Failures & Near Failures, For Sale

Autumn Brings Color

Jezioro Konińskie, Konin (near Pniewy), 2019
Agfa Clack/Svema DS-4 (expired January 1994)/Orwocolor C5166
Kodak Endura (old)/Tetenal RA-4, 2020
12×18 cm

price € 216 162 excluding shipping
contact us at foto@vanluijk.be

Recently, I had the pleasure to work in the darkroom of the Poznań Art Academy (Uniwersytet Artystyczny w Poznaniu, po polsku) to finish the Notatki poznański project. After a week of hard work, I still had some days left to do my first experiments with color printing! One of the negatives I experimented with was a picture of a glorious autumn lake near the small village & manor house of Konin.

A short How-To Guide to produce visual weirdness like this…

1. Buy expired Soviet color film ‘found on an attic’ by a dubious Ukrainian Ebay seller. Discover that every roll produces max 2 or 3 recognizable negatives because the paper backing sticks to the emulsion (or vice versa).

2. Develop the film in East German color developer from the seventies.

3. Try to print it and find out that Svema color film is unmasked and you have no suitable filter to compensate for this (explanation below).

4. Use yellowed Kodak Endura paper to guarantee that there will be no whites in your print.

It’s actually surprising that all this old junk still renders imagery, although the resulting pictures verge on the abstract.

Color photography is tricky as it is, as you not only have to control exposure and contrast, but also fine-tune your colors by adding yellow, magenta or cyan light to compensate for color casts. Normal color film has an orange mask and standard color paper has been designed to give optimal results for this. This old soviet color film however was unmasked and I did not have the specific red filter to correct this.

The picture above was printed using maximum yellow & magenta compensation (180 180 – ). The reddish picture below left was an earlier experiment using 60. magenta and 40. cyan. For the other picture, I used the red safety glass from the projector. The print now came out completely blue! I added 80. cyan to compensate for this. The result was very poetic. But if you’re looking for realistic colors – look elsewhere!

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The Road Ahead

20190224-N03as20200229-8blog Ruben van Luijk

The Road Ahead, I
Ulica Głogowska, Poznań, 2019
Agfa Clack/Fomapan 100/Caffenol
Forte Dokubrom (long expired)/Meopta Magnitarus, Kaiser +3/lith, 2020
artist print pasted on oakenwood panel, 9 x 23 cm

Sometimes, after many hours of serious darkroom work, you just want to fool around a bit. There were a lot of loose paper strips with the paper stock I used meant for test prints and making paper negatives. I started to make small prints on them from just a single detail of one negative, sometimes tearing the paper up for even rougher effect. I grew to like this work so much that it became  project in itself. The results were always unpredictable – at times, the paper had been partially pre-exposed during its long stay in the darkroom, or the image devolved into almost complete abstraction when reacting with the lith developer.

Anyhow, it seemed an appropriate image to mark my departure from Poland. Below you can see a print of the complete negative.

Below:
Ulica Głogowska, Poznań, 2019
Agfa Clack/Fomapan 100/Caffenol
Forte Dokubrom (long expired), Caffenol2 + hydrochinon, 2020

20190224-N03as20200307G2blog Ruben van Luijk

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Nature Morte, VI

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ursus arctos
Staatliches Naturhistorisches Museum, Braunschweig, 2019
Agfa Clack + Kodak Ektachrome 64T (expired February 1999)

Wonderful wildlife diorama’s in Germany & old, faded slide film…

below, left:
canis lupus

below, right:
grus grus
Staatliches Naturhistorisches Museum, Braunschweig, 2019
Agfa Clack + Kodak Ektachrome 64T (expired February 1999)

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Notatki poznańskie, IV

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left & right:
Os. Maltańska, Poznań, 2018
Agfa Clack/Fuji Provia 400X (expired Februar 2009)
2019 artist prints on Orwo D Dokument (prod 3.10.1988) + Caffenol
21 x 29 cm

