On the first day of spring I had the opportunity to have a wonderful conversation with Marty Frank. Marty is a sensitive photographer, as well as a practicing physician who strikes an important balance between work and artistic passion. We discuss the parallels in his professional and photographic lives as well as and the challenges he has faced during the pandemic. Check out our conversation!
This past weekend I had the opportunity to have a far ranging conversation with Jim Fitzgerald. For those that don’t know Jim well, not only is he a wonderful photographer, but he is a master of carbon transfer printing, a maker of handmade books and a camera builder! Check out our conversation!
I am very excited to announce that Monalog now has its own Youtube channel. We plan on making a number of exciting videos of interest to the black and white analog community, and will also showcase other videos we think you will enjoy. Check it out at:
Covid has caused all of us to be creative in ways we have not been before. Because it is not currently possible for Monalog to schedule in-person photographic events, the Collective will be hosting a series of exciting virtual events until we and our fellow black and white analog photographers can get together.
Your Covid-19 Photographic Life is the first of Monalog’s virtual events. This Zoom-based seminar will be an intimate discussion with Monalog Collective members Michael Marks, Paul Margolis and David Haas concerning the photographic challenges they have faced during the Covid-19 pandemic. Monalog Collective member Drew Wagner will host the event. Presentations will include:
- Member background, type of photography, description of their work, format and materials used
- Each member’s story of what they have done photographically during the pandemic and how the pandemic has affected their the work and creativity
- What motivates each member to create during the these difficult times, and what have they done outside of making and printing photographs to “keep their head in the game” and maintain interest in creating and being creative
Total program time will be approximately 60 minutes.
This and future events will take place on Zoom and will be free of charge.
Those who register to attend will receive an email with a link to join the lecture prior to the event start time.
Note: Audio, video, and other information sent during these Zoom sessions may be recorded. By joining this session, you automatically consent to such recordings. If you do not consent to being recorded, you can turn off your video sharing within the application or consider not joining the session.
We look forward to seeing you at these upcoming seminars!
The deadline for sign up is March 27, 2021.
For further information and to reserve your place in this event please contact Michael Marks at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We crossed the digital divide last week and created the @MonalogCollective Facebook page. Now you can keep track of news, events and members new work in real time. The Monalog Collective website will remain the destination for in-depth information on our group as well as hosting member bio pages and galleries. So, take a moment to visit the Collective’s home page and click the FB link at the bottom of the page, follow @MonalogCollective’ new page and see what our photographers are up to. One exciting bit of news we just announced is the publication of “Survivors”, Jim Fitzgerald’s handmade, fine press edition book of 8×10 carbon prints depicting Yosemite Nation Park’s black oaks. And keep watch for more new work from our members! https://www.facebook.com/MonalogCollective/
Wet Plate Collodion Photography requires that:
- The plates be coated (“flowed”) and sensitized immediately prior to use.
- The exposure, development, and fixing processes must be completed within 15 minutes of the sensitization. Otherwise, the collodion will dry out rendering the plate a failure.
When working in a studio the 15-minute window for processing is usually not an issue as the darkroom is generally located in close proximity to the studio.
However, when working in the field, the photographer must bring a dark box/room to the location in order to complete the entire process in the field.
The field dark box/room must be portable, completely light tight, and large enough to allow processing plates in the size selected by the photographer.
There are several commercially available and DIY options for portable field dark box/rooms:
DARKBOXES have two basic designs:
- Designed to allow your hands and arms to be inside the darkbox while the photographer sits or stands outside the darkbox in the daylight and looks through a safelight window (usually red rubylith).
- Designed to allow the photographer to walk into or sit/stand in front of a three-sided box/cabinet and wrap a very large curtain of darkcloth around the box/cabinet and him/herself creating a light-tight fourth side to the box/cabinet.
XXX-Large film changing bags and bench top sand blasting cabinets have also been repurposed as darkboxes. Typically, the darkbox is set up on a three-legged stand, in the back of an SUV, on the tailgate of a pickup truck, or on a table. DIY wooden darkboxes are very popular … plans & photos are easily found on the web.
DARKROOMS can generally be repurposed vans, box trucks, trailers, camping tents, ice fishing tents, and grow tents with modifications to insure a light tight space.
After exploring these DIY and commercial options on various wet plate collodion web sites and forums I decided that a grow tent would be the best choice for me because I wanted to be able to be IN the space, move around, stand up, and sit down. I did NOT want to reach into a box to work.
I chose the CoolGrows grow tent for its’ size, portability, price, and ease of set up.
Size: 4 feet x 4 feet x 7 feet 8 inches
Weight: 26.5 pounds
Set up time: 15 minutes
My portable darkroom is large enough for me to use a 4×2 foot folding table inside giving me almost the same working area that I use in my home-based darkroom. Plenty of room without bumping into the walls when moving around. High enough with a flat roof so that I can easily stand anywhere in the tent and hang my safelight from the ceiling. All my chemicals, cooler (when needed), wash water, and waste container for liquids to be carried home for disposal, store easily under the table.
This is the question that I hear most frequently when discussing photography with friends, family, acquaintances, and passers-by.
