U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Fresson question

Re: Fresson question

On Fri, 11 Jan 2008, Sandy King wrote:

Let me remark that the subject of Fresson is very interesting to me from a historical perspective, but the kind of image that one gets from the process (and from other similar direct carbon processes) is not what I want in my own work. As a general rule one gets with the Fresson process an image that is rather low in reflective Dmax, has a fairly limited range of tones, and has a painterly/impressionistic kind of look. I prefer the direct carbon transfer process because it gives much greater reflective Dmax, has a range of tones comparable to a pt./pd. print, and the print has a very "photographic" type of look that maximizes the appearance of detail and sharpness.

I do not claim that any look is inherently superior to another, but I do know for a fact what I like for my own personal work.

My impression is that the demand for a Fresson type paper is rather low and probably does not merit the investment of much time or capital. Dick Sullivan at B&S could easily make such a paper if he wanted, and since he apparently has nothing against making money I believe that he would if he felt that it would be worthwhile financially. Instead he has decided to make and market carbon transfer tissue, which is capable of giving a much better print from a technical perspective.
Many thanks, Sandy, for the clarification. For all that I've read (and written! -- as in P-F #9) about the Fresson Process, I don't recall having seen an actual Fresson. Yet the palpable longing of today's seekers, for whom it may be the ne plus ultra of art photography, is seductive. And I suspect I would share that view, within limits perhaps, but I like to mess with the "photographic look" (as in Sabatier, et al). And, given all the cameras in this world, that "look" strikes me as a difficult vehicle for discovery and innovation. (Tho of course if you're being "innovative" and lack purity, you explain that you worked very hard to avoid it.)

Now, however, a possibly dumb question... though I doubt anyone's reading this far, so what the hey: What is "reflective D-Max"? D-max on an opaque surface rather than in a transparency? Or? (I've never seen that term -- tho, just ask me & I'll explain ULF.)

But here's a goody -- a reward for anyone still reading. I'd found it while covering Fresson for P-F #9 and mentioned it there, then forgot, and re-discovered it noodling through the 1929 American Annual of Photography, with the aforementioned article on printing Fresson by Charles M. Mouret. And he does give very detailed, precise, and expert-seeming instructions .

The editorial material -- articles, salon prints, etc.-- is followed by many pages of ads. Advertisement #52 reads:

Fresson The non-transfer Carbon Printing Process fully described in the editorial part of this Annual will appeal to discriminating pictorialists on account of the exquisite tonal and textural values it is capable of yelding. I recommend a trial in the following pigments and supports: --

[colors, sizes and prices given]

[Signed] *Mrs.* Chas. M. Mouret, Sole Agent for the United States and Canada, 431 Classon Avenue, Brooklyn NY. [emphasis added]


Even for 1929 that's pretty brazen, wouldn't you say?

However the "Who's Who" section yielded some further -- and quite innocent -- discoveries. For instance, Edward Weston had 3 prints in salons in 1927-28; his son Brett had one. (There's also a nice photo of Edward looking a handsome 40-ish and smoking a cigarette by Fred R. Dapprich on page 118.)

Cecil Beaton showed 2 prints the same year, as did Robert Demachy. Imogen Cunningham showed 1, and Margaret Bourke White showed 2. (Joseph Petrocelli of West Broadway NY showed 120. I surmise profound meaning in those numbers.)

I mentioned some other well-known names yesterday, and daresay there are more...But these folks are NOT among the salon photos illustrated, which tend to be fairly hokey (tho some of that could be the repro).

OK, enuf... thanks again, Sandy.