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An article about Anna Ostanina in the Italian magazine "Classic Camera"   July 13, 2019

The Italian magazine "Classic Camera" published an article about Anna Ostanina, in which she talks about gumoil printing method. Many thanks to Alberto Novo for such work!

Anna Ostanina is a photographer from St. Petersburg who made herself known a few years ago for short and captivating videos, initially published on Facebook and later also on Youtube, showing a part of the "development" of a Gumoil print. In a short time he not only brought back a relatively new technique which had had little success and practicizers, but she also gained the reputation of being the best interpreter of this technique.

You graduated in economics. Why did you choose photography?

 Economic studies are often the guarantee of a good job, or they can give you the basis to start a business. This, when you love your profession, otherwise it is better to do something else. What one learns in higher studies is the ability to learn, so one acquires the tools to devote oneself to what really matters.

I also studied design, graduated from a photography school and learned to draw. My uncle was a talented sculptor and worked with one of the most famous Russian sculptors; my grandmother was a chemical researcher My father loved photography and as a child I remember the magic of his darkroom.

So you can understand where my passion for printing and photography comes from, it's a matter of genetics.

How did you discover alternative techniques? Was it a photo or a photographer that triggered your curiosity to learn more?

I have a long experience in darkroom printing and have always loved experimenting. I studied the technique of multiexposure printing, painted prints, made monotypes with inks, learned how to lift the emulsion from the prints.

 I've also studied the work of several photographers, but it's hard for me to name a specific name. I can tell you that I am interested in any technique different from classical photography.

Did you experiment other visual arts?

I tried to draw, but I am not talented; in these cases photography is a way out.

What captivates you about alternative techniques? The uniqueness of the work, its permanence in time, the expressive freedom it grants?

What is wonderful about alternative techniques it is the opportunity to experiment. Each work is unique and bears the mark of its creator. We don't know what exactly it is, but there is.

These techniques do not set limits, everyone creates his own work and offers it to the viewer.

Before the Gumoil technique, did you experiment with other alternative techniques?

 In 2011 I made bromoil, cyanotype, VanDyke and the results were average. But I wanted to get more impactful prints. In 2012 I started experimenting with the gumoil printing technique and immediately got good results. It seemed to me a sign of destiny and since then I have continued to study this process.

Gumoil is a technique invented by Karl Koenig in 1990. Despite the two editions of his manual, this method is poorly known even by photographers of alternative techniques. For what reasons did you choose it?

I literally fell in love with this method of printing, I consider it a discovery of our times. The more the photography spreads, the more difficult it is for an artist to affirm his own original style.

This method has a specificity; while to print a classic photograph you need a negative, the Gumoil requires a positive; you can therefore use a digital camera, from which the modernity of this technique, but the end result is a print with oil colors on cotton paper. Is not it fantastic?

 I know at least five ways to get a Gumoil in a completely analog way, that is without using digital cameras, but generally I don't use them. This method of printing is fascinating precisely because of its ability to fuse old technology and new technology together.

Most of your prints are in large format, it seems to me 70x100 cm. Is it a technical choice or a commercial issue?

This printing method requires large dimensions. The oil color entering the paper creates reliefs; on small prints it is impossible to get quality details.

This is also why it is difficult to print Gumoil completely analogically; it is necessary to make a contact print from a large negative.

You have a FB page with very nice pictures of greyhounds in the studio. Is it an affective question, or something more?

My mother raises greyhounds, which live in our home. Sometimes I take breaks in my work and relax by taking pictures of these animals.

I have some friends who had to give up this process because they were unable to get satisfactory results. On your site you talk about the Somerset and Stonehenge papes, maybe your good results also depend on the choice of the paper?

I have tried many types of papers, Arches, Canson, Fabriano, Hahnemühle and other. With the Somersets and Stonehenges I got the best results, with the others the quality is lower. Everything depends on which print you want to get. I have successfully tested the Gumoil technique also on wood and fabric.

Not only the paper, also the choice of oil colors is important; for me the best are the Maimeri. I tried many others, even mixing the colors for offset with oil, but it was just a waste of time. But this is about me, it might be different for you.

© Anna Ostanina 2016