SchoolArts Magazine

MAY-JUN 2013

SchoolArts is a national art education magazine committed to promoting excellence, advocacy, and professional support for educators in the visual arts since 1901.

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High School Studio Lesson DiGiTal NeGaTives Amber Dietz I began learning about digital negatives in college by tagging along in the darkroom one day with my friend David, who was creating cyanotype prints. I asked him questions about exposure, lighting, and negatives. When I learned that he was using digital negatives instead of traditional film, my interest was piqued even further. Together we coated watercolor paper with the lightsensitive cyano chemicals, then left the darkroom and headed to the digital lab where David exposed the images from his digital negatives using an ultraviolet (UV) light box. This experience inspired me to delve deeper into an exploration of digital negatives and alternative photographic processes—an exploration that has continued into my teaching career today. Digital Negatives in the Classroom Digital negatives offer access and experimentation with processes that require a contact print. It bridges the gap between digital and darkroom, allowing students to get the best of both worlds. Digital negatives can be created by scanning traditional negatives or using digital images to create a digital negative. Because negative scanners are pricey and many high schools may not have access to one, I suggest using a digital image. Students should use their own photographs—they should not pull images from the Internet. After students have chosen their image, it's time to open Adobe Photo30 May/June 2013 SchoolArts Katherine Butterfield, cyanotype. shop (or other image-editing software). Students should make adjustments to their photographs before transforming them into digital negatives. Make sure the image size is small enough for your printer and printing surface. My students made 8 x 10" (20 x 25 cm) images. Also, be sure to adjust the image resolution to 300 pixels per inch. The Down and Dirty Guide to Creating Digital Negatives There can be several technical steps involved in creating a digital negative, but I have found that all those steps are not always necessary, so I have created a "down-and-dirty" version of the lesson for use in the high school photography classroom. After you've done any image adjustments in Photoshop, you'll need to convert the image to grayscale, then invert and flip the image. These steps are necessary because the printed negative will be placed face down on the light-sensitive surface to print. I prefer to use a high-gloss white film specifically made for printing digital negatives. However, you can use regular overhead projector sheets with non-inkjet printers. Just like

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