• Grant Handgis

New Book ~ Long Overdue

Sometimes, one's best intentions become hijacked and redirected for awhile, before the original intent of the directed efforts returns for completion. That's the story of the book I was ready to begin writing when the very subject of the book became the distraction, which has lasted this past year and a half. In my case, this was not a bad thing, and I will say the foray away from writing has only encouraged me further. That foray I speak of was my return to photographic printmaking, sparked by the effort of writing on the subject. A synchronistic meeting with another local photographer opened my avenue for returning to hand coated printing once again, using my new friend's darkroom facilities.

I was writing on the subject, and said photographer was most interested in learning the process of printing in silver, using the Salt Paper Process, or Salted Silver printing in my vernacular. I was writing about this subject, but once my hands spread the silver and printed it out in the sun, pure addiction took hold. it has been thirty years since I have made hand coated prints, a love of which has never diminished. That printing lesson, led to further printing sessions, and an expansion of the original intent, which was to show my new friend the process. Those printing sessions to follow led to expanding into new territory, making a Kallitype print, and that led to gum dichromate printing.

Driving across town to use someone else's darkroom facilities is not my idea of correct retirement principles, which clearly outline the absolute need for personal fulfillment and outright happiness. I'm doing my best to live up to that standard, building a new workshop to house all the tools in what was the old workshop. That construction project ate up six months. The new shop was build from dirt up, then said tools moved therein, so the old space could be made into the amazing custom space I enjoy today.

All of which has taken the energy out of the writing, until now. At my age, living in the Sonoran Desert where the heat index tops 115 degrees, just before monsoon, energy is a finite commodity on a daily basis. Being this is a blog about writing and publishing I won't be posting any of the hand coated images I have printed since beginning again. Those images can be seen on my photography blog;

The book being discussed here will begin a series of books on hand coated photography processes that I personally use for printing. The first book, listed on this site was about the black and white negative, and the photo chemistry that controls it. That material is all about printing projection enlargements onto commercial silver gelatin papers. That is the primer for understanding the black and white negative. This series of books will all be focused on one hand coated process, respectively. The current book is on the Salt Paper process (salted silver prints). It is the first such hand coated process I learned. This book will be followed by a book on Kallitype printing, the third on Palladium printing and the final book in the series will be on gum dichromate printing.

The learned consensus on book length for technical subjects, or How To books, is 150 pages, give or take, for several good reasons. Focus and cost being two. There are photographer's Bibles in print that cover every single photographic subject ever attempted, and variations upon the theme, in 300-400 pages, with a retail of $65 or more. For a learning experience that makes the book worth the price. If you are a photographer interested in trying out a hand coated process, however, those books outlay the actual process and procedure in its basic tenet form. The material is there, but like a cookbook showing a recipe, it doesn't add anything for teaching the reader of the recipe how to cook, or bake. Just the recipe/formula.

My method of explaining a printing procedure can be likened to a workshop, walking the reader through the procedural steps as would be experienced in a hands on workshop. What scant feedback I have received from photographers who have read my first book on black and white film, is they were able to grasp the technical aspects as I laid it out in the book. That, of course, is the best feedback one can receive. I am taking my time on this book to ensure it is easily readable, and offers the reader everything they need to know to accomplish good printing skills in the medium they choose. At this time, the new cover is finished, the title pages, opening and good portion of Part I (theory and practice) has been written.


g. Michael Handgis Photography


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