U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: color printing for gummists

Re: color printing for gummists

I've lost track of time, having had my ISP go down for 3 days, plus other versions of normal chaos, but I found this in my "postponed" file, and figure I didn't send it... The message about *cadmium* and other paint issues is anyway, IMO, worth repeating:

On Wed, 11 Feb 2009, Diana Bloomfield wrote:
I agree with both Jack and Jim here. Sam Wang also has a great tutorial on Malin's Alternative Photography site and also on Unblinking Eye, both of which I found really helpful. As I remember, Clay Harmon has something on Unblinking Eye as well, but that may be specific to gum over platinum-- but also helpful. And I can't remember which PF Journal this is in, but Judy has a very detailed step-by-step in there, complete with illustrations, so I'd purchase a copy of that as well. And, really, just purchase the whole set. (That PF set, my dog, and my negatives--not necessarily in that order--are
Thanks Diana !, plus thanks to Jack and others for the kind words... There are several issues of Post-Factory that deal with gum, in fact it runs throughout, as various aspects and personal/general discoveries, not to mention inspiration, arrived. Digital issues and color seps (and of course some "debunking) reside in #8. Tho I note that Issue #1 has the gum intro I gave newby classes, that is, the basics (also useful, really, across the board).

Now I must add that, besides the wrong colors Phritz was using, cadmium paints (if they really had cadmium, not just the name) are absolutely **verboten** environmentally, as of 10 or 15 years ago -- so if the paints are new (and rules elsewhere may be stronger than in the US) they were almost certainly something else. But either way, they're almost certainly OPAQUE (as the cadmiums were) and for tricolor gum coats you want/need TRANSPARENT colors.

At this point, however, I describe a problem I ran into recently with a gum print -- as both lament and advice. (Like yr mother used to say, you'll thank me for this some day.)

As comes to many of us in due course, this week I HAD to clean up the studio -- and tho I didn't throw out as much as I'd hoped, I did find a lot of stuff I'd forgotten. Among things I found was a gum print I'd COMPLETELY forgotten (or maybe didn't appreciate at the time), in fact if it didn't have my scribbles and signature and an image I'd printed in silver gelatin, I'd swear someone had snuck into the studio and done this incredibly great, weird, but beautiful and true print, In other words, HOW THE HELL DID I DO IT !!??

When gum printing, I note the coats (by my formula names, or codes) as I do them, in a margin or on the back, and also record the actual mixes (weight and/or drops of everything) in a notebook -- supposedly, anyway. However, the rule in life generally, I find, is that when it's still in your mind, fresh in memory, you know what all those terms or abbreviations mean, including the spaces between them.

But (in this case) 8 years later... that part of what remains of the brain (or my brain) is re-occupied. Not to mention that one of the coats, my "ib 101" (or it could have been "lb 101" or 1b 101, dammit, an "i", an "l" or a "1") didn't appear legibly anywhere in that immense -- and theoretically
comprehensive -- record book. My hunch is that, because I'd been using "FB 101" (for Kremer's "Furnace Black," a dry pigment), I'd decided to try Ivory Black, which I also had in dry pigment, but failed to enter the change in code -- tho who knows?

My point here is that in this moment of frustration & self-reproach, I had two associations:

1. I recall *scientist* Mike Ware's notes on his tests and experiments, which struck me at the time he shared them as hopelessly, tiresomely detailed -- like he wrote down each time he scratched his ear or washed a beaker... But, I realize now, they're exactly what you actually need when, years later, you try to reconstruct, or at least understand, a process.

2. In the latest issue of "Finity" -- David Vestal's current abbreviated descendant of "Grump" -- he describes his record-keeping process, which I shall henceforth try to emulate (as far as my gummist nature permits). And so, without permission, I summarize his remarks on "keeping digital photos":

He gives his memory cards numbers as used : C1, C2, etc. (Doesn't erase & reuse.) "They're 2GB cards, w. 1000 exposures each. The camera gives consecutive numbers." Then, as he prints them he gives each a catalog or printed-picture number, like he does for prints from negatives. The digital photos get CAT numbers starting with D for digital, and each one is saved with all its tweaks for b/w printing, first on a zip disk... and later on CD...." This description goes on for quite a while, but you get the idea of the detail and painstaking-ness.

(Vestal also notes, a propos of his use of Zip disc et al, the evil practice of "the lame-brained computer industry that goes in for planned obsolescence to sell us new products we wouldn't need if we had practical standards..." etc. etc. etc.)

"Finity" is now a one-page communication, printed both sides, and $40 for 10 issues .... which, IMO, is, word-for-word a bit pricey... But I'm a long time Vestal fan, because the fellow, besides many insights, & much history & knowledge, has pretty much always had the best BS detector of anyone in the field. Whatever he has to say I want to read.

That's David Vestal, PO Box 309, Bethlehem CT 06751-0309.

In any event and however, from now on I shall try to keep gum records in tiresome, unnecessary detail -- tho it's quite possible, given the way things happen, that that will jinx the whole business & I'll never get my mystery print solved...