I reckon it is about time to say a few words about the paper I am using for this series, this Orwo D (= Dokument). This is thin photographic paper from the former DDR/GDR intended, as the name already suggests, for copying documents. I bought two packs of it on Polish website Allegro just to try and find it very suitable for this series about Poznań. This kind of paper, while not unknown in the West, seems to have been much more prolific in the former Warschaupact and there may be a historical reason for this. When much faster Xerox copying was introduced, the communist authorities prevented its introduction in the East because they feared it would make reproduction of anti-communist samizdat too easy. And thus the poor people in the Eastern bloc had to continue making photocopies in much more complicated ways, leaving me this very interesting paper for my project.

Because it’s so thin, this Dokument paper is also very suitable for making paper negatives, as I’ve done here in order to produce black & white (or brown & yellow) prints of some of my color slides.

A word, too, about the place that makes it possible for me to produce work here in Poland: Ciemnica in the cellars underneath Republika Sztuka, which means something like Republic of Art. A wonderfully equiped darkroom run by darkroom wizard & self-styled photo-taliban Bogusław Biegowski. I have great fun experimenting here in the dark and learning from his amazing know-how. And stocked in the scantily lit rooms are stacks and stacks of more document paper, made during communist times by Foton, a now defunct Polish producer of photographic materials, and by Forte, its Hungarian counterpart. But more on that later…

below:
Ulica Sielsi, Poznań, 2019
Agfa Clack/Fuji Provia 400X (expired Februar 2009)
artists print on Orwo D Dokument (prod 3.10.1988) + Caffenol
21 x 29 cm

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Nature Morte, V

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rupicapra rupicapra
Natuurdiorama Holterberg, Holten, 2019
Agfa Clack/Fujichrome 64Tüngsten Professional (expired December 2007)

The most beautiful wildlife diorama’s in the Netherlands are without a doubt in Holten, on the Salland ridge in the east. Last summer, I had the opportunity to visit the area and photograph these amospheric winter scenes.

below:
capreolus capreolus
Natuurdiorama Holterberg, Holten, 2019
Agfa Clack/Fujichrome 64Tüngsten Professional (expired December 2007)

20190828-II08blog Ruben van Luijk

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Failures & Near Failures, Not Yet For Sale

Notatki poznańskie, III

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left & right:
Alicja; Ulica Grunwaldka, Poznań, 2019
Agfa Clack/Fomapan 100/Caffenol
artists prints on Orwo D Dokument (prod 3.10.1988) + Caffenol a/o lith. developer
ca. 12 x 22 & 21 x 29 cm

I considered the first print a failure and tore it up. One of the shreds looked interesting though.

The second print is what you get if you soak part of the exposed paper in old, tired lith developer for a couple of days and then develop in caffenol. If something is too weird for words, it might be art.

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Failures & Near Failures, Moving Images, Not Yet For Sale

Girls Running Nude

Sahara Luboński, Luboń, 2019
Quarz 1x8S-1/Agfa Moviechrome 40, expired 7/87

I have too many projects, but of all these projects, this one is probably most sweet to me. Inspired by the fabulous series Hunting and Fishing (1999) by Paul Kooiker, it has a very simple theme: beautiful girls running nude through forest, meadow & glade. But with analog techniques, every project can give surprises. Above you can see footage from the first shooting for this project, featuring model Marlena – and yes, it looks surreal. Apparantly the Super8 stock I was using was too old, or the Polish developing company did not bother to reverse the film. However this may be, beautiful Marlena is now running in negative through a blue world.

I hope to shoot more girls running nude when temperatures return to a more humane level. And that is not the end of the story, because the next step is to to produce analog prints from this footage. How? I will tell you in a later post…

P.S. Cranky old technology was not the only challenge in shooting these moving images. At one moment, I lost track of the model while she was running around naked. She became too begeisterd and disappeared into the woods… It took us ten minutes to find each other again.

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