Photo Manipulation Before Photoshop
By Howard M. Christopherson

Early in the 1980’s Howard M. Christopherson was working with collaborators on a project for years. Night Dance was described as an Abstract Romantic Tragedy. The end result would be a 29-minute video created with a small team of musicians and technicians. . It was made by animating 850 35mm color slides with a unique musical composition soundtrack.

Night Dance Invite

It was during the editing process for Night Dance that Howard stumbled on to an idea when a 35mm slide of an automobile that was being projected melted in the center when the cooling fan in the projector over heated. “Seeing the image of the back of car that I had photographed. It was the Death Car in the video and the original slide melted causing a melted hole appear in the center of the car. “My eyes almost popped out of my head! This was the start of how I made my photographs enter a manipulated or altered reality. Night Dance after all was a dream, and now I had ways to alter each image.”

Night Dance Photo at show

After the completion of Night Dance in 1985 Christopherson discovered Cibachrome. This was the arguably the best quality of color print paper. The glossy material was really not a paper at all it was a thin very glossy plastic material. It printed directly from a color slide without the need of a negative. It was known to be very stable with a very long resistant to fade. The vivid colors saturated with almost no visible grain. Cibachrome became Cibachrome/Ilfochrome before ending production completely in 2011 because of digital photography.

Howard had his first one-person show, Civilized Dreams, at the Jon Oulman Gallery in Downtown Minneapolis 04-1986. Some images are from this period.

Show Entry

Howard had been working with several other art materials for years. Drawing with pen and ink sometimes so minutely detailed he would use a large magnifying glass to draw with. After renting a large studio space in downtown Minneapolis he turned his attention to oil painting.

The studio building in downtown was slated for the wrecking ball to make way for the Target Center’s parking lot. Howard found studio space in NE Minneapolis and returned to “Merging” his skills of drawing and painting with photography resulting in 3 exhibits at what would become ICEBOX STUDIO and Later ICEBOX GALLERY at 24th and Central, NE, Minneapolis. Howard’s first solo show was “Home” 03-1990 followed by “In the Sand”01-1991 and “Under the Sun” 09-1992.

Icebox Exhibit

The Cibachrome prints in this show date from the Mid 1980s until circa 1994.

In the earliest work Christopherson used collage by melting some images together using a filed down soldering tool, glue and colored dyes. As time went on the images became less scratched and melted relying more and more on color enhancement of a single image.  “In the Sand” all the images where exposed in one evening as the sunset in Navaho Lands Arizona. Howard was inspired to use his fingers to draw in the sand images he felt at those moments. Some showed conflict and some are mysterious faces half caused by what was there. Many compositions are half drawn in the sand catching light on the ridges formed. At the same time each is connected to the existing shadows, natural patterns, tire tracks, and the plants.

Merged exhibit Icebox

Howard had always photographed his surroundings starting with family cameras as a young kid. In 11th grade Howard spent ½ the school day at Hennepin Vocational Campus in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. One semester he took graphic arts and printing. Midway he opted out and changed learning Mass Media. It was here Howard first learned about quality cameras and the differences in film.  He learned how to use the darkroom, 8mm sound cameras that had just come out, early video and the entire array of interchangeable lens that attach to a 35mm Camera.

Christopherson Statement from the 1980s

When living in Monterey California in the late 1970s Howard attended Monterey Peninsula College studying Art History, Horticulture and Photography

Show title: MERGED, Photo Manipulation before Photoshop
By Howard M. Christopherson

Artist Talk and Showings of Night Dance, 29 minute video.

Opening Night 8:00PM


Artist Talk four times during Art-A-Whirl
Friday            8:00PM
Saturday        3:00PM & 6:00PM
Sunday           3:00 PM

Daily Gallery Open by Reservation
Same day reservations often possible


Merged Art Materials


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