Fun With Film: Highlights From SF Camerawork’s First Exposures Program

The latest edition of our collaboration with SF Camerawork and their First Exposures program features the photographic work of Marcus Wong and Llara Eslava. Marcus, 18, recently graduated from School of the Arts and is heading to San Francisco State University this fall. We wish him the best of luck in life and photography!

The below photographs were captured by 14 year old Llara Eslava, who joined First Exposures two years ago after attending the Tenderloin Afterschool Program. This year a double exposure image by her and Mariana Castro was selected as a collector print for Camerawork’s fine print program.

City Streets Serve as Muse For 200 Yards Photography Project

 Dayman Cash - The Fence. One of the works on display at the 200 Yards exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery Dayman Cash - The Fence. One of the works on display at the 200 Yards exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery

You are invited to join us for the opening reception of the 200 Yards photography project on June 24th from 6-9pm at Dickerman Prints Gallery. On display until August, the show features 22 images taken by 15 different photographers within the 200 yards circling our lab on the corner of 17th St. and South Van Ness.

(San Francisco, CA; May 24, 2011) – 200 Yards, the photography project that focuses on San Francisco neighborhoods 200 yards at a time, has put together its 4th show set to open on June 24, 2011 and launched a call to photographers for its 5th show to take place in the Tenderloin.


The 4th show, exhibiting at Dickerman Prints Photo Lab, showcases 22 images taken by 15 different photographers within the 200 yards circling the corner of 17th St. and South Van Ness. It’s an area that brings together vibrant art studios and ODC with car repair shops and industrial buildings. This collection is one of the most abstract and richly textured exhibitions 200 Yards has put together.

This August the photography exhibit will turn to the Tenderloin as a muse. The 5th show, to be held at Café Royal, is currently accepting submission of photographs taken within the 200-yard radius around the corner of Post and Leavenworth. Genevieve Robertson and Shelly Kerry, creators of the 200 Yards project, are extremely excited about this upcoming show.

“Not only have we been wanting to do a show in the Tenderloin since we started, it will mark the one-year anniversary of our first exhibit,” says Robertson. “We hoped the project would continue, but we really had no idea it would catch on the way it has. People are constantly coming out of the woodwork to tell us how much they love the idea.” One of those supporters is The Tender, a blog that is all things Tenderloin. They’ve joined forces with 200 Yards to help spread the word about the August show and the opening reception on Thursday, August 4, 2011 will also be a TenderNights neighborhood party.

 Erika Pino's selected entry for the 200 Yards photo exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery Erika Pino's selected entry for the 200 Yards photo exhibition at Dickerman Prints Gallery

With plans to continue doing at least 4 shows a year, the project will continue to explore new neighborhoods and will hopefully venture across the bay to Oakland next year. Kerry and Robertson are also putting more effort into building a community around the project.

The guidance, inspiration and support they’ve provided emerging photographers has been extremely well received. In an attempt to provide more resources and structure they will be looking toward collaborations and organizing group events that get photographers together and capturing images.

200 Yards @ Dickerman Prints Photo Lab, 3180 17th Street @ South Van Ness, opens Friday, June 24th with a reception from 6-9pm. To be a part of the 5th show at Café Royal, read the rules and download the map.

For more information contact Genevieve Robertson at [email protected] or 415.846.2138.

To see all images in the upcoming exhibition click here.

These Kids Take Great Photographs!

Since opening our C-41 color negative processing department last summer, Dickerman Prints has been developing and scanning film for SF Camerawork’s First Exposures program. The weekly photography class for underserved youth aged 11-18 has been a staple of the San Francisco photographic community for years and we’re proud to be part of the team.

The above sun flare photographs featured on this page were shot by 17 year old Mariana Castro in the East Bay. A member of the First Exposures program for four years, Mariana enjoys expressing her creative side through photography. “The camera I shot these with was my small pink 35mm camera that is able to take dynamic wide angle shots. I absolutely adore it and have been using it ever since I first got it,” according to Mariana.

Below, 15 year old Blanca Reyes uses a point and shoot camera to capture a an alley in downtown San Francisco as well as some beautiful flowers during a First Exposures field trip to Pie Ranch on April 23, 2011. Blanca is one of the program’s newest members, having just  moved to the City from Honduras. Bienvenidos!

