Sea Smoke on the Mississippi River

Although Minnesota recently had its first (far too early) snowstorm of 2020, the weather rebounded and we’ve seen some nice, mild temps lately. But, we all know what’s around the corner.

When the weather starts to get brutal in Minnesota, sea smoke can form when the air is much colder than the surface of a warmer body of water. This image was made on such a day at the Saint Anthony Falls, on the Mississippi River in Minneapolis.

Printed in silver-gelatin in an edition of just 10 prints, all are hand-printed by me in the darkroom, using the finest quality fiber papers and processed to meet archival standards. As with all previous Special Print offers, at the beginning of December, any remaining prints in the edition will revert to the regular (higher) print price.

• Edition: 10
• Medium: Silver-gelatin
• Image Size: 5.75 x 8.00″
• Paper Size: 8.00 x 10.00″
• Paper: Foma Fomatone Glossy Fiber
• Stamped, signed and numbered on verso
• FREE domestic shipping via USPS Priority Mail, well-packed and with a tracking number.


This summer’s been a pretty good one, but school’s started and it’s time for show and tell!


In July we flew back to London to see our daughter graduate from Central St Martins with a degree in Fashion Journalism, while at the same time our son and his girlfriend were heading in the opposite direction to Denver, CO, to start new jobs. So proud of them all!


Thanks for the photo, Jo!

For the three weeks that I was in the U.K., London was in the middle of a heatwave. I’m well old enough to remember the heatwave of ’76, which is the summer everyone compares hot weather to, but this was far hotter in my mind. Most days were in the mid-80s with a few in the low 90s. And remember, buses, tubes, houses and flats aren’t air-conditioned… But it was a good trip, seeing lots of friends, lots of museums and galleries and having so much fun staying with our daughter and her boyfriend in their new flat.


There were several outstanding photography shows — Vanessa Winship and Dorothea Lange, both at The Barbican, Tacita Dean’s Landscape at the Royal Academy and The Shape of Light at Tate Modern. A small show of work by C.R.W. Nevinson, Prints of War and Peaceat The British Museum commemorates his gift of 25 prints to the museum in 1918. They span his time in the trenches of Flanders as a war artist during World War I, as well as prints of New York, Paris and London.


C.R.W. Nevinson — Looking Through Brooklyn Bridge, New York, 1921, Drypoint


Ed Ruscha — Parking Lot series


Alison Rossiter — Gevaert Gevaluxe Velours


After three weeks of family, friends, art and walking, all sustained by copious amounts of flat whites, I returned to Minneapolis and went straight into teaching a week-long polymergravure workshop at Highpoint Center for Printmaking. And if that wasn’t enough, the following week I was teaching Kerik Kouklis the process. Kerik travelled to Minneapolis from California especially for a one-day, one-on-one workshop, at the end of which he had made 3 perfect plates and about a dozen prints!


If you’re interested in learning the process, sign up for my infrequent email newsletter for details of upcoming workshops.


© Kerik Kouklis

Conservator’s Corner(s)

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Here’s a behind the scenes video with Jae Gutierrez, Senior Photograph Conservator at the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson. I was fortunate to be able to spend some time with Jae back in September, when I visited the CCP Print Room with friends as part of Depth of Field. She was incredibly helpful and answered in depth all the questions I had about silver prints, platinum prints, gravures, my workflow and the presentation of my work, and reassured me that I was following the best practices. I got the two thumbs up from the conservator!

But there’s one little trick she showed me that I immediately started to use. Apologies if this is known by most, but remember, I spend my life in the dark(room).

When I attach my images to the Museum board backing I use my own mounting corners that I make out of Tyvek paper, which is strong and archival, and I attach them with Filmoplast P90 Plus tape. This is the result of running out of the correct size self-adhesive Mylar corners late on a Friday night too many times. Also, it’s much easier and the prints feel more secure. But when using the Mylar corners you have to flex the print to remove or replace it; not good when you’re handling an Edward Weston print, for example. By attaching the corners a specific way, as Jae showed me, you can avoid all that. Simple!


Simple folded Tyvek paper corner.


Corner taped with flaps underneath.


Print inserted into corner.


Top corner with flaps showing.


Flaps allow print to be removed without bending.

