Wednesday, May 1, 2013




It isn't what you think, given the colloquial understanding of the phrase. I am the featured artist of the High Desert Art League for the month of May, 2013, and this is the first of four articles that I will post on this, the HDAL Blogsite. My goal and my hope is that you, the readers, will fully understand and appreciate My "Marriage of Convenience" after you have read all four posts. I'll help you along the way with numerous graphics & examples.

I am a photographer...a fine art photographer. My passion for photography motivates me to use the photographic processes to produce works of art that compel the viewer to be captivated by what he or she sees in the work. The images I make to that end necessarily reflect a significant part of my inner self that is my artistic interpretation of what I physically and emotionally see through the lens.That is the esthetic element of fine art photography...the art of "Seeing". There are also many technical issues that must be understood and mastered in order to successfully produce a fine art photographic image. In order to fully exploit the medium, one must understand the elements and limitations of each part of the photographic "tool kit"...the basic camera, the lenses used with it, the recording medium (film or digital sensor), the interactions of a wide range of camera settings, and not least, the nature and properties of light.

A brief bit of photographic history will serve to show some reasoning for the advent of my "marriage of convenience". In the early days, as the photographic process gained wider acceptance, the inventors & purveyors of same were searching diligently for a new way to make multiple prints from a single negative (usually a glass plate coated with a light-sensitive emulsion) of a scene captured with what we now consider a crude camera. This camera was little more than a box with a slot to hold the glass plate and an aperture (initially a pin-hole & eventually a shutter in a glass lens) to admit light for a controlled amount of time. Around 1850 AD the search resulted in an invention that for an extended period of time was the widely accepted method for making quality black and white prints (color was a long way in the future). This process was given the name Platinum/Palladium (Pt/Pd) for the primary ingredients used.These prints were widely accepted and in great demand for their clarity and beautiful tonal range and also their archival quality that prevented any fading with time.

The demise of Pt/Pd printing came as a result of the two major world wars during which the government need for war-time purposes made Platinum and Palladium unavailable on the open market. The process has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years as these precious metals became readily available again. Pt/Pd printmaking is now practiced by a dedicated & growing number of fine art photographers.

The Pt/Pd print is produced by a contact printing method wherein the camera-produced negative is placed in direct contact with the print paper that has been hand coated (in the darkroom) with the sensitized Pt/Pd emulsion. This "sandwich" is then exposed under an intense light source that is rich in ultraviolet light. The exposure is followed by a chemical developer bath and clearing agent in the darkroom to produce the final archival Pt/Pd print. The whole process is referred to as Analog (as opposed to today's digital processes). BUT... there was a limitation to the contact printing process: the size of the negative had to be the same as the size of the desired print! Imagine how large and heavy the camera had to be to make a 30 X 40 inch negative to produce a 30 X 40 inch print!

In the next posting I will talk about the transition of photographic processes from analog to digital and you will begin to see how the marriage came about. The image just above...
"Dance of the Tulips" one a preview of the Pt/Pd print produced by the marriage. There will be more. Watch for the next post. You won't want to miss it!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, That's a lot of information, Richard! Good job putting content in your blog. Interesting!

    Helen Brown