But first things first: a lot of our readers have been waiting patiently for this, and this is a limited sale. If you want to secure your order before you recommence reading this post, go to the Order Page here [UPDATE: Link removed—sale ended at 5:06 p.m. Wednesday] and follow Ctein's ordering instructions. (Be sure to read before sending any money). V. important: Your email to Ctein secures your order and your place in line (English translation: in the queue).
...So, where was I? Change comes. For three thousand years, to name one example, the horse was the noblest conveyance of Mankind, as closely tied to the world's aristocracies as any suburbanite is to his or her SUV. But in the space of a handful of decades, that changed.
Optical-chemical photographic techniques, too, are gradually but inexorably being put out to pasture.
Our friend Ctein, determined to be a color photographer in an era when virtually all serious photography was black and white, went straight to the top, and mastered dye transfer printing. A difficult and involved process mostly used at the highest levels of commercial reproduction, it offered at least two advantages: supreme control and great beauty.
Ctein is not sentimental by nature; when Kodak discontinued making dye transfer materials in 1993, he appraised the alternatives and made a decision: he mortgaged himself to the hilt and filled his basement with a large quantity of dye transfer printing materials, some of it stored in specially-purchased top-opening freezers. For one thing, many of his clients wanted dyes, and he needed to be able to maintain his business. For his personal work, I distinctly remember him saying, some time around 1996, that he would not switch to digital until the output got good enough—meaning, as good or better than dye transfer.
Right now, as I write this, 99% of his custom printing business is inkjet. His own work is digital and inkjet. He's not sentimental about this either: he prefers digital now. The time has come: as soon as this sale is over, after more than four decades, Ctein is closing his wet darkroom permanently. These are the last dye transfer prints he will ever make.
For more than four years, he and I have been planning this sale: one last glorious blowout. I wanted to sell full-sized prints showing the best that dye could do; he let me pick the pictures. In the past month or two, he made a fastidious inventory of the last of his stockpiled materials, individually inspecting every sheet of paper and testing the match between image and materials. The magic number is 160. That's as many large dyes as he can make.
It's very complicated, however. Some prints can be made on some types of paper and not on others. So although he can make 160 prints, he can only make certain numbers of certain images. It's possible—not likely, but possible—that if you order one particular picture late in the game, he'll have to ask you to pick another.
This means: order early if you want to be assured of getting your top choice.
Roses is a personal favorite of mine as a supreme example of the dye transfer medium: the colors are delightfully pure, the subject "pops." I picked this picture as a magazine cover, and it was part of the very first print offer Ctein and I did together after I established the Collector Print program at Photo Techniques magazine in the '90s.
The oldest picture of the four is Columbia at Dusk, from 1981. What better medium to commemorate the now discontinued Space Shuttle program than now discontinued dye transfer?
The newest is Niagara Falls—2003. He just put this up on his website recently; it was new to me within the past year. I think it's lovely, the best treatment of this subject I've seen. I've never seen the print, but I'm betting the delicate tension between water-blue and sky-blue (note what different colors they are) floating amidst all that soft white is going to be stunning rendered in dye.
The last of my four picks, to keep the variety going and offer something for everyone, is a landscape, from Ctein's Scotland Portfolio. Castle Eilean Donan is one of his most popular and best-selling landscapes, one that everyone who sees a print of seems to love.
On to the details
Each print is $575—almost exactly a third of what you'd regularly pay to buy one of Ctein's large dye transfer prints. Shipping is a flat $25, no matter how many prints you buy or where in the world you are. (As I mentioned earlier, it's possible you won't get your first choice if you order late.)
As you know if you're familiar with our sales, we keep the doors open for five days, and then that's that—sale over, opportunity lost. That's doubly—triply—quadruply true this time around! This is it, folks. In the future, Ctein will only have already-made prints from his archive to sell, and those will be much more expensive than his current regular prices.
So, this being a limited sale in number, the sale will end at noon, Monday, April 22, 2013, or until the prints sell out, whichever comes first. We hope you'll be able to order as late as Sunday or Monday if you want to, but there's no guarantee.
Note again that a payment alone does not constitute an order. You first have to email Ctein (after reading the instructions on his order page); that's your order, and that's what reserves your print(s) for you and cements your place in line. A payment alone doesn't do it. Be careful about this—don't say I didn't warn ya!
Each print has large white borders (a minimum of one inch) and they are signed and titled by Ctein on the lower front border in ink and signed and dated on the back in graphite.
All prints will ship within 60 days, via USPS Priority Mail with tracking numbers.
You'll find the rest of the relevant details at the Order Page [UPDATE: Link removed—sale ended at 5:06 p.m. Wednesday]. If you have any questions, ask away. Ctein will be very busy today and is unlikely to be able to answer individual queries immediately, but I'll be here, and I can get a hold of him if need be.
I really hope you like this, our third and last dye transfer color print sale. As ever, thanks for looking.
[UPDATE 1:00 p.m. Wednesday: At exactly one hour into the sale, 90 prints have been sold. Just a warning that this might sell out sooner than expected.
Ctein wants people to know that he's been too swamped keeping track of the orders to send out order confirmations yet, but all emails will be tabulated by time stamp and you should get a response and order confirmation from him by the end of the day. —Mike the Ed.]
Original contents copyright 2013 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved. Links in this post may be to our affiliates; sales through affiliate links may benefit this site.
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Featured Comments from:
adamct: "I have a small collection of Ctein's pictures. When I heard about this print offer, I immediately ordered two of Ctein's large prints that I have wanted for a long time, lest he run out of supplies and be unable to print them in the future. They arrived recently and, as expected, are stunning.
"FWIW, I would put in a strong vote for 'Roses Against Black Stone Wall.' I haven't seen it in print, but it seems like a subject that would lend itself strongly to Ctein's process and skills. The texture of the black background and the veins in the green leaves, coupled with the color in the blossoms, is sure to be a joy to behold in person."
Richard Tugwell (partial comment): "Is he still taking orders for the un-discounted items? That is, the ones that are three times the price?"
Mike replies: He's not doing any more printing to order, but he has stock prints of many of his pictures which he will sell to you for the current prices during the five days of the sale. The current price list is here. You do need to check with him about the particular image you want, though, because some of them are sold out. After the sale ends, the price for older stock prints will go up substantially.
Also, if you try to contact him today, you shouldn't expect a reply right away.
Thingo: "I just can't wait to see if my order was placed sufficiently promptly. Many thanks to photographer/printer Ctein, and facilitator Mike, for this wonderful opportunity. Now back to being horizontal for a bit more shut-eye (UTC+10)."
Richard Man: "Since I am local to Ctein, I was fortunate enough to have seen his portfolio with many large prints. I am sure the Rose is spectacular, but as a "Space enthusiast," I have been hoping to obtain a space print for some times. My first choice would have been this one, but Columbia at Dusk will do nicely. Thank you Mike and Ctein!"