As the definition of a “photograph” evolves with the proliferation of digital displays, it’s good to see a high level of interest in some of the processing methods used when photographs were almost exclusively viewed as prints.
This revival of historic printing methods doesn’t require eliminating digital technology altogether. Below are two examples of how digital-printing technologies are replicating or
improving past photo printing methods while preserving the hands-on nature of traditional printmaking or darkroom photo processing.
Vintage Tintypes from Inkjet Transfers
If you like the look of vintage tintypes, but don’t want to expose yourself to the photo chemicals used to produce them, artist Bonny Lhotka can show you a digital option. In 2012, she will start teaching how to make digital tintype plates by transferring inkjet pigment photo prints to metal. She will show how to make the tintypes in tones of green, gold, brown,mauve, blue-black, and rainbow colors.
To learn more about this newly developed process, you can register for hands-on instruction in the small-group seminar that Bonny and Carrie Nieher Lhotka will conduct at Lhotka Studio in Boulder, Colorado Saturday, Feb 4 and Sunday, February 5. Or, you can buy the instructional DVD that Bonny will be releasing in January.
Bonny Lhotka is the author of the book “Digital Alchemy: Printmkaing techniques for fine-art, photography, and mixed media.” Some of her art will be featured in the upcoming “Digital Darkroom” exhibition that will be opening at the Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles in December.
Platinum and Gelatin-Silver Prints from Inkjet-Printed Negatives
Many of the world’s most famous and historic photographs were originally shot and printed on black-and-white film. And countless images remain archived as 35 mm negatives. Some pro photographers who fondly recall the magic of classic darkroom printing are sharing this passion with new generations of photographers who grew up shooting digital.
In September, HP released the second of two Large-Format Photo Negative Solutions that can be used with a variety of traditional darkroom printing processes. The first method (introduced last fall) can be used with platinum photo printing and other “alternative”
print processes that involve exposure to UV light. The second method can be used with silver-halide contact print processes, including the gelatin-silver photo printing.
The solutions are provided as free, downloadable software applications for use with 24- or 44-inch HP Designjet Z3200 Photo Printers and any inkjet-printable clear film that can hold the amount of ink needed to make good negatives.
The large-format negatives can be used to:
- Make equally large-format black-and-white prints from scanned images originally shot on 35 mm film.
- Create fresh, digitally restored negatives from aging or damaged negatives. The restored negatives can then be used to make prints with the originally intended process.
- Create and archive long-lasting hard-copy negatives from digital files.
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