Alt processes help.

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Hannahtephoto, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. Hannahtephoto

    Hannahtephoto Member

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    Hi everyone. Firstly I would like to say Hello, Im Hannah and im new. Im a student studying in my final, very scary year of university.
    As part of my dissertation I am experimenting with cyanotypes and gum printing, with the later not quite going so well, but I will persevere.
    I am also here to ask a very, very big favour from anyone willing to help out, which would include answering some questions that will help with the research needed to write a half decent essay, and as alt processes are hard to find nowadays I would like to come to the people experimenting and loving the processes themselves.
    the questions are as follows:
    1. What processes have you explored and which is your favourite?
    2. Why did you start alternative printing?
    3. Although alternative printing is now a niche market, do you think it has a place in todays digital age?

    any answers are so greatly appreciated!!
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    1 -- cyanotype, brown, salt, gum, platinum & palladium, image transfer (Polaroid)...favorite: carbon
    2 -- self-expression, the love of the hand-made print, not being tied to the whims of a silver gelatin paper manufacturer
    3 -- people with digital cameras or small/medium format cameras, or even tiny 4x5's, can now make enlarged digital negatives, yet produce hand-made prints in many different processes.
     
  3. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    1. Van dyke brown, platinum & palladium a little, Kallitype, gravure many years ago a lot, photo litho (on stones) many years ago. Now I only print kallitypes and carbon transfer.
    2. After years of working with gelatin silver prints, I felt something was missing. Now I feel that I am more in control of the process, especially carbon transfer printing. Carbon transfer printing takes my work to a whole different level.
    3. Yes.
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    1. hand made emulsion, liquid emulsion, glass+ metal silver gelatin images, cyanotypes, hand painted cyanotypes, silver image making, lumen printing, retina prints,aper negatives ... paper negatives+ liquid emulsions

    2. because i was bored and college ran out of photo classes so i needed to teach myself something

    3. using digital materials and technology together with alt process is fun, whats not to like
     
  5. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    cyanotype;platinum/palladium;pop colloidion; salt
    to cover my butt as the materials we love disappear...having great latitude as far as surfaces go
    digital or analog..it's the print that matters..just go for it Hannah!!
    oh yes have fun; you are now converging with the sun and the moon and the stars
    Best, peter
     
  6. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    What: Polaroid emulsion lifts & transfers, cyanotypes, kallitypes, tintypes, Lith.
    Favorite: Palladium process for its nice warmtones.
    Why: pt/pd process is really a pleasure to work with in the darkroom. Also some images need the glossy pop of silver gelatin; but some really look better with the smooth tones & hand-made appearance of pt/pd.
    Future: In an homogenized age where everything is looking the same, a hand-made print really stands out in a gallery setting when surrounded by inkjet and even silver gelatin prints. I think we're experiencing a time similar to the Arts & Crafts Movement of late 19th century which was a reaction to the machine age (now the digital age). We are exploring the potentials of processes that were used all too briefly in the past (see Lykle Rexar's Antiquarian Avant-Garde).
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Processes: Platinum/Palladium, Gum bichromate, occasionally others. Platinum/palladium is by far the favorite.
    Why: back a number of years ago, there was a big scare that Ilford might go out of business, and Kodak had stopped making black-and-white papers. I didn't want to be beholden to a manufacturer to keep producing images with the tools that I loved using, so I decided to teach myself how to work in alternative processes.
    Alt processes may be a "niche market" but if anything it is a booming, growing market. As others have mentioned, it is gaining artistic practice market share in reaction to the over-mechanized, virtualized world of digital photography. I think for a lot of people, having a physical object to hold in their hands (and that they made with them) instead of look at on a computer screen is a very important factor in why they work in alternative processes. The irony in this reaction is that digital technologies make this democratization of alt processes possible - before, you had to shoot large format or make an enlarged wet-process negative to make alt-process prints. Now you can make a digitally enlarged negative from just about anything, even your camera phone, and print away.
     
