Centre for Fine Print Research University of the West of England Centre for Fine Print Research

Masterclass in Alternative Photography
Photogravure: An Early Photographic Printing Process With A Modern Twist

led by: Dr Peter Moseley
dates: 30 July – 3 August 2018
times: 9.30am - 4.30pm

price: £750 Full Price or £650 Concessionary Price
includes: materials and catering.

Book online now: The online store

Photographic printing processes from the mid and late nineteenth century offer a wide variety of printed surface, colour and texture that differ markedly from the clean, sometimes almost sterile appearance of modern digital images. The early photographic processes (aka alternative photography) require a real hands-on approach in the choice of paper, chemistry and coating, and provide every opportunity for the printmaker to produce individual and beautifully aesthetic work.

The photogravure process was developed in the 1870s and became famous for the beauty and quality of its gravure prints. This is real, put on a proper apron and roll up your sleeves, printing. In outline, the process involves etching a photographic image into a plate which is then inked and put through the high-pressure rollers of an intaglio etching press sandwiched with handmade or art paper. Prints can be produced using special inks of any colour.

Originally the process involved etching the image into a copper plate, but there is a modern equivalent that is somewhat more manageable. A photosensitive polymer plate is exposed to ultra-violet light under a translucent acetate copy of the original image or photograph and then washed out in water. Where the plate has been protected from the light by dark parts of the acetate it remains soluble in water and these areas will be removed; where the plate is exposed to light it becomes hardened and these parts will not wash away. After it has been dried, the plate is covered in ink and then the surface ink removed by careful wiping. Ink remains in the lines, grooves and hollows, where the unhardened polymer has been washed away, and it is the ink in these depressions that forms the image when the plate is put through the press in contact with dampened art paper. It’s quite a performance but well worth the trouble, prints made by this method can be stunning.

This five day course will introduce course delegates to all the key aspects of the process including:

• Calibrating polymer plate exposure
• Producing the digital transparency
• Exposing, washing out and hardening the polymer plate
• Preparing the paper, inking the polymer plate and pulling the print
• Drying and protecting the print

Delegates will be able to make gravure prints from at least three of their own photographic images, from film negatives, photographic prints or digital files. This course is suitable for beginners and no prior experience of intaglio printing or Photoshop (a computer program for editing digital images) is required. All materials will be provided.

Feedback from previous courses:

Why did you attend the course?

To learn the principals of gravure print making so I can practice independently.
To learn platemaking/calibrating.
I am interested in alternative photographic processes and this course was an excellent opportunity to spend a full week focussed on techniques with an extremely knowledgeable teacher.
I read Steve Hoskins book on ink and googled the CFPR. I have been doing photopolymer and photo etching for some time but discontent with the ad hoc / trial and error way of guessing what you want. This course offered both workflow and techniques as well as helping me to understand what was going on.

How do you rate the tutor?

Excellent tutor – listens to the needs of the participants whilst giving us all the information needed to work independently. A wealth of knowledge and expertise delivered in a modest and enlightening manner. A great guy to work with – with exceptionally beautiful work.
Patient, friendly, polite and incredibly knowledgeable about his field of gravure printing.
Peter has a great way of imparting enough information at the right level to make learning possible and enjoyable. He is very easy to talk to and imparts great information and time.
Excellent – extremely knowledgeable and generous with his expertise. Inspired by the excellent portfolio of work created by the tutor and his colleagues.
Excellent – great depth of knowledge that he was willing to share. Well-structured and run course despite some difficulties due to the facilities (particularly the ventilation in the machine room). Peter took the time to explain things to people changing his approach as necessary to get the point across.
The tutors methods of training were excellent and I got so much more out of coming on the course than I expected.
The best aspect of the course was the tutor’s excellent expertise and wonderful approach to his practice.
Every aspect of this course was excellent including the tutor and his work - I have no criticisms.
I cannot recommend the tutor and course enough. Peter’s expertise, patience and dry wit made this an exceptional experience.

What was the best aspect of the course?

The way some very technical information was relayed with patience and repetition. Extremely well planned and organised to get the maximum out of the week but also leaving space for individual experimentation.
Seeing the whole process in incredible detail.
Establishing a workable process from calibration to printing which I feel confident to be able to try at home.
The ability to spend a good period of time (5 days) focussed on a technique and learning about the many practices and controls that impact on the final quality of the image.
Very good location.
I increased my depth of knowledge and understanding of the processes and techniques. I am now able to go away and apply it in the knowledge that I can now make prints how I want them to look.
Everything has been supergreat - beyond expectations and we were all looked after super well.
Really nice group dynamic that the tutor drew upon to keep a very balanced teaching and learning environment.
I have enjoyed all aspects of the course – a good mixture of theory and practical instruction. This course exceeded my expectations.
It has been particularly useful to learn the digital aspects as well as the printing.
I was given plenty of attention and support.
This course was excellent value for money in every way.
Well-paced teaching, we were challenged to go just outside our comfort zone which was just right. Well thought out lessons.
The best aspects: non-stop challenge, very supportive tutor and good, well-motivated fellow students.
Very straightforward teaching and very helpful.
The practical elements mixed with the information were well-balanced.
All good!!

Find out more about the course tutor Peter Moseley.

This course will be held at UWE Bristol’s Bower Ashton Studios with a maximum of 10 participants