Posts Tagged ‘On Press’

ON PRESS: Cover Stories 1; Jet Lag

January 14, 2011

Deciding on a cover image for a book of photographs from thirty years can be a little daunting.  Rebecca and I considered many possibilities, but we always came back to this particular image, the back cover of my first book, “Hot Light/Half-Made Worlds,” and  the only photograph in the survey book from India.

It looks like we won’t see the actual cover of “The Suffering of Light,” until the last day on press; however, since like many cover images, a version of this photograph also appears in the interior of the book, we have already done a press check on this version, a video clip of which you’ll find below.–Alex Webb

Alex and I often encourage photographers to try to “work from the unconscious,” to respond spontaneously to the world, to photograph “on one’s nerves” in order to remain open enough to find and make one’s most unique and dynamic images.

The good thing – and probably the most challenging thing — about being on press in Hong Kong is that working half unconsciously happens rather effortlessly – whether one wants to or not.  Checking test sheets at 4pm in Hong Kong, you can’t help but feel the strong, tidal-like pull of sleep, since 4PM is 3AM in New York City.  It’s nearly impossible to get over such severe jet lag in a week.

Maybe being half awake/half asleep on press in the topsy turvy world of Hong Kong isn’t such a bad thing.  Perhaps it’s just a short cut to collaborating with one’s own unconscious.—Rebecca Norris Webb

Rebecca Norris Webb, photograph of "Monterrey, Mexico, 1985," by Alex Webb

On Press: Out of Gamut; A Touch of Black

January 13, 2011

Alex Webb, Matthew Pimm signs off, Hong Kong, 2011

Working with Matthew Pimm, head of production at Aperture, who is on press with us in Hong Kong, is always an education.  He’s made me much more aware of the possibilities — as well as the  limitations — of four color printing.  The limitations come up somewhat regularly with my photographs, which are often taken in extreme or mixed light, sometimes producing colors that are unusual or surprising.  As I understand it, the four color dot system simply can’t reproduce certain hues, certain tones that may exist in a continuous tone photograph.  Now, having worked with Matthew on two books, I smile to myself a bit when he tells me, as we’re looking at a particularly deep Kodachrome red — or a strange, intense blue — that the color is “out of gamut.”      Over the years, I’ve learned to translate this phrase of Matthew’s describing those colors of mine most difficult to reproduce, as  — in my best  Brooklynese — “Fuhgeddaboutit, Alex!”

Most of the time, however, a small adjustment will make the image sing, which is what happened with this image (below) of the child with cotton candy (the cover of the Istanbul book) after we added just a touch of black.–Alex Webb

ON PRESS: On Waiting…

January 12, 2011

Being on press involves a lot of waiting: waiting for the plates and press to be prepared, waiting for the pressmen to make initial inking adjustments, waiting for  further inking adjustments at the direction of  the production team, and, finally, waiting for the run to be completed (sometimes compounded by alternate plates inserted for foreign editions).  And then the process begins all over again.  With this book, which has 17 signatures, that’s 34 set-ups plus delays on each run for two foreign editions (French and Italian).  That’s a lot of waiting, even for a photographer like myself, who spends so much of his life waiting and watching for photographs.

So how does a photographer try to break up this monotony? The obvious way: I took this photograph while meandering through the maze of the printing plant. — Alex Webb

Alex Webb, Hong Kong, 2011

The funny thing about waiting around on press with all these amazing photographs of Alex’s — even the street outside the printing plant is beginning to look like an Alex Webb photograph. –Rebecca Norris Webb

ON PRESS: Alex Webb’s 30 Years of Color

January 10, 2011

THE TRIP:  NEW YORK to HONG KONG

Over the next few days, Rebecca and I are going to be posting some images and rough, diaristic video about the experience of being on press in Hong Kong for my survey book of 30 years of color photographs:”The Suffering of Light.”  This is the fourth time in five years that Rebecca and I –– who edit and sequence our books together ––have been on press for either one of our individual books or our joint book.

For me, putting together a survey book of 30 years of photographs has been rewarding but also a little unsettling: while on the one hand I am looking forward to printing this upcoming book, on the other hand, I am filled with the doubts that accompany a book that reflects much of my photographic life.

Inevitably, there have already been a few detours.  Our flight to Tokyo was delayed, and as a result we missed our connection into Hong Kong and had to spend the night at a hotel near the Narita Airport. On the flight the next day, however, thanks to unusually good weather, we had a rare sighting of Mount Fuji, which Rebecca photographed with her new ipod touch (a remarkable little invention.)  And, because we’d purposely scheduled an extra travel day, we haven’t lost any time on press for the book.

Let’s just hope any other unexpected detours on press end up so well.––Alex Webb

Rebecca Norris Webb, Mt.Fuji, Japan, 2011

RNW, Narita Airport hotel, Japan, 2011

Alex Webb, "Rebecca," Hong Kong, 2011