  8. Hannahtephoto

    Hannahtephoto Member

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    wow! thank you all for such great replies! its really good for me to be reading about the passion you guys have about alternative processes and I hope to hear a lot more opinion. It is great to hear from likeminded people that love to create their own prints by hand and want to stand out from the crowd of digital printers that are over taking the craft that had to be used that made photography what it is today. Thank you everyone for taking the time to write down your thoughts and experience for me!
     
  9. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    1. Photogenic drawing, VDB, Anthotypes.
    2. Interested in the images they may produce.
    3. Of course.
     
  10. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Hannah - Are you studying at Norwich University of the Arts by any chance ?

    If you are, I can set aside a few hours for coffee and chat.
     
  11. dorff

    dorff Member

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    +1. Hand-made has never been more highly valued, in every form: Photography, woodwork, sewing/knitting, jewellery and metalwork, you name it. And for precisely the reasons you mention.
     
  12. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    1. PT/PD, Carbon, Oil printing, Albumen, Cyanotype, VanDyke, Wet Plate...favorite is Carbon.
    2. Dissatisfaction with all BW images looking so similar.
    3. I think it's more relevant in the digital age. You can do digital negatives, making the processes much more controllable and easy for most, but most of all, now that all it takes is a click of a button to make a 'print', doing alt process is a way to distinguish one's work as original, one-of-a-type, and part of a mastery of technique.
     
  13. dorff

    dorff Member

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    1. I have so far done VDB, Cyanotype (original formula) and have started with gum bichromate, but also find it quite tricky like you. More on that later. I am getting Cyanotype II up and running as well. Have also done paper negatives, not sure if that counts as alternative process.
    2. I was really impressed with the work of alternative printers on exhibition etc. Plus, I'm a chemical engineer, and like working with chemicals. It seemed like a good idea to bring photography and alchemy together.
    3. See what TheFlyingCamera wrote - I cannot put it more eloquently. I do want to add, that the medium alone does not make the craft into art. The image must still be convincing in its own right. But bring the right image and medium and technique together, and one can have something that is really magical. A convincing factor for analogue in general, and alternative printing in particular, is that it offers ways of image making without having to resort to computers. I work in front of a computer all day long, so being able to ply my craft not having to use a computer offers me the escapism and tactility that is missing from the digital medium.

    About gum bichromates: Are you doing single-print gums or multiple-layers (tri-chromates or such)? My early failures were mostly related to inadequate preparation of the paper. You HAVE to coat it with gelatin first, otherwise the pigment will bond with the paper fibers, and no amount of soaking will get the last unwanted bits of pigment out. I would guess you know how to, but if not, you basically coat the paper with a gelatine emulsion, harden it with an aldehyde (formaldehyde, glyoxal etc), and the leave it to dry before applying your pigment emulsion. If you want to do multi-layer printing, you have to subject the paper to a full wet/dry cycle first so that it can shrink to its final size. Otherwise, you may have difficulty getting registration between the different negatives. Choosing the right pigments for trichromates is also tricky. Generally the higher the quality and longevity you desire, the better the product you have to use. I know of at least one website where the sunlight-stability of aquarelle pigments is explored, and it is well worth reading for the sake of gum printing. Finally, I am still using sunlight exposure. The UV-printer is on my to-do-list for this year. Sunlight is somewhat inconsistent, and makes for fun but unpredictability. Its UV content also fluctuates widely depending on season, altitude and latitude. So you have to basically do test prints for every print run, and adjust when the lighting changes. If you are serious about alternative printing, then you have no choice but to invest in a proper UV-printer.
     
  14. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    1. So far only gum, cyanotypes, and Mordançage. The last is my favorite.
    2. I wanted to try something different. AKA - it was there
    3. Sure, everything can coexist. If you do something well, how you do it matters more to you than to the general public (as much as we might wish it to be different). Creating something that's one of a kind is perhaps even more important in this time.