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Saturday, July 22, 2006

Who the Heck Is...


Ctein. Photo by Chaz Boston Baden

Short Take: Photographic technical expert with one of the best and longest track records of any photo magazine writer not currently dead or institutionalized; determined to be the last of the master dye transfer printers; and a heck of a photographer. Trained in physics at Cal Tech and a veteran of the sci-fi scene (those two things not necessarily related). Lives in California with an ocean view and "several demented psittacines."

How you pronounce his name: Kuh-TINE.

Does he have another one? Nope, just the one, like Weegee or Brassai.

A taste: Click on the picture at left for one sample, called Red and Green Auroral Rays, Havre, Montana, 1986. Ctein has an extensive online gallery of his pictures, although dye transfer is one of those alternative processes that really needs to be seen in person to be appreciated.

Quotes: Although I certainly consider him a friend, I've only met Ctein in person once, a dozen years or so ago. We were to meet up on the streets of San Francisco, and I was concerned about how I'd recognize him. "You can't miss me," quoth Ctein. "I look like a radical gay Jewish hippie cross between Rasputin and Jesus Christ." This did not sound promising, but the instant I saw him down a busy street I thought, yup, there's Ctein.

On photo technique: "If you can't see it, it doesn't count."

Current: Post Exposure: Advanced Techniques for the Photographic Printer, Second Edition, Focal Press, 2000.

Soon to be released: the long-awaited "doorstop opus," Digital Restoration from Start to Finish, slated to be released by Focal Press just in time for the holidays (in case you were wondering what to get for everyone on your gift list). Ctein turned in the manuscript on June 1st. The final specs are 85,000 words of main text and 30,000 words of captions (including 70 task-oriented how-to's), accompanied by over 500 illustrations. There is no pricing information available yet, but as soon as the pre-publication sale starts we'll announce it.



Previous posts in T.O.P.'s "Who the Heck Is...?" series:

Katy Grannan
Cosmin Bumbut
Kim Keever
Camilo José Vergara


dazedgonebye said...

Wow...I've actually seen a few guys that could be described as "radical gay Jewish hippie cross between Rasputin and Jesus Christ." That's the first time I've seen one describe himself that way though.
Thanks for the heads up on the restoration book. I'll be in line for that one when released.

11:07 AM  
Howard Cornelsen said...

Thanks for the information, and particularly for the pronunciation--I had always assumed "stein."

But is "psitticine" a mis-spelling for "psittacine"?

--Actually, that's reasonable for a man who spells his "Stein" with a "C." We could spell his Parrots with a C as well.

Glad for the info on a person whose work I've always found very impressive!


11:42 AM  
eolake said...

"If you can't see it, it doesn't count."

That sounds obvious to me, but perhaps I just need an example or two of what some might consider important though it can't be seen?

2:50 PM  
MJ said...

Wow, I could probably think of a hundred examples...those few extra lp/mm that supposedly make one lens better than another, that extra .1 of Dmax you can get out of a B&W; paper, a secret extra-special developer, that extra megapixel that makes one camera oh so much better...basically, anything one gearhead uses to make another gearhead feel he is hopelessly inferior and his likfe is not worth living. (g)


3:21 PM  
wtlloyd said...

An extensive interview and videolog in the lab showing dye transfer process is available from "The Luminous Landscape" - if you have any interest in this now dead process (Ctein bought up all the remaining lab supplies and paper when Kodak announced they were discontinuing the materials)Michael Reichman's DVD publishing effort is the most informative way to go...

Issue # 11 is the one you want, individual issues are availble, you don't have to buy more than one....;=1

8:36 PM  
Bob said...

".............basically, anything one gearhead uses to make another gearhead feel he is hopelessly inferior and his likfe (sic) is not worth living. (g)"

Gee.....Love was the first thing that popped into what's left of my brain.


5:29 AM  
Jason said...

"I look like a radical gay Jewish hippie cross between Rasputin and Jesus Christ."

That narrowed it down to a few hundred in San Francisco! ;-)

I always thought "stein" too.

I really like how he has respect for whatever technology brings him the best image, and I really enjoy reading his articles and look forward to his book.

8:35 AM  

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