PRINTING PROCESSING AND HANGING

For many years I used traditional black and white film and mostly medium format cameras, although many earlier negatives were made in 35mm and are still being used to make prints. The 6 x 6 cm camera provided my favourite square frame in which to compose a picture. To this I recently added the 6 x 9 format. After developing my films, I scan a few selected images and play with what I have got. Some of these make it through to the printing stage. An entirely digital option has just been created by bringing a digital camera into play. This has persuaded me to use the full colour spectrum for some images and this is still a work in progress.

Ansel Adams likened a negative to a musical score and the print to its performance. It feels like a lovely and apt analogy. The main structure of the image is fixed in the negative. It is possible to perform vigorous manipulations to completely change the appearance of the print. Like musicians, most photographers tend to interpret their negatives or digital files rather than alter them beyond recognition.

One important, general choice is about how much drama to convey. For advertising or fleeting glances high drama can be crucial. For a print hanging on a wall, I find that the very dramatic image grabs the eye in the beginning and before long, sends it off in another direction. Once the 'wow' factor is enjoyed and has passed, the picture tends to get overlooked. For regular viewing, drama needs to be subtle and entwined with complexity and even enigma to revive and renew our interest.

After many years in the darkroom, I finally made the switch to digital printing in 2015 and in 2017 added a digital camera to my kit. Materials for digital fine art work have greatly improved in recent years. Longevity of inks, their tonal range and the choice of impressive inkjet papers can finally match the quality of silver gelatine prints. The big advantage is the wealth of opportunities for fine tuning a digital file way beyond the scope of the darkroom. Although this can be a very fastidious and time consuming process, once completed the file remains available for printing or uploading at the drop of a lens cap. Therein also lies a drawback.

Because you can do almost anything with a digital image, there is a tendency for digital prints to look unnatural. One tutorial on the internet even advocates bringing highlights where the sun could never shine. I try to keep my work firmly anchored within the 'real' world and parameters of the original subject.

The choices for the finished print are also exciting. Toning options are myriad and I usually stay with something very subtle or reminiscent of my lith prints. In the process of learning about digital papers, so far, I find them of exemplary quality with a wonderful range of textures, weights and finishes from which to make a selection. The traditional Japanese washi with its transluscense and thick visible fibres is particularly exciting.



In the east, with screen doors made from washi, there has been an abiding tradition of not hanging paintings or prints under glass. Instead, they remain exposed to the air as scrolls. Simple, unobtrusive off-white rails top and bottom have now become my chosen method of displaying prints. They remain more vulnerable but the characteristics of the paper are accentuated and the viewer has direct engagement with the image.



Signed pictures are available from limited editions of 50. They are printed with high quality papers and inks chosen to match the subject. Prints are available in three sizes: signed on A4 and A3 paper, signed and numbered from an edition of 50 on A2 paper. Square pictures are positioned slightly off centre towards the top of the frame. They are printed on matt or satin, digital fine art papers. The pictures shown on this site are produced as a guide from low resolution files. They do not fully convey the delicacy and high quality of the actual prints.