• Grant Handgis

"Grandpa's Cabin" ~ in the Printing

I am using my socially separated time mostly constructively. Mostly. I am printing every day, working on the next print. As I progress in my printing knowledge over time, which is pretty much never ending with gum printing, I am learning to better "see" the image, as intended, before the printing begins. Knowing ahead of time the treatment of the print from the base palladium print; how much shadow, how contrasty, high bright the highlights. All questions to be answered before printing begins.

Gum printing is totally unique, for all the reasons of its inherent characteristics, of simply having no real boundaries, within the application and direction of the printing. The arrangement of the color layering, color densities of each mixture, and layer applied, contrast of the image, print time, float time.... Just the color arrangement possibilities are literally almost endless. Probability dictates the number would be way into the millions. This is what draws me to gum printing.

As mentioned above, I am learning to "see" better; have an intended image, or handling of the printing, using the variables also mentioned above. The question being, for each image, how do I want this image to look when it's finished? I am a Pictorialist. No, not fuzzy out of focus shots of young women in white gossamer dresses carrying a glass ball, by a lake and lots of trees, oh, and with morning mist. That'd be Clarence White. The Pictorial Effect, for me anyway, is to alter the setting to fit a mood, a dramatic effect such that the the viewer is able to experience the emotional connection that the printer felt, and put into the print. That's the task.

This image will be such an image, not that I had to alter the setting a lot, the task was interpreting the scene, how much shadow, how deep, how much of the sunlit world outside the window in the setting? A setting with dark shadows, zone 2, won't allow for any objects to be seeen. Each color added to the print darkens it where the color went. The print only gets darker over time. Deepening a shadow happens all on its own. That also has to be factored in the contrast of the negative.

After five days, four printed 11x14 negatives, three full prints and over a dozen test strips, I finally "saw" the strongest version. I hadn't really ever done that before. I more or less followed the natural outline of the original image. This one was selected for it's tonal structure, leaving the scene a bit dark and dramatic, yet with sufficient shadow detail to make out the natural objects within the setting. A deep zone 3.

Having been doing this for almost forty years, I have some time behind me for observations of things, some that change over time, and those that do not. Currently, the pricing for photo chemicals and related supplies have soared over the past year. Nothing annoys me more than gouging. Sufficiently to say, being it's my blog, when my current supply of precious metals and related chemicals that make prints of them, are gone, I'll shift to gum only prints. I have a sufficient supply of gum powder and dichromate to print for a very long time. Water colors are also relatively cheap. What does not change, is the drive to create prints, each one just a little bit better than the last.


g. Michael Handgis Photography


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