Words Over Windows

Words Over Windows icon

The photo project that has eaten my life since June has reached completion! Or at least, has reached the point where I’m launching it publicly.

This is the same project that I was previously showing a proof gallery of in this blog.

In the final form, I’ve got 150 photos of what was written, drawn, and painted on the plywood (and OSB) panels used to protect windows in the immediate aftermath of the killing of George Floyd on 25-May-2020, and of the memorials at 38th and Chicago.

The project name has settled down to being “Words Over Windows”, and the images can be seen on the project’s web site, purchased as a book (through Amazon), or bought as individual prints (through the web site).

First time I’ve tried anything like this—turning a project around this fast, doing my own photo book, offering prints publicly via the web.

Of course I’d appreciate anything readers could do to spread the word about this!

Photoshop DIFF Action

Followup to earlier post. I found some errors eventually, and have I think improved it some.

I have a bit of a fetish for “lossless editing”working on a photo in such a way that I don’t change the initial set of bits that I imported. I think as you get more experienced it becomes less important; being sure you’ve got something the way you want it means you don’t care whether it’s easy to change later. But, for me, I edit incrementally, taking a while to see the flaws in older edits (especially when I’m editing a bunch of photos that will be displayed together), so it’s very useful to be able to very easily change my mind about things I’ve already done.

So, I use adjustment layers a lot, and adjustment layers with layer masks (which, I say again, are dodging and burning died and gone to heaven!), and then do a lot of pixel fixing writing onto a separate layer.

But there are a few tools, or a few situations maybe, when that’s not the best option. Keeping an entire clean copy of the base layer meets my criteria, but it kind of doubles the file size (layers that are mostly transparent compress pretty well, so my multi-layer files are mostly not that much larger than the base).

So, here’s what I do:

  1. Duplicate the base layer (shortcut: CTRL-j). My process expects the mode of this layer to be “normal”.
  2. Select this new layer
  3. Do the editing that has to be done in the context of all the pixels
  4. Usually, I keep this for a while, until I’ve printed or put the picture on the web or whatever the plan was
  5. Select your edit layer, and run my magic diff script. This deletes every pixel in the edit layer which is the same as is rendered by the stack of layers under it.

So, how does this version of the diff script work? I’m glad you asked!

Listing of diff action
The DIFF Action
  1. Set mode of edit layer to “difference”. This shows the differences between the current layer and the stack under it.
  2. Select all
  3. Copy Merged. This copies the full detailed differences.
  4. Select none
  5. Set mode of edit back to “normal” on this layer
  6. Create new pixel layer
  7. Paste (puts the differences here)
  8. Threshold, level=1. This reduces the difference map to black-and-white, with every unchanged pixel black and every changed pixel white.
  9. Select all
  10. Copy
  11. Delete layer (same one we created above, that was scratch workspace)
  12. (We are now on the original edit layer again)
  13. Set quick mask mode
  14. Paste
  15. Exit quick mask mode. The B&W change mask we made is now a selection.
  16. Add layer mask. The current selection will be put in as that mask. So now we have the edit layer, with a layer mask selecting only the changed pixels on this layer.
  17. Apply layer mask. This deletes all the pixels blocked by the layer mask, and then deletes the layer mask itself. Thus making this layer take a lot fewer bits to store!

46 Minutes of Your Time

Many of you won’t care, but some of you desperately need to spend the time to watch this video.

It’s Ctein demonstrating actual dye-transfer printing (to Michael Reichmann of the photo website Luminous Landscape).

Many of the interesting parts of the process are done in normal room light, so you get to see the real thing, and you see the equipment and hear about the process for the bits done in the dark.

Watch this!

And, we’re coming to the end of the sale on the remaining inventory of Ctein’s dye transfer prints, info here.

Probably the Last Ctein Dye Transfer Print Sale Ever

All my life dye transfer has been the top color photo printing process. And for a long time I’ve been privileged to be a friend of one of the very few people who ever did dye transfer printing.

Kodak discontinued the materials in 1994, and Ctein finally closed down his darkroom in 2013. There have been a couple of print sales along the way, too. This one is probably the absolutely final one. This is selling off all the prints remaining in inventory.

Here’s the official press release on it. Note that the first URL given is the top level of The Online Photographer; you’ll need to check “Recent articles” in the left column to find the print sale post when it goes up on Black Friday.

Expert West Coast Photographic Printmaker to Liquidate His Entire Inventory of Rare and Prized Color Prints

San Francisco area photographer and master printmaker Ctein is offering his entire lifetime archive of rare traditional dye transfer prints for sale. The sale will take place on The Online Photographer website (https://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/) starting at noon Pacific Standard Time on November 29th, the Friday after Thanksgiving, and continue for seven days only.

Ctein (his only name—pronounced “kuh-TINE”) is selling full-sized 16×20-inch dye transfers for only $650 per print on a first-come, first-served basis. More than 250 images will be offered. Interested readers can view these in advance at http://ctein.com/2019TOPDyeSale.htm.

Ctein, among the best-known and most accomplished of the dye transfer printers, worked in the medium for 40 years until he closed his darkroom in 2013. Now, connoisseurs can own a beautiful, genuine dye transfer print for their own collections.

Dye transfer, widely acknowledged to be the Rolls-Royce of traditional color printing methods back in the era of film photography, was extremely difficult to master and expensive and time-consuming to practice. Dye transfer prints have a distinctive beauty and purity of color. They have a greater color gamut and deeper maximum black than even inkjet prints, and were among the most permanent of all color processes.

Such prints were always rare and always expensive, and master printers in the medium have always been few and far between. By 1994, when Kodak finally discontinued making the materials, most of the active dye transfer printers in the US could fit in a single living room. Now a scant handful are left.

For more information, please contact Ctein at ctein@pobox.com or Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer at mcjohnston@mac.com.