U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: dig negs, and now Dan's pigment over platinum

Re: dig negs, and now Dan's pigment over platinum

Speaking of students, I have to brag on one of mine, Maggie Mateskon--may have already but the project is growing even better than when I reported on it the last. Maggie is a redhead and is confronting all kinds of stereotypes that people subject redheads to. She is doing your pigment over platinum process, Dan--where everything is mostly colorless except for hair and lips, and the girls are posed in stereotypical pinup poses with stereotypical pinup outfits (cutsie aprons, blowing kisses, you know, the stuff you find on auto body shop walls). It is truly a stellar project, and I cannot think of a better way to do them--even handcolored bw prints--than your process, Dan.

Dan was gracious enough to provide me with a video download of this technique which I shared with the class last spring. At least 2 students went to town with it.

By my historical reckoning, Dan is the first to bring digital negatives to perfection (even though back in 'the day' another 'seemed' to be the first), and the first to invent the pigment over platinum process. I personally equate him with the guy that, like, invented the internet--well, maybe not that bigwiggy because if it wasn't for the internet guy we wouldn't be discussing this on this list. And see, I don't even know that guy's name. But anyway, credit should be given where credit is due.

I have used both systems (Dan's and Mark's) and I recommend both--there are those who just are not the types to fiddle around with developing their own custom curves as in the PDN system and want someone to do their curve work for them--which Dan graciously has. It is easy for us in academia to assume everyone is digitally savvy or wants to be, which is far from true.

Now if Dan was a gum printer...

And, speaking of photographing alt process prints, I hear ya, Dan. I was submitting two images for Malin Fabbri's upcoming book and scanning on a flatbed (if they even fit) shows bumps and texture too much, photographing shows dull glare and colors don't seem correct, you can't sharpen or it gets grainy, it is a PITA.

Hi Joe,
The images on that web site are jpegs of the images that were turned
into hand-coated platinum/palladium and pigment-over–platinum. The
actual prints were much nicer (richer and with more charm) than the
reproductions. I don't find any virtue in photographing (or scanning)
prints and then turning them into jpegs to put on the web. In my
experience, photos of hand-coated prints almost always look dull and
lifeless unless you alter them in Photoshop anyway. Heck, back in the
old days when we had to submit slides for juried competitions and such,
I'd always "cheat" by shooting slides of a silver gelatin prints
instead; a slide of the "real" pt/pd print would look like gray mud in
comparison. I never had final prints rejected because the print didn't
look like the entry slide that I'd submitted. Make sense? In the next
workshop in which we print alt images, I'll get a group shot of everyone
(with a big smile on their faces) holding their lovely prints!

What students find so exciting is that they are making exhibition
quality prints on the first day of a workshop. The laborious optical
projection negative methods sometimes had students finally making their
first print on day three of a five day session.

About curve tweaking. Yes, if you are making digital negs you will have
a much easier time if you get comfortable with Photoshop's Curves dialog
box. The good news is, everything you learn about using curves (while
tweaking your negative contrast) will serve you well in digital
photography in general. I tell students the Curves dialog box is worth
1/2 the purchase price of Photoshop!

I applaud Mark's and every one else's contribution to the digital
negative discussion. More information is rarely a bad thing. We're all
basically designing a wardrobe for a seven year old. Nothing we tailor
today will fit in a couple years. That's the nature of the beast as our
medium goes through this incredible chemo-optical to digital conversion.

Hope this helps!


Joseph Smigiel wrote on 10/2/06, 10:32 PM:

> But these images aren't in any instance alternative process prints from
> diginegs generated using your system, or are they? If any of the images
> posted represent something like 4-color gumprints, gum/platinum prints,
> or pigment/platinum, etc., from diginegs, I'm amazed at the quality.
> Otherwise, I don't see the relevance of referring to them in the
> discussion at hand or citing the experience as "ample evidence" that
> your system works. Just because negatives were generated at the
> workshop "on the spot" doesn't mean they were adequate to produce fine
> prints. Can you point to some print examples from those negatives?
> FWIW, I have both your original text and inkjet companion and have been
> able to successfully create some technically proficient VDB, gum, and
> cyanotype prints using the latter with the provided templates, an Epson
> 2200, and a bit of tweaking of the curves (which IME and those I've
> corresponded with on the subject, is always necessary). I think the
> inkjet technology advanced sufficiently just previous to the release of
> your inkjet companion so that good inkjet negatives could finally be
> made. Before that, I would have to relate that the ink density just
> wasn't there for processes like VDB and that other paths were adequate
> for gum diginegs. Ag, Pt/Pd - dunno - never tried those until recently
> and so I lack sufficient experience to comment in that arena. I will
> say the handy templates alone are probably worth the price of admission.
> The curves OTOH have to be tweaked for good results, at least in my
> experience. (Maybe it's the water around here...)
> Thanks in advance for any clarification you can provide.


  • References: