We finished the four-week course off with Platinum and Palladium prints. Of all the processes we did, these prints were the most expensive because of the metals we used. Platinum and Palladium prints are considered one of the best processes because of the wide tonal range and permanence of the prints. The stable metals help the prints resist fading over time.
By the end of the week, we had gone through more than a thousand pairs of gloves and countless paper towels. The board was once again empty as everyone took their prints home to put together a portfolio.
On Friday, we presented a collection of our favorite prints at the spring term festival. We all wore our cyanotype t-shirts and were by far the most coordinated group at their fair.
This week, artist S. Gayle Stevens visited our class to teach us how to produce tintypes. Stevens has worked in antique photo processes for over fifteen years. More recently, she has focused on wet plate collodion in her personal work.
First, we coated the plate in collodion. This process took a while to master as you had to pour enough of the substance onto the plate in order to cover the entire surface area. Then we dipped the plates into silver nitrate to make them light sensitive.
From there, we either made photograms using the enlargers or made photographs using Holgas and large format cameras. From the time the plate was coated to the point when the image was developed, we had about 15 minutes to complete the entire process before the plate dried.
As a class, we worked on a collaborative piece about the flora and fauna of the Shenandoah Valley. At the end of the class, the piece will become a part of the university library collection.
On Monday, we continued working with the Van Dyke process, adding in a gold toning step. We also finally made our collaborative cyanotype mural depicting the history of photography from Daguerre and Fox Talbot to the introduction of the Kodak camera.
Throughout the rest of the week, we learned the kallitype process and had the opportunity to make our own cyanotype t-shirts, which we will wear to the spring term festival. The kallitype process requires more precision as the chemicals have to be measured out with a drop counter and carefully developed for eight minutes after exposure.
On Thursday, we visited the University Special Collections in the library. Senior Special Collections Assistant and avid antique photography collector Seth McCormick-Goodhart showed us pieces from the university collection as well as some work he had found on his own. We saw everything from daguerreotypes and salt prints to tintypes and carte-de-visites.
Spring term photography class, Antique Photo Processes, kicked off this past Monday. For the first week, the class focused on Cyanotypes and Van Dyke Brown prints. Although the forecast called for thunderstorms all week, the photo gods were looking out for us as we had sunshine almost the entire week. Along with learning these two processes, we also started laying out plans for our collaborative cyanotype mural.
The cyanotype process was invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel. The process is known for the vibrant blue tone of the final print. The exposures take a while for this process, although none of us are complaining about a spring term class that requires us to be outside, sitting in the sun. The second day of cyanotype printing, we learned to tone the prints. Depending on the chemicals used, the prints could come out in a range of tones from violet and eggplant to burgundy and brown.
The Van Dyke Brown process was invented in 1889 by H. Shawcross. The process is based on some of Herschel’s early experiments. Next week, we will learn how to tone the plates with gold and palladium.
Check back in next week for more photos on our next series of antique processes.