• Grant Handgis

"Stairway to the Past" ~ Palladium toned Kallitype

The charge that I have succumbed to the infectious nature of a pandemic virus, is way overblown. I have merely succumbed to venturing forth unless there's a  point to it. I have things not yet done in the creative side of life. I spent fifty years on the "Get a Job!" ledger. Yeah, I had lots of jobs, did so many different things keeping above water, feeding children demanding food, having the roof over our heads thingy. All sedated in my past, left to some fond memories that made things worth the effort put forth. A large part of my life has been surrounded by photography, beginning in 1961 when I was thirteen, and had a knockoff to the Kodak Brownie camera, loaded with b&w film.

As with every photographer who ever hefted a camera, snapped a frame or two, then made it through the printing; after forty years of daily use and practice, things are very different between the beginning and ending. Besides the controls of photography, through negative manipulation and uses of technique, the more subtle part of learning is the art of seeing. That doesn't come easy, or without earnest work at it. The thirty years of commercial photography, many of them spent at my 1000ft/q studio in Eugene, Oregon. Most excellent years, spent specializing in black & white photography. Of course, that was thirty years ago when print media was still mainstream. One would be amazed at how many advertising materials used b&w images for brochures and pamphlets for their local advertising.

The point of all that, being, In commercial photography you please the client, as you would the bride in wedding photography. What they want, rules. What they wanted was a full scaled b&w image that showed off their product [texture and tonal range]. I had spent some years working in fine art, owning a gallery, representing thirteen photographers, in that same town. I was a pretty good printer in silver gelatin printing. It showed up in my modeling portfolios, garnering me over two hundred models that I worked with for portfolios and head shots for auditions. I made the models, and the products look good. That was the goal, but it doesn't have a thing to do with art.

Being this is my blog on black and white photography, focused on hand coating printmaking processes, it is all about art, and what I think that's all about. It's my blog. There's also the underlying shaping of my posts by my writer's side, that side that also demands time with the Little Muse, who have a tendency to disappear in a deeper region of Mu, where they blend in, binging on Mu spirits, and sleeping it off. A couple of the Muse are thrashing about, demanding some word time. Again. Having eleven books in print bears this out. Everything I write about here, I've included in one of the five books on photography I've put out. Yes, a shameless plug.

In spite of the pandemic thingy, I have not been idle. I have been conflicted. I study each image I want to print, trying to divine exactly how I want to represent it. In film days, there were shooting and developing controls available to shape the negative image within the boundaries of a printing process; then, silver gelatin, mostly. In the days of digital imagery, all that changes. I can alter the contrast without altering the density range, or vice versa. Anyone with editing software knows this. And that, is why seeing the image as you envision it to be, as the "strongest way of presenting the image", not necessarily as it was captured. The Pictorial Effect; altering the image to showcase mood and setting, the emotional connection the printer had with the image. The idea is demonstrating that vision in the printing, with the intent of having the viewer seeing the mood set, feeling the emotional connections of the artist. That's the intent of art.

There are two negatives printed for this image, the second altering the tonal shape by altering the contrast slightly and reducing shadow density, very slightly. This altered the light, and feel of the image, as well as the textural qualities of the stone. For the most part, I am happy with the outcome. I only make one print of each image now; all unique. And that is why getting it 'right' is the printing intent. Not until the print image resonates with me, that I feel the harsh Arizona sun, mid day at the old Tumacacori Mission, that it will be matted and a certificate of authenticity. There be only one.

Palladium toned Kallitype ~ unique

"Stairway to the Past" ~ 11"x17"

Tumacacori Mission, Arizona


g. Michael Handgis Photography


  • Facebook App Icon
  • LinkedIn App Icon