Archive for ‘Philip Hyde Methods’ category

The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 2

May 31st, 2010

CONTINUED FROM THE BLOG POST, “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 1

Darkroom Photography Magazine and Dye Transfer

Aspens, Delores River Canyon, San Juan Rockies, Colorado, 1979 by Philip Hyde. One of the photographs featured in the "Images of the Southwest" dye transfer portfolio."

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here)

The now defunct Darkroom Photography Magazine, published Philip Hyde’s “Virginia Creeper, Northern Sierra Nevada, California” on the cover of the March/April 1980 issue. “Virginia Creeper” made more magazine covers than any other Philip Hyde photograph, but Darkroom Photography Magazine also ran an in-depth feature article with the cover photograph. Merry Selk Blodgett of Darkroom Photography Magazine interviewed Philip Hyde about his dye transfer printing process. See the blog post, “Philip Hyde At Home In The Wilds 1.”

The article titled, “At Home In the Wilds” by Merry Selk Blodgett included a sidebar about dye transfer printing that makes a good introduction to the rest of the article, which will appear in a future blog post. Below is an excerpt from the Darkroom Photography Magazine sidebar:

What Dye Transfer Is All About

The color printing process Philip Hyde uses, dye transfer, is one of the finest (and most difficult) techniques currently available for producing a photographic color print. Color quality and tonality are excellent, the final image is relatively immune to degradation over time, and the process offers a degree of control over contrast and color unmatched by other techniques. To make a dye transfer print from one of his 4X5 transparencies, Philip Hyde first makes three black and white separation negatives by contact printing the transparency onto panchromatic sheet film. One separation is made with a blue filter over the light source, another with a red filter and the third with a green filter. Together these three separations comprise a complete “record” of the original color image.

The three separate matrices, one for each color are eventually dunked in their respective color dyes and then rolled carefully onto the paper using a positive register of rectangular-shaped pins that fit precisely into rectangular holes punched into the matrices for a perfect alignment of the three separate color versions of the final single print. Here is Philip Hyde’s complete statement of the process from start to finish as written in his “Images of the Southwest” Dye Transfer Portfolio Introduction:

The following is Dad’s description of his dye transfer printing process from his dye transfer portfolio packaged by Lumina, Palo Alto, California in 1982 called, “Images of the Southwest: Twelve Original Photographic Prints by Philip Hyde.” The plan was to print 50 portfolios but only 31 were made, which still was a huge production considering it adds up to 612 handmade prints.

A Brief Description of the Dye Transfer Color Print Process by Philip Hyde

The prints in this portfolio were made from 4X5 Ektachrome original transparencies by the dye transfer process.

To begin, a set of three separation negatives are made from the original by contact printing onto a black and white film. Exposed to red, green,  and blue light respectively then processed and dried, these three negatives record and translate the color information from the original into silver negative densities.

Film positives are then made from the separations, enlarging them to the finished print size on a special matrix film capable of absorbing and transporting dyes in the precise degree required for the differing portion of the final print. These matrix print films correspond to plates used for printing reproductions in the ink process.

After processing and drying, the three matrices are immersed in their respective dye solutions: cyan, magenta and yellow. The printing paper which is coated with a non-silver-sensitive emulsion to absorb dye, is mordanted then sqeegeed into position on the register printing board. Each matrix in succession is then removed from its dye bath, rinses, then placed on the register pins of the board and rolled into contact with the printing paper, remaining in contact for 3 to 6 minutes depending on dye color. It is then stripped off, washed in warm water and returned to its dye bath to repeat the cycle. When the third matrix has been rolled and removed, the full-color image is revealed on the printing paper, which is then dried, trimmed, and mounted, as in the Portfolio.

This portfolio is issued in a limited edition of 60 copies, of which 50 are for sale. Copyright Philip Hyde 1982.

Archival Statement

All of the prints in this portfolio were made by Philip Hyde in his darkroom, to exacting standards for color, quality, and longevity. They are dry-mounted to acid-free, 100% rag Museum Board, and overlaid with cut-out mats of the same Museum Board attached with acid-free tape. 100% acid-free rag paper interleaves are used to protect the print surfaces. With proper care, the prints should last  a long time, but as with most materials made by man or nature, they should not be subjected to direct sunlight, or high intensity fluorescent lighting.

