|Jan Arden & Michael Audain|
Photography is full of incidents that guarantee failure. If they happen often I think of that lovely word coined by writer William Boyd, zemblanity. Its meaning is the opposite of serendipity. It is about a bad incident in one’s past that is remembered when a new one happens.
Failures in photography can be very good as many techniques have been created through them. Sometime in that past a photographer might have gone to a photo lab to have a roll of Ektachrome colour transparency processed. The lab could have misunderstood in some way and processed it as if were colour negative film. The result, called cross-processing, was in vogue for many years.
In that last century of my magazine photography before the advent of scanners, black and white prints had to be glossy (the term glossy 8x10s was known well) as the only way a black could be reproduced in a newspaper or a magazine was with glossy prints.
Drying good photographic paper to make it glossy was a chore. The only advantage is that good photographic paper could be processed archivally.
Ilford brought into the photo market the plastic coated glossy paper called Ilfospeed. Prints dried nice and glossy with no fuss.
But there was one terrible disadvantage. This paper was highly unstable and it stained in time, not only when framed and subject to light, but also in a dark file.
The two scanned and printed 81/2 by 11s in this blog of Michael Audain and Jan Arden are an example of how the original 8x10s used by magazines that assigned me to photograph the two have deteriorated (nicely I think!) in my metal filing cabinets.
They will probably deteriorate more but I think that by scanning them as they look now I can prove that zemblanity can sometimes be serendipity.