RE: Scopick - the book

From: Judy Seigel ^lt;[email protected]>
Date: 07/08/05-07:21:23 PM Z
Message-id: <>

On Fri, 8 Jul 2005, BOB KISS wrote:

> I think you should address this question directly to Judy Seigel! ;-))
> She lllllllllllllooooooooooooooooooooooves Scopick! (NOT!)

I'm really not supposed to be here today, but it's not often I get ASKED
to rant on this topic... Like when Farmer MacGregor threatens to throw
Peter Rabbit into the briar patch and Peter says, oh no, oh please Mr.
MacGregor, NOT the BRIAR patch!!

So oh no, don't ask me about the Scopick book ! Actually I thought I had
it in print somewhere, but the P-F index has only one reference & on the
wrong page (it's p. 28, not p. 30 in P-F #2) & that's only the title
mentioned in passing.

Still, the Issue #2, page 28 review of the Ansel Adams gum chapter is
worth reading because Scopick "helped" contrive it & there is a bunch
about gum, nearly all of it wrong except "the" and "and", so I have done
my best to correct it. A lot of it's stuff you'll run into a lot. The last
2 P-Fs aren't (yet) indexed.

One thing I have said many times,though,is that I'd been teaching gum
printing for 10 years before I got the Scopick book & when I finished it
felt like I had a net deficit of information. Some of the info was of
course correct, just not clearly stated. And if memory serves that was the
only gum book that showed a sensitivity guide (tho not where he needed
it). What just set my teeth sideways was the holy ritual of the nutsoid
"gum-pigment ratio test."

Which, other than being absolutely backwards, is a fascinating study in
how misinformation is accepted and made permanent. The business as far as
I can tell (after reading most of the early lit) began with Paul Anderson,
who devised the "test". ANDERSON WAS A FORMER ENGINEER ! The editors of
the 1939 Handbook of Photography, whose stated aim was to make a book as
authoritative for photography as an engineering handbook was for engineers
(!!!!) thought it was dandy, so they included it, and from there it has
been cut and pasted until I suppose this very day, making 60 years of gum
printers think the process is really really tricky.

Henney & Dudley of course were Kodak types who knew squat about gum
printing. But they loved the fact that Anderson had a "system" -- they all
of them thought gum was too "hit and miss." And everyone who was anyone
apparently fell for it. Crawford copied it in Keepers of Light (without
attribution, if memory serves, tho he may have been the only one who did
credit H&D, D&H??? whichever), and Scopick who copied it (probably from
Crawford, I don't think his "research" went back any further), and John
Schaefer who did the "Ansel Adams Guide" & got Scopick to do that chapter,
plus about or at least 6 others.

My theory, BTW, is that that's why the myth that gum has to be pale tints
in many coats got started -- because that's all the GPR test lets you
do!!! That FRENCHMAN, by the way, Demachy, did DANDY one-coat gums. (I
think we call them Liberty Gum Prints now, don't we?)

In any event, if any one of them had ONCE done a control test, they would
have seen it was nuts. But, as I said in my article, they think they're
testing dichromate photography with no dichromate and no photography.
After that, I wouldn't trust Scopick to tell me the Pope is Catholic
unless I saw the baptismal papers....

This is in haste, but see chapter and verse in P-F #9, page 48 -- article
titled "Engineering Gum Bichromate -- or how to get into the photo canon".

Of course it would be nice to have a book about gum printing with color
photos. You might look up Christopher James's Alternative Photography
Handbook... (or title something like that). He's awfully knowledgeable
and been teaching for 25 years, which does knock a lot of nonsense to the
bottom of the brain pan. And the illustrations are good too (as I recall).
He's good on the other processes, also, especially toning cyano.

I don't remember the Coming into Focus chapter very well -- wasn't that by
Terry King? I suspect (or anyway hope) there's more info and more solid
(tested!) in P-F than in any of those books, but it's scattered
throughout, sort of accreting over time, not all together in an organized
way... and of course not in color. Not to mention that when you're hungry
for something you need more and more and more of it, at every level and

Incidentally, somewhere in the back archives of this list is a riproaring
rampaging flame war exactly on the topic of the Scopick book. I was
younger and rasher then (about 6 years ago?), and then a friend of his
sent my, um, critique, to Scopick, and posted the reply in which Scopick
said if I'd had trouble with the great Gum Pigment Ratio test, I should
have contacted him privately and he'd have helped me with it. Tho of
course he didn't know WHY I had so much trouble. His students were fine
with it.

Ohhhh, I need to get out of this briar patch and make some hay....

PS. thanks Bob, thanks Dave and thanks also to Dave and Loris about the
lamb sandwich. Delicious ! Also amazing, isn't it? Info winging halfway
around the world in a nanosecond. (GOOD info that is.)

And to friends in London -- we weep... for you, for us all.


Received on Fri Jul 8 19:21:36 2005

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