Lith Prints of Paris

By Jim Hornsby

Kay Ramming’s photography was recently shown at Provence Bakery in Hillsboro Village, and the combination of tasty French pastries and Kay’s street scenes in Paris was like a mini-tour of the city itself. Kay has a keen eye for subject matter and composition, and there is a special glow to her work, a vintage quality that suggests Paris as it might have looked when Hemingway and Picasso strolled along those very streets. I wanted to know more, so I met Kay at Provence to talk.

J: How did you become a photographer?

K: I discovered photography while attending the University of Wisconsin. I tried a number of different art courses, but I got the most pleasure and fulfillment from photography.

J: Do you have any other hobbies?

K: Gardening. I am a Certified Master Gardener in the State of Washington. I haven’t gone through the process for certification in Tennessee because photography takes up so much of my time, but I work at Cheekwood, so I have the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful gardens there.

J: What is it about photography that holds your interest?

K: In addition to the adventure of capturing the images, I enjoy darkroom work. Developing prints from film negatives is especially rewarding as its own art form. I can remember the thrill I got the first time I saw one of my images appear on blank paper, and I still get that thrill today. Once I discovered Lith printing I was really hooked on film.

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Photos by Kay Ramming

J: What is Lith printing?

K: Lith printing is a unique darkroom developing process; it is more complex and time consuming than ordinary developing and allows for more individualized results. In Lith, the negative is typically over-exposed and the image is brought out gradually in a diluted developing solution. The resulting print has a warm-toned “old fashion” look; grainy with high contrast. I can vary the amount of time I expose the paper and the time it bathes in the developer, so each print becomes an individual work of art.

J: What kind of cameras do you use?

K: My favorite is a 35mm Nikon that I have used for many years, but I also have a cheap plastic Holga camera that I use when I am feeling especially adventuresome. The Holga is a very basic way to expose film, and I like the experimental quality of the results.

J: Digital photography being such a dominant format today, is it difficult to get film and supplies?

K: Finding film and supplies isn’t as convenient as it used to be, but they are still available. The variety is better by mail order, so I usually get mine from Los Angeles. Finding a good film processer is more difficult. I send my exposed film away to Seattle to have the negatives processed. Film photography is considered an “alternative” process these days, but there are quite a few of us around, so the few places that still work with film do a pretty good business.

J: What is it about Paris that inspires your photography?

K: I love Paris, and a photographer couldn’t ask for a more beautiful subject. I’ve been there twice and I hope to go back in the spring. I have traveled to England, Germany and Switzerland, and I have a number of photographs from those places, but I am hooked on France; my photo collection of the sights there keeps on growing. I like street photography, everyday people and scenes that catch my interest, and Paris provides a new delight around every corner.

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