Making Pinhole Photogravure Prints at No Boundaries International Artist Residency, Bald Head Island, NC 2014
I took this opportunity to learn how to shoot 8x10 pinhole photos to etch as photogravures at the NBI residency this year. I made the camera and solar contact frame ahead of time specifically for this project. I had some time to test the contact frame well ahead but the camera was completed the week before leaving without much time for testing. The camera has a 284 F-stop aperture made from an aluminum beer can and a focal length of 150 mm. I shot and developed about 2 dozen sheets of film with varying success. The pinholes were shot with Arista Edu 100 pan film. The negatives were contact printed onto Arista APHS ortho film (now extinct) using a timed and diffused 7 watt night light clamped over the bathroom vanity. The film was developed with a continuous tone paper developer.
The gravure paper was exposed in the sun using the contact frame and a UV actinometer, just as the first gravures were made in the 1800s. An analog aquatint screen was used instead of dustgrain. There were only about 2 days of full sun to make the exposures in the 10 working days I had there. I was literally racing against the sun one afternoon trying to get the exposures done before the sun got too low and rain and clouds would move in the following days ahead.
The wildly fluctuating relative humidity combined with exposing tissue in the sun with variable UV intensity was quite challenging. These conditions and observations provided confirmation and invaluable information for several technical aspects of the process. I completed five pinhole photogravures during my stay. All gravures are printed with Izote ink on Magnani Revere paper.
I am very grateful for this intense and enjoyable time to do these experimental gravure prints and research at the NBI residency this year. Thanks so much to the founders and all the artists who make this happen.
Captain Charlie's Compound, circa 1903 pinhole photo by Jennifer Page, partial scan from 8x10 negative, inverted digitally