One of the first people I photographed in Willets Point was Ali. Ali is from Afghanistan and came here after his brother Frank moved to the United States where they started the New Mustang Auto Parts store in Willets Point 15 years ago.Read More
I have spent a over a year learning carbon printing without one good print that I would be willing to hang. I have spent a considerable amount of money learning this process. The same goes for Platinum/Palladium printing. I have stacks of paper and material that will never see the light of day.Read More
This is the first post in a series where I explain the backstory of the photos from The Iron Triangle.Read More
A short post about Photopolymer printing and some instructions on how to do it.Read More
I have written before about this paper and I love it. Here is a great video on a great way to coat the paper from Masayuki Nishimaru:
As I wrote in the previous post "A Return to Willets Point" I went back to take some more photos and see how much of the area has changed. While walking through the area I saw a group of men doing body work on a car and spotted this guy covered in Bondo. I asked his name but didn't want to say but let me take his photo.
Around the corner we met John who was eating some birthday cake. He was hesitant to have his photo taken but he agreed in the end. On a side note, most people there do not want to have their photo taken. It takes about 3 trips for them to see me and feel comfortable.
Since we came back we also brought prints with us from the last time we were there. We meet up with Frank who is also know as Ponchee. Here is his photo from the first time we met:
On my first trip I took a photo of two sisters selling drinks. We could not find them again but we meet their brother Ricki. He gave the photo we took of his sisters to them.
It’s been a while since I have gone back to Willets Point. Eni and I went to visit a week ago armed with photos we had taken on the last few trips to give back to the people we photographed last time we were there. We were surprised and delighted to see many of the same people we had photographed before. They were really happy that we returned and gave them back something. We were also able to create some more interesting photos.
One thing I noticed was how much the area has change. The first photo below is from my first trip there in 2014 and the photo on the right is what is there now. They are turning this part into a parking lot. Right next-door is a huge parking lot that sits empty most of the time so I am not sure why someone felt compelled to build another one. The car in the photo on the right belonged to the security guard there who told me I was not allowed to take photos there. In three years of taking photos there, this was the first time I was told that.
While finding and giving out some of the photos, we meet one of the owners of several properties in Willets Point. He owns at last one full block, if not more. He did not want to be photographed, but was more than willing to talk to us. His name is Eli and he bought the property in the 80’s for 1.6 million. He told us his wife thought he was crazy. Now they are offering money in the range of 50 million and he still refuses to sell it. Eli told me that a lot of people depend on him for jobs and for an affordable place to get their cars fixed. Otherwise they would pay double to get it fixed at most garages in the city. After Eli is gone, maybe his kids or wife will sell it, but not while he is still living. The problem that Willets Point faces now, according to Eli, is that half the building are empty now and the city has done nothing with them leaving it open for drug addicts to use late at night. Business is also down because people are not coming as much. They think that nobody is there anymore working on cars.
Across the street from Eli is Ali who has had a business in Willets Point for over 20 years. He ran it with his brother Frank, who has passed away. Ali told us that he rents from someone who also owns a large section of Willets Point. He pays $10,000 a month and is worried that at any moment they could sell he would have to move. We asked where he would go and he was not sure. Ali came from Afghanistan back in the 80’s with his family. He is extremely knowledgeable about cars and has a mental record of every part in his garage. Ali’s main complaint was the lack of infrastructure in Willets Point. He could not get Verizon out to his place to fix the Internet; he relies on a computer system that he uses to see if other garages have parts his customer needs. There is no sewer system and therefore no bathrooms there. Customers ask all the time and he has to tell them no. The roads have not been paved in ages, even though they pay a lot of money in taxes.
It was good to be back and take more photos in Willets Point. We talked to a lot of people and heard some interesting stories. I will have some more posted soon.
I received some test samples from Carol over at Hahnemuhle and here is my first try. When I share about my experiences of products I used and my process, I like to not only show images that worked well but also ones where I had failures. I find that people can learn more from my mistakes than images that were successful.
