JC (you’ll know if this is for you), don’t read this! For everyone else, please carry on.
Due to ever changing circumstances I have had to sit on much of my work, which has been frustrating to say the least. Now that I am settled again, I am finally able to get moving with making finished prints. I’ll be sharing more about this in the coming months, but I’m thrilled to have just numbered and signed several prints from Terrestrial Cosmos, which will soon be winging their way from Chester to Paris then on to Cape Town.
A little while ago, I posted a short piece featuring this unpublished photograph from Terrestrial Cosmos. It’s very special to me and I can remember (I can smell) standing on the top floor of the north side of the Russian Cultural Centre as dusk faded. I set up my tripod, using a borrowed camera and stood on the edge of the floor, where the wall would have been. Instead, there was a void as most of the wall had been destroyed. This gave me the most incredible (if somewhat dangerous) private view of this portion of For anyone who may know Kabul, I am looking roughly towards Deh Mazang and TV Hill, with Darulaman far behind me).
In 2013, while sitting in my London flat, I realised this image 11,000 pixel image just begged to be printed big and I only got as far as the first round of test prints. I visualised the final piece being hung alongside a dining table, most likely. I am therefore thrilled that among the prints winging their way to Cape Town is this:
This is a snap of the acrylic over aluminium dibond ‘print’, taken on an iPhone (hence it not looking rectangular (!) in the evening on my sofa. It looks much better in real life (I promise), as it should after two pairs of sectional test prints. The hot spot on the top edge is from overhead lighting and the Avatar CD just happened to be out of its box on top of my book case, so I used it for scale. How fitting.
This is one of the most challenging prints I have ever made, because there in no margin for error anywhere in the tonal scale. The goal was an apparent black, which upon closer inspection will offer up subtle shadow details that will reveal what it actually being looked at. But at a distance, the effect needed to be of bright lights amidst a black night sky. The highlights needed to retain sufficient detail and tone, yet still stand out brightly from the black. I needed to achieve this under direct illumination and yet not have the image become dark and leaden under average ambient lighting. It seemed to be an impossible task, but in the end I got there! Sometimes you can’t cut corners and so I went through a total of four test sections of acrylic-dibond until I achieved the desired result. In between there was lots of head scratching and walking back and forth between windows, spotlit walls and shady corners with sections in hand!
‘Constellation’ will be accompanied by four 110cm prints from ‘Terrestrial Cosmos’, four 60cm/A2 prints from ‘Afghanistan 50K’ and twelve small prints from ‘West to East’, which will be grouped together in a single mount. For me, nothing in photography beats seeing the final image, as you intended it, right in front of you, as a physical thing. Its such a pleasure to send prints to a new home, but sometimes you wish they could stay…