That iPhone Camera Look…With Film!

 You can use Instagram, Hipstamatic or any of the other popular iPhone apps to get that retro photo look. OR, you can do what 16 year old Keelan Sunglao-Valdez did: get out your Holga and go shoot with film! You can use Instagram, Hipstamatic or any of the other popular iPhone apps to get that retro photo look. OR, you can do what 16 year old Keelan Sunglao-Valdez did: get out your Holga and go shoot with film!

Keelan is a first-year student in Cameraworks’ First Exposures program and used 120mm film to take the photos featured on this page around his home in the East Bay. Some of his work was recently presented at the Open Show and he also will be speaking at the SF Camerawork First Exposures benefit on April 28 2011.

First Exposures provides free weekly photography classes for underserved youth aged 11-18.

In the First Exposures mentoring program, each student is matched one-to-one with a photographer who serves as a positive adult role model and provides individualized guidance and support. Since 1993 hundreds of students have participated in this program and over 90% of these students has gone on to pursue a college education.

Because of our demonstrated history of success, First Exposures is recognized by the State of California as a model program for underserved youth. In the face of limited education and economic opportunities for San Francisco youth, we have expanded the First Exposures experience beyond our weekly classes to encompass community outreach programs, after-school programs, and summer courses throughout the City.

First Exposures provides a creative outlet for students to express themselves in a safe and supportive environment, and encourages them to become articulate, confident, and responsible young adults. In 2008 First Exposures expanded its program by introducing a digital photography class in order to serve more youth.

Dickerman Prints is proud to provide complimentary film processing and scanning for the First Exposures program.

New Service: Heidelberg Drum Scans up to 17×17″

Dickerman Prints is proud to announce that we now can digitize negatives, transparencies and reflective prints up to 17×17” with unparalleled quality using a Heidelberg Primescan Drum Scanner. These state-of-the-art scans retain every bit of information and detail from the brightest highlight to the deepest shadows and are perfect for reproducing your original at any size.

What differentiates a drum scanner from a traditional scanner is the image information is captured with photomultiplier tubes (vacuum tubes with extremely sensitive detectors that capture ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light) instead of CCD chips. Using these tubes also allows your originals to be wet-mounted, which ensures that even the subtlest details are perfectly digitized.

Your images will be scanned by Bryan Bailey, who has more than a decade of experience using the Heidelberg drum scanner as well as a photographic background that includes managing Pictopia’s fine art imaging department and high-end corporate work for Chromacopy.

Some highlights of our Heidelberg drum scans:

  • Tonal gradations are amazingly smooth and well controlled with no loss of color due to a large gamut output.
  • Exceptional sharpness and a lack of digital noise means less digital sharpening later.
  • Film grain, finger marks and blemishes are greatly suppressed or eliminated with fluid mounting.
  • Greyscale and color scans can be produced as 8 or 16 bit files at sizes exceeding 1 gb, depending on the size of the original.

In addition to our new Heidelberg drum scans, Dickerman Prints also offers high-resolution Imacon and flatbed scans, proof-quality digitizations from our Durst Sigma Plus and large-format flat art reproductions.

For more information and pricing, please visit our scanning page.

Our Upstairs Neighbors: The Blackwell Files Casting Agency and Rental Studio

 The Blackwell Files Casting Directors and Talent Scouts The Blackwell Files Casting Directors and Talent Scouts

The creativity in our building doesn’t end with Dickerman Prints. One only has to go up a single flight of stairs to find The Blackwell Files, which provides clients with one-stop casting services for print and video ad campaigns. They also have two beautiful studios available for rent in the heart of the trendy Mission District.

The Blackwell Files Casting Directors and Talent Scouts have been skillfully managing the casting needs of ad agencies, producers, and photographers worldwide since 1999. In addition to their database of over 6000 Real-People talent they have the unique ability to save you time by handling the coordination of models from multiple, local, model agencies for on-site castings and call-backs. Their capacity to provide clients with an efficient, one-stop, talent-casting experience makes them the go-to casting agency for your San Francisco Bay Area talent needs.

