Up first is an image that isn't even a contact print, but might go one better. It's a unique image made directly in-camera on Ilford Harman Direct Positive Paper. Reader Johan Verhulst, 58, who lives in Lebbeke, a small village in the Flanders region of Belgium, uses a brass Suter Petzval lens from the 1800s on his Sinar P 8x10 camera. Because he rates the paper at ISO 2, he says "my poor models suffer a very high dose of flash light."
Denise Ross, Summer Sweet Corn, whole plate camera. Denise writes, "Age: not quite Medicare yet; location: home, by way of the Newport, Oregon, Farmers Market." :-) A beautifully simple photograph that I'll bet is considerably nicer "in person" as a contact print.
John Wyke writes from the North of Spain: "Here's me with one of my recent contact prints. I use the Intrepid Cameras 4x5 camera and I'm quite happy with the way it's going. I've always loved contact printing, and I'm happy to have a plate camera now rather than just medium format. I do my darkroom stuff at the La Puerta Verde photography school in Oviedo, Spain, which is run by my friend Ricardo Moreno (La Puerta Verde—Escuela de Fotografía). Although he offers courses in digital photography by necessity, his first love is analog and there are about fifteen of us who use various analog cameras, from Holgas to Hasselblads.
"I'm in the process of working on dual exposures contact prints like the one in this picture. I'm not quite there yet, but the joy is in the journey, not the destination. I'm also looking at Tintype style images. I do like the idea of a one shot, no copies, just a single object that you produce."
Stephen Schafer, Santa Monica Post Office, California (HABS index card)
Although the call was for contact prints, this is too interesting to leave out. Reader Stephen "Schaf" Schafer, who works all over California and Nevada, makes his living with 4x5 and 5x7 sheet film documenting heritage for the HABS/HAER/HALS collections. This is a sample of the so-called "digital contact prints" he submits along with his original negatives to the Library of Congress, where the work is in the public domain.
HABS = Historic American Buildings Survey; HAER = Historic American Engineering Record; HALS = Historic American Landscape Survey. This is true documentary work, and it's a great way to get out in the world with a camera.
William F. Whitaker, Three Vanities, 2004
Will Whitaker, 61, from Salisbury, North Carolina, says that most of the tools, processes and techniques he uses date back to the early 20th century, a period he especially admires in art, photography and design. "This image was taken with an 8 3/4" Wollensak Verito at approximately ƒ/6.3 (which is important because of the nature of the Verito lens whose character changes as it is stopped down). The Verito dates from 100 years ago, so fits right in with the aesthetic I admire so much."
At first I thought these 8x10 contact prints from reader Thom Bennett's website might be the same young lady at different ages, but it turns out they're sisters. Thom is 58 and lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. Currently he works in 8x10 but he says he will soon be acquiring a 7x17, which sounds like something he'll have fun with.
Although an in-camera original and not a contact print, I also couldn't resist including an example of the Tintypes people sent me, and this one's a whopper. Literally. In fact it sounds like Monty McCutchen is "all in": he shoots in 10x12, 7x17, 16x20, and 20x24 and, for the most part, contact prints his work with platinum/palladium, Pt/Pd gumovers, and Ambrotypes/Tintypes. (He did send me several JPEGs of actual contact prints.) He says he uses a lot of Lodima paper from our friends Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee, who you remember from our large format contact print sale a few years back. He writes that he resides in Asheville, North Carolina, "and within the confines of my own photographic geekery."
As they say in New Hampshire, eeyup. One measure of how deep Monty's geekery goes? One of his many ultra-large-format cameras is a 20x24 Ebony with a 16x20 reducing back! Ya gotta love that. He says of it, "I am acutely aware of how silly that sounds. At one time getting a 16x20 reducing back seemed to make sense. As the years have progressed I am having a hard time remembering the conditions in my life that would have constituted that decision being of sound mind and body."
Why "whopper"? The original of the JPEG shown above is a 20x24 (!) Tintype, which must have gobs of presence in the flesh—or, er, tin.
Of all the images readers sent in, this might have been the only Kallitype (an iron-silver alt process similar to Van Dyke brown). Although not his main way of working, Steve Wolfe of Columbus, Ohio, says he still occasionally shoots 4x5" black and white film, usually Ilford HP5+, with his Graflex Crown Graphic. He contact prints them and tones the prints with platinum/palladium.
By the way, if you're wanting to dip a toe into large format (LF) and contact printing, a Crown is a good place to start. I loved playing with those cameras. Vulch on eBay for a good one, and take your time looking. Great ones at reasonable prices are still being passed around among photography enthusiasts. Use yours for a few years then pass it back.
