Silver Gelatin Prints
I've recently started tinkering around with a page on Patreon, which is a site for creative folks to basically crowd source funding on a monthly or per project basis. An interesting idea to say the least, so in an effort to subsidize some of my own work I'm going to be releasing prints and some exclusive content there in the coming months. So in the interest of transparency I thought it would be useful to lay out my print process, such as it is... Cameras, Film and Processing
Some years ago I started shooting Leica rangefinders. I’m not a Leica freak, I don’t collect cameras. I am notoriously hard on my gear, and I shoot Leicas because, quite frankly, Germans make really good cameras. The glass is razor sharp and the bodies last forever. All the equipment I own is twice as old as I am. For a larger rant on this please see Notes on gear, film, process and the like…
I shoot predominantly with Ilford HP-5 Plus rated at ISO 320 to give the negs a little more punch. It has great detail even when printing 20 x 24 inches and larger, as well as a great deal of exposure latitude, which is good since I’m lazy with the light meter and tend to guess. I normally develop with Rodinal, which cranks up the grain but leaves the negs pretty sharp.
Enlarger / The Beast
I’m currently using an old Omega D2 variable condenser enlarger with a Rodenstock 50mm lens, and this thing is built like a tank... I've removed the glass condensers and hot lamp in the head and replaced them with an Aristo Cold Light head that sits directly above the negative stage. The cold light head produces a very sharp, high contrast print with little or no filtration, and without the condensers, dust on the negative is less likely to print. Cold heads use a fluorescent tube in a grid pattern, giving perfectly even illumination across the film, eliminating soft corners that often occur with condensers. The light is much more intense than a hot bulb, exposure time is cut nearly in half. I’ve also filed out all my negative carriers to print full frame.
Paper and Development
My paper of choice is Oriental-Seagull variable contrast fiber base. Oriental is a high contrast, cold tone paper, with rich blacks and a clean white base. It filters well with the cold head and is pretty similar to the Seagull G paper that Ansel Adams used. It's a really lovely paper and makes an amazingly rich print, especially when toned.
My typical recipe for developer these days is Legacy Pro B&W Powder, which is basically identical to Kodak Dektol (the greatest developer ever made) at half the price and with a longer shelf life. I add a couple milliliters of restrainer, which is a developer additive that cools the image tone down a bit more and cleans up the highlights.
From there the prints get a good wash before a second fixer bath, then are toned in Selenium toner to pump up the blacks. The selenium toner also improves longevity, making the shelf life of the print pretty close to the half life of uranium...
From there everything gets washed, flattened, spotted for dust, signed, dated, and sold for exceedingly large sums of money... or more likely, stuck in a box to appreciate in value until I'm dead.
Sometimes you just have to spend a week in the darkroom listening to old Steely Dan albums and breathing in chemicals...
Stockton Street, Chinatown. San Francisco, California 2005. From the series "Photographs Of No Particular Significance"
An original, 16x20 inch silver-gelatin print, matted and framed to 18x24 inches. Signed and captioned on the front of the print.
Get one here... http://szymanski.bigcartel.com/product/0086_23
Post & Jones Streets. San Francisco, California 2010. From the series "Photographs Of No Particular Significance." An original, 16x20 inch silver-gelatin print, matted and framed to 18x24 inches. Signed and captioned on the front of the print.
Prostitutes on O’Farrell St., San Francisco, California 2010. An original, 16x20 inch silver-gelatin print, matted and framed to 18x24 inches. Signed and captioned on the front of the print.
Grab one in my shop... http://szymanski.bigcartel.com/product/0183_01
I am now the proud proprietor of a Facebook Fan Page... sigh...
I suppose that it was bound to happen sooner or later. A few people suggested it, they thought it was a good idea, I didn't. Eventually I caved, end of story. So go be a fan if you dig my work, or if the whole social networking thing is your bag. It's a good way to keep tabs on what I'm up to. Not to mention that Facebook users apparently, according to the Daily Mail, are insecure, narcissistic and have low self-esteem.
It seems I need an ego boost. Go check out my page... http://www.facebook.com/pages/Joseph-Szymanski-Photography/129195750473750
On another note, the fine art prints gallery has been updated. Several new images are now available for purchase just in time for the holidays (wink, wink). So do yourself a favor and go buy a print with my personal, money back guarantee that it will last longer than the George Foreman Grill, the leopard print Snuggie or the "personal massager" that you were going to give to that special someone.View all silver gelatin prints »
Additionally, a small selection of my original drawings are available for purchase as fine art gicleÃ© prints. All gicleÃ© prints are reproduced to the same dimensions as the original drawing. Prints are made using Epson UltraChrome K3 archival pigment inks and printed on 100% acid free watercolor paper to ensure maximum longevity (doesn't that sound just fancy?). And while in my own very humble opinion, nothing could ever compare to the original drawings, rest assured, these reproductions are of the highest quality.View all gicleÃ© prints »