Whether you’re looking to cast real people, talent with special skills, professional models, or just rent a studio, explore The Blackwell Files Web site and discover their full range of casting services. Clients include Audi, HP, Disney, Microsoft, Merrill Lynch, Yahoo!, Purina, Newsweek, Genetech, Del Monte, Adidas, Gap Kids and many more.

Check out what people are saying about the Blackwell Files on Yelp!

200 Yards: A Great New Photo Competition Idea

We love collaborating with creativity here at Dickerman Prints. That’s why we’re so excited to tell you about a new photo competition that we’re teaming up with: 200 Yards.

200 yards is a photography experiment conceived of and presented by Lightbox SF. First they find a venue, maybe a wine bar, office lobby, or traditional gallery. Then they put out a call to photographers to explore a 200 yard radius from the venue’s location and take pictures of whatever catches their eye. Each photographer then selects their best photos, up to 10, and submits them for possible inclusion in a photo exhibit held at the originally selected center point.

The idea behind the project is to expose local photographers, the little details that make each block of San Francisco unique, as well as the merchants that give each neighborhood its character.

Currently, Free Gold Watch has been selected for the 3rd venue (1767 Waller St. @ Stanyan). The submission deadline is February 14, 2011 and the opening reception is March 12, 2011.

So grab your camera, head over to Upper Haight and get snapping.

About Lightbox SF:
Our mission is to teach all artists that they can have viable careers based solely on their art. We know you have it in you, you just need the right guidance and support. That’s where we come in, Shelly and Genevieve, the founders of Lightbox SF. We can be your educators, accountability, cheerleaders, or inspiration.

If you’ve got an idea just burning to come alive, but are feeling overwhelmed with what you think you need to do or aren’t sure you can even make the time, we’ll help you draw the map to your dream and set realistic goals. If you’re struggling to make the leap from hobby to business, but aren’t sure where to start, we can guide you through the steps to building revenue. If you’ve spent a few years building a brand and want to take the business to the next level, we can teach the skills to be a successful, creative business owner.

Client Spotlight: Baron Wolman

Baron Wolman, whose work is featured here, was there at the beginning of The Rolling Stone Magazine. Wolman’s lens captured the royalty of the ’60s pop and rock explosion: Janis Joplin, the Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, the Who, Jimi Hendrix, Joan Baez, Iggy Pop, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, the Grateful Dead, Phil Spector, Jim Morrison, Ike & Tina Turner, Tim Leary, and a motley cast of hangers-on.

Dickerman Prints is honored to work closely with this cultural icon. Below is a tiny sampling from his prolific career.

Dickerman Prints Gallery presents: Jan Tiura


jan tiura, photographer

Photographed from the unique and dynamic vantage point of a tugboat’s deck - Jan Tiura’s HULLS is an up-close character study of working vessels from around the world by the first female tugboat captain in San Francisco Bay history.

. . .

During a career that has spanned 35 years as a US Coast Guard-licensed tugboat captain, Jan Tiura has driven every type of tug from dinky single-screw tugs to towering pusher boats with enough horsepower to tow Alcatraz off its moorings.

From Tiura’s vantage point on her tugboat’s deck, lines, shapes and colors take on a painterly quality in her images. Through them, Tiura examines the intersection of form, function and the fury of the sea.

“Photographing from a working tug has allowed me to explore my fascination with vessels, a fascination which stems from a childhood spent living next to the sea and feeling its pull,” says Tiura. “Although I have photographed hulls throughout my maritime career, it was the advent of small, high-quality and consumer-grade digital cameras that finally allowed me to capture these images on the Bay while operating my tug.

HULLS was collaboratively prepared by Tiura and Seth Dickerman. Together, these two artists transformed a series of low-resolution files into large-format exhibition prints of the highest quality: a testament what one can create using modern photographic technology.

Seth Dickerman Owner and artist

Orchestrating Light: Seth Dickerman Talks About His Passion for Printmaking

Below is an interview between Seth Dickerman (lab founder) and Jon Wollenhaupt (client and award-winning photographer). The images that accompany the interview were a collaborative process between Jon and Seth.

"Seth Dickerman is a master manipulator of the wide spectrum of light densities that reflect off the surface of a photographic print and enter into our field of vision."

