Alternative color processes.

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by RoBBo, Jun 12, 2007.

  1. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    I don't even know where to start looking on this one.
    If there's anything possible, I'd like to try some alternative color processes, besides RA-4 and Ciba.
    I don't know what there is or how terrifying the chemistry would be...
    Are there any old color processes worth trying out?
    Or does everything involving color mean mass produced paper and chemistry with big ol' machines and all that?
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    You can try making color separation negatives with black-and-white film and making carbon/carbro prints. They're VERY labor intensive, but they're also the most archival and permanent color prints you can make. You're supposed to do it with three colors, but it can be done with two. Look up Edwin Land's work on color printing for more information.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Multilayer gum prints are also beautiful and allow for a wide range of effects.

    Bromoil is another possibility.

    There are also easier processes that can also be interesting like hand coloring of B&W prints or Polaroid transfers and lifts.
     
  4. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    I really like toning, including of lith prints, as a pseudo-color option. There are some phenomenal B&W prints that for all the world look like full color because of split toning effects. Lith printing is easy as can be as well, in fact it may even be easier than regular silver B&W printing.
     
  5. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

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    You can certainly do even conventional (C-41, E-6, RA-4, Ilfochrome) color processing yourself. Kodachrome (K-14) would be a challenge, though.

    In addition to the odd processes already mentioned, there are unusual things you can do with the standard processes. Cross-processing comes to mind -- running E-6 slide film through C-41 chemistry or vice-versa is one fairly popular oddball process. Another thing to try is RA-4 reversal processing: Expose RA-4 color paper, develop it in a conventional B&W paper developer (such as Dektol), expose it to light, and then run it through the conventional RA-4 process. You can use this process to create relatively normal-color prints from slides or negative images from conventionally-processed negatives. Images from slides tend to be high in contrast and colors can be a bit odd, but this works for some shots. Results vary greatly depending on the paper and B&W developer you use. I've also heard of people using RA-4 paper in large format cameras and processing it in this way to get prints directly. Another thing to try is printing slides on RA-4 paper and processing them normally to get a negative image.
     
  6. RoBBo

    RoBBo Member

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    I think Scott and David hit the nail on the head with what I'm looking for.
    I'll look into those processes.
    Thanks a ton guys.
     
  7. nze

    nze Member

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  8. argus

    argus Member

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  9. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    More tricolor gum

    Don't forget Keith Taylor, the master of impeccably gorgeous tricolor gum printing, who prints for Cy deCosse. You can see the prints in the current show here:

    http://www.johnstevenson-gallery.com/gallery.html


    Katharine Thayer
     
  10. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    Mastering gum printing is incredibly difficult. I've never attempt to make tri color gum prints, myself. I would expect it to take alot of work.

    I use gum for placing colors of my choice in certain areas of the image and for making color images that are not really color accurate.

    Is there a free source of information that describes getting good accurate tri color gum prints? When I was looking into it there was this guy who figured it out but he wouldn't tell anyone how to do it unless you paid him a couple grand or something. I can't remember his name, is it one of the links listed here?
     
  11. donbga

    donbga Member

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    You are perhaps speaking of Stephen Livick.

    http://www.livick.com/

    He used to sell a book but I believe it is out of print now.

    Also you may wish to have a look at Keith Taylor's web site for some intresting information:

    http://www.keithtaylorphoto.com/

    Gum printing is impossible to learn and does take practice, perfecting the process is another issue. As one gum printer I know said, 'There are no rules in gum printing'. That's sounds a bit contradictory until one starts practicing gum for a while.
     
  12. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Hmm, I can't think who that would be. Don suggested Stephen Livick, but to my recollection, Stephen Livick hasn't been that stingy with information, has he? He gave an online course in gum printing through Bostick and Sullivan several years ago (was there a fee charged for that? I don't remember) and I think his website includes an illustrated tutorial on printing tricolor gum. I've disagreed with many of the categorical pronouncements he's made about gum, but I'm not sure it would be fair to say he's not been open about his methods.

    I've had a web page on tricolor gum in the works for over a year now, but I've moved twice in that time and spent considerable time between the moves looking for a house, as well as being sick a lot, so I haven't made much progress on that project; it's still sitting on the back burner. But hopefully once I get unpacked and settled and rested, I can finish that.

    Here's a brief preview: the introduction to my page on achieving color accuracy will say that it's not that difficult to achieve "good-enough" color accuracy using a variety of three-pigment combinations. Our eyes and brains have a remarkable tendency to read any color representation as an accurate representation, as long as it retains the relative hue relationships and tonal relationships of the original image. If what should be green is green, if what should be blue is blue, etc, and if the tonal relationships are proportional to the original, our eyes and brains say that's a good enough representation. However, if instead of relative color accuracy, the goal is absolute color accuracy where every color in the representation is an *exact* match of the color in the original image, that's an incredibly difficult task to achieve in tricolor gum, as I discovered when I started testing different color combinations to try to find the "best" pigment combination for color accuracy. But I'll save the rest of that discussion for my web page. In the meantime, I'd refer people to handprint.com, because Bruce MacEvoy has some good insights about this which are consistent with my own observations.

