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Black is the New Black

Been feeling a bit under the weather the last couple of days and even with a backlog of half-written posts to choose from, actually finishing one was more than I could face.

It was a real treat going to the two photo openings last week: Ted Adams at Penn and a show called Powelton Photographs at Photo West Gallery. At Ted Adams' show, after taking a tour of the prints, I got to meet Ted, who actually recognized me as that "mere cat guy." Oh, the perils of putting your picture on your web site.

At Photo West two nights later, I ran into my old teacher from the Abington Art Center, Bill Kelly. In class, Bill was always urging us to get a “rich black” in our prints. I was a timid printer in those days and was so afraid of making a muddy mess that I rarely printed anything approaching a rich black. In more recent times I have come to value more and more contrast and blacker and blacker blacks in my prints. There's a reason for that. Black is the most powerful “color” in black-and-white photography. It's the one “color” that makes a silver print unique. You can barely achieve a good black with an inkjet printer and as for books printed with ordinary ink, forget it. I say all this in order to comment on Ted Adams' prints. Ted prints a beautiful, velvety black loaded with lots of detail. Not easy to do, I can tell you. His prints really sing to me. Albert Yee put up a nice appreciation of the show; I enjoyed quite an extended conversation with him as well. I was surprised I could talk that much when all I had to loosen my tongue was Sprite.

There were almost no blacks at the Powelton Photographs show. All of the work was in color and presumably digital, although I chanced to see some of Laurence Salzmann's gorgeous work upstairs. I went to this show to see Justin Smith who I had the pleasure of shooting with on one of our photoblogger outings. Justin printed his work with a kind of sepia tonality that was very effective. While the seven photographers' styles were wildly divergent, what really struck me was how coherent and well-edited everything was.

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