His singular intent in making prints is to bring out the best an image has to offer, which means giving an image the ability to hold our attention, to engage us, and to allow us to discover something about an image that is meaningful and significant.

Working from his shop in San Francisco’s SOMA district, Seth has printed the work of legendary figures like Dorothea Lange and renowned rock ‘roll photographers Ethan Russell, Jim Marshall, Bob Seideman, and others. He is also an accomplished photographer—is there a master printmaker who isn’t? Recently, he exhibited an attention-grabbing body of work titled “Currency,” which is a study of U.S. presidential portraits found on coins and bills. Seth refers to these images as “history books in disguise.” Read more about this work.

Seth is also a patient teacher and mentor to any level of photographer who comes into his studio to have prints made.

His website makes a welcoming offer to all who are passionate about photography and image making: “Our friendly staff loves to share their expertise and experience. Come in, load up your photos on a Mac workstation, sip on an organic espresso or tea, and let us help you create the perfect print.” In Godfather terms, this is an offer that no photographer should refuse.

I have spent countless hours at Dickerman Prints wired on the organic espresso while preparing for a portfolio review or an exhibition. I have gained tremendous insights from Seth about how to approach the editing and printing of my own work. Because I am extremely grateful for our working relationship, I am especially pleased to present the following interview I recently had with Seth.

Jon Wollenhaupt

JW:  When did you start Dickerman Prints?

Seth Dickerman: I moved from Pittsburgh to the Bay Area in 1995 and soon thereafter opened Dickerman Prints. My work was entirely analog. In 2007, Robyn Color, then San Francisco’s best photo lab, went of business. I purchased their digital printing equipment, which included a Polielettronica Laserlab, an amazing Italian printing machine. This printer makes Type ‘C’ photographic prints of astonishing quality from digital files. Purchasing that printer ended my nearly 40 years of conventional darkroom work. In August of 2012, we relocated to our current home in San Francisco’s SOMA district.


JW:  There are so many facets to creating a compelling, persuasive photograph. Most people are unaware of the complexities involved in making a high-quality print, which is an entirely separate and demanding skill set.

Seth Dickerman:  Yes. There’s so much more to it. You can make an infinitely variable range of prints from a single image. When I’m in nature out shooting, I’m very much in the moment, not thinking so much about what can I make out of it. My process is different in ways from Ansel Adams’ approach. He described previsualizing his print while exposing the film. I’m not that premeditated. In fact, my shooting is often ahead of my awareness of any specific concept or idea. I often respond to a scene I want to photograph, and then later, down the road, I realize that I was reacting subconsciously to something that illustrates my philosophy or an idea. Eventually, that point of view becomes more conscious.


JW: How did you come to do printing for the Oakland Museum [on the Dorothea Lange exhibition]?

Seth Dickerman: I had a long-time client, a wonderful photographer named Beth Yarnelle Edwards, who had a show at the museum. Through the photographs we printed for that show, the museum’s curator of photography, Drew Johnson, came to know me and my work.

Some years later, they were doing a show to commemorate the 50thanniversary of the Museum’s acquiring Dorothea Lange’s personal archive, which had been entrusted to them by her husband, Paul Taylor. I was asked to make a number of new prints of some of Lange’s best known images, which incredibly exciting. Because she’s been my hero since I was a lad. We might not even be having this conversation if I hadn’t been so excited by Dorothea Lange’s work when I was 12.

Making those prints was a real thrill – several of them were very large: 5 x 7 feet. Being able to print those pictures 50 years after my first encounter with her work was great. Some of the big ones were of things I grew up loving, like “Tractored Out,” “The Road West,” and “Crossroads Store.”


JW:  What process did you use to create those prints?

Seth Dickerman:  They’re archival pigment prints, which are also known as inkjet or giclee prints. I worked with digital files that were made, in most cases, directly from the original negatives. I increased the resolution of the files and painstakingly cleaned them up. I worked nights and weekends to get them perfect. It was a labor of love.

JW:  What other work have you done for the Oakland Museum?

