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The Hidden World of the Nearby


An absolute necessity.

A documentary photograph is not usually intimately dependant on how it is printed. A fine art landscape image is. Although this opinion is not shared by all photographers I believe it is evident in my prints.

Having seen in the early 1970s examples and exhibits of dye transfer prints and seeing the results of other processes (C-prints, Cibachrome, direct positive prints) I concluded that I had to make my own dye transfer prints.

I began photographing in 1974 and in 1978 decided it was time to begin printing. I watched a Bill Butler, an expert printing, make a dye transfer print. However, it was clear it was a complex process (ultiately I made 11 black and white sheets of film before adding dyes) and often photographers failed when they tried make “dyes.” Since a critical part of the process was temperature control and registration I decided to build a lab especially for makeing dye transfer prints.

This involved a rocker table for dying matrices, an electronic temperature controller for developing separation negatives and matrices, a large vacuum fram for holding matrices in register, a special negative carrier for the enlarger to keep separations in register, and an enlarger firming anchored (in my case to the major support beams of my home). It took me a year and the help of a professional machinist.

Under the menu item “PRINTING” is a gallery of images of a slide show we made in my lab of me making a dye transfer print.

Eliot Porter, when he meade his own prints stayed with relatively small 16" x 20" prints. Because the details of texture were important to me I began with 20" x 24" prints and later added 32" z 40" prints, something very rare out side profession labs. In fact, as dye transfer was being phased out, we were contracted to finish an order for 32" z 40" Eliot Porter images.

A Never Ending Adventure

More Processes and a new company.

Dye transfer was a so-called “dye imbibation” process and was the same techology used for Technicolor movies and is the only reason "Gone with the Windæ," "The Wizard of Oz" and other filsm from the 1930s retain their brilliant color for the original images were preserved on three black and white separate negatives.

However, Technicolor was expensive and Kodak switched to color negatives in the early 1950s which have all fraded out of existance.

Kodak continued to make materials for dye transfer printing until the early 1990s when digital technology made it obsolete. I made dyes from 1978 to 1995 and then began an odessy that lasted for ten years.

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