Hackberry

In contrast to the Chinaberry, which I accepted as a decorative yard tree growing up and now see as an undesirable, the hackberry was considered a trash tree in my youth and I now value it as an important source of food for local wildlife.  We've had to take a few down because they were old, rotten, broken, and threatening to fall at the slighted provocation.  Each time it has made me sad.  And being something of "local wild life" myself, I've chewed my share of those berries.  There isn't much meat to them, but when ripe they are sweet and pleasant.

lumen_hackberry_20170721_30mFS_11a_BCBWSG_goldTonedFixed.jpg

In preparing the images for this series, I've used digital methods as little as possible.  The images themselves are made in the sun on paper, so getting them here involves digital methods as a necessity.  I use a scanner to create a digital file from the paper image.  Once I've done that, I could go 'hog wild' with Photoshop, and when the image fails to meet my expectations, I'm tempted to do just that.  Since this project is about connections to my deep past and to the history of photography itself, I'm trying hard to resist the temptation.

This image failed to meet my expectations.  I left it in the sun too long, or chose my paper badly, or picked the wrong time of day for the combination of specimen and paper, etc., etc. - the lumen process is somewhat magical in that predicting what you are going to get is a tricky business.  Though there were some lovely shades of bright rose and lavender in the leaves, the background was a dull and dirty blue.  Wanting to salvage the image and wanting to hold true to my project intentions, I turned to chemicals.  As much as the geek in me wants to pull out all the Photoshop stops, the mad scientist in me can get pretty excited about chemicals.  In this case, I wet the print - the paper is fiber based and wetting it first helps to ensure an even response to the chemicals - and immersed it in gold photographic toner.  After five minutes in the toner, I rinsed it and then immersed it for a few seconds in another traditional black and white darkroom chemical called fixer.  I lost the range of colors, but I found this final result much more pleasing overall.