Wednesday, 11 April 2007
Portrait of Chris A, Milborne Port, England, c. 1990
The original of this is a negative which was stolen along with a lot of my other material in St Petersburg in early 1994. (This loss of my work has happened only twice; but it is devastating.)
Chris had an unusual enough look to warrant some experimental portraits; this piece is from the first sitting.
The next stage in the production of this image, after shooting onto a negative, was some play in the darkroom (remember those, anyone? Anyone still using one? Plenty of photographers still are, I'll bet). While processing the print in its chemical baths I briefly switched on the light intentionally. This caused a partial reversal of some of the print's tones, a process known as the Sabbattier [?sp] effect and misknown as solarization. It is also available as a filter in Photoshop... but this was the handmade version, less predictable and always an adventure.
Then I rephotographed the print against a pencil-shaded background, and THIS is a scan of the print from the negative of that shot! Phew, how many generations is that from the original person? Chris -> negative -> "solarized" print -> negative -> print -> scan... 6 degrees from reality. I suppose that accounts for the surrealistic feeling of this, one of my favourite portraits ever.