A future blog post will describe the interesting and challenging process of trial and error, with good help from expert friends, through which Philip Hyde learned dye transfer printing. Also in a future blog post the Darkroom Photography Magazine Interview about Philip Hyde’s printing processes and his life living in the northern Sierra Nevada and travels to photograph mountain scenes and southwestern desert landscapes, see the blog post, “Philip Hyde At Home In the Wilds 1.”

The Legend Of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 1

April 12th, 2010

Misty Morning, Indian Creek, Northern Sierra Nevada, California, 1983 by Philip Hyde. The original color transparency went missing. As a result until 2008, this image had not been printed or published for over 20 years. With the digital age it can again be printed. The new large digital file came from a scan on a Creo CCD Flatbed Scanner of a Philip Hyde original dye transfer print. Most of the other photographs on the Philip Hyde Photography website are made from a drum scan of the original 4X5 color transparency, 4X5, 5X7 or 8X10 black and white negative, or a film duplicate of one of these.

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

The stuff of myth, legend and dreams, dye transfer print making helped bring color to the silver screen in 1922. Hollywood called it Technicolor and it resulted in the best and brightest color that films have ever offered. It was the most widely used motion picture technology until 1952. “Everything else is a pale comparison,” said Brad Miller of Technicolor Labs in Grass Valley, California.

During the 1940s, Kodak released the process for still photography print making. It was the method taught in photography schools and the honored child of famous photographers such as William Eggleston, Ernst Haas, Ctein, Eve Arnold, Beaumont Newhall, Galen Rowell, Cole Weston, John Ward, Eliot Porter, Philip Hyde and others. Then in 1994, Kodak abandoned the process and the many photographers, famous or not who were producing the prints. There was outcry across the land, even the world.

I remember my father, fine art landscape photographer Philip Hyde, regularly being mad at Kodak about something. Kodak notoriously favored the mass market and made decisions from a strictly bottom line numbers perspective that often hurt the professional photographer to make the hobbyist happy. Dad used to rail about corporate greed and breaches of trust with those who like him, were working full-time, Kodak’s loyal volume supply buyers. However, nothing compared with the day the music died first in 1991 with discontinuation of the matrix film, then in 1994 with Kodak discontinuing the remaining dye transfer materials. After the dust settled, I don’t think Dad ever recovered completely from the loss of dye transfer print making. He bought up supplies like many others but refused to spend his life’s savings on large stock piles of materials at age 73. As it was, he gave what he had away to another dye transfer printer when he lost his eyesight in 1999-2000.

With these influences, the 1990s marked a change of direction in Dad’s life. After pinching every penny and saving all of them he could, he had invested small sums in the stock market for years. His modest stock portfolio had done so well that by 1994, he had become an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal and Barron’s. He was a highly conservative, buy and hold, blue chip stock investor. It had been working for him quite well and he made far more in the stock market than he ever did in photography.

He was still smarting from his crowning book achievement, Drylands: The Deserts of North America published in 1987, being remaindered, re-published in 1990 and remaindered a second time. He was disappointed because the accountants had taken over book publishing and if books sold more slowly they were remaindered. He seemed down about the influence of corporate decision makers on photography in general and he was not one to get down about anything. He experienced more demand for his time by environmental activist groups and organizations like the Museum of Northern Arizona and Ansel Adams Gallery asking him to do more workshops. The workshops rekindled his photography spark some, but for a few years he went into semi-retirement. Dye transfer and desert landscapes were the two reasons Dad converted to color in a long, gradual process during the decade of the 1970s. More on that in another blog post and in my book. He did in time begin printing again in earnest. He made beautiful color Cibachrome prints, but it was never the same as dye transfer print making. What was it about this elusive process that captured the minds of famous photographers and darkroom techies alike?

One of the photographers famous for his dye transfer prints is Ctein, one of a few still making dye transfer prints today. He wrote on his website:

Dye transfer prints are simply without peer. They have a richness, depth, and fidelity unmatched by any other kind of photographic print. They can show extraordinary subtlety of tone and hue, combined with a brightness range of 500:1 from blackest black to whitest white. After 70 years, dye transfer printing has become a nearly-lost art…today only a few dozen people in the entire world still make dye transfer prints… Dye transfer printing is very time-consuming and expensive. Making the first 16″ x 20″ dye print from a negative costs me over $100 in materials and several days’ time. Dye transfer printing also demands extraordinary skill, understanding, and good artistic judgement… In 1991 Kodak discontinued a special film called Pan Matrix Film which I need to make prints directly from color negatives. In 1994 Kodak abruptly and without warning ceased production of Matrix Film (used for printing from separations) and all other dye transfer materials… As an artist, I couldn’t stand the idea of spending the rest of my life thinking, “Gee that’s a pretty nice print… it would have been so much lovelier as a dye transfer.” I mortgaged myself to the hilt and packed a large amount of this unique film in a deep freeze… I stockpiled enough chemicals, dye and paper to allow me to continue printing. I went deeply in debt, but I can continue creating my art for at least several more years. Those few of us still making dye transfer prints survive on such hoarded supplies. Kodak’s decision to kill dye transfer constitutes an artistic loss of the highest order.