    Katharine
     
  13. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    Sandy King has a series of articles in Magnachrom magazine on Carbon printing which mentions colour carbon prints. www.magnachrom.com - you have to register, but it's free.

    His articles tipped me off to Pictoform in Göteborg Sweden. They tend towards an interpretive rather than an accurate colour palette, but they have nice examples of colour carbon and colour gum prints on their website: www.pictoform.nu
     
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  15. Harrigan

    Harrigan Member

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    My point being to the person who asked about alt color is that you can't just jump right in and start making good color accurate gum prints. It is very difficult and even finding the correct info on how to do it can be a daunting task. While this has never been my goal I have never come across a good description of the tri color process anywhere. Standard gum printing isn't as difficult but getting good gum prints takes alot of work and trial and error.

    Suffice to say in the time it takes me to make one gum print I can make perhaps 10 platinum prints or more.

    I have no idea on carbon prints but this also looks to be very labor intensive. Andrew Glover describes it humorously as a process for the unemployed or the idle rich.
     
  16. donbga

    donbga Member

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    There are still two openings in my tri-color gum workshop being held July 20 - 22 at the Spruill Art Center here in Atlanta. Come on down and I can get you off to a good start making tri-color gums! :smile: It's not that difficult.
     
  17. Katharine Thayer

    Katharine Thayer Member

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    Thanks for mentioning that; I love Chia's gum work, and enjoyed seeing more of it.

    And it was also interesting to see their color work that was printed from older black and white negatives, using probably the selective method mentioned by Harrigan earlier.

    I personally prefer using color to achieve a muted, unsaturated effect or an arbitrary color balance to attempting to reproduce color accurately; it's only because people often ask me how to get an exactly accurate color balance in tricolor gum that I got curious and started doing these tests.

    But looking at Hans and Chia's site, where they offer printing services in "four-color" gum, reminds me again what I told the original poster in a private message the other night: pretty much without exception those of us who work in color alternative processes make our color separations digitally, output to imagesetter or to inkjet printer (and I believe that includes all of the links that were provided here, except for the link to the French site where the person is making analog separations and hoping eventually to make gum prints from them but hasn't actually done that yet). I can only think of a couple of people I know of who have done three-color gum from incamera separations using filters, and as far as I know, they did it only once or twice out of curiousity; the bulk of their work is done with digital separations.
    Katharine
     
  18. Struan Gray

    Struan Gray Member

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    My wife's great uncle Wilfred was a fine art book printer, and among other things was responsible for the subscribers' edition of T.E.Lawrence's "Seven Pillars of Wisdom". Family legend has it that for every penny he earned printing books, he lost two trying to do four colour gum printing on a commercial basis. :smile:

    I haven't seen the Pictoform work in person, but it's another reason to visit Göteborg sometime soon. I was particuarly intrigued by the carbon prints on glass.

    Personally, I have always loved intaglio prints, so I suspect my own form of hybrid impurity will take the form of colour polymer gravure. First though, I have to see to my seeing.
     
  19. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    I've only tried a little bit so far, but I've been trying to make color gum prints without using tricolor separation. I do a light colored monochrome layer to start. Then I use differential color gum to paint in different parts of the scene once I have a visible base image. I'll do as many coatings as necessary to evoke a full color image.
     
  20. Salmonoid

    Salmonoid Member

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    What about dye transfer? Is this archival process still an option? When I was a kid, I had the dream of making dye transfers but never took a stab at it due to the expense. The process requires making three registered separation negatives.
     
  21. dyetransfer

    dyetransfer Member

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    Dye Transfer is still being done today by several individuals. We have worked to revive the process since Kodak dumped it several years ago. I have developed a workable matrix film, and we have had it produced in Croatia by Fotokemika. I make prints in dye on a regular basis, up to 30x40" in size. Please visit the site: www.dyetransfer.org to find out more about the process. Regards - Jim Browning
     
  22. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Friedman has published "The History of Color Photography" with many examples of alternative color photography. In addition, Leadly and Stegmeyer published a small book on color processes available in the mid 1900s.

    Jim Browning's dye transfers are superb. Ctein is also making beautiful dye transfers. Jim does them from slides, while Ctein does them from negatives.

