be impossible to print, was impossible to print. Because I tried to cram too much under World's Shoddiest UV Box, another became a blurry mess. (Possibly a reason to build World's Shoddiest UV Box a big brother, or more likely to cannibalize the current one to build an even more dangerous contraption.)

O'Connell Bridge, Dublin - Untoned Kallitype
The bridge picture caused the remaining 1.5 botched prints. Well, the first was entirely my fault, seeing as my digital negative wasn't so much negative. I wish I hadn't thrown it away as it did make an interesting reversed line image. I looked to see if I could retrieve it from the trash this morning but the combination of having not been fixed and being a repository for used coffee grounds has made it a smelly disappointment. The second attempt, now with a proper negative, looked fine until I scanned it. That's when I noticed that my piece of shit inkjet (which I love very much) had decided to do all sorts of banding on the negative. Not sure why, after printing many successful digital negs, it started acting up now. The heaviest band can be seen on the left of the image and the lighter bands are noticeable in the clouds.

Farquhar Park, York, PA - Untoned Kallitype
There were at least a few minor achievements out of this printing extravaganza. I've managed to boost the sharpness quite a bit in the prints. Over-sharpening with unsharp mask in photoshop helps significantly. The increased grain, while very visible on a computer screen, doesn't print through at all. The second is something I should have been doing all along. It was one of those forehead slapping moments of "oh my god, what an idiot I've been". Flip the image horizontally in PS so it can actually be printed "emulsion" down. It's amazing how much more crisp the image is without being diffused by the thickness of the base. I want to go back and reprint everything I've done so far after I finish banging my head on the desk. But I won't. Takes too damn long.

I'm very happy with the rest of the prints and will post them with a tone of despair after I've destroyed them while refining my selenium toning process. That is, after all, the most likely outcome.

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