Tag Archives: Digital Prints

Elizabeth Siegfried

I can’t imagine how rewarding it must have been for Elizabeth Siegfried when she stumbled upon a forgotten box of 16mm film at her family’s  summer home. She immediately knew she had unearthed something truly special. The discovery allowed her a window into her own past and family history, witnessing relatives in summer pursuits, animated and moving.  Elizabeth has created a project about those films, Termina, where in the last grid, she includes herself, bringing the family tree full circle.  Elizabeth rececently opened an exhibition of Termina at The Art Space Gallery in Huntsville, Ontario that runs through July 29th. I am also featuring work from her Off-Season project.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Elizabeth lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. Known for her work in self portraiture and photographic narrative,
Elizabeth has worked with the historical process of platinum for
twenty-five years and has exhibited her images in Canada, the US, Italy,
Germany, Japan and Mexico. In recent years, she has expanded her mode
of presentation to include iris and other archival digital prints.  Her work has been published widely and is held in many significant collections.

Termina consists of four grids devoted to the leading women of each generation in Siegfried’s family. The first three grids of historical imagery present her great-grandmother, grandmother and mother. The fourth grid consists of the artist taken between 1987 and 1992 and includes three recent self-portraits.

Still from Termina
The films shot by her family between 1922 and 1945 were in remarkably sound condition. She transferred them to digital video, downloaded them to her computer and created Termina, a photographic installation that tells the story of her diminishing family tree and contemplates the ending of one branch of Siegfried’s family lineage: her own.


Still from Termina

Termina addresses a reality that resonates with many people today. It asks questions and provokes dialogue about the choice to bear and raise children, the future of family in both personal and universal contexts and the emotional implications of these realities.

Stills from Termina
Off Season explores
usually active locations during times of dormancy. 
In these technology
driven, overcrowded, chaotic times, the images offer us quiet spaces to
breathe, observe and contemplate—to bring us back to ourselves. 

Each image suggests that
ambiguous state of mind in which one is not certain whether something has ended
or something is about to begin. In that captured moment there is no certainty,
only the timeless hovering of possibility that reflects on the past while at
the same time suggesting the future.

Images from Off Season

The Darkroom: Nostalgia for a Dying Craft

The thought that most photographers working today will no longer, or will never, step foot in a traditional analog darkroom is remarkable for me. So much of the public imagination historically (and cinematically) with “photography” has been tied to the image of a man or woman hunched over trays of liquid watching an image appear on paper while enshrouded by the warm, amber glow of a safelight. Will that collective image ever be replaced with one of someone sliding a cursor along a histogram while bathed in the cool glow of a Macintosh monitor? Adam Bartos’s new book from Steidl Darkroom sheds some white light on the dying craft of analog printmaking and the environments that have produced most of the medium’s greatest images.

©Steidl—Adam Bartos

The cover of Adam Bartos’s new book from Darkroom.

Bartos is a photographer of the generation where working in a darkroom was a natural extension of the artist’s process and although I suspected this book to be a kind of lament to their near extinction, Bartos himself has been making digital prints of his work for over a decade.

“I’ve never thought that spending time in a darkroom makes for a better (or worse) photographer. That’s a matter of choice and process…The difference might be that I make distinctions about prints because I have a feeling for them as objects with history. Those of us who have spent time in darkrooms may be more likely to share that experience, but I hope that photographers who haven’t will be interested in what the possibilities of printmaking are before thoughtlessly accepting the standard product. It’s quite easy to make a digital print that looks alright, but it’s still very difficult to make one that is beautiful and expressive.”

Bartos’s still-lifes describe how darkrooms are part laboratory and part personal spaces – lived in and decorated with talismans; a ball compass hangs from a safelight fixture, old test prints and penciled notations are left pinned to walls, layers of dust coat unused equipment. (I recall reading a story about the American photographer Garry Winogrand and his darkroom enlarger upon which hung several items including an old bow-tie and a string of rosary beads. When asked about these things he simply replied, “They can’t hurt.”)

I have spent most of my life as a printer in such environs so the first few images bring a flood of memories from the last twenty-five years: Printing in Helen Buttfield’s ancient darkroom above the old Irving Klaw Studio where Betty Page was often photographed at 212 East 14th street; Trying to print on GAF photo-paper that had expired in 1968 – the same year I was born; My printing teacher Sid Kaplan pouring his hot coffee into the developer tray because the chemistry was “too cold”; Coming home to find a pigeon sitting on my film drying lines in my improvised darkroom in my 35th street tenement apartment. Discovering my cat Bun-Bun had once again used one of my 16X20 developing trays as a litter box. Having my exhaust fan tumble out of my window and somehow shatter my downstairs neighbor’s window. The shrill beep of my Gra-lab enlarger timer as it counted down: 5, 4, 3, 2…

Adam Bartos’s Darkroom is available from Steidl this now.

Jeffrey Ladd is a photographer, writer, editor and founder of Errata Editions.