Two more vandyke prints from the Trees series. Printed again with sun on top of inkjet toning prints.
We finally had a sunny day, and I promptly used it for Vandyke printing (but it’s raining again when I’m writing this đ ). I had already made some inkjet negatives and underlying toning prints, so I was ready to go whenever exposing with sunlight would seem possible. I wanted to try printing at home, where I don’t have a darkroom or UV exposure equipment, so I need to use sunlight and simple basic techniques.
My goal here was to achieve a final print with a split tone effect, with warm shadows and cool highlights. My chemistry is the standard VDB chem, with the recommended workflow – details can be seen e.g. at AlternativePhotography.com.
Pigment Toned Vandyke Brown
I put online a small video of making this print, you can view it on YouTube.
I thought I’d try Vandyke Brown (VDB) printing with the sunlight as a minor summer project. My first (quite easy-going) tests with digital negs proved that the UV blocking color from the previous vandyke sessions (R:255, G:15, B:15, see the post from 20 Dec 2007), using a metal halide lamp, will pass some UV light through the densest areas of the negative, thus leaving no paper white, that we want as the lightest tone of our print. So I had to do some new tests, and this time I came to choose a green hue (96-229-0).
I also looked for my standard print exposure that would always be the same. Naturally the printing times in the sun will vary according to daily UV levels. My exposure meter will be a Stouffer 21 step wedge, exposed on a VDB test strip. I expose the material until I can barely see the step #12 differing from paper white. After the wet process the print will darken, normally up to step #16 with my chemistry and paper.
Thought I’d also try toning VDB to different colors. The customary way of toning silver images (which a processed VDB basically is) is with noble metals (gold, platinum, palladium), before fixing the print. But this time I will try to make Epson printer inks produce the colors. The idea is to print the “toning print” with the inkjet, and then the vandyke print on top of that. I am using Epson UltraChrome K3 inks that are both durable and waterproof. I imagine the advantage over the traditional method is the possibility of using wider range of colors, and easily generating split tone and multicolor effects.
When kicking around ideas of different uses for ImagOn polymer film we decided to try it at printing photographs that were screened in Photoshop. You can find info on this topic and the vast possibilities of ImagOn in Keith Howard‘s books Non-toxic Intaglio Printmaking and The Contemporary Printmaker: Intaglio-Type & Acrylic Resist Etching.
Here we have a quick experiment; we first created a tone compensation curve, and then applied it to any grayscale image to be screened and converted to bitmat mode for outputting to an inkjet printer.
The curve can be created for halftone screened images as well as for continuous tones (again ChartThrob does a good job here), but when using ImagOn and inkjet technique we tend to clip the tones somewhat, especially at the dark end of the range.
Besides Photoshop’s own (actually quite good) dithering methods there are other software tools for screening images. Some of them work as Photoshop plug-ins, accessible from the filter menu, for instance.
Depending on the chosen screening technique, the outcome can be finely dotted screen, almost invisible to the naked eye, or coarse special effect, breaking the image surface down to larger dots. We tried Andromeda Software‘s EtchTone plug-in (among others), finding it quite interesting but hard to control – with the inkjet technique and our line frequencies we couldn’t get rid of posterization, which showed annoyingly especially on some tone gradients.
We are done with testing ImagOn and other polymer plates for now – some of the students are experimenting on their own – maybe we will hear from them some day…