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Stuart Clook

Stuart Clook Mordançage  Spirits

Spirits Mordançage 

The Mordançage process works by chemically bleaching the print so that it can be redeveloped, lifting the black areas of the emulsion away from the paper giving the appearance of veils. The lifted emulsion can be removed or manipulated. Originally called bleach-etch, the process was used to turn film negatives into positives as far back as 1897. In the 1950s Jean Pierre Sudre brought it to perfection on the gelatin silver print and coined the term “Mordançage” Elizabeth Opalenik continued to perfect the process to become the world authority on the process.

Stuart Clook (NZ)

About Stuart Clook: (New Zealand)  Avoiding the cliche in photography, particularly landscape photography, is as challenging now as it was at the turn of the end of 19th century when the Pictorialist movement grew in response to what many of the day called machine made pictures. Today a growing number of photographers are exploring Alternative Photographic processes to help them express their emotional response to the Landscape in a uniquely personal way amongst the proliferation of images that are a result of today’s technology.

Spirits was taken at the top of the Port Levy saddle on Banks Peninsular where there are the remnants of a Totara forest.  I had mordançage printing in mind and timed my trip to take photos of these trees and stumps when there was a clear cloudless sky to help with the printing. The original negative was taken on my 4×5 large format camera using Delta100 and developed in HC110. I scanned the negative into PS to enlarge and made a ‘positive’ print on to a transparency which I contact printed onto RC paper.   This gave me a ‘paper negative’  print where the sky was black and the tree and bushes lighter in tone which I then Mordançaged and worked the veils to drape the branches on the tree. After drying used the negative print to made a 2nd contact print onto Ilford’s WT fiber paper.  I then Mordançaged this positive print, using cotton wool balls to control redevelopment using ~12 month old Dektol developer. I made several negative and positive prints in order to find the right combination and used the colour head on my enlarger to fine tune the contrast when contact printing both the initial paper negative and the final print.