• Grant Handgis

"The Gringo's View" ~ Gold toned Kallitype

This fall season was far more busier than I would have liked, but such is life. The other side of that being a ten day trip to the Yucatan recently, having just returned. Relatively speaking. There were more things to aim a lens at than time or ability to do so. Being this was not a photographic trip, but a personal trip with my wife & traveling partner with me, so there's that. I did get enough shots that aren't simply tourista travel shots. I have dozens of those to show for the ten days. Culling is important.

I have begun the new gum, now scaled up to 11"x14", with the first two layers applied. This gum will be treated differently than the way I printed the first couple portfolios. What I'm working to achieve goes beyond realism. That is, the normal overall color layers to arrive at something resembling a color image. That was my approach when i began printing gums thirty five years ago. The second printing era was over the past three years, when i broke away from overall coverage in general and began working the colors locally, for better separation and the ability to arrive at colors schemes that wouldn't come out of layered colors, which use subtractive color theory for the end result.

Separating the colors by applying each color locally, either to leave a distinct applied color, or printed to a specific tonal range, say just to the tonal range of the shadow areas. This being controlled by the print time, as well as floating temperature. The reason I find gum printing the ultimate in the printer's creative license is exactly because there are no boundaries, nor limitations on the printer's approach, as in color selections, how color is applied, in which order, color saturation of the coating, how many layers, print time, float time, water temperature and several other variables that can be manipulated to shape and control the outcome of the printed image.

At this point I haven't any idea of how many color layers or applications I will apply to this print. That comes along after each application, when I study the image to see where I want to take it. This one I'll not be shy about leaving a brush stroke or overlap from one density to another. This print is all about overlapping colors, leaving the effect of Impressionism, or my interpretations of it with gum printing. This print is going to take quite a bit of time to complete. At least two to three more weeks, but that is what makes these prints collectable. They are quite rare and are all unique; no copies or artist's proof.

Back to the print of the day, the first street shooting image I'll be printing from the Mexican portfolio coming up. All of the color slides I shot in Mexico twenty years ago when my wife and I lived there, in Mismaloya, all stolen when our van was wiped out. Painful, that. Traditionally, I am more of a scenic type of photographer, using my Burke & James 5x7. It's quiet work, not to be rushed. Somewhere on the other end of that spectrum is street shooting, which is little different than Event Photography, watching what people are doing to 'see' the golden moment coming together, just before it actually happens, with all the settings correct for that shot and when the event materialized you click the shutter. That moment lasts a small part of a second in time and only happens the once.

Being in a Mexican city in the Yucatan on a walkaround with the wife the boundaries of what can be done diminish exponentially. You get what you get. Thus, I put my ten years of shooting events to work capturing scenes on the street, without altering the natural order of things as they unfolded. This shot cam about much like a similar one I got in Tombstone, hearing three cowboys coming up behind me, simply turning to find an anchor point and shoot. This image was similar, being when I came out of the very bright sunshine, stepping under the canopied walkway, everything was dark, but I saw loosely the people sitting on the side, watching the passers by. I simply raised the camera, used the nearest table as the bottom right corner anchor and shot.

I've printed this in the traditional rich black & white format i so admire of the early street photographers, like Eugene Atget, Todd Walker, Minor White, even W. Eugene Smith, although he's considered a photojournalist. They shot near the toe of the CI curve, leaving abundant blacks in zone 3 downward. This image is closer to the toe than I would have ever tolerated thirty years ago, when full image texture was the focus. I confess that now I'm finding the opposite to be more pleasing to me.

This is a Kallitype developed in sodium acetate, then toned in 1% gold toner with 1% thiourea, the 'all at once' toner, which is now the only gold toner I use.

Gold toned Kallitype ~ Unique

"The Gringo's View" ~ 11"x14"

Merida, Mexico

1 view

g. Michael Handgis Photography


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