One of the distinct strangenesses of my life these days is that TOP is almost so successful that I no longer have enough time to write for it. Any more going on behind the scenes, and the blog itself will become an arid wasteland with nothing on it. I assume that problem would eventually become self-correcting, but it's weird anyway. Right now, for example, we're in high gear preparing for the print sale, which involves a lot of planning; and, amazingly I think, Peter Turnley arrived in Cairo just in time for Mubarak's resignation and the explosion of celebration that followed it. I'm amazed at that—I've been in constant contact with Peter over the past week, looking on as he went through his decision-making process for a trip he knew would last only a few days, as he was trying to guess when the "visual peak" of the action would come. He hit it like a hammer hits a nail. That's not luck, that's a gift—what they call "a nose for news" and instincts honed by decades of experience. He had basically just hit Tahrir Square with his cameras when the news broke like a big wave over the crowds.
The above is an excuse: I haven't had time to research this post.
But here's the short take. Harman Technology Ltd., in association with the German papermaker Hahnemühle, has announced its first new traditional photo paper in 13 years. Ilford Multigrade Art 300 is the culmination of 18 months of development with input from more than 150 fine art black-and-white photographers from around the globe. It's a variable-contrast silver gelatin paper with a neutral paper base and a warm-neutral image tone and a heavy 300 gsm weight. The surface is variously described as "matt" [sic—the proper spelling is matte] and "eggshell," yet early reports from beta testers (none of whom I've talked to—see above) say it has excellent Dmax (for the benefit of you darkroom virgins out there, the traditional knock against matte papers is weak Dmax, or maximum density—i.e., the blackness of the blacks). Art 300 is evidently an attempt by Ilford to create a no-holds-barred, premium, line-leading product for top quality fine art printmaking.
We'll definitely test it...eventually. It goes on sale in Great Britain in early April.
(Thanks to many readers)
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Original contents copyright 2011 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.