Tag Archives: Photographic Processes

Gayle Stevens and Judy Sherrod: Nocturnes

Photo NOLA is about to gear up for an amazing week of all things photography, and one of those events is the exhibition, CURRENTS 2012: NOPA Members Showcase,  at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art, featuring work by sixteen members of the New Orleans Photo Alliance:
Thom Bennett, J.T. Blatty, Lee Deigaard, Nell Dickerson, E2 (Elizabeth
Kleiveld & Eric Julien), Frank Hamrick, Christopher Harris, Vivian
Keulards, Eleanor Owen Kerr, Maria Levitsky, Colleen Mullins, Donna
Pinkley, Rylan Steele, and S. Gayle Stevens/Judy Sherrod.

Today, I am sharing the work of two of those sixteen,  S. Gayle Stevens and Judy SherrodJudy is the box-making partner in the Nocturnes project. She  designs and makes all the cameras used in her collaboration with Gayle, ranging from two and one-half inches square to forty by forty inches. She drives from  Wichita Falls,Texas to wherever making photographs and schlepping equipment and chemicals with her constant companion, a very funny dog named B. 

The cameras in action….

Gayle Stevens has worked in antiquarian photographic processes for over fifteen years. Her chosen medium is wet plate collodion and she exhibits extensively across the United States, in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. Gayle received an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the artist in residence at the Serenbe Institute in Georgia in August 2012. Named one of the Critical Mass Top Fifty Photographers for 2010, and a finalist in 2011 and 2012, her work has been featured in numerous publications and held in significant collections. Northlight Press is publishing a book of Stevens’ work in their 11 + 1 Signature series in 2012. Christopher James will feature her work in the third edition of The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. She is also a member of the When Pigs Fly photo collective and divides her time shooting in Pass Christian, Mississippi and Downers Grove, Illinois, where she resides. 

Nocturnes 8

Our Nocturnes series began as an experiment, an adventure, a collaboration. A pinhole camera-maker and a wet-plate collodion artist collaborated to produce mammoth plate tintypes, echoing the work and process of the early survey photographers. Carleton Watkins, William Henry Jackson, and Timothy O’Sullivan, surveying the expansive landscape of the western US, found themselves at the mercy of nature. James McNeill Whistler, inspired by the visual melody he found in dark skies and seas, titled many of his paintings nocturnes. In turn, these paintings provided inspiration for the orchestral nocturnes written by Debussy, musical impressions which ebb and flow.

 Nocturnes 9

Inspired by these artists and the waters of the gulf in Pass Christian Mississippi we too found ourselves at the mercy of the tides, our images determined by the capriciousness of the water before us.
Because of its infinite depth of field, the pinhole camera conveys the vast expanse of the sea while the collodion-silver emulsion flows across the plate like the waves across the sand.
The plates delivered an unexpected serendipity –a daytime nighttime, a sunny moonscape. There is ebb and flow between night and day, dark and light, as silent sentinels watch waves writing verse in the sand. This push and pull of tides, this melody of the waves, this lyric creates a visual dialogue that is the inspiration for Nocturnes, a little night music.
 –Judy Sherrod and S. Gayle Stevens

Nocturnes 1
Nocturnes 16

Nocturnes 17

Nocturnes 18
Nocturnes 19

Nocturnes 2

Nocturnes 3

Nocturnes 4

Nocturnes 6

Nocturnes 7

Joni Sternbach, 07.08.23 #1 Ditch Jetty

Joni Sternbach, 07.08.23 #1 Ditch Jetty

Joni Sternbach

07.08.23 #1 Ditch Jetty,
Montauk, New York, 2007
From the SurfLand series
Website – JoniSternbach.com

Joni Sternbach was born in the Bronx, New York. She graduated from New York University/International Center of Photography (ICP) with an M.A. in Photography in 1987. She was part of the adjunct faculty at NYU for over 20 years, and is currently a faculty member at ICP and CAP workshops teaching wet plate collodion. Sternbach uses early photographic processes to create contemporary landscapes and seascapes. Her photography has taken her to some of the most desolate deserts in the American West to some of the most prized surf beaches in the world. Her solo exhibition, SurfLand, which captures portraits of surfers in tintype, has exhibited at the Peabody Essex Museum and Blue Sky Gallery and will be on view at the Southeast Museum of Photography in 2012. A monograph of the SurfLand images was published by Photolucida in 2009. She is represented by Rick Wester Fine Art in New York City and Edward Cella Art and Architecture in Los Angeles.

