U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: dig negs (Burkholder)

Re: dig negs (Burkholder)

On Wed, 4 Oct 2006, Katharine Thayer wrote:

I have nothing against this recommendation on principle; it's fair and if you've got both, you'll have more of a complete picture. On the other hand, it may come as a surprise to some, but there are actually people in the world to whom $100+ is a whole heck of a lot of money, maybe even some people on this list who aspire to gum printing. So I'd like to offer another point of view to reassure those people: if you can't or would rather not spend that kind of money, you can make perfectly acceptable gum prints without either system, and save your money for gum and paper.
As I said the other day, I used Dan's system in the days before photo-quality inkjet printers, because it was the only way to get a decent negative out of a low-resolution laser printer. But since I got my first Epson Photo Stylus printer, I've simply inverted the file and printed the negative as is. (And if I ever decide I need to tweak a curve, that's what the Photoshop Adjust Curves feature is for).
Actually, since Katharine opens this can of worms, I'm moved to mention my feeling that either system, Dan's or Mark's, may be excellent, necessary, advisable or simply useful for processes like platinum/palladium that give you one crack at the picture & it's over. That is, where development is unitary and finite and more or less fixed, and the goal is a full range of tone in one color and the printer has only one chance at it.

Gum is entirely other, at least in my experience, even aside from the fact that you can coat as many damn times as you want, and develop each one of them differently, from blowpipe to scalding water, or simply slosh and release. You can wipe off completely or leave an overall coat for a background tone & do any of these in any color, and/or soak a print for a day or so and then gently wipe out areas you want to clear, or brush in color wet, and/or wipe it off with the dog's tail...

{And Chris, I mention in passing, that if you want to run a who-develops-the-longest contest, a propos of how & why the paper sinks -- my NORMAL development used to be overnight: It worked while I slept. Then, often as not I had to rush off in the morning so it sat the rest of the day, too. All that requires is enough exposure....In fact I'm in awe of folks whose regular development is 10 minutes. That to me is a real high-wire act -- VERY little margin for error! I don't in fact think I've ever done it, because if I felt I had to pull at 10 minutes, the thing was underexposed and ran like crazy or underdeveloped and almost uninflected.

Of course, back in ancient times, that is, before digital negatives, my "instrument" was the Stouffer 21-step (actually still is) -- bought at the educators' discount, it cost all of $4.50. Each student got one as part of her/his lab fee.Using a couple of dozen at a time a person could test every variable of exposure, additive, mix, whatever, and develop all together. We used it as guide for exposing the lith film .

As I recall, the method (with the white card and the light table) is described in Post-Factory #1, and once I myself understood it & built the first class around it, librarians and Upper East Side Princesses (not to mention my darling space-cadet undergraduates at Pratt) got a pretty good print their first time out.

But that's also a digression... the point I want to make is that designing the shape of the gum print can just as well be done IN THE PRINTING, not in advance -- there are so many modulations of development and coating and emulsion, exposure & abrasion that can be done together or serially, ad infinitum, that having it all planned in advance would spoil the fun.... As I used to say about Zone system, why bother if you know what it's going to look like?

So I repeat myself. Is that a capital crime? However,if anyone has some lith film & wants to make a gum print with it, P-F #1 is on alternativephotography.com & can be downloaded as PDF.