Zenith Camera Silkscreen Print

In April 2016 I produced this 2-color print of a Zenith 3M Russian 35mm camera. I bought the camera from a store in Ukraine because I thought it looked interesting and I might end up getting into some old school analog photography. As if I had time for another creative pursuit.

The finished print before signing and numbering.

The Zenith Camera print is one of few prints I have done using a photograph as the basis for the print. The Silo also used a photographic reference for making the films, but the films were all hand inked. The films for the Zenith Camera were modified digitally in the computer and printed. But just as much work went into staging the photograph.

Staging The Zenith Camera Photograph

Charcoal on kraft paper taped to the wall serves as the backdrop

In the far background I knew my white wall wouldn’t be sufficient. I scribbled on some kraft paper with some vine charcoal and taped the whole thing to the wall.

Book wrapped with a plain black dust jacket

I wanted the book that the camera sat on to be as plain as possible, but I didn’t have any books that were plain and didn’t trust my Photoshop skills to edit the book within the computer. This book is instead simply wrapped with plain black charcoal paper. The tape on the spine facesd away from the camera for the purpose of the photo.

Source photo of the Zenith 3M camera to be used for print.

With the background hanging in place and the book wrapped in black, the source photo is complete. In contrast to the finished print, it is in full color. With Photoshop I switched it to grayscale and adjusted the contrast and brightness to my liking.

Editing Zenith Camera With Photoshop

Top: Halftone dots. Bottom: Live Trace effect

Both Illustrator and Photoshop have means of producing halftone dots. Photoshop gives a little more control over the process. However, I didn’t want halftone dots for the entire image. I enjoy the Cyrillic writing around the inner circumference of the lens. To make that pop more I took that section and used Illustrators Live Trace function to get bright white letters on a dark black background.

Printing Tests and Final Image

A test print of the black ink screen
A test print of just the black ink

In this early test print of the black ink there is more detail shown in the pages of the book on which the camera sits. That level of detail varied throughout the tests and final prints as ink dried in some of the smaller details of the screen.

2-color test print with straight edges

This test print shows less detail than in the finished print at the top of the page. Although I strive for greater consistency, this is a good example of how every print in the same series can be just a little bit unique.

Also notable here is that the test prints have straight edges whereas the final print run has rough torn edges. The final print is printed on 100% 1618 Arnhem cotton paper. The test prints are on 100# Cougar cover stock. This is the first time I tried printing with Golden Screen Printing Medium. It is mixed with heavy body acrylic paints. Prior to this I had printed mostly with Speedball waterbased ink.

Zenith Camera Print. 11.5 x 14.5 inches. Signed and numbered edition of 20.

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