    PE
     
  23. z-man

    z-man Member

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    3 COLOR PRINTING BY GUM

    please excuse me for resurecting this thread-but i think maybe you have all missed some things

    1. color separation by in camera negs or digital requires that you know what you are doing and where you are going

    other wise you are re-inventing the wheel and generaly you get wheels that don't roll

    any tech school training for pre-press before the desktop revolution could turn out people with the theory and knowledge

    running a 60x60 0r 30x30 flatbed and haveing to turn out the negs to keep a busy commercial printer on schedual for a couple of 10 yrs will give you the practical end

    remember that each 4/color needs 4 negs-cymk and each neg may need 3 exps-main, shadow flash, and highlight bump

    this kind of experience is directly applicable to all so called alt process "art" photography since these processes are in fact what is in use every day in any form of printing-screen, offset, litho, gravure etc, and these were at one time what was main stream photography

    so if you ask somebody who knows you might get an answer-IF YOU CAN GET DOWN ON THE GROUND AND OUT OF THE FANTASY DAYDREAMS LONG ENUF TO LISTEN

    pre-press- 4/c strippers, plate makers, camera operators etc all are working all day long every day with the standardized materials that were once consumer products for the photo trade and are now available to any one who knows what to ask for-BUT NOT AT THE PHOTO STORE SINCE TIME MARCHES ON AND NEW REPLACES OLD BUT NOT CAUSE ITS BETTER

    the point of this rant is that a 4 or 3 color print is a printing process and not 'photography' and color theory and its practical application is easy to get if you WORK at it BUT YOU MUST START FROM THE POINT OF SUCCESS

    ***get a pocket "printers pal" and the chapter on in camera color seps will start you from a proven place of success***

    if you can ignore all the blahblogery that sells the software and hardware that must be updated every 6 mos you can get results from your pc that will also work

    2. the inter-action of pigments with emulsion and sensitisers is so complex that if you don't start with a proven, standardized combination; or if you change anything and sub a new supplier etc you will get lost immediatly

    standardization is very difficult with gum arabic

    solution: DON'T USE GUM ARABIC ; OR IF YOU MUST, BUY A STANDARD COMERCIAL SOLUTION WHICH TAKES SOME OF THE VARIABILITY OUT OF THE MIX

    EX: saul the coffee man, in costa rica, sells some gelatine and/or gum granules that you can mix up yourself and since he is also a world class artist you know that it will work

    there are plenty of other substances that you can use instead of gum arabic and you can buy them in the 99cent store

    "there are no rules in gum printing" really means that you never knew the rules and you don't have the skills and craft-any high school chemistry class will give you all the tools you need to be able to repeat success, even if you failed chemistry class

    in 1976 i was the " tech" at the art dept of a college in a major university-that meant that while i taught the large format photo class, the tenured head of the photo dept got the very nice salary-so i went commercial and never looked back

    i was a "commercial artist" and a"photomechanical artist" and a "commercial photographer" and i also was hung in juried shows

    my day job was in the adv biz and at home i created "fine art" but now i am 100% dis-abled

    please feel free to avail yourselves of my experience

    vaya con dios
     
  24. AgX

    AgX Member

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    z-man

    Photography and printing have been strongly connected over the history of photography and generations of photographers have employed techniques which fall under printing techniques and were not advised to go to a printer instead.

    Many photographers used several imbibition processes over history employing only three colours.
     
  25. z-man

    z-man Member

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    "photography" and printing by press and or litho stone or photogravure or photosilkscreen are of course 2 sides of the same coin

    my point is that a process camera operator could(and this one does) produce 3 color pigment prints , or mag +yelo over cyanotype or 6 color or what ever with complete consistency while asleep standing on his/her head

    since the photomechanical processes and mediums continued to develope technically in the printing trades , the attempt by fine art types to duplicate past processes are re-inventing the wheel since what was everyday in the store supplies 100 yrs ago are of course no longer there

    those emulsions and chemestries and techniques survive today in the printing industry with the modern equivilents of the old ingrediants

    if i know how to separate a full color subject into a cyan, yelo, magenta and black printer(neg) and if i know how to finese each separate neg with a main, shadow and highlight exp and i know the properties of pigment inks and how they behave when suspended in sensistized emulsions---

    how can a simple 3 color gum print be a big mystery?????

    of course if you don't know the simple mechanics of pin registration of multiple negs and overlays and compositing in a vacuum frame with, say, 10 separate negs---

    then i guess that eyeballing 3 negs into regestration and taping them down so as to get consistnt prints would be an overwhelming task that could only be accomplished by supernatural beings in mythical tales of old-right???????

    a digital photographer who prints out via an inkjet is actually a "printer" since that inkjet is actually haltoning the images ,and, since they were captured via a digital camera were never actually continuous tone at all, so rightly they are not photography

    but any continous tone "photographic" print must be converted to some type of "printing process" to be published unless you are only going on the web

    if a "photographer" would learn just the basics of any printing process, then any of the "alt processes" become transparent in technique
     
  26. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    What are they?
    juan