A lot of LF photographers I know make digital snaps of their setups when they work. (As well of promising scenes when they're scouting for locations.) Although the top picture above is from a scan and thus a bit outside the call, reader Gary Nylander, 59, of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, was kind enough to include just such a documentary record shot, taken with his phone:
With large format, you really do engage in a deep way with your subject—it's usually a relaxed, contemplative, engaged, take-your-time-and-get-it-the-way-you-want-it process. Nothing rushed or lucky about it, usually.
The picture in the picture is called Living the Dream: Stuff, and More Stuff
Since we're stretching the boundaries here (lots of readers sent things other than JPEGs of "purist," or straight, all-analog contact prints), I can't resist including this "selfie" by reader Mike Rosiak. "The print in my right hand was contact-printed from the negative in my left hand, Van Dyke brown process, on paper I hand-coated. The negative is on 8.5x11" Pictorico OHP film, printed from my Epson P600. Original image taken with a Lumix GF1, IR conversion by LifePixel, and using the Olympus body cap lens. Silver Efex Pro to make into B&W, then channels reversed to make the negative. So, the whole thing is pretty much a hybrid.
"The print behind me is another contact print, a Cyanotype. What looks like a print in the big red clip is my first 'negative,' which is positive! Early learning curve.
"Both Van Dyke brown and Cyanotype processes were in existence about a hundred years before I was born. (I'm 75). The Cyanotype print got a second place in a local (Southeast Pennsylvania, Northwest of Philadelphia) art group's Spring show, while the other print was accepted as a finalist in Pennsylvania's annual Art of the State event, and hung in the Harrisburg State Museum from June until September.
"I mostly shoot digital (99+%), haven't had a darkroom in maybe 20 years, but this stuff is fun to fool around with, and requires only a 'mostly dim' room."
Mike has two 4x5 cameras, a Crown Graphic and a (Kickstarter) Wanderlust Travelwide.
And here's Michael Boudreaux, 33, from Austin, Texas. "I shoot primarily a Hasselblad, a 4x5 Chamonix, and an 8x10 Deardorff recently purchased from Blue Moon Camera in Portland," Mike writes. "I'm holding my first contact print out of this (rugged) beauty, shot on Ilford HP5+, developed in Pyrocat HD and printed on Ilford MG Classic FB.
"I sit at a computer all day at work, so I gravitate towards vintage machines like goofy old cameras and quirky British roadsters." I get that.
You've met photography teacher Jeff Dionesotes before—he's the guy who bought my once-beloved SaltHill (made by my late friend Joe Saltzer, RIP) print washer when I moved away from Wisconsin. (Actually, I gave it to him—it was originally a review sample that I ended up paying nothing for, and thus it would have been unethical for me to profit from its sale.) This is a contact print of some of his students made with a Zone VI "Ultralight" 8x10.
...And, for good measure, one more:
Reader Chris Fazio, 61, of Chicago, Illinois took this dignified portrait of his 92-year-old mother this past September, on her birthday. He writes, "I started to get serious about photography in 2005, at the end of the film era! I love making contact prints using the Lodima paper Michael Smith makes." He has recently begun a project photographing people in profile.
That's it for this, the inaugural "Baker's Dozen." As I've mentioned, I'm going to try to repeat this feature at two-week intervals—at least for a little while. The next call for work is for smartphone pictures that you wouldn't have made but for the fact that you had your smartphone with you...but please read the call for work before submitting. I'm already awash in submissions (really fun to see them) so it's going to be important for you to follow protocol if you want your submission to be considered. (The amount of email I get is an organizational headache. An assistant, an assistant, my kingdom for an assistant!)
I had about three times as many submissions for this week's feature as I had space for, which is surprising given that traditional LF is such a small niche. It was excruciating to have to leave some of them out. I went for variety and "ancillary interest," you might say, and no judgement of quality is implied for those who didn't get chosen! I really enjoyed hearing from everyone and seeing your work—especially all of those who appended nice personal notes to their emails. Really good to hear from you. Sorry I don't have time to personally reply to anyone. (I really barely have time for email correspondences these days, if you're wondering why you never got an answer to an email. I do read everything that comes in.)
If you'd like to add an image in the comments, TypePad isn't really set up for that, but there's a workaround. First, the image must be on the Web and have a URL; and second, it can't be more than 470 pixels wide or it will get truncated. With those two conditions met, you can use this code in the comment box:
...Where the bit between the quote marks is the URL of your image. Leave the quote marks there.
That it for us for this week—I'm off to work on my book for the weekend. Hope you had as much fun with today's post as I did. We'll be back on Monday, and next week on Friday we'll take another trip Around the Web—I've already gotten started on that.
(Thanks to everyone who submitted work)
Original contents copyright 2017 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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