Gum Bichromate Printing for Days

My misadventures in gum printing continue. This time I was a bit frustrated with the results I was getting and I had a stack of prints I hated and wanted to burn. Instead of burning them though, I did some experiments with bleach. I got a lot of different results, but I’m pretty pleased with how it went and I’m already making plans to use bleach to add to the content of my next images.

But anyway– here have some more gum prints:

Let’s start with this one. I worked in my bathtub like all the well-equipped photographers do, and I filled it with water about 1/4″. I then put about 1/3 cup of bleach into the water, submerged the picture, and waited two minutes to rinse it off.

Oh yeah, you wanna rinse these off or the bleach will keep on bleachin’.

Before, the image was dark and murky. I wish I had a before photo to show you, but you’ll just have to take my word for it. The bleach lightened it up and brought out the background. Yay!

This one was fun– not. I was trying to make a vignette with the bleach, but, uh, see the top left? I got carried away. So I just said whatever and immersed this one in the bathtub that had like a capful of bleach for twenty minutes, and then I took a brush and was just making marks on it. Talk about strange.

Yeah. I splattered bleach on this one and got carried away. Whoops.

 

I got super excited over this one. I made drops on the print this time, and they remind me of fairy lights. I also bleached my subjects, trying to bring them out of the background, but this was before I realized I needed to rinse the prints to get the bleaching to stop, so I brought them out so much they turned into ghosts. But I’m thrilled with that, because, I mean, look at the picture. It’s already creepy.

Ohhh this one. When I put it in the tub, I put the image face down. I was thinking about the gum bichromate process, where you put your image face down in the tray for development. I left my print alone for 20 minutes (I did this one the same time I did the failed-vignette,) and when I came back my bathtub somehow drained and the print was just chillin’ on the bottom of my tub. My bathtub has some swirly groove things, which apparently held onto the bleach, thus creating this cool image.

I played with the darkness and the colors of the prints a little bit in Photoshop, to make them look more dreamy/trippy. I think I succeeded.

That’s my latest update with these. I’m going to try a new negative process to try and get the colors I want, so wish me luck.

Happy Shooting!

 

Gum Bichromate Struggles and Successes

I devoted my winter break to making decent gum bichromate prints, and so far, after 14 hours, I’ve got mixed results. Which is no surprise, since I’m such a newbie, and this process is not for the faint-at-heart. If anything, the amount of time I’ve pumped into the project overall (70+ hours, thanks,) puts me in competition against Richard the Lionheart. Boy ain’t got nothin’ on me and my watercolors and paper. Dude was defeated by an ant a little kid.

But anyway.

Here are my “successful” prints:

Alright, so each of these prints has a cyanotype base layer. I found that that approach made it easier to line up the negatives– oh, I didn’t mention that these prints are created in layers? All of these are 5-6 layers of watercolor/gum bichromate solution. It takes a while to get a print. A long freaking while. Each color (Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow,) have their own negative, so when you print each color you have to make sure the negative lines up with the established image, else you get something like this:

It’s a gamble when you’re determining how long to expose each layer (because the amount of time you expose the print to UV light, the more pronounced the color will be,) and, when you’re a total amateur like me, you have the tendency to guess pretty wrong, and end up with images like this:

Yeah, they’re not supposed to be that blue.

I did experiment a little bit, though. For this image, I did something different. I put a top layer of cyan and exposed it too much, so my image was wayyyy too blue. I took a paintbrush and wiped away most of it, but that’s why it looks “freckly,” which I don’t mind. I think it’s kinda cool.

So there’s an update on my gum bichromate work. Trust me, there will be more updates as I try to tackle this process.

Happy Shooting!

Toxic Chemicals and Twenty Hours Later…

I’m channeling my inner Alfred Stieglitz with this one, but, it took me twenty hours to kind of get it right. I’m not sure where to begin with this one, so here have some gum bichromate prints:

Those twenty hours were worth it.

Gum Bichromate printing is a tricky art, and I’m an amateur of amateurs, but my novice-ness created these dreamy, atmospheric prints, and I’m down with that. I did the tulle head photo shoot with gum bichromate printing in mind, and the process did not disappoint, even if it did take me over twenty hours and tons of failed prints.

To make these, you need potassium dichromate (some gum printers use a different chemical, but I don’t know so whatever,) gum arabic, and water color pigment, preferably from a tube. If you’re interested in making these, check out this site for a great tutorial, but be warned, each of these prints took me five hours each to complete.

There are many more of these to come, and I’m looking forward to seeing the one-of-a-kind prints yielded by this temperamental process.

Happy Shooting!

