For this second test instead of using a studio flash we used a small speedlight flash gun, and we covered it was two neutral density filters. This meant the exposure would still be short, but it would instead be less bright than the studio flashes we used last time.

Again we rested objects on the paper to create a photogram and held a piece of card over the top, uncovering the paper with each flash of the flashgun to create a test strip of tones.

This is the test after it came out of the machine, and it worked!

I was really happy with the result as it means I now know how many flashes it takes to reach black, but also how many it will take to create a variety of grey tones.

Something I hadn’t thought of was how using the flashgun would affect the appearance of the shadows that objects left on the paper. Normally in the darkroom where the enlarger uses a soft light, objects leave a fuzzy shadow when they rise up from the paper and aren’t in direct contact with the surface. Eggs would for example have a soft fuzzy edge, but here they had a straight and very defined edge. This is because the flashfun has a very small lightsource and is very harsh, light shoots out in very straight lines and doesn’t get to bounce around as much as a softer light source, hence in this test the straight defined edges of the objects.

For the next test I will try bouncing the flashgun off a reflector to see if I can create softer edge.


This is the result from my first test of exposing the digital silver gelatin paper in the studio, it was a complete failure!

We exposed the paper over ten times, shuffling along a piece of card in front to shield the paper to create a test strip. The hope was that we would end up with a gradient of sorts. However this didn’t happen and all we really ended up with was black. On the surface of the paper I scattered a number of objects with different physical properties, including string and eggs from the original Bauhaus exercise. The only object that left any kind of mark were the coins. What was really strange is that instead of leaving a white space created by the shadow of the object as expected, there was instead an image of the underside of the coin. It took some time to work it out, but what had happedned was that the exposure was so over-exposed that it had not only made the whole paper black, but it has also bounced underneath the coins resting on the paper creating an image of the bottom of the coin. Really not what I expected! Next time I will use less powerful lights and try again.


To kick this project off I arranged to meet Steve Macleod, Creative Director of Metro Imaging. It was Steve who developed the digital silver gelatin paper a number of years ago. Through my meeting with him I learnt a lot about the paper, much of which changed how I thought I would develop the project. I had thought that I would be able to simply use the paper in the darkroom, that I would expose it to a digital image and then take it the darkroom again and run it through chemistry. I was quite wrong!

The paper it turns out, is very unstable and has to be handled and exposed to light in very particular ways. Firstly, normally in the darkroom exposure tend to be quite long. This paper is exposed using lasers, so instead is designed to be exposed to very short and very bright exposures. The laser exposure also means it is sensitive to all colours of light and needs to be handeld in complete darkness, not even under the red safelight of the darkroom. Finally, once the paper has been exposed to light, it continues to react and essentially get darker. All of this altered how I thought I was going to work with the paper and I had to rethink how this work could even be possible.

Eventually I came up with a solution, and with the help of photographer Andrew Bruce I was able to make use of a photo studio close to Metro Imaging that I could use to expose the paper to analogue sources. The plan was to first do some analogue tests with the paper as no one had tried to do this. We didn’t know just how sensitive the paper would be to light so decided on a set up in the studio in which the paper would be held down with magnets on a large low table with a flash positioned above. We would cover the paper and then produce a test strip but moving the card along to reveal more of the paper and each time set off the flash, hopefully creating a gradient of tones so that we knew how much light we would need to reach a fully black tone.


Many years ago when visiting Tate Modern, I saw two photographs by Iwao Yamawaki and Horacio Coppola. They were quite simple, but quite clearly modernist still lifes. They were results of an exercise they were given as students of the Baushaus, to photograph string and eggs on wooden tabletops. I was really taken by these aesthetic training exercises, that such a simple direction or instruction could produce a wealth of possibilities that could exploit and make use of both photography’s ability to render the surface of things and the skills of the photographer to manipulate this.

Within my practice a number of my works have over the past few years made use of and exploited how traditional light-sensitive photographic processes can work together with newer digital techniques. This wasn’t a planned trajectory but it has become like a red thread between a number of works since the work Elite, which I made between 2014 and 2015. In a later post I’ll introduce some of the thinking behind these works and map out how the relate to the work I am going to develop with help from the a-n Professional Development Grant I have been awarded..

Recently I became aware of a silver geltin black and white paper that is not designed for the darkroom but instead for digital exposure. I became interested in how I could maybe use this paper to bring together digital photographic techniques with analogue ones. Although digital has been much of a replacement to analogue, I still see them as different things—they do similar things in different ways. I was interested to see what could happen if the same paper was exposed to both sources to create a hybrid of sorts, what could opportunities could this combination open up?

With the professional bursary that I have been awarded I will attempt to work with this digital silver gelatin paper using the simple Bauhaus aesthetic exercise to steer my work to create a work that both looks at the legacy of training exercise in photography but also in the spirit of the Bauhaus, question the uses of photography.