[UPDATE 12 noon Pacific Time Friday 6/5/15: Sale has ended. Thanks for your interest! If you need to contact Ctein, you can email him at email@example.com. —Ed.]
In the age of pictures on computer screens, so many times I've found beautiful photographs online that I wish I could put on my walls in fine print form. Never have I had that reaction more strongly than when looking at Kate Kirkwood's extended portrait of the fabled English Lake District.
Born in South Africa, Kate works in the publishing industry in the UK in many capacities, including as a book designer. She also runs a bed-and-breakfast in the remote 17th-century farmhouse in Cumbria where she lives. And for years she has roamed the hills and dales with her Nikons (currently a D600) looking for her often lovely, sometimes strange, occasionally almost magical photographs.
TECHNICAL DETAILS and PRINT SIZES
These four prints were made in California by our resident fine printer Ctein, on Canson Baryta Photographique paper with Epson Ultrachrome K3 inks. In all four cases the proofs have physically gone back and forth from Ctein in California to Kate in England for consultation and approval.
Size: All the prints are made on 17x22" paper; image size is 18" inches wide for all the unsigned prints. (Heights are proportionate and vary slightly.)
In this astonishing photograph (never seen in public before now, by the way), a cow seems surprised by the light breaking on the hills after a rainstorm. I've personally seldom seen a "straight" photograph that looks more like fantasy; this could almost be a landscape painting by N.C. Wyeth, or a scene out of Tolkien.
Choosing just four prints for our initial offering of Kate's prints was very hard. I could have picked four or five completely different sets. Trying to balance different tastes was my guiding principle; the big problem with my choices is that everyone will have their own favorites from among Kate's work, and no one's will be the same.
When I first wrote about Kate I called her, tongue only half in cheek, "the Rembrandt of chicken photographers." (Chickens appear often in her photographs. Sheep too.) She does have a fine feel for birds as elements in pictures, making them seem incongruously grand, or winsome, or lonely—or intimate, as in this study of a small, fluttering bird at a window feeder in the slanting sunlight.
Kate is known in the UK for her creativity with rural themes. I've seen photographs of cow's or horse spines used as if they were elements in a landscape before, but I've never seen the motif explored in more depth or with more creativity than Kate has done, and they've become almost a signature of her art. This picture has been much reproduced on the Web and leads off her fine website.
About TOP's Fine Print Sales
The way we keep our print prices low in comparison to gallery prices is to take orders in advance for a short time. Then the ordering window is closed and the prints are made to fulfill the orders we've received.
These Kate Kirkwood prints can be ordered this week only. The sale closes on Friday at 12:00 noon in California—that's 7:00 p.m. Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). After that time we do not accept further orders. And please, we really mean it—there are always frantic appeals after the deadline asking us to accept one more order, but apart from five or ten minutes of grace time to account of delays in email routing, we don't make exceptions. Really. My advice is, if you want a print, go ahead and order it, and don't wait till the last minute.
The price is only $175 per print (plus $20 to $50 shipping, depending on the number of prints ordered, anywhere in the world). California orders are slightly more because of taxes. Even though we are making and shipping the prints in this case, the artist receives fully 50% of the gross proceeds (another principle of our sales is that we maximize the amount of money the photographers get to keep for their work—we're very "pro" photographers at TOP).
All four $175 prints are unsigned. In addition, however, we are offering a Special Edition of "Come Sunrise" that is larger in image size (20" wide) and signed by Kate, for $450. This is limited to 25 copies in our sale but is not a "limited edition" in the legal sense, in that Kate might offer the same picture at the same size, signed, at some point in the future (at a higher price).
Kate (May 2015)
Despite far-flung acclaim on the Web and in the UK for her work, this is Kate Kirkwood's first public print sale.
"These are the finest prints I’ve seen of these four pictures," Kate says. "I’m very pleased with them and my friends agree, as they are fighting over who gets the proofs.
"I'm impressed by how Ctein handled the saturation, which really is that resonant and ebullient in the first light, especially after rain. Ctein also got the best out of the murky 'Road in the Rain' picture. The atmosphere I felt compelled by is retained yet the image content remains comprehensible. I love his prints of my pictures."
HOW TO ORDER
[UPDATE 12 noon Pacific Time Friday 6/5/15: Link removed; the sale has ended. Thanks for your interest! If you need to contact Ctein, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. —Ed.]
We don't have a slick commercial storefront, I'm afraid—it's because we do this for love as much as money and many of our sales are (or can be) set up quite differently.
It's important to follow Ctein's ordering instructions at the link carefully. The short version is that you'll send an email to Ctein with your information in it, then follow up with payment. The long version is on the sales page. Please read it completely before leaping to the order buttons.
This all takes a bit longer than ordering things on some other sites and I hope you don't mind. We're here to help if you have any problems.
If you don't like your print when you receive it, you may return it for a full refund (minus shipping costs). Also, if your print is damaged in any way in shipment, we will replace it.
Thanks to Kate and Ctein. And BIG thanks to all of you who help make our continuing series of Print Offers possible! Our print offers have been extremely—buyers across all of our sales now number in the thousands. It's gratifying to be a part of transactions like these that make everyone happy, across the board.
Original contents copyright 2015 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.
(To see all the comments, click on the "Comments" link below.)
Featured Comments from:
Steve Jacob: "Kate's pictures look like street photography in the countryside. A great juxtaposition of elements to create an unexpected outcome. The absence of sentimentality makes them so much more beautiful."
Hendrik: "I was really looking forward to this, had the start date in my Outlook to not miss it. And quite a diverse selection you chose, too. But what a shame they aren't signed, that deflates my interest like a pricked balloon."
Mike replies: But we are offering a signed print, just for people who feel as you do.
Sorry they can't all be signed. It's too difficult getting large numbers of prints back and forth from California to the UK and back again, and it takes too much time. The prints have to be handled very carefully and there's always loss; as we've done it before, we know what we're talking about. And PayPal has strict limits on the timeframe in which ordered products must be delivered. The interval for getting even a small number of prints (the special edition) back and forth across the Atlantic before final delivery is going to tax our ability to fulfill PayPal's requirements.
They could all be signed, but then they would cost more. As with most such things, it was a choice I had to weigh.
Bob Johnston [no relation —Ed.]: "I have visited the Lake District many times but did I get anything like these slightly surreal and superbly seen images? No of course not—I may as well give up. Anyone want to buy some secondhand gear?"
Mike replies: Made me laugh. I have my own story of coming up short like that. I'm sure I've written about it, but I'll be darned if I can remember where. I photographed over several days at the Tidal Basin in Washington, trying hard and failing to get a picture of the fishermen who are fixtures there. I didn't even manage to get halfway close to any of them. A matter of days later, I encountered an astonishing picture of two Tidal Basin fishermen, taken from close up, by Cartier-Bresson, who, based on contemporary accounts, could not have photographed there for more than an hour. It was on the cover of his book America in Passing. Put me in my place but good.
Kenneth Tanaka: "Unique, personally imaginative work unfettered by the snares of self-consciousness that often snag others' works. Seeing like this is the very epicenter of what photography is, always has been, and always will be regardless of its other excursions."