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Contrastique goes semi-Numerique

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It’s amazing, and beyond my wildest dreams (well..) and it came to be true…my long awaited wish for which I sold my Hasselblad and M6 (and bloody kidney) to be able to fund it…the Leica M Monochrom (typ 246).

I’m not going to write an all-educated-elitarian review on this camera filled with upperclass words to describe something that is actually very simple:  ❤️

This camera is so…camera! No unnecessariness..just a shutter button (with s,c etc), and a shutter speed dial. And a place for a lens (summicron 35mm). And a rangefinder. And something to attach the strap to. And…no color! Fieuuww.. 🙂

I’m still finding my way with this camera but so far…man…I love it. 50 shades of grey is nothing compared to this! Just wow. Underexposing standard to keep the highlights from blowing out. The detail in the shadow parts is absolutely stunning. The handling is so very nice. And it sounds so very delicately delicious. Looking forward to printing my first grande negatives from these files. I’m still working on the Serendipity theme, which pretty much has to be finished in December (preferably) so first things first but nonetheless…already have some images in mind worthy of being made transparant.

Anyway, didn’t think I’d ever get excited about a digital camera again, but this really does it for me. So far, it’s really what I hoped for. And it’s so ridiculous! Ha, away with you rationalness all time, passion and love it is!

Thus…onto what’s really important…images!

So..there you have it; my first impression! Very scientific, I know. With a lot of technical detail also. Eat it! MM246 FTW ☀️

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Vandyke – Thinkering

I guess this post is more of a sum-up of my own thoughts for future reference than they may be useful to anyone else..but anyway, eat it!

I’ve printed some images over the past two weekends, trying to improve my coating skills and to figure out if and how I am to use it for the Serendipity project.

Coating skills have improved, I coat using a cotton pad dipped in emulsion, and swiping it over the paper from top to bottom, left to right, while turning the paper four times so that I essentially create a four-layer coating.

It’s pretty even, although I have to try to be a bit more consistent in applying as you can tell by the look of the image attached to this post. What I do find a bit ‘stressing’ is the way I attach the negative to the paper before placing it into the contact printing frame. The tape I use sucks. Apart from it leaving a nasty residue on the negative itself when removing it afterwards, is that it shows on the coated area. So have to use different tape and perhaps attach it somewhere else. Bigger border around the image so it doesn’t interfere with the coated area on the paper, something like that. If anyone has a proper method for this, feel free to chime in 🙂

Also, I don’t like the messy borders. It’s fun, but it’s distracting from the image itself. So I’m thinking of making a sort of cut-out mat which I place on the paper before coating so I can create a slick and even border. If anyone has a brilliant idea there, shoot! I’ll look into it myself but the wheel has already been invented…like a trillion times 🙂

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iPhone image of the print, no proper scan, too lazy 🙂

And..on the developing part; I now develop using a single water bath before fixing. I’ve let myself get away with that until now for ‘testing’ purposes but it’s time to stop playing around and do it the right way. Archival printing has been my way of working with regular baryta papers (fix, rinse, hypo, rinse a shitload more, selenium / gold toning, rinse and so on) and want these prints to last as long as they possibly can too. I read some interesting stuff on the website of Sandy King so will be going more into that way of working next time. Have everything I need for it anyway so no more excuses, ha!

So, new steps summed up (makes it easier for me next time):

  • Sensitiser, expose image la-die-da-that
  • Development using a two-bath method, with slightly acidified water (teaspoon of citric acid to 3.8L of water), two minutes each.
  • Toning: gold thiourea toner (of which I bought several bottles of Tetenal back in the days) for 5 minutes, discard after each use (f*ck though, that makes it expensive).
  • 5% Sodium Thiosulfate fixing bath ( for some reason I now use a 3% dilution). A two-bath fixing method is recommended for the best archival quality, two minutes in each bath.
  • Clearing bath; I still have some Kodak Hypo Clearing somewhere, but you can easily make it yourself by adding 10g sodium sulfite to 1000ml water and stir until completely dissolved. Mix before usage and discard after usage. Two minutes.
  • Final wash: 5-10 minutes when clearing bath is used, 20 minutes without.

So, it’ll get a bit more serious than before, which is good. I have some ideas in mind with the negatives shot in France this year, that I want to contact print using Vandyke.

