I had a small group last week for the carbon photography workshop, which made it easier for me and unusually spacious in the darkroom for the participants. Though no matter how few people you have making carbon prints though there never seems to be enough hot water, so calls of “more hot water” were regularly heard in the darkroom for three days.
We made the first batch of carbon tissues using casting frames, coating rods and our fingers so that everyone had the experience of trying different ways to make the tissues. After everyone made their initial exposure tests and first prints we made two new color batches of pigmented gelatin and prepped other support material; watercolor paper and glass.
David Developing Carbon
My demo in action
One of the colors that came from this freedom of extra time was a sort of John Deere tractor green. We also made a lovely cool blue tissue. One of the participants wanted to make a carbon transparency on glass and at the time thought he had chosen the blue tissue. He was really surprised when we turned on the white lights during the development and saw that his beautifully made transfer was actually green. When the plate was dry I held a sheet of bronze coated paper behind the image so the group could see how it would look as an orotone. The green wasn’t so bad.
Mark Osterman is the Process Historian in the Kay R. Whitmore Conservation Center at George Eastman House. Best known for his depth of knowledge in the area of collodion photography, Osterman is also internationally recognized for his research and teaching of photographic processes from Niepce heliographs to gelatin emulsions. Osterman's curriculum, once reserved for the international conservation community, is now available to the public through a series of hands-on workshops at Eastman House and other venues in the U.S. and abroad.