In January 2011, one of our finest actors passed on to The Great Mystery.
Pete Postlethwaite commanded the screen and stage with his formidable presence, his film career punctuated with startling roles in Brassed Off, Baz Lurhmann’s Romeo + Juliet, The Usual Suspects and let’s not forget Jurassic Park…
Paul described to me how he made such a gentle portrait:
“Pete Postlethwaite lived with his family in south Shropshire. Close by is a local beauty spot and National Trust area called the Long Mynd. As Pete was himself a lover of the natural beauty of the south Shropshire hills, he wrote the foreword to a book written about the area.
“I covered the event for a society magazine. During a quiet moment I asked him if I may take his portrait to which he agreed. Totally unassuming and down to earth, he stared straight into the lens with those soulful eyes.
“The impromptu shoot was over in less than five minutes. Actually, I had photographed him on other occasions, but this image captured his integrity and for me reflected more faithfully my feelings of who he was.”
Although brief, it sounds like a wonderful moment for Paul with such a beautiful outcome.
Following some canvassing on Twitter and in ‘real life’, I’d like to leave you with a clip of one of Pete’s performances.
There are so many to choose from but this tear-jerking scene in Brassed Off came up consistently — as a friend of mine described it, “The most poetic piece of swearing ever filmed.”
Hankies at the ready…
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Imagine it’s 1873.
Platinum/Palladium printing has just been invented but the print size is limited to that of the plate or film on which the photograph was originally captured.
An inherent attribute of any contact printing process, this meant that 5×4″ and 10×8″ Platinum prints were commonplace at the time.
Fast forward to the 21st Century and we now have the ability to make much larger digital negatives, resulting in the ability to make similarly larger Platinum/Palladium prints.
This year, Richard and I have been proud to take part in several projects that make full use of this new marriage of old and new technologies — Ian Aitken’s photographs of northern white rhinos have been a prime example.
This has been an extraordinary undertaking by Ian, who liaised with the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya.
Here, he took exclusive photographs of Najin, Fatu, Sudan and Suni — four of the world’s last seven remaining northern white rhinos — in a joint fundraising effort for the conservancy.
On 18th December 2012, Ian was invited to discuss the project on BBC Radio 4′s Saving Species.
Click on the image below, where you can hear Ian being interviewed from the 10:17 mark (I know the image below is a gorilla, it’s also a red herring!):
As Ian explains further on his dedicated site:
In January 2012, I was invited to Ol Pejeta.
During this trip, I’d photographed the northern white rhino several times, but was not satisfied with my approach, so on the last morning of the trip I arranged to get some close-up portraits.
I wanted Mount Kenya in the background and the rhino in the foreground. With the guards’ help I managed to get Fatu in profile. I’d known how rare these animals are, but preparing for the photo I was struck by the loneliness and unbelievable fragility of their situation.
Then Fatu suddenly turned and started walking towards me. I was terrified — they are huge animals — but carried on taking photos, stepping backwards, faster and faster. The guards told me to stop and stand still for my own safety. Fatu came right up close to me and nuzzled her head in my stomach.
I know it’s corny, but at that moment, with the personal contact, I was hooked. I was completely blown away.
The framed prints are beautiful photographic objects…
The 24×16″ photograph sits within a sheet of 30×22″ paper and the print floats inside bespoke frames made of English brown oak inlaid with African mpingo and carved with the name of each rhino.
The set of four prints were first shown at The Royal Geographical Society on 31st October.
They carry an incredible stone-like quality, the long tones of the Platinum/Palladium combination lending themselves perfectly to the leathery skin of the rhinos and their surroundings.
For every print sold, 50% of the profits directly help to protect the northern white rhino from poachers.
Proceeds will fund the building of a modern security base at Ol Pejeta’s northern white rhino enclosure.
For further details on how to buy these stunning prints, please visit AitkenPrints.
Notes on Print Production:
I used my HP Designjet Z3200 in conjunction with HP’s very own Large Format Digital Negative Application to make Digital Negatives from Ian’s camera files.
The final prints were made on 310gsm Arches Platine in conjunction with 139 Printroom.
I’ll make no apologies for a second successive post on matters analogue. You appear to enjoy them and I have a further post drafted (to follow in due course) offering my thoughts on why that might be.
Not only matters analogue, of course, as this is a marriage with digital technology too!
Last week, I spent a couple of days working with my friend and colleague, Richard Freestone, in his domain, 139 Printroom.
I first enjoyed the darkroom experience at the age of twelve when I converted my bedroom to meet my new artistic and entrepreneurial requirements. Sadly, I haven’t revisited these analogue methods since my university days.
Under the dim tungsten glow, I had forgotten what a gentle, calm experience the darkroom can be.
Everything slows right down to a strolling pace and goes a long way to creating the huge ‘pause button’ that I reckon the Western World craves…
Until now, my part in the Alternative Printing process has been to craft perfect Digital Negatives. So, it was sublime to make my first Platinum/Palladium print from an image I have captured, scanned, made the Digital Negative and now printed using a process invented in 1873.
As you might imagine, I made some photographs of this rather special printing process and I thought you might like to see them too…
Remember, you can learn more about this truly special service by clicking here…
My intended opening gambit on how “Autumn has arrived” seems tenuous to say the least now!
In using my Autumnal title, I had intended to then link neatly with the beautiful Platinum/Palladium leaf print we have made for Paul Kenny.
At the start of what would appear to be a wonderful Indian Summer, Autumn suddenly seems a long way away. So, perhaps a different tack is required…
On 9th July 2010, I posted the news that HP had launched their Large Format Photo Negative Application.
Little did I realise the impact this would have on my working life.
A little later, around about this time last year, Richard Freestone and I embarked on what has become a phenomenal journey of research and intrigue; a journey attempting to successfully marry the old and new technologies of Alternative Printing processes with Digital Negatives.
Although not a new concept by any means, we have approached this in a very specific and new way with the help of our friends at Hewlett Packard.
Our thanks to Angel Albarran who designed The HP Large Format Photo Negative Application and helped us extensively throughout the process.
In conjunction with 139 Printroom, we are now able to make Platinum/Palladium prints from your digital files. This is a truly exciting addition to Jack Lowe Studio and one that could open up a whole window of opportunity in your approach to photography.
You may have already noticed the new Platinum/Palladium tab towards the top of this page and it is here that you will find more information…
My eyes have been opened to a new world of possibilities. I have gently been sifting through my own photographs and having them reworked as Platinum/Palladium prints.
Here’s an example from 1999—originally shot on 10×8 Polaroid, now scanned and made into a Digital Negative from which the print was made:
And the beautiful leaf print for Paul Kenny I mentioned?
Entitled OS 206, Paul explains the image for us:
“At the time I was obsessed with seeing leaves as maps or aerial photographs; landscape maps of the imagination.
“The OS series starts with sheet 1 at Lands End and finishes with sheet 205 at the Shetland Isles…I made my imaginary sheet 206.”
Scanned from a 6×6 negative, here is OS 206 for your viewing pleasure:
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.