I initially starting forming this post on my new Facebook Page, where I billed the article as, “A few thoughts ahead of a new blog post on my recent research with Richard Freestone into alternative print processes from Digital Negatives…”
However, I think I managed clarity in that first missive and am now publishing it here for you, pretty much untouched…
It has been an enthralling process working with Digital Negatives lately to produce analogue prints, specifically Calotypes—the very first photographic print process from the 1800′s.
The concept of making Digital Negatives is by no means new. However, HP’s new Large Format Digital Negative Application yet again shows their (HP’s) commitment to working at the cutting edge and taps right into the superb technology of my main workhorse, the DJz3200.
An unexpected, exciting bi-product of our research? I can’t help but feel this is the window I have been unknowingly seeking for a large proportion of my own work, which has been stored away for ten years or more.
Photographs of my first two Calotypes, printed by Richard Freestone, illustrate this post.
By combining old and new technology, a whole world has opened up at Jack Lowe Studio…
…photographers who only shoot digitally can now experience the joy of the very first photographic print processes by having a negative made from their files.
From that negative, a stunning contact print of a true organic and magical nature.
Why is this important? Well, I believe it’s two-fold:
Firstly, in this age of ‘digital-bish-bash-bosh’ (a notion from which I’ve always steered away), photographers can now offer something unique and different; ironically the process which was so ubiquitous now becomes ‘different’!
The photographer is forced to slow down (this is by no means a rapid production process) and enjoy nature having a little control again through the vagaries and variables of chemistry.
It tickles me that the HP scientist, Angel Albarran, writes in the application’s supporting documentation:
“Note that none of these processes are colorimetrically correct…”
Wise words, Angel, and a suitable cautionary note against expecting to have total control beyond the making of the negative in such a beautiful, old process.
Secondly, although collectors of photography are increasingly happy to pay top-dollar for a Digital Archival Pigment Print (such as those I have dedicated my life to making over the years), there will always be those who will only buy archival analogue prints.
The Digital Negative in the Digital Era makes this accessible and possible once more…
This post has been extremely popular; any discussions surrounding the good ol’ days of analogue really seem to hit the spot with my visitors—for good reason too with such an inspiring topic for those passionate about photography.
Thank you so much for all your interest, comments and emails and to Paul Debois for the kind mentions in his recent blog post, Alternative Print Processes.
I can thoroughly recommend making the time to see George Shaw’s The Sly and Unseen Day exhibition at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art.
Stunning paintings made with good ol’ Humbrol (yes, Humbrol!). Over to the man himself…
Reed Ingram Weir and I met in June last year when working together on a series of his prints leading up to a winter exhibition.
We soon realised a common interest—the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights.
However, one major difference between us became clear—Reed proactively tracks down the Aurora within the Arctic Circle several times a year.
He is an Aurora-Chaser, whereas I, on the other hand, continue to merely dream of seeing them one day…
Reed also seems to have a knack of making sure his work is seen by a wide audience, particularly after striking lucky recently in both Northern Ireland and Northumberland’s Holy Island.
As we discussed at the time, it’s incredible what can arrive on your doorstep when you stop looking for it.
I asked Reed what attracts him to the pursuing the Aurora Borealis, to which he replied:
“I love the connection between the Sun and the Aurora Borealis (the Northern Lights); I enjoy how something so beautiful is created by our most important source of light and how that, every now and again, we are reminded of its power with such a beautiful light show in the form of the Northern Lights.
“When I was a wee boy, I remember seeing a picture of the Northern Lights and being completely amazed by them. I always told myself I would view them one day. Now I am completely hooked on seeking them out and making photographs of them.”
“To me, they are enchanting, they never look the same twice. When I mention the Aurora, most seem to know little about this natural phenomenon or how it’s created. However, it always seems to have a place in their hearts and an instant connection is made.
“Even though I find the chase most frustrating, this element of the ritual gets my photographic juices pumping.
“Capturing the Aurora is fraught with technical difficulties—I look forward to the day I can swiftly and perfectly capture my shots so that I can stand back and enjoy the performance for myself, knowing my photographs are in the bag…”
I make Reed’s prints using HP’s archival Vivera pigment ink-set and Hahnemühle Photo Rag 308gsm.
All are for sale and can be purchased by contacting Reed through his site.