Cynthia Morgan Batmanis

Cynthia Morgan Batmanis is a cinematic artist, using the night time hours to create her evocative images.  Cynthia also sets the stage using a home that reflects the past as a back drop for her series, And If I Do.  Using historical and alternative photographic processes, her photographs are a natural progression from her other interests of printing and drawing.  Cynthia received her B.A. and M.A from the University of Texas, Austin. Her work can be seen in exhibitions across the country.

For her project, And If I Do, Cynthia created intimate sizes of Ziatypes on salted gelatin Bergger paper.

As people age they redefine who they are to themselves and others. Redefinition becomes especially difficult when cherished family members are facing debilitating illnesses.Constrained redefinition brings about feelings of sadness and loneliness. Despair ensues and coping skills are tested. I decided to photograph a house built in 1870. 

Old houses evoke my past. The memories of families live there. I work at night and occasionally at sunset using any and all available light. My intent is to show the manifestations of debilitating illness on a family. My focus is on a home, a space devoid of family and a confined space filled with lamentable emotion.

Do Process at the Verve Gallery

While teaching a Santa Fe Workshop last week, I had the great pleasure of visiting the Verve Gallery in downtown Santa Fe and viewing a terrific exhibition about photographer’s processes. The show features the work of eight image makers, each using a different technique to create their photographs. Accompanying the work are process images that allow the viewer to understand the how each photographer approaches their art. Today, I will feature three of those artists, and each day this week, I will feature another photographer and technique. The exhibition opened on February 24th and will run though April 14th, 2012. Do Process is a celebration of 21st century approaches to 19th and 20th century photographic processes. All the work in the exhibition was produced especially for this show. Feel free to click on the process images to make them larger.

Some of the images in the exhibition are made using contemporary processes, while others use alternative processes. Still others are made using both modern digital tools and old proven techniques. These techniques are characterized as “alternative processes” to distinguish the final print from the more ubiquitous gelatin silver print or contemporary digital print. The work in this exhibition ranges from 19th century print making practices, such as, hand-painted Gelatin Silver prints, Gum Dichromate, Bromoil, Mordançage, Photogravure and Albumen printing to more modern digitally composed and mixed media Photomontage prints. The exhibition showcases the history of some of the photographic techniques used over the last three centuries.


Since 1997, Maggie Taylor has created surrealistic imagery using computers, flatbed scanners and small digital cameras. She sees the scanner as a type of light-sensitive device, not much different than a digital camera. In both instances the scanner and camera capture a slice of time. In addition to placing small objects directly on the scanner, the artist also scans daguerreotypes and tintypes that she collects in antique shops and purchases online. The subjects in her images become the cast of characters that shape the artist’s pictorial stage. Once Maggie has finished her creations, she prints them in her studio on an inkjet printer. As is the case with all her creative work, Maggie runs through many test prints, image revisions and adjustments before getting the results she wants.


Kamil Vojnar is showing photomontages on paper and canvas from his ongoing series, Flying Blind. Kamil’s work focuses on the contradictory world in which we live, metaphorically focusing on the place where beauty and suffering meet. He mixes elements from dreams in his work and lets intuition and the materials he uses to guide him to his final image. Kamil often revisits his images repeatedly to place them in different contexts, creating variations of one image several times.

Kamilr’s unique approach to his work layers images from many different photographs and textures. Sometimes his work is layered on canvas creating one-of-a-kind pieces, and other times he layers on fine art paper, creating a small edition. In both instances he varnishes with oil and wax, sometimes painting on further with oil paints.