First Collodion F*cK Up 2018 :-)

So.. after the brief Van Dyke tour of course wet plate could not be left behind. Checked the chemistry about a week back and was able to shoot a test plate today to see if all worked accordingly. Cranked open those speakers (a working space without music is like coffee without the coffee, impossible!) and cleaned three 4×5″ plates. Decided to shoot outside as I’m currently still rearranging the studio place. Looked to be dry all day and had a nice flower in mind (skulls are so boring, even for testing).

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Collodion batch from 2016 so slow but contrasty. Developer from 2017 so should work together just fine. First plate; dark with some highlight spots as I still had some sun (and wind). But no fogging so chemistry fine, plate merely underexposed. Second plate, changed flower, and just dark because it got darker fast. Third plate; looked like rain was coming after all, so made a bit of a hurry and forgot to put back the slide after exposing…Putain! So, aside from shooting wet plate I also got around testing my wonderful extensive vocabulary lol 😉 All works just fine!

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Anyway, too lazy for cleaning a fourth, let alone a fifth plate and having gotten what I wanted in a way, I decided to leave it at that. Next step; pick a decent subject and shoot some actual plates!

 

Darkroom No. 8 is a Fact!

Yes, ladies & gentlemen..it’s THAT time again 🙂 I seem to have grown quite fond of building them, so gotta keep up the pace!

I moved again, to a nicer place, and had to set up the darkroom, also again. I planned for it to be on the attic, only the wet table turned out to be too large to get it up the frikkin’ stairs. Remodelling the place to make it go up that stairs is not (yet) an option so decided to take a different approach.

I split up the sections a bit. The wet table and enlarger ended up in a room with the central heating system and washing machine. Already had connections for water and drainage so it took me and my dad a bit of work to fix the piping (cool to do with my dad!) but did a good job.

The living room is part working space, part dining and stuff, the heart of it being a large table measuring 125 x 250 cm. And across the room a large white board of 100 x 200 cm (yes, size does matter at times :p ). And then there’s a walk-in closet room for my clothing and across storage for chemistry bottles, other glassware and this and that (of which there’s a lot).

 

Works pretty well so far! Not sure if I’m going to keep the enlarger in the place it’s at now, doesn’t get much use these days with the contact printing and can make better use of the space it’s filling up now.

Photos suck, sorry ’bout that. For lack of spirit I made them using my iPhone.

I already used it, better said, I really had a deadline to make. I joined a photo group a while back, and we’re applying for a group exhibition and had to prep an example image of the concept. I will get deeper into the conceptual bit further down the lane somewhere, so don’t ask yet please..

They will be portraits shot digitally (most likely and hopefully using the Monochrome…), making digital negatives of these files and printing them using Van Dyke. Exposure time of the paper was 17 minutes using an UV-light source. I will share the testing with you:

 

Anyway, that is as it stands a bit for now. More to come soon, and by that I mean not the build of darkroom No. 9, pinky promise 🙂

New Monochromatic Plans

Well, you won’t believe it but I have moved again recently… cheaper place with more outer space and a nicer workspace…or at least I thought…

It is a truly wonderful place with all the living areas on one floor, and a huge attic covering the entire length of the object, which really is quite fancy I might add. However, when we tried moving the wet table to the top floor, it just would not fit through the opening… The bottom floor does not allow for the creation of a proper working space so I kind of have lost the spirit a little. I will find out a way eventually but all this really is not very accommodating in keeping the spirits high.

I have decided on another matter and that is I will sell of my Hasselblad with three lenses and Leica M6 to fund a …Leica Monochrom :-), preferably the first edition. I’m so tired of developing film, knowing I will never use those negatives again for regular bw printing, I see no point in continuing to work this way. I want to do more with contact printing, as mentioned before, so shooting on film, while really only needing a digital file in the end to make large format negatives, beats the purpose. But, buying a digital camera, besides my Fuji X-T1 I use for assignments, for fun..that is a different matter. I don’t find digital cameras fun. Instead they are utterly boring. Thank god there’s a brand called Leica, and they have put on the market the most ridiculous and obsolete camera of all: the M Monochrom! It shoots only black-and-white.

‘Why’, my boyfriend asked, ‘why would you buy a camera that just shoots black-and-white and costs more than the average digital system with lens while the latter does both, giving you the all the adjustment-and tweaking options for making fine-tuned black-and-white images in post-production?’ Good question 🙂 My answer is that it comes with that fun-factor.