I usually use Fabrino Artistic Natural White. I like Fabrino because it is easy to coat. It’s almost idiot proof because it soaks everything up very well, but that can also be a problem. Because it soaks so fast, you have to coat it very fast. The other problem is that it takes so much more solution to coat it. The color of the paper can also be an issue. I find the Natural White is a little too warm and the Extra White is almost blinding and too bright. The new Hahnemuhle is a perfect balance between the two.
When coating, there is nothing more frustrating when you don’t coat fast enough to cover the area and you have to toss the paper with all the chemicals in it. That’s why with Fabrino; I use a higher drop count than usual. The new Hahnemuhle paper uses significantly less solution and takes more time to soak in allowing you to easily cover the surface. Since it does take longer to soak in, I found myself over brushing the paper and it showed on some of my first tests to determine the maximum black. I got lazy with coating Fabrino and I guess it’s time to improve my coating skills.
Fabrino paper sometimes can be very forgiving of all my mistakes, where as I find with Hahnemuhle it is less forgiving. After I coat my paper, I wait for the paper to dry to an even matte color, and then I hang it in front of a fan. The drying time for Fabrino is 2 minutes drying on the table after coating and 2 minutes in front of a fan. For the Hahnemuhle, I waited 4 minutes on the table and 3 minutes with a fan and the negative still stuck to the paper. After that, I dried the Hahnemuhle paper a couple minutes longer and had no problems.
When it came to developing, with my first print I did not pour the developer on properly and got waves (UPDATE: this had nothing to do with the developer, it was sticking to the negative) in the Hahnemuhle so that’s another area where I need to improve my skills and got lazy with Fabrino. When I clear my images, I use a Citric Acid bath and two EDTA and Sodium Sulfite baths and found that there was a slight fogging in the whites (UPDATE: I now use eual amounts of citric acid, edta and sodium sulfite in three bathes for 5 minutes each. The fogging was actually due to old Ferric Oxalate. With fresh FO is clears extrememly well). This may just need to be cleared differently or might be more sensitive to external lights
When I make my digital negatives, I use they method taught to me by Carl Weese. I use the Color Density in the Advance Black and White with Epson to control the highlights. With Fabrino I regularly printed at the max +50, but I think with the Hahnemuhle I need to take it down to maybe +40. The image above has a little more contrast than the actual print. When developing, the image looked very grainy when I first poured the developer on it, but that goes away as it develops.
As for printing times, I use a UV LED light box I made myself. The printing time for Fabrino and Hahnemuhle was exactly the same for me. I found the blacks to be slightly less then the Fabrino but only really noticeable side by side. The Hahnemuhle is also more neutral in color. (UPDATE: For a warmer color use Potassium Oxalate 180g, Potassium phosphate monobasic 60g, Distilled water 1000cc, the higher the temperature, the warmer it will be. I am usually at around 100 to 120 degrees.) I am printing with Ferric Oxalate and Palladium only for these images. I like to get it as close to perfect with just those two before adding any contrast agent. Often times I do not use any NA2. The other major difference between the two for me was the sharpness of the image. The Fabrino has more texture and a little more soft. The Hahnemuhle to me was much sharper and crisper.
In the end, with more time and paper to perfect the process, I see myself using the Hahnemuhle only unless I want a very warm image then I would use the Fabrino. Thanks again to Carol for the samples. I am looking forward to getting the paper.
A few years ago I took a platinum printing class with Carl Weese. The image below is one of the first I created in that class. The second image is one I did a few nights ago. It has taken an incredible amount of time and frustration to get to the point where I am happy with an image. I still think it needs work and am truly committed to knowing everything about this process and mastering it. I believe that digital photography and the prints made have made people lazy.
I was at a portfolio review with some well know editors and curators. I brought it out and a lot of them did not know what it was. I told one reviewer it was platinum and she said oh thank god I am so tired of digital images.
I know in this time where Formalism rules the art world, I argue that there is still a place for traditional printing processes. Don't get me wrong, I am not against digital cameras, this is a digital image originally, but with the release of all new paper for platinum and the hybrid process of digital negatives, there has never been a better time to be a photographer.
Some photos of my darkroom and some prints I am currently making.