Joy Goldkind’s Bromoil prints are from her Adagio series. The images are abstractions of dancers created by a double exposure and slow shutter speed so as to deliberately capture the blur of moving figures. The silver gelatin prints are then converted using Joy’s Bromoil technique. She also has her new work in this exhibition where she uses mirrors so as to create images that distort the human figure. Once again, Joy uses the Bromoil process to alter the traditional photograph and thus create a “unique painterly print.”

As the digital world advances and film options decline, Joy finds it necessary to combine the earlier photographic processes with modern world technologies. She creates her negatives using a digital camera and a computer. She then makes prints using a traditional darkroom to create a typical silver gelatin print that she then converts to a Bromoil print. The Bromoil process was introduced in 1907 by E.J. Wall and eventually replaced the Gum Dichromate process. Once an enlargement is made on silver gelatin bromide paper, it is then bleached in a solution of potassium bichromate to remove the black silver image on the print. Then using special brushes, Joy applies the greasy inks to pigment the gelatin surface of the print.

[hyphen] Americans


Photographs by Keliy Anderson-Staley, Essay by Geoffrey Batchen

Editor's Note: Flak Photo is proud to feature this gallery in support of Keliy Anderson Staley's current exhibition and solo issue of Contact Sheet, a book of the photographer's tintype portraits published by Light Work in 2011. For more information about this publication and to order a copy for your personal collection, visit LightWork.org.


They loom out of the darkness, as if hovering uncertainly between past and present, offering themselves for our scrutiny with an intensity that borders on the confrontational. Part of it is the look these people give us, staring at the camera for as long as sixty seconds and more, resulting in a kind of clenching of the eyes (as a sitter, you become aware of the sheer physicality of looking under these conditions, of the need to fight your eyes’ desire to wander). Part of it is the texture of their skin, turned into rugged planetary surfaces by the tintype’s peculiar response to color and high resolution of detail. And part of it is the differential focus with which the subjects are depicted—sharp in some places and strangely liquid in others—as if their bodies are floating in a primordial wet world with just the faces breaking the surface. For all these reasons, Keliy Anderson-Staley’s tintype portraits are best described as other worldly, rather than antiquarian.

The tintype, an American invention, was introduced in 1855 and continued to be widely used until the 1930s, making it one of the most enduring of photographic processes. The selection reproduced here is part of a collection of hundreds of contemporary examples taken by Anderson-Staley. Among their other attributes, these portraits — each designated only by a first name and the year of exposure — offer us a survey of race, gender, and age that considerably expands the primarily Caucasian version of American society recorded in nineteenth-century tintypes.

As a collodion negative developed on a small sheet of lacquered metal, a tintype has the appearance of a positive print but no possibility of being reproduced in multiple manifestations. Each tintype is, in other words, a unique object. As a mirror image, tintypes also show an inverted version of their subject (what appears to be a right hand is in fact the left, and so on). To make her tintypes, Anderson-Staley uses hand-poured chemistry that she mixes herself according to nineteenth-century recipes, period brass lenses, and wooden view cameras to expose positive images directly onto blackened metal (usually aluminum) and glass plates. Exposure times are long by today’s standards, and many of her sitters have made use of a hidden metal posing stand, its cold extensions holding the head steady as the seconds tick interminably by, counted off by the photographer.

These technical details matter. They help explain how these photographs come to look the way they do (why, for example, nobody smiles). Walter Benjamin evokes this look rather well in his 1931 essay “Little History of Photography,” when he writes, “The first reproduced human beings entered the viewing space of photography with integrity—or rather, without inscription…The human countenance had a silence about it in which the gaze rested….The procedure itself caused the subjects to live their way into, rather than out of, the moment; during the long duration of the exposure, they grew into the picture.”1

Perhaps that is what is most striking about these pictures: The people portrayed still appear to be growing into them, still seem in the process of becoming themselves. In this way, Anderson-Staley’s work transcends the undoubted curiosity value of her chosen medium. Before they are tintypes, these pictures are portraits, portraits of contemporary Americans (perhaps, even, when seen collectively, a portrait of contemporary America). As such, they raise the whole question of photographic portraiture, of what exactly can be deduced about an otherwise unknown person from a mere picture of his or her face.