Seth Dickerman:  In 2019 I printed the work of one of the greatest photographers most people have never heard of — Andrew J. Russell. He was a Civil War photographer but is better known for his documentation of the building of the Transcontinental Railroad. The museum had a show commemorating the 150th anniversary of the completion of the Transcontinental Railroad. They have the entire archive of the work Russell did for the Union Pacific Railroad, which is amazing. He shot wet plate collodion, a 19th century process that exposes the image on a big glass plate that is coated with a photographic emulsion and is about 11×14 inches. With that process, the image has to be exposed while it’s still wet, and then processed immediately.

Russell shot incredible landscapes with great steam locomotives, and train tracks, rivers, mountains, bridges, and, sometimes, hundreds of people. The detail of the images created by the wet plates is absolutely astonishing. Originally, these images could only be made as contact prints, the same size as the plates, a process that does not allow for much burning and dodging.

To make prints for the exhibition, the Oakland Museum scanned Russell’s original plates on a flatbed scanner, like making digital contact prints, and they sent me the digital files. It was amazing to open up those files and zoom in and see all the people – sometimes hundreds of them – in great detail, wearing vests, hats, sporting grand mustaches, there are soldiers with swords.

JW:  What sense of responsibility do you feel when you are making prints for photographers of that stature. What is your process to ensure you are respecting and preserving the original integrity of the photographer’s work?

Seth Dickerman:  I’m always on the side of the photographer. I try to get into their head and do what I think they would want me to do, which is to make a print that will hold the viewer’s attention, to make a print that will draw the viewer in, and to show the viewer all of the detail possible so they can learn as much as possible from the work.

Dorothea Lange had no inhibitions about manipulating her images in order to make them serve her purpose. She would crop and burn things way down. She did very interesting things to her prints to get the results that she wanted. Recently I made another set of prints of her work for the Oakland Museum’s permanent collection. While making those prints, I tried to respect her intent as I understand it.


JW:  What techniques do you use to create a printed image that engages the viewer and holds their attention?

Seth Dickerman: The techniques mainly involve what is referred to in the darkroom as dodging and burning, which is a way to locally manipulate the density and contrast, the lightness and darkness, in various places in the image. The difference in those densities is what draws your attention from one place to another. I’m very attuned to how the eye travels around an image, around a flat surface. I’ve been working my entire career to enhance and direct that flow of eye movement, which affects how you perceive an image. I want your eyes and your attention to stay on an image. I want to draw you into that image. Adjusting or manipulating those densities can make the surface of an image appear concave, rather than convex, which will also make it more likely you will be drawn into it. In general, you could say the eye is drawn to light and away from dark. Therefore, we can use those tendencies to guide the eye around very gently by darkening the viewer won’t go to the edge of a print and off the image. You want them to keep coming back in, circling around, like the way water circles around a drain. You want the viewer to be enveloped by the image yet drawn to the middle.

If I’m printing a landscape, for example, I’m thinking about making it look as three-dimensional as possible. I want it to work like the proscenium arch around the stage in a theater, that draws the audience’s view deep into the stage. Often, when preparing an image for printing, I feel like I’m turning it inside out because what’s in the middle — the subject — might be darker than what’s on the edges, which makes it difficult to keep the viewer’s attention. To get the most out of that type of image, I’ll open up, or lighten, the middle and darken the edges.

The things I strive for in an image are perspective, depth and volume. I replicate the darkroom techniques of dodging and burning using layers in Photoshop. The beauty of digital techniques is that you have much more control. I essentially print every square inch of an image. I don’t like to leave any information out.


JW:  Sounds like you’re orchestrating all these parts of the photo to create a whole.

Seth Dickerman:  Yes. That’s what Ansel Adams said: “The negative is the score, and the print is the performance.” I do a lot of orchestrating because I want all the parts to function together, to add up to more than the sum of their parts. But ultimately the hand of the editor should never be detected. It cannot look like you’ve manipulated the image. I might have burned down the corners, but that should not be obvious to the viewer. “Oh, he burned down the corners.”


JW:  Let’s talk about the difference between an image on a computer screen versus a printed image. You often speak about the emanating light of the screen versus the light reflected from the print surface.

Seth Dickerman:  There’s a huge difference between the two. When you’re looking at an image on a screen, the image itself becomes the light source, which is interesting, and also weird; the image is being blasted out at you via LEDs. It’s hard to look at a screen for a sustained period of time without feeling fatigued. More importantly, the screen simply cannot draw you in the way a print can. Looking at a printed image is a completely different experience.


