Cafe Nero

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One thing I’ve noticed about the Cafe Nero I tend to frequent in Bluewater is the photography on display. It’s really quite a lovely collection that’s thoughtfully presented and displayed, something unexpected from such a large chain. From my observations, they look like Vandyke Brown type (style, digital renditions unfortunately) prints, where by the emulsion is applied by hand and the print exposure made through contact printing using UV light. It’s a similar process to salt, palladium and platinum printing, just slightly cheaper and renders the wonderful wan brown tones present in the ones on display. I’m a sucker for an earthy, “real” feeling print, so the messy, brig stroke-laden black edges really only add to the prints (though these can be avoided through more careful application of the emulsion).

Another important aspect of these shots for me is the positioning and print size (both individually and in relation to the paper/frame size). The images appear to be around 4×5 to 5×7 on paper around A3 in size, on frames around 2-3 inches in thickness. In an original print of this type the shot would have to have been made on a negative the size of the desired final print (i.e large format) due to the inability to enlarge using this process. Modern technology has enabled the use of digital negatives, printed on acetate to the desired size which can then be contact printed from.

I love how the colours of the prints suit the dark wooden frames (not in shot unfortunately) and that these pieces as a whole suit not only the specific decor of this particular Cafe Nero, but also the very idea of a coffee shop. Well done Nero.

I think I’ll experiment with this presentation method (equidistant spacing top, left and right), using my paper as my border/mount with some silver gelatin contact prints. Perhaps I could make a few paper negative on the 4×5 to make the prints from. I plan on making some salt prints next year, should should be able to produce even more accurate results.

Apologies for he poor picture quality and bad pictures of nice pictures!

– Peace
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