Landscape photographer Charles Cramer described his experience on his website:

When I started making color prints in the late 70s, things were fairly primitive, but there was one process with a mythical reputation that offered tremendous control—dye transfer. I had no idea how all-consuming making dye transfer prints would be. To create one print required the precise exposure and development of approximately twelve sheets of film. The colors are literally disassembled into B&W, and then reassembled in a process akin to silk-screening. With all the steps involved, it offered tremendous control—but also the possibility for things to go terribly wrong. I labored mightily for more than fifteen years with dye transfer. When all the planets aligned, a beautiful print could emerge. But you didn’t know how it would look until the final step of “rolling” out a print. I started making dye transfer prints in 1981. In 1994, Kodak, the only supplier of dye transfer materials, announced they had ceased production. Any remaining inventory was divided up amongst existing customers. I scraped together as much as I could afford to get a decent stockpile… By the time I started in dye transfer, most everyone else had quit. The biggest obstacle was getting good information. There was very little in the literature, and I tried to collect everything I could. There are so many steps to making a print—so many variables— combined with the fact that there’s no feedback until you finally make the print, that it’s hard to isolate exactly what does what.

Charles Cramer taught dye transfer printing for the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops starting in 1987. He teaches at the Ansel Adams Gallery to this day. Upcoming blog posts will describe how Philip Hyde learned dye transfer printing and will include Philip Hyde’s description of the process, as well as my memories of him singing along to his big band jazz records as he printed.

CONTINUED IN THE BLOG POST, “The Legend of Dye Transfer Printing, Interrupted 2

Photography Workshops Taught By Philip Hyde

April 5th, 2010

(New content has bee added to four of the sub-tabs under INFO on the Philip Hyde Photography website. For example: under Workshops As Instructor, the text below has been added. More to come…)

El Capitan, Clouds, Fall, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, 1973 by Philip Hyde. Made while visiting Yosemite Valley to teach at the Ansel Adams Gallery Workshops. New York Life Insurance made this Yosemite classic into a poster. The New York Life logo was taken from the outline of El Capitan in this photograph.

(To see the photograph full screen Click Here.)

In 1952, two years after Philip Hyde had earned a certificate of completion from Ansel Adam’s Photography Program at the California School of Fine Arts; Minor White, lead instructor, asked him to return as a guest lecturer and guest teaching assistant. In the summer of 1968, the Ansel Adams Gallery invited Philip Hyde to attend an Ansel Adams Gallery Workshop taught by Ansel Adams and others. The next summer Philip Hyde became a teaching assistant and by the early 1970s, Philip Hyde was a co-instructor with Ansel Adams and other luminaries in various workshops such as Morley Baer, Dorr Bothwell, Norman Locks, Alan Ross, Dave Bohn, Yousef Karsh, Bob Kolbrenner, William Garnett, Steve Crouch, David Cavagnaro, Roger Minick, Ralph Putzker, Arnold Newman, Wynn Bullock, Jerry Uelsmann, John Upton and others. Philip Hyde sometimes taught the Ansel Adams June Workshop with Ansel Adams and other instructors, other years Philip Hyde co-taught the Color Workshop and some years he taught both workshops.

Philip Hyde also taught photography workshops for such organizations as the Museum of Northern Arizona, Friends of Photography, John Sexton, Morningbird Ranch, Sierra Photographic Center, Tahoe-Truckee Photographic Workshops, Utah Museum of Natural History, UCSC Extension, Anderson Ranch, Ray McSavaney, Point Reyes Field Seminars, Sea Ranch, Yosemite In Winter, Kenab Workshops, Piet Van de Mark, Owens Valley Photography Workshops, The Alaska Photographic Workshops and Nature Photography Expeditions International.

Many years of workshops, a lot of material taught. Much insight and inspiration…

More details to come…