U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: How many gum layers

Re: How many gum layers

Dear List,
A nice lively discussion about gum! Never a dull moment...I'm having to reign myself in at work/office hours...students come in for advising and I shoo them away, saying "Not now! I'm reading my email!" Just kidding....

Judy said:
For instance, Demachy did very satisfying one-coat gums (or they look that way in repro and I'm told by folks who've seen originals that they're gorgeous) by modulating development. He'd print with good darks, but little midtone separation, then ease in the separation with drips from a sponge, as he described in one of his treatises, I forget which, but it was illustrated with a hand holding the sponge.
Thank you for saying this. As I said in my original carbon/gum quest:
1. One coat gums can be done.
2. One coat gums can be fully tonal, if the negative fits the tonal scale, or, as you have said, if the process is done in such a way to ease a print into this tonal scale.

My possible addition or departure from your statements:
1. I would prefer to a) print a one coat gum with a fully pigmented, fully gummed, higher concentration am di, thick layer and hence a longer exposure time and longer development time, and this is most easily done IMHO with a specific gum curve.
2. AND, for the record to all, I have in my chubby little hands (now made bony by gum printing) Sandy King's carbon print and I can attest to the fact that no matter what I do with a gum print it will NEVER look like a carbon print--which looks almost identical to a gelatin silver print--nor will it ever look like a platinum print. When said test is done, I will post on my website (to the usual continual disclaim).

Woe to me the day I decided to post a platinum print alongside a gum print and mislead the list with my intentions....I NEVER am interested in making a gum look like another process, but I AM interested in getting a fully tonal gum in one layer. It was done all the time back in the day, and I don't think gum has changed that much in our day.

Anyway, back to said test, it is not finished yet, Mark...I had to print a body of work this summer and quit testing for two months, so it went on the way back burner and I promise I am getting to it! (Sandy, I promise I am not absconding with your carbon print!) But right now bitmapping is seeming so much more intriguing. I will be bringing a comparison to the Houston Alt Group this weekend, for those interested, along with my other gum work (all--gasp--curved). And, for the record, I did everything to print the bitmap perfectly that I do with any print to make the best bitmap print possible.

Halvor, back to your original question/post way back when--about different ways to print gum. I'm killing several birds with one stone in this post because I have to teach/pack/leave town.

Both of the ways you mention are as old as the first multiple gum print, and make perfect sense to me and to gum printers throughout history, so I don't know why it would be any different in our generation, unless dichromates morphed with nuclear radiation. Kees, thanks for your posted experience.

But a correction for the record as per Katharine's statement: when you curve a gum print to fit a certain tonal scale, you are NOT truncating tones--that's exactly what a curve is designed to do--to express all tones, from 0 black to 255 white, and, in fact, will result in a more fully tonal negative because of the correct matching of tonal range to process.

Judy, as per your comments, below, about curves and complexities and gum and all that, I wanted to talk a bit about my own gum journey. First, my gum prints were pretty awful. So I learned how to do gum the complex way. A good thing. Then, I am moving back toward more simple ways and loosey goosey things, including in my actual imagery, too (a major change there coming) and hence the mention of a lowly bitmap negative (hilariously enough, THEN I get accused on the list of "misleading students" as if an uncurved bitmap negative is going to lead students to hell or something. I swear, sometimes on the list I can never win.). I want to start students off low techie and move into higher techie stuff to give a range of gum expression, hence my exploration into these alternative negative ways--also fueled by low cost desires. I mean, I'd love to test out imagesetter negs but they are way out of my budget--Pictorico is bad enough.

The end.


And, if I can say this without being trashed for "anti-platinum" attitude, or even if I can't, I feel there's some kind of infection spread from those necessities, leading, especially those about to try gum de novo to think they have to nail down the "best," the necessary, the correct, the optimum, the theory, the one certain precise exact ordained order and total comprehension before sticking a toe in the water. That, my dears, is actually a grind -- and charming as they may be, do you want your gum to look like it was made by, say, Katharine, or Chris, or Keith, or even me? AFAIK, each of them & whoever else has found their own way or "touch", like (excuse-the-expression) painting. Not to mention that what maybe Chris absolutely swears happens, I swear I never saw ! Should a beginner have to deal with that? I stumbled into color seps before I knew what a "curve" was or had the means to make one, scanning a color slide in a slide scanner and printing the separations on b&w laser printer, or (an eon ago) exposing onto direct duplicating film. My problem with those prints was (I thought) they looked too much like C-prints. (Heh heh !)

But instead of the curves that lay ahead, I used different concentrations of each process color as required, & labelled them Q-1, or 2, or 3, sometimes up to 5 (the Q was for quinacridone, but the cyan would also vary -- yellow was often the same). It worked -- and in some ways easier than "curving." And to folks who don't have the means to "curve" or the will -- try it. Or curve AND change the mixes. If we want a perfect predictable "previsualized" and /or "realistic" print -- why gum? Perfect can be convenient, but can get the upper hand (funny expression -- where is the upper hand?).