The pictorial qualities of the tintype, its obvious artifices and self-conscious accentuation of surface appearance, make these questions unavoidable. They remind us of what we already know: that a photograph represents a truth-to-presence (it certifies that a person was once there before the camera, in some past moment in time and space), but not a truth-to-appearance. These tintypes do not look much like the people they represent; the process itself results in visible deformations of form and feature. And yet these same people seem so much more present than the subjects of other kinds of photographs, in part because the passing of time between then and now—a feature of all photographs—seems here to be flowing before our very eyes. In simultaneously drawing attention to both the medium’s pictorial deceptions and its temporal peculiarities, these pictures insist that our relationship to photography hinges, not on truth, but on desire—on our own desire to transcend time and space by means of the magic of the photograph; to, as it were, cheat death. In short, the work of Keliy Anderson-Staley is an open invitation to see much more than meets the eye.

1. Walter Benjamin, ‘Little History of Photography’ (1931), in Michael W. Jennings, Brigid Doherty, and Thomas Y. Levin eds., The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2008), 279-280.

Diffusion Magazine Call for Entry

It’s no secret that I am a big fan of Diffusion Magazine. Published by photographer Blue Mitchell, it’s an annual publication and worth a subscription. Here is this year’s call for entry.

Call for Entries

Group Showcase 2012.

‘Muse’ is a concept deeply seeded in the exploration of photography. Tina Modotti was the well-documented muse of Edward Weston. Paris was the muse of Eugene Atget, while some might argue that Edward Steichen’s muse was photography itself.

For this call we are considering works that address the concept of ‘The Muse.’ Your interpretation of what ‘muse’ means is entirely personal and we challenge you to think beyond the more common notions of the concept. Please provide a short artist statement explaining your ideas on what ‘muse’ is for you and how you’ve incorporated it into your work.

This call for art is open to all photographers internationally. All processes and techniques are welcomed but understand we are looking for unconventional photographic methods and alternative photographic processes.


All published photographers will receive a complimentary copy of Diffusion, Volume IV, 2012.

Best of Show will also receive a copy of Diffusion Volume II, III and a feature spread in “Editor’s Selection”.

1st and 2nd place photographers will receive a feature spread in “Editor’s Selection”.

Image specifications

Learning to Feel by Blue Mitchell

Submit images (300 ppi) in JPEG or TIFF format, sized to approximately 12” in the longest direction. Images should be titled with photographers first name then last name and image title. For example, If the title of my photograph is “Learning to Feel” then my file name should look like: Blue_Mitchell_Learning_to_Feel.tiff

Submit files on CD only.

Submission fee

20.00$ submission fee for 5 images. $5.00 for each additional image with no maximum. Submission fees are non-refundable.

Payable to One Twelve Publishing (we accept check or money order)

What to send us

No entry form is required, but please enclose a text document or PDF that includes your name, address, email (mandatory for notification), image titles, photographic process, website, artist statement (discussed above) and any other information pertinent to your submittal.

All entries must be received by December 1st, 2011

Send entries to:

One Twelve Publishing
1631 NE Broadway #143
Portland, OR 97232

**International Submission**

If you are outside of North America and wish to save money on shipping, please email us at [email protected] and we will work with you to gather your information electronically.

Photo shows – Sea Creatures: Beachside Photographs opens in San Diego featuring Joni Sternbach’s wet-plate collodion work

© Joni Sternbach, Mary Ellen, 2011

© Joni Sternbach, Dave, 2011

© Joni Sternbach, Kazzie Mahina, 2011

There’s a new show, Sea Creatures, which opened a week ago at the Joseph Bellows Gallery in California, that looks like it’s well worth a visit if you’re in the area of visiting over the summer.  Featuring works by three artists Joni Sternbach, Dana Montlack and Liz Lantz it runs until 13 August.

