Camera work, part I

During the late spring and most of this summer, grinding up pigments, collecting flowers, coating paper and arranging clothing into the exposure set- ups have taken up a lot of my studio time. In other words, I’ve been making only anthotypes. Perhaps “only” is the wrong word. Three weeks ago I broke out the view camera to photograph support stockings laid out on the grass.

I am working with anti-embolism stockings as a way of looking back to my father who wore them late in his life. I would find them in the laundry area or see him wearing them with his summer pajamas as he watched the “Tonight Show” in the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Although he didn’t wear white thigh highs, I wore these for about three hours. I am now at the age that my father was when I noticed him wearing support socks and my primary care physician is encouraging me to adopt them for daily use.

So in late July I tried the three hour experiment in the morning and then set up the camera in the backyard around 3 pm. Accompanied by a squadron of mosquitos I made four exposures, which I finally began printing this week.

It is only the second time this year I have used the 8×10 camera and it was a struggle especially with the elastic of the dark cloth around the film back area. Forgetting the numerous mosquito bites, I feel like I am ready to get back to more camera work.


words without pictures

In March and April of this year I met with Tanya Maus to be interviewed for a project she was doing for a six-month radio production training program at 91.3 WYSO in Yellow Springs (in Ohio). The goal of the interview was to give her a chance to edit many minutes of audio into a smaller four to six minute story that would eventually be broadcast on WYSO.

We met twice and I talked at length about the anthotype work as well as the continuing vandyke brown projects. I haven’t heard it yet but those of you who know me well, know that I hate my “Telephone Voice”.

It is scheduled to air this Wednesday, August 20th at 6:30 am and 8:30 am E.S.T. during the station’s Morning Edition.  For those of you living outside the Miami Valley area who wish to hear it, WYSO will have a live stream via iTunes. Please go to to listen to WYSO live on iTunes radio.

Photography’s Back to the Future Reviewed in the Columbus Dispatch

The survey of Ohio photography at the Riffe Gallery in Columbus, Photography’s Back to the Future curated by Catherine Evans, has been reviewed by Melissa Starker in the Sunday, May 26th 2013 edition of the Columbus Dispatch. Don’t Take This Personally is shown (print version only) and described in detail at the beginning of the review starting at the third paragraph!

Vandyke Brown on Japanese Paper Workshop


I realize that summer is right around the corner and for many of you plans for the next three months are already set.  If you are still looking for an alternative photography workshop this summer please consider …

2013 Vandyke Brown Print on Japanese Paper Workshop with Francis Schanberger

Level: Beginner through Advanced

Location: South Park Historical District, Dayton, Ohio


  • 2-day workshop July 19th  2013
  • Friday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday, 9:00 am – 6:00 pm

Cost: $375 per person plus $95 materials fee (for paper and gold toner). Reservations are on a first-come first-serve basis by email with a deposit of $200 through PayPal. Partial refunds will be given if your reservation is canceled no less than 21 days before the workshop is scheduled to be held and will be subject to a to a PayPal service fee.

Limited to 6 students.

About the Process: The Vandyke Brown Print is part of the Kallitype (Iron Salt based) family of photographic processes. It stands out due to its unique printing out of an image that requires no developing agent.  Vandyke Brown prints work on many papers but can create difficulties due to the amount of chemistry that gets absorbed by the paper. Careful consideration of how papers are sized and even applying a surface size can result in spectacular prints. Additionally, deep rich chocolate browns can be achieved through control of humidity and toning with precious metals like gold and palladium. An archival print is achieved by thoroughly fixing and washing out hypo, and iron, combined with toning.

Workshop Agenda: In this intensive 2-day workshop, students will create several inkjet negatives for use with specific Japanese papers. Each student will learn how to deal with the challenges of coating and processing Vandyke Brown on three different washi papers. This workshop will also include a demonstration of sizing paper using the Japanese method of applying dosa, which can significantly expand the number of papers onto which photographers can print. Additionally, students will learn how to archivally process their prints as well as have the opportunity to tone their favorite prints from the workshop.

