Monday, April 6, 2009

Time for a 'blast from the past'...

This ' "Warped" D.C.' image was made in the darkroom, late 1988, or 89... this point, I don't quite remember.and it's not that important what year it was, 'plus or minus one', anyway.
It got done, before Photoshop, that I know for sure.

(hey, we all stand on someone else's shoulders, don't we?)

Invaluable Creative & Art Direction: Mary Ann Casem / Promisloff & Casem Design, Rockville MD.
Equally invaluable source photography: Steve Uzzell.
I think I added a few frames of my own, but most of them were Steve's.
BTW, Steve Uzzell continues to do marvelous photography, year after year, no two ways about it:
I pulled all Steve's negatives & M.A.C.'s direction, together...
and spent 2 full days building this image, one exposure at a time, the total number of exposures was *27*!!
(every last little gargoyle, and figure, one at a time, Phew!!)

It was then selenium toned, and hand-colored.

I came across a 4x5 Ektachrome transparency copy of this, while looking for a few other things in my
'ancient(east coast)' files, recently.
After all these years, and the drastic shift to digital, one could well ask:
'Well, now that you can tweak every pixel, Bob, is there anything you would revise?'
Very little. Very, very little.
A nice surprise, to me - i thought I might look at it, and be disappointed, and want to tweak it a whole lot w/ photoshop?!... but no, that ain't gonna happen.

But looking at this one again made me think about whatever additional techniques I used to do many commercial/assignment images.
In the 'Warped DC' image, I used a lot of litho masks on the negatives, made w/ what was/is called 'graphic arts' film - developed in the appropriate chemistry, it is either dead black or clear plastic film base, nothing in between. It's a whole lot of extra work I no longer bother with.

What I did on some assignment images like the above was make rubylith or amberlith masks that I taped to the top part of the easel, (so the mask sits above the paper, obviously) - the 'margin for error' is a lot easier to deal with.
If this is a bit of retouching to make edges meet exactly, well, get out a triple 000 retouching brush, and some Spotone. If you're printing B&W, you should already have these.
Rubylith and amberlith are two similar kinds of material ( I sure as hell hope they are both still available, check your local art supplies store) - a clear plastic base supports a red or amber layer (which allows no exposure through), that also allow you to see the image beneath & can be cut w/ an exacto blade ( I prefer a #10, myself - it's also good for alot of other things I won't describe here).
The technique for making a mask like this is pretty simple & 'low tech'.

First of all, you gotta be using RC paper, so you can make a print of the part of the image you want to mask, and dry it off *quickly* - Also, RC paper is 'dimensionally stable' - that is to say, fiber paper when it dries, shrinks, cause it's fiber. (This is an additional/second print, you should already have one taped in place on your easel.)

Step 2 - tape the print to the ruby/amber-lith, and cut the mask you want, thru both layers of the material.
Step 3 - tape the first print to your easel, in register w/ the projected image from the enlarger - set your timer to 30 seconds or so, move the print around until it lines up, and tape it firmly in place.
Step 4 - Then take the ruby/amber mask, and tape it to the *top* part of the easel, in register to the print that you've taped to the bottom part of the easel.
(If you need to supplement the ruby/amber, get some some black paper, of any kind - I bought a 100 sheet pack of black craft paper 8.5x11" a decade or so ago, just finished the last sheet recently - it cost all of a couple of dollars.)

You're 'there' - that's it...!
Mask yerself silly!

More at 'the usual (extended) page on my website', including examples of the above...