When solely looking at it in a rational manner, surely it’s probably better buying a regular SLR or mirrorless system, and post-process the images. But where’s the fun in that? I don’t like being behind the computer all day, I do enough of that work during my day-job. I love the limitations of this Monochrom. Its superb feel and touch, its slowness, its lack of buttons, its lack of common sense and rationality. I mainly work in black-and-white anyway. And as far as price is concerned, I work in a photo store so I’m hoping for that golden deal one of these days. And if you think the Monochrom is expensive, have a look at its special cousin, the Stealth Edition, which comes at a staggering € 15.000,- ! It’s all about perspective, right 🙂

 

 

Van Dyke 2017

5 years…..5 YEARS it has been since I last made a Van Dyke…oef…Glad I kept a blog so that I could look at the notes again 🙂

Recently I joined a photo group called “F68” to broaden my horizon and to get back into my own photography more. It’s a foundation that was established in Limburg, the Netherlands,  in 1968 and it’s an autonomous photographers collective. I’m very happy to be a part of this group.

For a potential upcoming exhibition we are working on a theme regarding (mass) consumption. I will elaborate more on this later on but I came up with a concept using images made digitally, printing large format negatives and contact-printing them using Van Dyke.

I once got myself the Epson R2880 to print these negatives but has been left on a shelf for so long now I think it’s more dead than alive. However, at work I have a wonderful Epson Stylus Pro 7890 & 9800 at my disposal and a salesman who mentioned they could get me Omnijet Clear Film on roll (!). I received a 43cm wide roll for testing and so far it’s great!

Original black-and-white file

Original black-and-white file

I turned a file from my Fuji camera into a black and white, inverted it into a negative, adjusted the print settings and printed it on this Omnijet transparent film using the 7890. Yesterday I fixed the chemistry, bought some new paper, Hahnemuhle Bamboo Mixed Media (for the concept I was looking for a durable renewable paper), and had a go at Van Dyke again…oh boy was that fun 🙂

The printer settings I’m about to post I took of this website. For more info look there.

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Image in printing frame with UV light on it

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Closer

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After exposure, before washing & fixing

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Final rinse

Paper used: Hahnemuhle Fineart Bamboo Mixed Media
Single coated paper 36 x 48 cm
Exposure time: 25 minutes
Wash: 2 minutes
Fix: 5 minutes dilution 3% Sodium Thio-sulphate
Final rinse: 20 minutes

Unfortunately I forgot that the drying darkens the image quite a bit so the end result is too darkish, and I have to do more practice with coating the paper (you see strokes) but wauw, where have I been all these years ?! Anyway, good to be back  and more to follow soon 🙂

 

Darkroom No. 7 – hitting the finish line!

15th of June 2017, 29 degrees celcius. Seemed like the perfect day to finish the build of the darkroom 😊

Going through all the still unopend boxes to make sure I had all the ones with “doka ’17” written on them was quite a bit of work. But hard work always pays off and everything has been installed now except for the glass plates. Good to go!

Took quite a bit more time than anticipated but very happy now!


Cheers! 🍻

Building Darkroom No. 7

Yep, it’s that time again 😊

Trying to rebuild my darkroom again. Not going as good and fast as I hoped but it’s slowly getting there… 😊 Moving can be quite demotivating but I know why I’m doing it..

Contrastique @ Shoot Amsterdam!

Shoot Amsterdam is a yearly photographic event held in Amsterdam @ Pakhuis de Zwijger. I will be one of the speakers during the “How do they do it” sessions in the Studio at the 5th floor.

I will be talking about the wet plate collodion process, its place in time, so a little history and a little nowadays, accompanied by some visuals on a screen. Needless to say I’m very excited to be participating in this great event and hope to see you there!

Oh…and Sign up; it’s for free and it’s gonna be fun 🙂

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Interview with Forum Beeldtaal.tv

Dear all,

It has been awhile, and again, a lot has happened.

In short we got a call on the 26th of January that in four weeks we had to leave our beautiful place in Margraten. 4 weeks to move two large working spaces and a full blown living space… And not only did we have to move in these few weeks, but also to find a place in an even shorter amount of time…

One week later we signed the papers for a new place, lovely place, smaller but very beautiful and still place for a darkroom etc.

And now we have moved 🙂

I was asked by Jorgen Polman to do an interview for Forum Beeldtaal which he runs, and this was recorded the same day I took down the working space. Enjoy the video and I will post more soon!

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