Images Of Plants Neither Scanned Nor PhotographedSaturday, February 25, 2012
For those who may understand about photographs printed in a wet darkroom (meaning with chemicals) they would know that such photographs can either be archival or not. Some 25 or so years ago photographic paper manufacturers launched a product called resin coated paper. This paper was coated with a plastic which meant that they dried quickly nice and flat and the glossy prints were most glossy without having to be dried in finicky drum dryers. The purpose then, before the advent of scanners, was to make prints easily reproduced for magazines and newspapers. Glossy meant true blacks in magazines and newspapers. With scanning technology and Photoshop, glossy is no longer necessary.
Working and printing resin coated paper was easy and convenient but we knew then that the prints would not last for a long time. They were not archival. Even worse the plastic coating could and did yellow and it could and did crack.
Today I found a box full of prints (8x10 and 11x14) of plants printed in archival photographic paper. They have a magenta colour to them as I dipped them in selenium toner which is used primarily to make a print archival.
All of these prints are one or two or three of three printings. There is no way I can make extra copies. Why? Because there are no negatives.
To make these pictures (which I would not call photographs) I placed plants from my garden into where I would normally put my negative. So strictly speaking they are not like Man Ray's photograms or Fox Talbot's photogenic drawings. The plants seem to exceed the frame of the enlarger negative carrier. The negative would slip between the bottom and the top of the carrier. I long ago filed its metal edges to give it a unique, from-my-negative-printed-by me stamp.
These plants would sometime flop and when they did they give some of these pictures that weird outside the frame look. Also while a plant projected onto photographic paper would be a negative image, somehow the light going through the transparent leaves and petals somehow reveal a look that is neither a positive one nor a negative.
The only way I could duplicate (partly so) would be to cut plants from my garden this spring and summer and do a new batch.
These prints are a sight to behold and to hold in one’s hand. Scanning does not really do them justice.
I sometimes wonder why I am neither rich nor famous and why no curator in this city or elsewhere has ever given me the time of day. Perhaps they think I am too commercial. And yet these prints…
One can never be bitter about these things. At one’s stage in life the only important fact (if only it be a subjective one) is that I know that these are beautiful prints even if nobody else seems to care for them!