I just put up a new photography portfolio site. It’s very much a work in progress, but you can find it here:
So today I finished getting my prints finished, matted and framed so I can drop them off tomorrow for the show at Water Street Studios. 12″ x 12″ printed, matted into a 19″ x 19″ frame. It was nerve wracking, a lot of work and pretty time consuming, but everything went pretty smoothly and I’m happy with how they turned out. Hopefully they make it to the gallery without incident tomorrow. I’m terrified that I’m going to open them up there and the mats will have shifted and/or dust or lint will have gotten inside the frames.
Still, at least the end is in sight. I’ve been stressing on and off about this for a few weeks now, so I’ll be glad to finally hand these off. I wonder if anyone else gets this jittery about their first show.
I found out this past week that I got accepted into Water Street Studio’s 2nd Anniversary show. When we went there to drop off my application we liked everything so much that we signed our son up for an art class there. Super cool place, the guy I talked to was really nice, and they had some really great stuff on exhibit. I’ll have four photos in the show, so if you get a chance, feel free to check it out. It’s running from September 30 through New Years. Opening reception is Friday, September 30 between 6 and 10 PM.
Water Street Studios
160 S. Water St. || Batavia, IL 60510 || 630.761.9977
Gallery Hours: Wed 10-5 ▪ Thurs 10-5 ▪ Fri 10-9p ▪ Sat 10a-2p ▪ Sun 12-4p
Every 2nd Saturday 10a-10p
Busy weekend ahead. Lots of printing and mat cutting!
Courtesy of my friend Chris comes this probably 8- or 9-year old photo of a band I used to play in called Step Forward Look West. That’s me playing the guitar with the duct tape on it.
My friend Emily has some of our music on her site (including some unreleased jams!) if you’re curious. We had a split LP’s worth of material that we were working on at the time we broke up and an 8-song demo as well. I’ll try to dig that stuff up and post it as well.
I’ve been having a heck of a time matting prints. My new, super-fancy mat cutter doesn’t seem to be working properly (either that, or every single extra blade it came with is dull), so I’ve been using that to size down the 32 x 40 mats to the proper sizes, as well as to mark off where I’m cutting. Then I use my old Logan compact cutter to do the actual cutting. Except it took me a few tries before I realized that cotton rag mats are absolutely brutal on blades. In order to get clean cuts, I can make two cuts, flip the blade over, make the last two cuts and then throw the blade away. So with the cotton boards I’m getting a single board out of every blade. That sucks.
Historically I’ve always been down on Dick Blick. I mean, I’ll go there in a pinch, but their prices have never been particularly great. I was planning on ordering all of my mats online, and before I did so I wanted to practice so on a lark I went to Dick Blick’s website to see what they had available locally (and by “locally” I mean thirty minutes away in Wheaton). Surprisingly, their prices weren’t terrible (at least not on the supplies I was looking at) and when I went there with my mom to check it out, they even signed me up for their 10% off discount card. Almost every way I do the math, Dick Blick ends up being cheaper for the supplies that I need than any of the online places. While the online places tend to have lower prices on blank mats, you get absolutely soaked for shipping, so unless I’m ordering like 50 blanks at a time, it’s significantly cheaper to just buy them locally as I need them. Here’s a photo on my messy kitchen table of some prints I matted last night. They’re bagged with sleeves I also bought at Dick Blick (I’m still trying to source out cheaper ones online, but again, shipping this stuff sucks) and sitting in a portfolio box also purchased from Dick Blick. Have I mentioned that I’m pretty pleased with Dick Blick? I never, ever thought I’d say that.
After numerous tests, I’ve finally decided that, at least for now, I’ll be making all of my non-work prints on Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth. It’s a situation where I liked the blacks a bit more on Canson’s Rag Photographique, but found that the Hahnemuhle has better shadow detail, at least with what I could wrangle out of it. They cost about the same in general (though I got a pretty good deal on 8.5 x 11 and 13 x 19 paper at B&H, which should be here tomorrow). The Hahnemuhle also has a bit more of a warm tone to it than the Canson, and naturally prints a bit darker than all of the other papers I tested. I’m trying not to second guess myself, because having made a decision on this takes a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ll still be proofing with Arista II Fine-Art Matte paper, because it’s such an unbelievably amazing deal, but for the time being, Hahnemuhle Photo Rag Ultra Smooth is my guy.
Time to eat some breakfast.
Some work prints I did tonight in preparation for my art show application:
Printed on Arista II Fine Art Matte paper (which I’m just using for proofing at the moment).
Note that the colors are all fucked up because I shot it under tungsten lighting with my phone and did a super fast color correction in Photoshop. You get the idea.
I also realized for the first time ever that every single negative that I’ve made with my Diana F+ has a fucking black line going across the bottom.
In other words, I’ve got my work cut out for me tomorrow.
I mentioned yesterday that my son went back to school. Here’s a picture of him just before getting on the bus:
And here’s my view of the garden while waiting for the bus to drop him back off:
Accomplished so far today:
Still to do today:
I originally had two more parts to this hybrid workflow thing planned (and one of them was almost finished and did indeed accidentally go live for about an hour or so), but that was when I was writing them in something approximating real-time; now that I’m way farther ahead in the process than where I was as I was originally writing, I’ve decided to just quickly wrap it up with some observations. I’ll share some basic comparisons and conclusions here, and then in the future I’ll talk a bit more about the learning curve I’ve been experiencing and the overall process. Also note that I’ve since upgraded my printer to the Epson WorkForce 1100, which is essentially the same printer I had before but can print up to 13″ wide.
Introductory ramblings aside, a quick comparison:
First, let me say that these are quick-and-dirty scans. This isn’t an overly precious comparison, just a quick illustration to give a ballpark of the differences. The silver gelatin print was optically printed from the negative on Arista Private Reserve multigrage RC paper and then scanned at 300 dpi. The carbon on cotton print was created from a 3200 dpi scan of the original negative and then printed out on Arista II Fine Art Cotton paper, which isn’t even the best paper that I have. Also note that the print on this paper isn’t quite as warmtone as the scan makes it look; I’m just being lazy.
Aside from the warm tone (which I believe I mentioned that I’m a proponent of), the carbon on cotton print has way more detail and tonal range (which speaks a bit more specifically to my seriously atrophied darkroom skills than probably anything else), and it took me way less time to do. And, most importantly to me, it looks like a photographic print. When looking at it, it doesn’t even register to me that it was printed from a computer and not in a traditional wet darkroom. From a viewer’s perspective, the “how” has been rendered irrelevant; you see film grain in these prints before you see pixels.
Now I’m not saying that digital darkroom is better than a traditional wet darkroom, or that carbon on cotton prints from an inkjet are better than traditional silver gelatin prints. If I was a master printer I probably wouldn’t have bothered to give hybrid a shot, and there’s something absolutely fucking magical about a silver gelatin print that can’t be replicated anywhere else.
What I am saying is that for my own photography, a hybrid workflow makes much more sense. I’m far better in Photoshop than I am in the darkroom, and the output quality and output options have progressed to the point where I can make a far better print much quicker than I can in the darkroom.
Speaking of which, it’s time to get back to spotting dust from my negative scans. I’ve chosen four pictures to submit that juried show I mentioned yesterday; now I have to get them clean enough to make prints from. After almost a hundred years of technological innovations and even with all of these fancy-pants new digital scanning and printing options, dust is still the absolute fucking bane of the photographic printmaker. Some things never change, I suppose.