Bio: Francis Schanberger is an Ohio based artist originally from San Diego, California. He first became acquainted with historical photographic processes through the workshops organized by the Museum of Photographic Arts and Grossmont Community College. His current work involves the extensive use of the Vandyke Brown Print on Japanese handmade papers (washi). These images are sometimes collectively pieced together to greatly increase the scale of work and highlight the unique qualities of washi. In the fall of 2013, Francis will be one of two American and three Japanese artists to exhibit photographs at the Japanese Paper Museum in Ino, Japan using a tosa washi paper made specifically for alternative processes by traditional paper craftsmen. His Vandyke Brown work was recently published in Christine Anderson’s Gum Printing and Other Amazing Contact Printing Processes and is featured in Christopher James’ Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. Last year his anthotype prints were published in Malin Fabbi’s Anthotypes: Explore the Darkroom in Your Garden.

Dayton: Dayton once relied extensively on manufacturing as part of its economic base. It is located in America’s rustbelt and represents one of the major metropolitan areas in Ohio. Dayton’s connection with aviation history and the abandoned manufacturing areas create opportunities for photographers unique to this part of the country. It is also the historical home of Jane Reece, one of the key pictorialist photographers outside of Alfred Stieglitz’ circle of artists.

Transportation: South Park Historical District is located near downtown Dayton and is about 21 minutes from Dayton International Airport. A cab ride should cost about $40.

Accommodations: There are Bed and Breakfast Inns located in the neighboring Oregon District such as Inn Port D’Vino as well as major hotels such as Marriott along the river.

Contact: Francis Schanberger, email:, tel. 614.282.9871


Next summer, very early in May 2014, I plan on teaching an Anthotype workshop.


back to the new drawing board


At some point last week, maybe it was Friday the 17th, the new paper from Ino Town, Japan arrived. It’s extremely lightweight and extremely challenging on every front.

Here are some notes collected so they won’t get lost.

The paper is about 30 gsm which is about 60 percent of the lightest paper onto which have ever printed.

It needs to be sized for Vandyke Brown. It probably works for iron based processes with a coating rod. For silver / iron processes the silver will accumulate and plate out.

I’ve taught myself how to work with Dosa (basically rabbit skin glue and alum). This paper does OK with just one coat on each side but will probably be awesome with two coats per side.

I will probably use the Dosa technique on the Kozo Unryu to solve the pinhole issue.

The paper will require a new curve. An initial print done with a Kozo Unryu negative looked posterized.

Did I mention that the paper is extremely thin? The extensive washing needed for VDB was a bit rough on my first attempt. I managed to not destroy the second attempt but will have to screen dry all of the prints.

So far I have printed an 11x 14 inch size print. It is going to be a real challenge to print the 23 x 18 inch size images I proposed to the museum.




when papers go bad

Handmade papers like washi have always presented challenges for me, the handcoating emulsion dude. Did they have enough size? Would the paper fibers cooperate with the chemistry? One paper would work well with Vandyke brown, actually really well, but be horrible with cyanotype. 

The latest struggle was when a good paper turned bad. For the last six or seven months I have been struggling with a change in my favorite paper. When I first started using the Kozo Unryu paper there sometimes were 2-4 pinholes on half a full sheet but the last batch would have 15 to 20. These pinholes would act like a drain in a sink by pulling the photo chemistry I was applying out the back side of the paper. The result was a larger, lighter spot on the front of the paper. On the backside of the paper, corresponding ovals of chemistry would show up, evidence of the drain effect. These would process out after fixing the image but the light spots on the front would remain.

When I first started using the paper, I could easily spot 1-4 spots that would occasionally show up. But the lates batch would easily result in up to 12 or 15 light spots that were too much for me to carefully touch up.

I was taking a shower (I do some of my best problems solving in the bathroom) and was thinking about an image I was working with in gum and remembered that I had been coating that paper with an acrylic solution to create a barrier to prevent staining. Or maybe I was thinking about the shower drain and how the vandyke brown solution was getting pulled from one side of the paper to the other. Something “clicked” and a solution was realized.  I realized all I had to do was to coat the back side of the paper with Gamblin PVA (not the glue but a related size). It created a barrier to keep the chemistry on the front side of the paper.
photo (31)photo (32)
The pictures show the backside of an unsized sheet from earlier in the week (top) and a sized sheet from two days ago (bottom). Both prints in the images have not been “fixed” which allows the brown stain on the back to be better visualized.
Tonight I looked at the first one to be processed and dried. I can still see tiny dark specks on the back side of the paper but I have eliminated the larger light spots on the front.
Now I can get back to work with this paper

Photography’s Back to the Future

Here is some information regarding an exhibition I am in curated by Catherine Evans of the Columbus Museum of Art. I am lifting most of this from the e -invite from Mary Gray.


