“Each time I create a landscape image, it tacitly speaks to me in a variety of emotions. The most beautiful landscape images contain a unique music and a unique feeling tone. My approach to the printing process captures and transmutes the music and the feeling levels in the imagery. By pushing the boundaries of traditional photography, my palladium prints have become paintings made with the lens of a camera. The palladium process amplifies and transmutes the image into a different kind of statement than the traditional photograph. Mine is a statement of tones and textures that seeks to create a new visual eloquence.”
Alan Shulik was raised in Philadelphia, during the fifties. His father, a classical musician and member of the Philadelphia Orchestra, took his hobby of photography seriously enough to have a small darkroom in the house and it was here that Alan first became exposed to the magic of making his own photographs. He remembers using his father’s cumbersome Rolleiflex camera, but it was the process of what happened in the darkroom that as a young boy, he found so intriguing. When asked about visual influences, without hesitation he mentions Ansel Adams and then Minor White, both of whom can be clearly seen in Alan’s landscape and structure photographs. The first of many workshops that he attended were those run by the Ansel Adams Foundation in Yosemite, California, where he honed his technical skills. Much of his current photography is done with an 8x10 view camera. His early fascination with the darkroom has surfaced with the very precise and technically demanding process of creating hand made palladium prints.
Alan has exhibited his work in over fifty solo and group shows, is a member of numerous artist alliances and guilds and is represented by galleries in this country as well as France. He lives along Long Island Sound in Connecticut.
A note from Alan about the Palladium Print Process:
The paper that I print on is called Gampi, an ultra thin paper made in Japan and used primarily by fine-art print makers. It has taken me years to develop the technique that allows for this unique paper to be used for my palladium prints. Its extreme delicacy and fragile qualities make it difficult to utilize it for photographic prints, however, the effort has been worth it; its translucent delicacy imbues an evanescent quality, a luminescence and a tactile dimension of texture to the print not found in traditional photographic papers.
In order to prepare the paper for printing, it is hand-coated with a liquid emulsion and allowed to dry. This process is then repeated so that the paper has been saturated with the emulsion chemistry. When the emulsion has dried, the Gampi paper becomes quite brittle and great care must be given while handling it to avoid cracks. The paper is then placed in a contact printing frame against the negative and exposed with ultra-violet light for a period of time lasting from three to twenty minutes. The print is then placed in a deep tray and a solution of potassium-oxylate is slowly and evenly poured over the paper. Almost instantly, the photographic image appears, fully developed.
The process is finished by putting the print through several wash baths of water, a fixing bath, and finally, several more wash baths. Throughout this process, from the first step to the last, great care must be taken to prevent the paper from tearing or becoming damaged.
As complicated and demanding as it all sounds, I love the whole process. From capturing the images on film, to placing a matte on the finished photographs in my studio, every aspect of the print making is under my personal control. The hope is that by understanding the full process of palladium print making, the viewer can have a fuller appreciation of my images.
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