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“Still Life with Pears” by Nancy Holowka, Selenium toned Kallitype with watercolor

I have been taking pictures since my first Black & White Darkroom class in Art School many decades ago. Currently, I make both inkjet and darkroom prints of my photographic images. One recent series, exhibited in January 2021 with The Wildroot Group, featured black & white inkjet prints taken on the streets of Manhattan. They celebrate the wonderful compositional architectural details to be found throughout New York City.

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From “Manhattan Noir” Series, Black and White Inkjet Prints

Another recent series came from my travels to Paris. I photographed the same street scenes made famous by 19th century French photographer Eugene Atget. These images inspired me to seek a photographic printing method that would capture the depth and beauty of the prints of his era. I returned to the darkrooms at Flower City Arts Center to learn the Kallitype process. This method of printing was originally proposed in the 1840’s in England, and is one of many alternative photographic processes still practiced today. My most recent solo exhibition was of a series of these Kallitype prints of Paris.

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From “Après Atget” Series Palladium Toned Kallitypes

During the long covid lockdown, travel was restricted and I was challenged to find inspiration closer to home. Area parks were my new destinations, and I rediscovered the joys of childhood collecting – fruits, nuts, pine cones and acorns became my new travel souvenirs. One day, I decided to photograph them, using the silk scarf I was wearing as a background. A new series was born!

Just as with my Paris photographs, I decided to print Kallitypes of these images for their rich tonal quality. I captured the varied hues of the silks by hand-coloring the prints using an old box of Schmincke watercolors gifted to me. I am delighted that one of these photographs was selected for the 2021 Main Street Arts Small Works Exhibition.

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From “Still Life Series” Selenium Toned, Hand Colored Kallitypes

For those interested in the technical details of the Kallitype printing process:

  • I start with a digital image, adjust curves and invert it in Photoshop to make a full-size negative
  • I print the negative on Pictorico transparency film using a photo quality inkjet printer
  • Under safelight, I coat 100% cotton rag paper with a light sensitive silver and iron solution
  • My image is then exposed as contact print under an ultraviolet light source
  • The print is developed in a darkroom, toned with selenium, palladium or gold, then fixed and washed
  • After overnight drying, the prints are hand tinted with Schmincke watercolors
Holowka Blog image - NH4
Selenium Toned Kallitypes on the drying rack, before hand-coloring

For further information about my work, please contact me at nancyholowka@gmail.com

Small Works 2021 includes 215 works of art by 136 artists from 28 state and runs through Thursday, December 23, 2021.

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