I was in contact via Facebook with Joni recently, while I was in San Diego where she pointed me to the Surfing Madonna mosaic mural – now drawing “a mass following” according to the article. It appeared under the highway in Encinitas, San Diego over the Easter weekend and is stirring conversation and debate about conservation and illegal artistic endeavours.

Joni Sternbach uses old photographic processes shot using contemporary Surf ‘n’ Sea subjects and beach locations to create images that point to quintessential Californian themes.

From the press release: “Sternbach’s 19th-century wet-plate collodion method transforms surfers from around the U.S. and Australia into timeless portraits of modern seafarers alongside the primal landscapes they inhabit. The photographs in Sea Creatures: Beachside Photographs by Joni Sternbach, Dana Montlack & Liz Lantz are of one conversation.”

From the press release continued:

“Joni Sternbach works with a large format camera using the wet-plate collodion process first used during the American Civil War. The procedure is labor intensive, with chemistry mixed and applied to metal plates just seconds before each exposure. Her darkroom is a rolling tent set up on site; it attracts audiences wherever she goes.

“On the shorelines of both American coasts, and most recently in Australia, her distinctive process lures surfers to pose for her camera. The use of a large camera slows time down, so that her subjects adopt a timeless beauty and permanence that defies the otherwise active, animated life of surfing the big wave. Some are beautiful and fit, others show the toll of sun and salt water. The styles of their boards, the decals they place there, the wet suits and swimsuits they don, the hair that is usually long — all describe a highly eclectic tribe of mariners that has long fascinated the photographer.

“In 2009, Sternbach’s surfers were exhibited at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. Curator Phillip Prodger wrote, “Gone is the electricity of the sport, the precarious balance of riding big waves, and the vibrant colors of cerulean blue seas and tropical sunsets. …Instead, her surfers are frank, human, and democratic, depicted in unpretentious black and white. Like a latter-day ethnographer, she provides a catalogue of types, distinguished by fashion, sex, age, and body type.” Sea Creatures features her Surfland Series.

“Sternbach first came to notice in Peter Galassi’s 1991 Museum of Modern Art  exhibition, Pleasures and Terrors of Domestic Comfort. She concentrates largely on landscape photography. Her book Surfland was nominated as “Best Book of 2009” by Photo Eye.

“She has had over fifteen solo exhibitions both nationally and internationally, and won numerous awards and residencies, among them, the Center for Land Use Interpretation, The Art Park/Australia, Light Work, and The New York Foundation for the Arts. She has taught workshops at ICP, NYU, and around the country. Her photographs are in several public collections nationwide.”

Filed under: Photographers, Photography Books, Photography Shows Tagged: California, Dana Montlack, Joni Sternbach, Joseph Bellows Gallery, Liz Lantz, mosaic mural, San Diego, Sea Creatures, Surfing Madonna, wet-plate collodion

Reruns: Stephen Berkman

This post was originally run in early 2009, and to allow me a little break, I am rerunning it for your viewing pleasure.

Los Angeles photographer, Stephen Berkman’s, unique and singular vision sets him apart from his contemporaries. Born in Syracuse, New York, Stephen made his way west to Art Center, where after achieving a BFA in film making, taught himself photography, and became a member of the faculty. Using 19th-century wet-collodion photographic processes to achieve Ambrotypes and creating camera obscura installations, he layers his work with history, humor, and a very focused sensibility. It’s as if he arrived in a time machine and landed in the wrong century, but it’s his scientific and observational qualities that make his work wonderfully modern–along with quietly placed references to the contemporary world.

Stephen is methodical in his imagery, spending weeks or months finding “models” in the real world, researching costuming, and sometimes waiting up to a year for all the pieces to fall into place before he takes the photograph.

If his work seems familiar, you might have seen Stephen’s images in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford and Cold Mountain, and he also shot the incredible album cover of Jack White’s band, The Raconteurs.


Camera Obscuras