Last summer I revisited a marvelous Ponderosa Pine that I had photographed in 2008. With an improved camera and lens and an improved plan, I took another stab at capturing the character of the tree I call the Survivor. It has been in at least one fire and I suspect has been hit by lightning. Living at over 10,000 feet elevation it has indeed had a hard life. The scars of that life have a strong beauty that I was trying to capture. The images on this post are photographs of 5 platinum / palladium prints in mats, right before being framed.
The wood underneath bark that had been taken off for whatever reason has a great variety of textures and shapes. Although I (and my patient hiking partner) spent over two hours there, there is plenty more visual gold to mine.
Technically, these are digital captures utilizing focus stacking technique. Because the depth of field of any lens is minimized as one focuses closer and closer, in many instances, it was impossible to get the entire image in focus in one shot. So a series of images is taken moving the focus slightly between each one. Then in software these images are stacked together in layers and the program selects the sharp bits of each layer. If done right, the final image is in extremely sharp focus throughout the image. Most of my butterfly images on the website are done this way.
In recent years I have been more and more involved in alternative processes for myself and in my roll as an instructor at Palomar College. So when I was asked to be part of a group exhibit of black and white photography at the Ordover Gallery at the San Diego Natural History Museum, it was a logical but not easy choice to hang platinum / palladium prints as my addition to the party. The images are roughly 12 x 16 inches, twice the size I had attempted previously. It took me quite a while to be able to coat the paper well at that size, but I was very pleased with the results once I got the hang of it.
I used more palladium than platinum in the mixture of chemistry to bring out a warm tone to compliment the subject. Potassium oxalate developer at 110 degrees also helped get the tone I was looking for. I found that while I don't miss working in the silver print darkroom, I really have enjoyed the hands on, tactile part of the platinum printing process. Commercially available platinum papers ceased production in 1930, so one has to coat the paper oneself. I like exploring the characteristics of the coating and make it part of the final image. In this case, I have coated the chemistry just beyond the edge of the negative resulting in the thin black 'key' lines framing each print. This and other factors make each print unique and disernable from other prints made from the same negative. Although I love the precision and quality of the inkjet pigment prints I can make, this process is more satisfying. More work and more susceptible to all sorts of factors, but more satisfying. I plan to do more in the near future.
The show poster I made for this exhibit is below. The opening is Saturday Jan 26 from 11 am to 1 pm. If you can't make the opening, the exhibit becomes part of the museum as a whole and an entry fee is required except on the first Tuesday of each month.