“A beautiful print is a thing in itself…” — Irving Penn


Here’s a wonderful call for work organised by Rfotofolio and judged by Houston gallery owner and director Catherine Couturier.

The INPrint call for entry puts the focus on the final product of the artist vision, the photographic print or object, not the jpeg on the screen. Rfotofolio wants to encourage and promote the art of making the photographic print.


This call for entries will be judged not only on the image, but by the craft, skill, and quality of presentation.


All media are welcome, including but not limited to traditional film, digital, collage, three-dimensional, encaustic, small books, and alternative processes.

More information can be found on the Rfotofolio website.

Bit Rot — The Importance of Printing Your Images

This article from The Huffington Post makes it quite clear what’s going to happen to your digital-only files. Keeping your images safe by backing up regularly is only part of the battle.

Bit rot is a term that refers to the slow deterioration in the performance and integrity of data stored on various forms of storage media. It’s a serious problem for pretty much anything that is digital or online etc. For example, it poses a huge threat to the wealth of information we have on the internet. However, one group of people who are particularly at risk are photographers. We store much of our work on hard drives, flash drives and even on CDs. All of these storage options are ripe for bit rot. Although we use fairly stable image formats – jpeg, tiff, raw etc. (compared to say music on CD or films on DVD) there is still the problem of the actual files degrading. Worst of all, we don’t really know much about exactly how long these files will actually last before bit rot becomes a serious concern – we haven’t had the technology long enough yet. Want to hedge your bets? Print your photographs!


The photographic print (printed on quality papers with good inks) is capable of easily lasting 100 years and potentially a lot longer. Of course there are a lot of factors involved here, but we know about them – we know how to store paper and control humidity and so on. Furthermore, paper can be scanned and reprinted (at least once) causing no serious or easily perceptible loss, and this is with current technology never mind what we will have in 50 years!


Bit rot is not the only problem however, and perhaps not the biggest problem. I’ve been photographing seriously (with digital) for about six years. This is not a long time in the scheme of things, really. And yet, I have lost many, many photographs. Where did they go? Anyone’s guess. Somewhere on old computers I guess and, even though I made every effort to transfer them, many still got lost. Others were on old phones and on deleted Instagram accounts or gobbled up by Facebook.


Imagine the number of people who have much of their personal or family photo archives on Facebook servers! Now imagine Facebook servers experiencing some form of devastating structural damage (isn’t Facebook in California after all). Not a pretty picture indeed! People, millions of people, could lose their entire photo collections. This may sound trite until you consider that many people even have critical image like the birth of a child stored in the cloud. Not wise. Our entire photographic history from the past decade is literally at risk! And it won’t take an earthquake either… some 350 million photographs are uploaded to Facebook daily – making a technical meltdown more likely.


As I mentioned above, many of our digital photographs are getting lost quite simply because, well, they’re digital. In the era of analog photography and the photographic print we had a physical “thing” representing our images – namely negatives and prints. I’m quite sure I have every negative I’ve ever shot, even the ones I made as a kid. I’m not sure why that is, but I know that it is. There seems to be something more permanent about a negative by its very nature as a physical thing – never mind that it is also made from highly stable material. A digital or virtual thing is easier to lose I guess because it never really existed anyway.


So what’s my point in all this? That we should take more care to archive our work and not place quite so much trust in the cloud or other digital means of storage – like hard drives, for example. The fact is we simply don’t know the long-term stability of these means. If you want to continue risking your work, by all means carry on. If you want to truly “back up” your digital photography, then I recommend in the strongest possible terms that you print it!


Where to print? Anywhere, really. From the little Canon SELPHY to Milk Books, there are many, many options when it comes to making prints. Personally, I love Milk Books. They have a great “box set” of prints available that feature archival quality print and come in a nice storage box. It’s a very professional and classic option at a reasonable price. If you’re in the New York City area, or don’t mind working by post, Adorama also offers a pretty good printing service.


So, whether it’s just a handful of critical photographs, like your child’s birth or your college graduation, or your entire archive … get printing. When things melt down you’ll thank me.

Michael Ernest Sweet is a writer and photographer. The author of two full-length street photography books, The Human Fragment and Michael Sweet’s Coney Island, Michael lives in New York City. Follow on Facebook or through Michael Sweet Photography.
– via The Huffington Post.