The beauty of tide pools - in blue

Photographer David Job's new show features cyanotypes, as well as other photographs and objects found in tidal areas

Posted: Thursday, January 03, 2002

P hotographer David Job grew up deprived of all intertidal experiences.

"I'm from Iowa," he said. "I remember putting on my rubber boots and going out to Auke Bay when I first got here 18 years ago. I thought it was fascinating how things evolved to live in water and in air."

Job has become something of an intertidal creature himself, exploring the shoreline on foot and in a kayak to photograph the landscape and life forms that emerge when the tide goes out.

He's created an exhibit of intertidal artwork, a combination of cyanotypes, photography and found objects. Job's "Intertidal Art Show" opens Friday at the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council gallery, with an opening reception from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. The show will feature about 13 color photographs and 11 cyanotypes, ranging from 8-by-10 to 16-by-20 inches in size.

Cyanotype is one of the oldest photographic processes. It was invented in 1842 by English mathematician and astronomer Sir John Herschel and predates photography.

"You mix two chemicals together and apply them to paper or cloth or anything - I'm using watercolor paper," Job said. "Then you expose it to sunlight or UV light."

He puts his negatives directly on the treated paper and places them under an ultraviolet light for about 15 minutes to expose the image. Processing simply involves washing the paper with water. The resulting image is a high-contrast, blue-toned contact print.

Job works with 35 mm and medium formats and usually shoots color slide film. Last year a photographer friend introduced him to cyanotypes and he fell in love with the process.

"This project has got me reinvigorated," Job said. "It's like when I first got into photography. Six hours will go by like that," he said, snapping his fingers.

Job has X-rayed some of the objects he's found in the intertidal zone and used the X-ray negatives for some of his contact print cyanotypes.

"It's a medium I've been fascinated with," he said.

In other cases he placed shells directly on the lightsensitive emulsion and exposed them to sunlight, creating bluetoned silhouettes known as photograms.

Job, 44, works as a respiratory therapist at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He's also done some commercial photography on assignment. He's amassed a large collection of images and he's represented by two stock agencies, photographic libraries that market his work.

Job recently had four of his cyanotypes accepted into the AllAlaska Juried Art Exhibition, which opens this month in Anchorage. The show will travel to Juneau in March for exhibit at the Alaska State Museum.

Job's parents now live in Florida and he's combined family visits with trips to the intertidal zones along the Gulf of Mexico. His show will include cyanotypes from those semitropical intertidal zones as well as Alaska. All the color photos in the show were taken in Southeast Alaska.

"Intertidal Art Show" will be on display at the arts council gallery through January.

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