The Negative

Rightfully there is a growing concern with the credibility of today’s images due to the ease of altering a scene. To allay two fears about my current show, the finished platinum palladium print is made in the same way as it was back in the 19th century, by placing something that partially impedes the light when exposing the hand coated platinum palladium light sensitive emulsion. Originally it was leaves, later came glass plate negatives, then black and white film based negatives and now most recently the digital negative. Nevertheless, whatever is used to create the image on the paper, is NOT part of the finished craft; there is no Epson UltraChrome K3 inks in the final image.

However, there are some artists that are doing some extraordinary work which starts with an inkjet print and finished with a platinum. Personally, I love the monochrome prints that have an accent of one subtle muted color. But that’s for other artists to pursue.

The second fear I wish to allay is the concern that I’ve altered the images in any way: Yes I have in a good way and no definitely not, the scene looks the way it did when I shot it. So, in answering the yes, my frustration with my process was threefold, first, dealing with four negatives never allowed me reexpose, such as with gum bichromate. The four negatives expand in skewed ways with the heat of exposure, which would never allow for a second exposure. That was the original reason why I delved into the digital negative. The second reason was to salvage some of my older images because of light leaks in the sheet film holders. The third I stumbled upon gleefully and is now the most important reason for doing the digital negative, like in the darkroom with silver gelatin prints, I now have the ability to burn and dodge, create local contrast and achieve a much better finished look than before. The digital negative is a godsend to this art.

In ending I wish to paraphrase Ansel Adams as I don’t have time to look up the quote. He compared photography to music, the negative is the score, the finished image is the actual piece. Until now certain negatives couldn’t be made into a decent print, but with the advent of the digital negative, beautiful pieces can be resurrected.

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