Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Vaughn Hutchins and Other News

  Last week I arrived to Arcata CA and parked Gilli securely in the back of a quiet alley for a couple of nights.  Arcata has a special place in my heart.  It was the first stop on a vagabond hitchhiking trip I embarked upon back in 1997, which opened up my eyes to the fact that I really don't want to be a bio-chemist and made me switch my major in college to photography.  It was also during that trip that I saw a glass-blowing bus and was infected with the idea of someday building a darkroom bus.  It did take me a while to get all my ducks in a row and make that dream a reality and finally pulling into Arcata in The Photo Palace Bus was a very sweet feeling.

  While there I met with Don Anton - a photography professor at Humboldt State University and we discussed The Bus visiting that fine institution during the fall semester. Don was pretty excited about my mission and the visit was brief but pleasant.  I think I can swing by HSU on my way back from the East Coast sometime in September or October, hopefully it won't be as cold then as it was last week...

  I also had a great pleasure of meeting Vaughn Hutchins - a respected carbon printer and a very nice fellow indeed.  He contributed greatly to the historic print collection by donating a beautiful carbon print from an original 4x5in negative on 8x10 gelatin photo paper. 

  It appears that Vaughn got the idea of printing in carbon back in 1990 after he read an article on it in Black and White magazine, but it was 2 years later that he actually started on that path.  Carbon is a pretty demanding technique and he said that it took him a while to get prints of consistent quality that he was satisfied with.  In vented in 1855 by Alphonse Poitevin this method of printing relies on gelatin becoming insoluble when mixed this potassium dichromate and exposed to light.  It is a transfer process that uses pigments, which could be of any color and could be combined through CMYK separations to create full color images.  Because of the use of pigment it is a highly archival process and due to it being a transfer process it presents the image reversed left to right unless a second transfer is performed.  It seems that the quality of carbon prints that first attracted me is the same one that caught Vaughn's eye as well.  You see, due to the image being composed of minute layers of gelatin with pigment mixed into it and those layers sitting on top of the support paper each value can actually be seen as a miniature plateau raised above the white of the supporting surface.  That gives photographs printed in carbon a very unique look reminiscent of 3D.  Vaughn also pointed out that carbon can hold a tremendous range of light - 13+ stops!  He said that it was the only technique that can adequately relate the range of lighting found in a redwood forest, where even on an overcast day the shadows are far below the slivers of sky that one may catch through the giant overhanging branches.

  Having practiced carbon printing now for over 20 years, Vaughn teaches new printers how to use this beautiful technique in workshops all over the country.  He does also occasionally prints in platinum.  He uses original in-camera negatives ranging from 4x5in to 11x14in and perhaps on my way back south I may have a pleasure to seeing an 11x14 carbon print.  For now here is a link to his website where you can see some of his work, read the blog, see the impressive list of exhibits and contact Vaughn to inquire about his upcoming workshops.

  On a sadder note Arcata was the final stop on the journey of Kenneth Moilanen, on a sudden and premature departure of I reported a few months back.  Kenneth was a good friend of mine, always full of life, cheer and ideas and strife for making the world a better place for all of us.  He died in a car accident late at night on a desolate industrial street on the outskirts of Arcata and left all who knew him with a feeling of deep loss.  On my way out of town I visited the place where Ken's tracks upon this planet ended and made a little memorial offering upon the spot where his Volvo met a large stored part of a steel bridge.  Rest in Peace Kenneth.

  Now, a couple of announcements as far as the nearest future of The Photo palace Bus and Magic Lantern Show that is offered by it.

  I am now in Corvallis OR, where tomorrow I will be present on campus of Oregon State University giving photography students here a chance to view the print collection from 10am to 4pm.  Then at 7pm there will be a Magic Lantern Show sponsored by the local Photo Guild.  The show is located at 800 SW Jefferson ave.
 Next stop is Portland where I look forward to finally getting my hands-on experience with wet plate photography with Ray Bidegain.  There I will also hold a Magic Lantern Show on Monday March 4th at Newspace for Photography (again at 7pm).

 Then it's back south for Gilli and me - we have Lantern Shows scheduled for March 9th and 10th in Sonoma County.  They will be held in Cloverdale and Fort Ross respectively and I will update my readers with exact details on the next post.

  For now I would like to invite all who live around Corvallis and Portland to keep tomorrow night and March 4th open and come and enjoy the shows!

Anton Orlov


  1. I'm so sorry I didn't find out about your presentation in Corvallis until the morning after! I live in Corvallis and would have attended if only I'd known in time. My great-grandparents owned and operated a traveling magic lantern show in the early 1900s. A cousin and I made a presentation about their travels at the Magic Lantern Society convention in June 2012. I doubt I'll be able to attend your presentation in Portland but hope to see it again sometime.

    Lynne Martin

    1. Hi Lynne,

      I'm sorry you were not able to attend the show, perhaps you can make it to the March 4th Lantern show at Newspace for Photography in Portland. I believe the show starts at 7pm there. I'd love to see you there and hear about your parents' experiences. I unfortunately was not able to attend the convention in WA last year, or I would have seen your presentation there.
      Do you still have their Magic Lantern and slides? Do you ever fire it up and enjoy it?