• Grant Handgis

"Stairway to the Past II" ~ Final print

After a dozen more test strips from several negatives, I have finally arrived at the final interpretation of this image. There are so many ways to prepare an image, shaped to the mood and dynamic interplay of tonalities that define the image. The dynamics of this image, as was the case with the companion print, was brilliant sunlight on stone and masonry. Showing that off, without losing the textural quality of the middle tones was the goal. Holding the bright sunlight directly on the masonry and stone to zone 7 was the trickiest part, while still not depressing the middle tones on the stone in the background. Hence the several negatives, each with variations of densities, on different parts of the image.

The original image was shot with my Canon 20D, fifteen or so years ago. The color image of that masonry and stonework was a sort of golden hue, which was what I had wanted to imitate. The closest I could arrive at that 'color' using a panchromatic process, was when the image was first developed and cleared, leaving a warm toned image rather close to the original. The palladium toning alters that color relationship, shifting the image to a cooler tone, the longer the toning the cooler outcome. The print was developed in sodium citrate, for the original warm tones.

Being a serial confessor I will mention here that I have learned a new insight to the printing, using digitally printed negatives onto acetate film. Being a companion print image, the perspective mattered. There was the left looking image and the right looking image, as I photographed both shots within three feet of each other. Each image was looking through a doorway, set about four feet apart at Tumacacori Mission, Arizona. Same sunlight, different perspective angles into two different rooms. The confession being I flipped the image in my head when finalizing it's setup for printing, not flipping the image horizontally for the printing. I had made three test strips before coming to the conclusion something was definitely amiss, as the print times and resultant prints just weren't jibing.

What I learned, was that the light refraction off the 'emulsion' side of the negative alters the light coming through said negative, lessening the actual light onto the print. Who'd a thunked it. I have printed more than one 5x7 negative out of my Burke & James without any change to the image besides being reverse from the original perspective. Makes a considerable difference with digital negatives, printed in a UV printer. Softer, less contrasty results. Which, I suppose, could be used to the printer's advantage, when needed.

The final print was printed in sodium citrate, cleared, then toned in 5% palladium solution [5g citric acid], for nine minutes. The palladium toner is a top down toner, working with the highlights first, brightening them before movinng down through the middle tones, opening them up, separating tonalities within the middle tone values, finally reaching the blacks, deepening them. The long toning also shifts the overall tonal color, to a more neutral value. This print finishes the two sets of companion images I had been wanting to print for several years. I'm finally printed most of the images I shot thirty-five years ago but never got to print. Now I'm beginning to print images I shot only ten or fifteen years ago.

Palladium toned Kallitype ~Unique

"Stairway to the Past II" ~ 11"x17"

Tumacacori Mission, Arizona

1 view

g. Michael Handgis Photography


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