Images created after 1999
Most of Althouse’s images created after 1999 are made with fine grained 8x10 inch or 5x7 inch black and white negative sheet film using large format 8x10 and 5x7 view cameras. Images created in Belgium 2003-2004 were made on 4x5 inch black and white sheet film. The film is overexposed in the camera to insure the capture of shadow detail in his darker subject matter. This is combined with underdevelopment of the film using high acutance film developer in order to conserve highlight details in his bright white cloth, in preparation for scanning.
Althouse scans his processed sheet film negatives to digitize his images. Using a computer and imaging software he subtly manipulates and enhances each of his images in preparation for printing.The artist prints his finished digital image to a large scale using a wide format inkjet printer with highly stable pigmented inks on acid free cotton rag paper.
Occasionally the artist eliminates film and camera in his process by placing a chosen subject directly upon the scanner bed. With the scanner acting as camera, an image of the object is digitized to the computer. It is then manipulated, sometimes combined with other objects, and similarly prepared for digital printing as described in the above printing information. Some examples illustrating Althouse’s exclusion of film and camera by use of the scanner as camera are Hammer with Braille, Axe and Tapestry, Belgian Ribbon, and Adjustable Wrench.
Shrouds Series, 1999-2002
Most of the images in the Shrouds series were made on coarser grained medium format 6x7cm black and white negative roll film using a 4x5 view camera with a medium format roll film magazine. In preparation for alternative b&w darkroom printing using a point light source enlarging system requiring highly dense low contrast negatives, the film was abnormally overexposed and underdeveloped using high acutance film developer.
Through experimentation for the Shrouds series, Althouse created large scale darkroom prints having a unique characteristic of being exceptionally sharp even at great magnification, a precursor to his current large scale digital printing. By employing dense and coarse grained negatives for much of this series, his images have a sand-like quality at close examination yet they retain a hyper sharpness uncharacteristic of large prints. Using a wall mounted enlarger with a special point light source head to accentuate sharpness and grain, Althouse projected the negative image to the floor onto traditional black and white roll paper. The paper was developed in oversized fiberglass trays using modified black and white chemicals.
Technical exceptions to the Shrouds series are The Five Talents, Dart, Twisted Shroud, Chartres, and Knot which are examples of some of his first digital experiments. For these images no camera or film was used, as cloth was placed directly on the scanner bed using the scanner as camera as described above.
Images created before 1999
Most earlier rectangular images are made on slow speed large format 4x5 inch black and white negative sheet film in a view camera. Square images are shot on slow speed 6x6cm black and white roll film using a medium format single lens reflex camera. Standard exposure and film processing was generally employed.
Althouse printed his photographs in the darkroom using traditional black and white paper and methods, with an enlarger set up with a cold light diffusion light source.
Hand coloring generally describes the manual placing of color into a black and white photographic image. The technique was often used in the late 1800s and early 1900s to add color to black and white photographs prior to the invention of color film and color prints. The technique involves careful application of watercolor or oil paints to the surface of black and white prints which results in a color characteristic unique to this process.
Althouse uses two types of hand coloring techniques on some of his black and white images. In his earlier work he applies oil paints to the surface of the black and white print. This is an exacting and time consuming process, and in each case results in a unique one of a kind print. In his more recent digitally printed work such as Belgian Shears and Belgian Ribbon, Althouse hand colors the black and white image on the computer which also requires precision and a considerable investment of time. However the finished hand colored digital image can be then printed digitally as a color print.
Using both traditional painting onto the print and digital hand coloring, the artist renders the unique color characteristics of hand coloring into certain of his works.
Silver Gelatin Print
Silver gelatin print is the gallery term for a darkroom processed black and white photograph. Althouse used bromide/chlorobromide heavy fiber based photographic paper which produces the silver image in a gelatin emulsion.
A sepia toned print is a darkroom processed black and white print which has had an additional chemical toning process to turn the print from a neutral gray to a warmer brownish tone.
These are prints also called pigmented digital prints or pigmented prints, both black and white and color, which are made with a digital inkjet printer using highly stable pigmented-based inks rather than dye-based inks which are more prone to fading and color shifts. For further stability and print quality, Althouse prints onto heavy weight acid free cotton rag paper.