JW:  You also do work for Ethan Russell and for the estate of Jim Marshall. How did that come about?

Seth Dickerman:  Ethan Russell is a great photographer. He has photographed the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, The Who and pretty much everybody. He had moved up here from LA and was looking for a new lab. He just wandered into our studio one day to check us out. He saw my big Sergeant Pepper logo on the wall, and we hit it off. We’ve been working with him for quite a while now, which is really fun. He shot the Beatles’ last portrait as a group, he was on the rooftop at Abbey Road. How cool is that?

We’ve also been working with the estate of Jim Marshall for a long time. Jim was the photographer who captured some of rock’s most iconic moments: Jimi Hendrix burning his guitar at Monterey Pop and Johnny Cash flipping the bird at San Quentin. A very colorful , character, he photographed everybody, and he got in really close.  We do get a kick out of printing Ethan and Jim’s work for sure.

But we love to print for everybody. We meet very interesting people! We have an amazing variety of customers with whom we love to work. My mission with all our clients is to exceed their expectations.  It can a family picture, a wedding picture or pretty much anything. We really like restoring old pictures especially. It’s very satisfying work.


JW:  Let’s talk about your work as a photographer. What you like to shoot, do you shoot film or digital, and what print process do you favor?

Seth Dickerman:  I became a professional printer because I was a photographer. I wanted to learn as much as I could about printing so I could produce my own work, which I still do. My work is primarily landscapes, I call them metamorphic landscapes. I shoot them with a Leica rangefinder camera, so I can watch the image unfold while the shutter is open. I take very long exposures because I’m interested in showing the fluidity and subjectivity of the experience. The long exposures also give more of an opportunity to ease the distinctions between earth, fire, water and air; day and night; stillness and motion.

I often shoot by moonlight or by twilight. In the case of moonlight, I shoot when you can’t see any color. At night, the rods in your eyes — the color-sensitive sensors — shut down if there isn’t enough light. But the sky is still blue and the grass is still green at night. I like to shoot that way. I also like to shoot during the day, using neutral-density filters. I do this because I’m interested in extending moments. Instead of freezing time I prefer to make it more elastic, to give a sense of time moving in a still photograph. I think of those images as little movies for the wall.

I also do large-format work.  A series of photographs of presidents on currency and coins – very large images made from very small originals – were shot on 4×5 black-and-white film. I’m getting ready to go back to shooting portraits on 8×10 film. I’m going back to 19th century technology, which I really enjoy. But then again, I’ll be printing them with 21st century technology.


JW:  I see a lot of interesting work these days that merges 19th century techniques and processes with modern digital techniques.

Seth Dickerman:  We are indeed seeing the confluence of digital and analog, which is fascinating. It took me a long time to come around to digital photography. I didn’t start until about 2007. Before then, I was strictly analog – as if I had wall of separation in my mind between analog and digital. When I saw that wall, I thought that having any walls in one’s mind is not good, and I got rid of it. So, then I began working in both worlds, but as I learned to better integrate them (analog and digital) it became one world for me eventually.


JW:  Do you have any exhibitions coming up? How can someone see some of your work?

Seth Dickerman:  They can go to my website or come visit the lab. I’m happy to show my work and that’s where I’ve got it. I have a couple of shows in mind, just to hang at the lab, but I have nothing on the calendar right now.  Read Seth’s Bio

Note from Seth regarding working with Jon Wollenhaupt

It’s always a pleasure to print with Jon. His work is multilayered, and visually very rich. The cityscapes are great fun to work on, as they provide great opportunity to play with the relationships of foreground and background, as well as middleground and reflected sky. There’s a lot to see there – they are simultaneously static and dynamic. We worked together to lighten and darken various parts of these images so that the eye gently moves around and within the entire photograph. There is an unusual tension between two dimensions and three. They hold one’s attention, and the attention is rewarded.

The portrait, Man with Cigar succeeds quite similarly, in terms of foreground/background and stillness and motion.  (This image was selected for the British Journal of Photography Short list of 200 and was published in Portrait of Humanity Vo. 2  - “200 photos that capture the changing face of our world.”)

More of Jon’s work can be found at: