Two best prints ever

Ahh. Two amazing prints out of the printer in the last few days. These, which I’ve been printing for over 25 years! I’ve sold prints of these over the years; one has been published on a journal cover. I’ve worked and worked on them, and they’ve reached a new peak. Yay!

Both of these are from 4 x 5 inch sheet film. The bare apple and stone wall is infrared sheet film, which is amazing and horrible to work with. Very difficult, unpredictable, and prone to scratching and pinholes. The row of willows is on Tri-X.

When I printed them on silver, they got different treatment, as they are different images. The willows went on a warm tone silver chloride heavy paper like Portriga, and then was toned with selenium to give the browns a warm reddish tone. The Bare Apple, on the other hand, would go on a cool tone Silver Bromide paper like Ilford Gallerie and also get selenium toning to give it a cool blue.

Moving to the pigment-print era, I’ve kept them unique. The bare apple is on Velvet Fine Art paper, a textured watercolor-like paper which is beautiful when combined with the grain of this infrared film. The willows get Cold Press Natural, a warm tone paper that works well with the rich brown tone I’ve kept using for this.

When I started taking photography and post-darkroom printing seriously around 2004, I thought digital cameras were still pretty fun toys, but to do real photography I’d have to work from scans of my old film. So I started in with these scans, these very ones, a decade ago. I’ve worked and worked on them.

Over the last year my “digital darkroom” tools have improved quite a bit, but most of that has to do with how I open Camera Raw files. I’m finding I get better results with software other than Adobe’s, just a bit, so that’s making a difference. Also some post processing tools have helped a little with subtle refinements.

But in this case, it’s not that. I think I’ve just been working a lot, and my eye is better. I’m working on a large show, so that is a kick in the butt. My computer is faster than ever, so I can work with these cumbersome multi-gigabyte files with less hair pulling. It’s still slow going. These are big files, scans of big film.

These two prints will be in the show as big as I can print them at home 16.5 x 21 inch prints. I could print them bigger, if I sent them out, but this show is a handful to get together as it is.

Can’t wait to see them on the walls!

The Row of Willows image is available to view larger and purchase.

The Bare Apple photo is also availabe.

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