P.S.- here’s the Alfred Stieglitz gum bichromate print I kind of sort of mentioned:

 

Dream On: More Negative Alterations Depicting Dreams

Even though I’ve been insanely busy with ArtPrize in Grand Rapids, I’m still producing work! I’ve been working on my dream series some more, manipulating negatives, and just kind of trying new things out.

(Shout out to all of my friends who modeled for me, and to my boyfriend for drawing a tiny little ship for me, and holding the scary lighter when burning the negative for the last one.)

So, how did I do these? I’ll tell ya, even though I’m risking losing my reputation as a total genius (or losing my delusions of grandeur.)

The falling one was all about timing and flipping the frame. Have a friend jump, and if you timed it correctly, they may look like they are falling off the earth!

The ship one was simple enough- a little ship was sewn onto the negative. You have to be able to draw really tiny (or know someone who can.) Or, an alternative could be to draw a ship directly onto the print.

That dark blob thing was just a three-second exposure of my friend thrashing around in a big poofy black dress.

Ah, yes. The girl cut in two. This one is really easy, if you have a splitzer. A splitzer is one of those tools Lomographers like to use, and I think you can buy one, but what’s the point in that when you can just make one out of black construction paper? Trace your lens, cut out the circular shape, cut that in half, and ta-da! A splitzer. To make a cool photo like the one above, have the splitzer cover half of your frame, snap the picture, double expose the frame (see google for how to do this with your camera,) and put the splitzer on the other side of your frame, and snap again. Cool, huh?

Nail polish and camera angles for the tree one. I saw someone do something like this somewhere (flickr maybe?) and I kinda wanted to try it. Throw some glitter nail polish on, and it looks like there are little fairy lights bobblin’ around.

The star one is easily one of my favorite because I’m a huge sucker for rainbows. This one took pre-planning, with negative alterations in mind. I took a star shaped hole-punch, a needle to scratch out the other stars, and star nail polish. Boom.

The bunny photo and the whale photo are just double exposures.

The last one was tricky. Again, I planned ahead with alterations in mind. My boyfriend and I took the negative and burned it, to make it look like he is running away from a burning frame. We used one of those long lighters to lower risk of injury, and burned it slowly. I played with the saturation of the burned parts in Photoshop, and that’s how that one was done.

I think we’re done altering negatives now for class, but man, I don’t think I’m done. I’m going to keep this technique in mind for the future. And, for the love of God, try this technique some time.

Happy Shooting!

 

Cyanotypes are the Stuff of Dreams

I’ve been itching to make cyanotypes, like, poison-ivy with itching powder on top kind of itching. We experimented a little bit in class last week, and I had a bit of fun. I brought in all kinds of objects: flat, round, small, large, opaque, translucent… And the results make me want to do more.

I also brought in medium format negatives and color slide negatives. The medium format negatives didn’t come out, despite being exposed for over half an hour, but my color slide ones gave some results. And here is why: cyanotypes respond to the blue parts of the light spectrum, so the more an object is transmitting blue light, the better. My color slide negatives were tungsten film, so they already had a blue tint to them, whereas my medium format negatives were orange, hence the struggle. My color slide negatives sat out in the sun for a little over 20 minutes, and I found the images that were higher-contrast came out better than the ones that didn’t. I want to try medium format again, to try and see what is the sweet-spot for exposure time.

Writing about this made my heart beat faster. I can’t wait to make more! I have to make some that relate to my semester-long theme of “dreams,” and I definitely think cyantoypes fall into the dreamlike category of image-making.

Happy Shooting (or Cyanotyping!)

Positives About Negatives

My negatives from my last batch of film have been altered, and they look pretty interesting! I’d say they definitely add more dream elements. Or surreal elements. Whatever. Check them out:

I’m pretty pleased with these. The option of altering negatives is a good one, because I was able to make the photos that I didn’t like very much (or just weren’t good compositionally/content/justplainugly.) I’m a huge fan of the ghost sequins and the inverted Lisa Frank stickers. The former looks straight from some bad acid trip.

Well, now I have a new hobby. Oops.

I have an assignment for next week where I have to think about how I’m going to alter the negatives while I’m shooting- so, I’m shooting to alter. Pretty pumped~

If you have access to a film scanner, try this out! You can use just about anything. I used nail polish, glue, tape, a hole punch, thread, I used a needle to scratch at the emulsion, and colored pens and sequins. Oh, and a fortune from a fortune cookie I’ve been keeping around for probably more than a year now. I’m not a hoarder.

So, yeah. Happy Shooting!

 

P.S.- Fun story about the ghost one. When I was little I had really awful nightmares, so my mom got me a dream catcher. It worked for a while until one night I had a really awful nightmare. When I woke up the next day, the dream catcher was in pieces on the floor. Spooky.