Curated by Catherine Evans, the William and Sarah Ross Soter Curator of Photography at the Columbus Museum of Art,Photography’s Back to the Future showcases 10 contemporary artists who illustrate the variety and complexity of the medium by using everything from the earliest photographic processes to the latest digital technologies.

In this unprecedented era of smart phone technology, which makes taking pictures more accessible than ever, the artists in Photography’s Back to the Future contemplate the medium’s history and reassert photography’s role in both contemporary culture and the artistic realm.

The artists in this exhibition include:

Amanda H. Cook, Columbus; Dennison W. Griffith, Columbus; Lori Kella, Cleveland; Tracy Longley-Cook, Dayton; Rachel Girard Reisert, Cincinnati; Francis Schanberger, Dayton; Jordan Tate, Cincinnati; Garie Waltzer, Cleveland Heights; Janelle Young, Dayton; and Christine Zuercher, Dayton.

Join the Riffe Gallery for the free opening reception of Photography’s Back to the Future on Thursday, May 2, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Food and drink donated.

On Friday, May 3, Curator Catherine Evans will lead a free tour of the exhibition from noon to 1 p.m.

On Thursday, June 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m., readings by Rose M. Smith, a three-time member of Ohio’s National Poetry Slam team, followed by Open Mic. Register for Open Mic at www.riffegallery.orgMay 6 through June 10.

From June 1 – 30, visit VSA Ohio’s Riffe Center Lobby Exhibition, Accessible Arts 2013. For more information:

Photography’s Back to the Future is presented by the Ohio Arts Council’s Riffe Gallery with media support from CD102.5, CityScene, Ohio Channel, Ohio Magazine, Time Warner Cable and WCBE 90.5 FM.

the appearance of being active

Tomorrow should be a good day of sunlight so I am strongly leaning to “bringing in” the first onion skin anthotype.

What follows is, admittedly, just the ins and outs of recent exhibitions for record keeping.

Last month I was able to exhibit Forty-six at IceCube gallery in Denver, Colorado loosely part Denver’s Month of Photography. The exhibit, Icebreaker4, was juried by Nora Burnett Abrams, the Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver.

Also last month the Rosewood Gallery’s Annual Works On Paper came down. I was able to show three anthotypes including Somnambulist #3 (Cut Grass Poultice) and the two little saffron anthotypes, Nightie Negligee (Barbie) and Sleeper Set Pajamas (Ken). Somnambulist #3  was selected for an award of merit by juror Robert Robbins, Chair of Drawing and Printmaking, as well as a professor in the fine arts department at the Columbus College of Art & Design.


Later this month I will be installing work at the Riffe Gallery for Photography’s Back to the Future curated by Catherine Evans of the Columbus Museum of Art. Look for installation shots later this month. The work included in this exhibit will be (all vandyke brown prints) Forty-six, Mis-mitosis, and Don’t Take This Personally.

Icebreaker 4

Forty-six is making its way across the continental divide to be part of Icebreaker 4, an all media, un-themed juried show at Denver’s IceCube gallery. The gallery is located at 3320 Walnut Street in Denver, Colorado. The show was juried by Nora Burnett Abrams, the Associate Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. An opening reception is scheduled for March 8th, 5-9pm and a Juror’s Conversation event is planned for March 14, 3:30pm.

The exhibition will be on view from March 7th through March 30th.

osage orange and black walnut system

The one comment that really sticks in mind from the summer residency in Boston is from Drew Ippoliti who is currently working on his PhD in London. “Artists are problem makers, not problem solvers!”

I’ve given myself several problems over the last two weeks. The problems I haven’t successfully solved are due to time constraints, defective paper and a complicated lighting set-up.

I am trying directional lighting to evoke the look of a Voyager image which is alleged to be the first photograph to show the Earth / Moon system together in one frame. Perhaps you can recognize the Black Walnut and Osage Orange I am using as surrogates for a planet and moon.

I am showing you an ugly print. Once time permits, I will upload the final version.