Lets face it, 2020 has been a challenging time for people. Personally I find the stress from dealing with the coronavirus combined with self-imposed isolation and the presidential election has affected me deeply. It is hard to concentrate on one thing before long I realize I am back on the internet wasting time. I remember as a child whenever my mother started manically baking that she was stressed over something.
For me coping has been a variety of things: cleaning out my storage areas occupied a lot of my nervous energy. Exercise has been an effective outlet – for me bicycling is a great way to get away from people and everyday cares. (see my bicycling blog) Like the rest of us, I’ve been cooking and baking and making pizza which are a lot like darkroom work. And then there is making art. I am fortunate to have a studio in my home and to have kept it well stocked with the stuff I use to make art. I am also fortunate to have been able to travel to Colorado for July and Cape Cod in June and September.
However both of those vacation getaway places use wells to supply water and septic to dispose of waste, so my favorite chemical photography processes are out of the question. I realized that I could do some analog image making without chemistry, and it would also help cleaning out my studio and I could get a little exercise gathering the subject matter. I have a lot of old expired photo paper so I took that outside and began making Lumen Prints. I was introduced to Lumen Printing by my mentor Jerry Burchfield long ago but had never tried it. Now was the time.
A lumen print is a solar photogram – an image created on photographic paper, exposed by the sun. It began as one of photography’s earliest experiments in the 19th century. Here is a tutorial – also confirming I am not alone in making these prints in the time of coronavirus.
But this is the 21st century and I am never satisfied with just a simple historic process. Instead I bring the exposed prints back to my studio (often weeks after exposure) to scan the images. After scanning them I process them – usually just fixing them but sometimes developing and then fixing. Then I scan them again and use Photoshop to manipulate the scans to create something that is new and different. I get to be creative, make photograms and then work to make them different – and more than just a historic process.
My first effort produced these: