We have been delighted to be involved in the digitization and printing of images made by Berkshire photographer Edwin Hale Lincoln, to be exhibited at the Berkshire Historical Society at Herman Melville’s Arrowhead. Lincoln moved to the Berkshires in 1893 and photographed subjects including the opulent summer “cottages” of the gilded age and botanical studies using an 8×10 view camera. The prints used for this exhibition have all been produced from original dry-plate negatives.
The glass plates were first digitized using our recently acquired Hasselblad H4D-200MS camera to produce exceedingly sharp, high resolution images. The negatives were inverted to positive and adjusted to best represent the image and were reproduced as digital pigment prints on our 7900 Epson printer.
Because the primary focus of the exhibition was historical, the digital prints were produced with the aesthetic of silver gelatin reference prints. However, Lincoln was a master platinum printer and used this process as his primary print medium. The subtle tonal range and delicate aesthetic of platinum printing can not very successfully be reproduced using inkjet media.
The curator of the exhibition, Alfred De Maio, suggested, and we quite agreed, that it would be wonderful to have at least one image reproduced as a platinum print to give the visitors an opportunity to see first hand what this historical process looked like. A wonderful image from the Salisbury Estate in Pittsfield (now Hillcrest Campus of Berkshire Health Systems on West Street) of a path through the woods was chosen for this purpose, and we produced a high resolution, continuous tone LVT negative from which to print.
To most accurately represent the appearance of a turn of the century platinum print, we used a very smooth, thin, 100% cotton paper. While Lincoln would have had commercially produced platinum papers available to him, no such paper exists today and each sheet of platinum paper must be hand coated with sensitizer mixed from several chemicals that react to form a light sensitive coating on the paper.
The chemistry is carefully brushed on, dried, and the negative is printed in contact with the paper with a u.v. light source. After the print is exposed, it is developed, cleared, and washed of residual chemistry to create an incredibly archival photographic print of exquisite detail and subtle gradation.
While this print was donated for the exhibition by Chicago Albumen Works, additional prints will be available for purchase through the Berkshire Historical Society. Please contact Will Garrison, Curator at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413/442.1793 x12 for more information. www.mobydick.org
There will be an opening reception at 2 pm on Sunday, June 2. The exhibit will be open 7 days a week, 9:30am to 5pm until Columbus Day.