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).

Finding the best UV blocking colors on darker red, yellow and green portions of the color chart, printed with an Epson Stylus Pro 3800. The selection of the most suitable colors form a heart-shaped pattern on the right.

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.

Two toning test prints from an Epson 3800. The images are blurred with Photoshop’s Gaussian Blur filter to make registering the Vandyke negatives easier.

VDB test prints from a colorized (green) negative on top of the toning prints above. The goal here was to get a view of a “cold tone” and “warm tone” Vandyke prints.