• Nikki McAllister-Freeman

An Evening with Dennis Russ.


Our presenter for the evening, Dennis Russ, has an interest in some unusual photographic techniques - “Bromoil" and “Lith". In former years, he used this very skilful process in the darkroom, but, after a bit of a mishap with the chemicals, he now uses digital applications to produce similar effects.

Just a quick explanation here - According to Wikipedia “… the bromoil process starts with a normally developed print exposed onto a silver-bromide paper that is then chemically bleached, hardened, and fixed. When the still-moist print is inked, the hardest (driest) areas take up the most ink while the wettest areas become the highlights". Dennis explained that the paint or ink is applied with great care and skill, by hand, using soft brushes. The result is a rather grainy image, somewhat softer and more textured than a normal one, but with a depth and atmospheric finish which can be strongly affected by the hand of the artist. I say artist, because it seems to me that the success of this process relies a heavily on the skills and aims of the person producing it.

Lith is a technique using normal photographic paper with lithographic developer. This produces soft highlights and heavy, deeply shadowed areas.

Now, with the advent of digital photography, these effects can be produced using Photoshop and other editing software, such as “Perfect Effects”, by On1, “Affinity Photo”, by Serif or "DXO Filmpack 5"

Dennis gave us a presentation of prints he's produced, using digital software, but aiming to achieve the effects of bromoil and lith techniques.

The resulting images reminded me very much of etchings, engravings and pen & ink illustrations. On various types of art paper, each one was a little work of art. They were all quite small, sometimes landscape, sometimes portrait and sometimes unconventional ratios.

They were all mono, either black and white, a slightly purple hue or, with the lith prints, a creamy pink.

Subjects varied from characters in Victorian costume to birds and portraits.

I found these images fascinating and very atmospheric.

After tea, (laid on by our heroic Chairman, Sue), Dennis presented some AVs of his work, showing both bromoil and normal images. The first was a display of mono portraits, then colour photos of some vibrant body painting and then another of birds in flight. Finally we saw some colourful flowers, edited with “fractarlius” software. This produces some extraordinary, flaming, sparkling effects and can be produced using a plug-in for editing software like Photoshop etc.

To see some of Dennis’ work, go to “russ4tography.com” or "flickr.com/photos/scarecrowdr”

Many thanks to Dennis for an interesting presentation and for introducing me to a new and fascinating technique.

Very many thanks, also, to Sue for rescuing a difficult start to this meeting and making sure we had our tea, coffee and biscuits!

Next week we have the round 3 PDI competition - good luck to all the entrants!


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