Darkroom stories

In My Garden

Brenton Hamilton, MFA is a photographic print maker with a concentration in alternative processes. Relying upon cameraless, experimental techniques with an emphasis upon gum bichromate, calotype and palladium. The artist is telling to The Calotype Society XXI the story about one of his calotypes taken in the garden.

statue calotype done by Brenton Hamilton
In my garden, inch paper calotype on vellum, ┬ęBrenton Hamilton

Brenton Hamilton tells: “This is an 8×10 (aprox) inch paper calotype on vellum. I use the traditional wet process here from variants by Guillot-Saguez from the late 1840’s.

Its the late spring light, the month of May and about 2 mins of exposure with a wide open lens. I develop in Gallic acid by inspection and it takes along time. I use warm developer and I add little drams of aceto silver to boost the energy if you will,  of the developer. I rinse it and fix it traditionally and that also takes hours sometimes to clear.

Brenton Hamilton during his work
Brenton Hamilton during work, photo from https://www.all-about-photo.com/photo-articles/photo-article/133/brenton-hamilton-the-maine-media-workshops

These are images I made in a series from my garden –  a kind of an homage and exploration and mediation. I’m fascinated with early processes and materials. Thinking about Schultz, Wedgewood and Davies and Hippolyte Bayard. Their methodologies, relentless inquiry and curiosity. It fuels my own.

I know from research that Bayard photographed in his garden in the bright sun, Talbot made images outside with tarpaulin drapes on the hedges at Lacock. Talbot repeatedly photographed a bust in  the bright outdoors and a kind of outdoor studio. There is a Talbot image from the 1840’s: Bust of Venus on a Round Tabletop that Ive always admired.

Bust of Venus, photo by William Henry Fox Talbot, salted paper print, Provenience: The British LibraryFox Talbot Museum, Lacock Abbey, National Trust
Bust of Venus, photo by William Henry Fox Talbot, salted paper print, Provenience: The British LibraryFox Talbot Museum, Lacock Abbey, National Trust 

I worked similarly – large stand camera, bright light and cool days and the intensity of trying to make things work. Looking directly at the object. The rewards and disappointments – the challenges are always stimulating. That’s when this image was made in that kind of environment and attitude. The bright light delivering an image of the object – a likeness and a copy.

The delicacy of calotype, the chance occurrences – the silver on paper. These aspects provide years of work ahead. Right now I’m working with LeGrey’s waxed methods using rice water, wax and bone black. More to come!”

Sources:

https://www.brentonhamilton.com/

https://www.all-about-photo.com/photo-articles/photo-article/133/brenton-hamilton-the-maine-media-workshops