I will sketch out here summary of a workflow for making a Vandyke brown print from colorized digital negative.

I started with a digital camera file, the picture was taken with a consumer 9.1 megapixel camera, Fuji FinePix E900.

Image processing was started with opening the JPEG file in Adobe Camera Raw (yes, you can do that with CS3), so adjustments could be made without destroying data too much. There was a small noise reduction made, and the image was then opened in Photoshop in 16-bit color mode, which was used at subsequent stages.

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This is how the image looked when opened in Camera Raw with Auto settings.

At the next stage the picture was straightened and cropped slightly, and converted to grayscale mode using Photoshop’s Channel Mixer, so the content of each color channel in the final grayscale image could be adjusted. There are three separate Curves adjustment layers on top of the background – they adjust the tonality of the whole image, plus its lower and upper part separately. Moreover, on top of these there is a Levels adjustment layer to darken slightly the upper part of the sky.

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The grayscale image with adjustment layers added.

After adjusting the grayscale image was done, the correction curve that was created earlier with ChartThrob, was applied. The curve makes the image look too light and washed-out on the computer display.

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The correction curve for Vandyke printing, created by ChartThrob script, makes the tones look distorted on screen. But who cares – we are expecting to get better print tones…

The image was inverted to negative and flipped horizontally, and then filled with the defined UV-blocking color. This colorized, negative image was printed on transparency with an Epson inkjet printer, to obtain a digital negative for exposing the Vandyke paper.

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The digital negative file, filled with red and flipped horizontally.

A sheet of Guarro Casas Cream paper was sensitized by coating it with Vandyke solution, dried and exposed to UV-light in contact with the negative, using the standard exposure time that was defined earlier. The print was then processed and dried to attain archival quality.

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Jalo Porkkala: Thunderstorm rising, Vandyke brown print.

In my opinion, this Vandyke brown print, better than the unprocessed digital camera image, corresponds to what I “saw” when the thunderstorm was rising and the sun illuminated briefly this lonesome tree on a plain in Painted Desert, Arizona. I chose Guarro’s Cream paper to carry the image – reasoning its warm tone will support the idea about the golden sunshine against dark thunder clouds.