I’ve begun working as a technician for an art school here in New Zealand – I’m a photo technician, though ironically what I do in that role is basically all digital, video, database, and even computer programming. Pretty funny given that my specialty dates back to about the time that people were astonished by electricity.
This is from a quickie show that I was a part of;
The big print in strips is a shot I took with a rebuilt digital camera a few years (2008) back, and printed out with a receipt docket printer – suffice to say that the printer makers never planned for this – all told it’s about 150+ meters of printing.
The small prints are half plate physautotypes from the same series of images.
I can finally say that I have something of a handle on the physautotype process, it’s only taken five years for me to basically understand what’s at play there. I am not sure that I’ll ever reach the point of completely controlling it, let alone mastering it. That said, I’m starting to work on larger prints. There is no other process which looks like it – it has a translucent irridescence which I suppose looks like the bastard child of a dageurrotype and an ambrotype.
In other news, I now have a studio set up, and am looking forward to summer when I’ll be getting a lot more of my own work done.
I’ve been playing a fair bit recently with different ideas and antique processes. In large part because I’ve no access to running water in my current studio space, thus my re-visiting physautotype. It’s a nice process for me in that it doesn’t require water at all, and it’s really not terribly sensitive to light (I also have no capacity to black out my space during the day, closing the curtains and working quickly is sufficient ).
This was a bad pour, the imafe is from a lith negative I had lying about. It was very thin, it seems that physautotype likes thin negs.
This is from my digital infrared series, I finally found an output from these files that I like.
This was a test exposure, it gives you a decent idea of what the plate looks like without any special holder. There’s a lot of detail there when it’s displayed correctly.
So the next step is re-jigging my negatives to be a bit thinner, which should preserve the shadow detail.
I’ve also been playing with an idea about dageurrotypes.
This is as far as I’ve gotten, not so special really. But in this case I’m trying to use cheap silver plated flatware and I’m using iodophor steriliser with a wet treatment to create the sensitive plate, so even this level of success is pretty surprising.
It’s not something I expect to work out very quickly, but it is fairly cheap to do.
So I’ve started working with physautotype again. right now I’m gettting some decent results, not quite perfect, but it’s starting to happen.
These are made with one gram of violin rosin which is crushed to powder, then heated till liquid, cooled, crushed to powder again and added to 100ml of ethanol alcohol. (I’m using purple meths, seems to work fine).
This solution is put to the glass plate with a syringe (the glass plate held level on the fingertips of the opposite hand), the solution is swished around till it covers the whole glass plate, then swished around some more before it’s poured off the corner.
After the plate is poured off and stops dripping I turn the plate by 90 degrees so the next corner is down (the plate being held vertically at this point) and I use a paper towel to mop the bottom two edges of the plate till no more solution beads at the edge (note; the edge, not the surface of the plate).
Soon after this the plate will pass from transparent to a light frosted look, when this light frost covers the whole plate (it can be sped a little by fanning or lightly blowing on the plate) the plate is put down and over the next few minutes a secondary frost will occur. If the coating is uneven or the glass wasnt clean it will be obvious.
I’m using overhead transparencies for the negative (it’s direct positive, so the negative is actually a positive), which seems to work, though I still have a little work to do there, I give it three hours under a nail polish setter and then develop using mineral turpentine fumes.
The mineral turps fumes incidentally don’t need to be concentrated, I put a small splash on some black card in a pyrex dish and that’s enough to last a few days, if you can smell it then it’s probably strong enough.
Then leave it somewhere that it can air and get some sun, and it’s fixed. hold in front of a black surface and the image will show up nicely.
Basically I’ve been hitch hiking around Australia, taking plenty of photos, I’ve gone fully digital over this time – though I’m getting back into the studio now. here’s a few pics, lots of red dirt.
I finally got the process as far as this, it’s about as far as I’m going to take it for now.
This is a contact print from a lith negative. I coated both sides of a glass plate (gives a nice three dimensional effect) in a solution of violin rosin in ethyl alcohol (0.5g in 100ml) and then contact printed it for about three days exposure to blue sky on a window sill (this is not instant photography – If exposed to direct sunlight it’d be far faster), then developed it by exposing it to the fumes of mineral turps from about 1cm away on a flat plate. A separate development for each side.
This is the process that Niepce referred to briefly in one of his letters to Dageurre in the 1820’s – he said that printed on glass it makes a pleasing image when viewed in front of a dark surface. This (mine) is sandwiched in a black perspex case with a glass cover to protect it. I offered this to Geoffery Batchen, but he never responded, so it’s going in a box I guess.
I’m not taking this experiment any further for the forseable future, I’m thinking of a project involving travel, that and paying down a 78 thousand dollar student loan 😛