Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Silver Gelatin

I am in the process of having three museum-quality prints created for a collector friend of mine that has recently purchased them for his new home in Atlanta. This is a huge learning experience for me, as I have never done prints of this quality. So, I called my boy Jerry who works in the Exhibitions department at Duggal and last week, had a meeting with him to discuss the process, the results and the costs.

The shots all originated on 35mm Fuji Neopan 1600 film. I'm a Virgo/control freak, so I wanted the ability to scan the negatives myself, retouch them digitally and then provide a file to the printer. Of course, they can only do Silver Gelatin from negatives, so they offered to strike new 4"x5" negatives from the digital files. Apparently this procedure has been given a blessing by several prominent galleries and museums as a way of a nod of acceptance into creating prints that originated digitally, i.e. strike a new 4"x5" negative from your digital photograph and only make prints (a run of 100, let's say) from that negative. Even though realistically, one could always repeat the process a la Mr. Dali.

So I scanned the negatives at 1:1, which yielded TIF files with the following properties:

2500 x 4000 pixels
16 bit
3200 dpi
20 meg file size

Today I went in and saw the new 4"x5" negatives - gorgeous! And I met Jim, Duggal's master printer way down in the catacombs under 23rd street. He had just finished printing a run of shots (including the astonishing "DC-4 Flying Over NYC" which I saw drying) from the Bourke-White estate. Jim and I talked for about half an hour about the look and feel that I wanted - warm vs. cool, glossy vs. matte, to bring out some mid-range or not and I left feeling pretty impressed. Plus, Jerry made me a great deal.

On the way out, I met with Mr. Duggal about possibly having some of my work in their "gallery." He was slightly intimidating, but warm, as he looked through my portrait book. He said my stuff was "incredible" and that it was perfectly suited for galleries and "racier magazines." That one made me smile. I mentioned that I was in the Taschen book but left out that I'd been published in Penthouse Forum. He's about to launch a show there in the lobby that is all about "ecology" to coincide with Duggal going "green" (impressive if they can pull it off, considering it is all about chemicals) and told me to see him again in 3 months. Cool. There's something about knowing that one of your shots, blown up to 25 feet by 15 feet is hanging in the lobby of a place where every major photographer (or at least their assistants) walk into every day of the week.

I also dropped off the two rolls of 120 that I shot of Meagan with Sanders McNew's Roleiflex. Shot at 200ASA, but metered to 400ASA on 400 Tri X. Push -1. We'll see...

Meanwhile Meagan and I visited Sanders and Melanie so that Sanders could shoot her and so that I could hang out with them. I've known them for several years - Sanders shot my BIO photo on my website and I've worked with Melanie three or four times. The great thing about both of them is that not only are they both incredibly talented at what they do, they are also incredibly smart, nice, friendly, unselfish human beings. He shot 5 rolls of Meagan while I drank beer and talked to Melanie and then I asked him to shoot a roll of us, and of course he obliged. He's that type of guy.

The first shot he sent last night was one of those. It took my breath away. I think it's one of the best photos ever taken of me. I'm super critical of myself in front of the camera (which is why the self-portrait series is so difficult) so maybe it was just the fact that I was so comfortable in the room with everyone that I just let my guard down. Or probably more likely, Sanders just got a moment the way he always does. It's an incredible image.

And no, I'm not going to post it here.

It ain't mine.

Last night Meagan and I had a bite to eat with Stacy Leigh, one of my favorite friends/photographers as well and an all around nut. We were at a fairly hoighty joint on Park Avenue South when Stacy and Meagan disappeared into the bathroom and emerged with Meagan's Polaroids of a half naked Stacy - typical...

There was also plenty of point and shoot madness with Stacy and I hamming up for Meagan's little Olympus with the perfectly obnoxious flash. After several hours, the two tables next to us couldn't contain their curiosity. And jealousy. I felt all big pimpin'. Or something...

Not really, but a little. But I was proud. Proud of my cult. Proud of my friends. Proud of the talented, beautiful people I've met as a photographer.

On Saturday, my friend Brian and I saw the Horst exhibit at the Forbes Gallery on 5th Avenue and 12th Street. It was the first time in a long time that I remember getting goose-bumps at a gallery show. And it happened twice. If you love his stuff, I HIGHLY recommend it. Highly. At one point I asked Brian to cause a diversion so I could steal the Dietrich picture, but he was having none of that...and I was sober. Unfortunately so was he...

I have a lot of work to do. I'm gonna start thinking about the end result right now.

This is Meagan from December.


BLISS said...

sounds like you have had an amazing couple of days...

Yay for James....

D.L. Wood said...

Congratulations on the sale. It's funny how a sale turns into a whole new learning experience.

I pick up Digital Photography Pro magazine and Mr. Duggal has a column in it. I thought it was going to be a column on how to do projects and such, but it seems to me it's more of a advertisement for his company. Nice ya got a deal. I bet it's an impressive place.

Nice to spend good times with your friends.

Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious.
Author:St. Thomas Aquinas 1225-1274

D.L. Wood

bt said...


Congrats...you know your work rocks!!
Its early here..thinking of having Popcorn for Breakfast..or going back to bed..not sure.

Talk soon my friend...;-)


cafe selavy said...

Thanks for posting the techno info. I've been loooking for a place to do just that.

Tanya said...

you must be so excited, I'm so glad things are turning around for you, it's so important to be able to give your self kudos/ credit and be proud of your work. After all, what would be the point of it if you can't find self gratification.