I have never had an issue getting the film type that I wanted. I shoot TriX, TMax, J. Lane Dry plates, and make my own wet plate collodion plates.
I got to thinking about how many other companies still make film.
A recent web search for BLACK & WHITE NEGATIVE FILM available in the US turned up 25 companies producing 62 types of film!
Below is my list of companies with the number of film types that they offer. (I am sure that there are more!)
Adox 2 Kentmere 2
Agfa 2 Kodak 5
Arista 3 Kona 3
Astrum 2 Liquid Emulsion 1
Cat Labs 1 Lomography 4
CineStill 1 Pictoriographica 2
Ferrania 1 Revolog 1
FilmWashi 2 Rerapan 2
Foma 4 Rollei 8
Fuji 5 Silberra 1
Holga 1 StreetCandy 1
Ilford 8 UltrafineXtreme 1
JCH 1 Xray (multiple manufacturers)
Over the years I’ve been asked how I make my carbon prints. The key to carbon printing is patience! There are many steps one must do before you even make a print. It take a lot of time to understand the variables in play with this process and finding the “balance” as I like to call it is the key to success. I have developed my techniques over the years to allow me to print almost any negative. Once you understand how to use the controls it is amazing what you can do. I teach this process at my home studio in Vancouver Washington. When we get the Covid monster under control I hope to continue teaching as it gives me great joy to pass along what I know to others. The following is just a bit of what you need to do.
Trying to simplify this complex process is not easy but I will try. First one must have a negative to print in contact with a pigmented gelatin substrate. Mine are 8×10, 8×20, 11×14 and 14×17 negatives.
I manufacture what is called “tissue” which is a substrate coated with a pigmented gelatin. This process takes an entire day. Once dry, generally 4-5 days of curing is needed, the pigmented tissue is coated with a light sensitive liquid, Ammonium Dichromate. This is allowed to dry for 3 hours.
A negative is placed in contact with the pigmented tissue and exposed to ultra violet light. I use a graphic arts plate burner. The negative is then separated from the tissue and the tissue is brought into contact with a final support medium under water in a cold-water transfer bath. This sandwich is then squeegeed together on glass then covered and weighted and allowed to “mate” for a half of an hour.
Developing the image is done in a tray of warm water. Once the tissue is softened it is removed from the final support and the image is developed in the warm water to completion.
Each handmade print is unique unto itself and no two are identical. Some may exhibit a beautiful “relief” visible texture and some a subtle relief. Many variables come into play and some of them can cause failure. Still carbon transfer prints are considered to be some of the finest and most archival prints any collector can own. It is considered the “Process of Royalty.”
So how does one decide to go back to 1864 and learn an obscure (at the time) hand made printing process that so few photographers practice?
I have always been a person who is curious. As a large and ultra large format photographer and camera builder (that is a whole story in itself) I decided that contact printing was the way to go for my work. I printed silver gelatin and silver chloride with Azo for years and when I built my first camera, my 8×20, my friends said I was now a Platinum printer! Hell I had two of my sons at the finest universities in California. Stanford and USC are not cheap and there was no way in hell I had money left to by “noble metals.”
I was reading some posts on the large format forum, image posts I think, and I happened on an image that just floored me. It was a carbon transfer print. Knowing that Google is your friend I found everything I could read about the process. It wasn’t until I met Vaughn Hutchins, the one who posted the image, that my life changed forever.
I sent a message to Vaughn and told him I’d love to see a carbon print. He was in a show in Yosemite called “The Yosemite Renaissance” and we decided to meet. I will never forget sitting on the steps of the Ansel Adams gallery next to Vaughn as he showed me print after print. I was speechless. I think he asked if I was okay? I told him that the images he showed me were the type of images I had seen in my mind for a long long time. It was how I had to present my work. At that moment, my life was changed. I was a carbon printer. That was thirteen years ago and I have done nothing but print carbon ever since.
I owe a lot to my good friend Vaughn Hutchins for his inspiration, friendship and love of traditional carbon printing from our film negatives.
I now co-instruct the carbon workshop with Vaughn at the Ansel Adams Gallery through their workshop programs. I have come full circle and I am fortunate to have found my true voice for my work through carbon printing. The process is not for the faint at heart, for it is very time consuming but so so rewarding. My journey is still evolving and it is so much fun!
Due to the continued danger posed by Covid-19 our members have determined it necessary to postpone our Inaugural Monalog Collective Photographers Outing that was to be held on September 10th – 12th until sometime in 2021 when it is safe for all of us to get together. As much as we were looking forward to this event and the opportunity to make new friends, the recent uptick in Covid-19 cases makes postponement the responsible thing to do.
As soon as the health situation becomes clearer we will determine a date to reschedule this event, but in the meantime we hope you will continue to visit us here and stay in contact. Even though we are postponing the outing, we have met some wonderful photographers, some who are now members of Monalog!
For those interested in learning more about our collective please contact us and let’s talk about what we love so much!
Stay safe and best wishes.
For more information contact Michael Marks at:
email@example.com or 215-348-9171