Which process to start with?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by jlsmackenzie, Jul 7, 2006.

  1. jlsmackenzie

    jlsmackenzie Member

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    Hi, I am new to all alt processes. I have alway been very fascinated with many of the alternative process. So earlier this month i started on my UV box. Now that I have completed building by UV Box, I feel I am ready to get started exploring this area of photography.

    So my question now is, what is the the best alternative process for a newbie to get stared with?
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    cyanotype is a very forgiving process to begin with. the chemistry is fairly straight-forward, inexpensive and there are plenty of options for experimenting. the ability to expose by inspection provides a nice 'security blanket'.
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Cyanotypes are easy and cheap- however, like many alt processes, you really need to tailor your negative to the Cyanotype process if you want to produce a good image in this medium. For something a little easier to visualize the result, I'd suggest something like Van Dyke Brown. I think a wider range of original images will work in Van Dyke than will work in Cyanotype, just because of the strong blue color not lending itself to as many subjects.

    I got my start with platinum/palladium as an alt process. The only thing really difficult is the price tag. If you can bear to spend the money, and are willing/able to be careful with your materials, you'll do just fine with pt/pd. The controls are fairly simple, but can yield an infinite variation in tones and textures.
     
  4. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

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    I would second starting with cyanotype. My favorite paper for cyanotypes is Strathmore Drawing 400. Also, cyanotype solution lasts for a long while. I've had mine for about three years and it still works fine. I've recently started printing van dykes, although my success with these isn't so great. Beautiful when they do come out right though.
     
  5. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    Start with the process you're most interested in. If you want to do pt/pd and value your time, don't bother with Cyanos. If you print with all palladium or mostly palladium, the cost is really very reasonable. You can practice coating paper using water with a little food coloring added.
     
  6. jlsmackenzie

    jlsmackenzie Member

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    I shoot mainly landscapes. So, I was thinking I might start with Van Dykes. I think that process would suit my images quite well. I would love to get into platinum/palladium prints but the price is a bit too much for me right now. But I do hope to get into platinum/palladium prints once my finance allow it.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Jera,

    I'm with Kerik. What gives you the results you like most? Before I started alternative processes, I'd seen a lot of Van Dyke/Argyrotype/silver-iron prints I liked; some salt print and platinum; and comparatively few cyanotypes or gum bichromates. So I put more effort into the processes I liked most.

    Then there's POP, which I regard as barely alternative at all, and love.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  8. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Color seems to be an alternative process around here. :D
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

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    You could get the identical look of pallaidum with palladium toned kallitype. Whenever I travel with images I take a couple of comparative prints made with both processes, using the same negative, and there is no one to tell them apart.

    Pros and Cons?

    Stability -- About same both way. When you tone a kallitype with palladium you replace a very high percentage of the silver metal in the image with palladium metal, so the end result is virtually identical in composition, regardless of how you begin the process. If you have any doubt about this, just bleach a kallitype toned with pallaidum and see what happens.

    Ease of Operation -- Slight advantage to palladium because of fewer steps, but since kallitype prints faster there will be an advantage of total time of processing with some negatives.

    Cost -- Can vary at lot, depending on choice of paper and quanity of purchase of pallaidum metal. However, by in my experience, giving every advantage to palladium, a palladium toned kallitype on most paper surfaces will cost only 1/4 to 1/2 of a straight pallaidum. And I am basing this cost on purchase of palladium metal in quantity, which I do, so that metal prices are rock bottom.

    But this is not an either/or situation. Basiclally, since straight pallaidium and pallaidum toned kallitypes are virtually identical, and the materials and methods also virtually identical, beginning with kallitype is a very valid way to learn to make pallaidum prints at a much lower entry rate than if you start with straight pallaidum. The papers you use are the same, method of coating is the same, effects of temperature and humidity the same, etc. etc. etc.

    And eventually, even if choose to make only straight palladium prints for sell or exhibition, you can use palladium toned kallitype to proof at much lower cost. This really makes a lot of sense with large prints.

    Sandy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 8, 2006
  10. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    I really like Ziatypes. The kit is cheap enough and the look can be changed from warm to cold and you can get split tones. I prefer using the sun as a UV source which works here in FL as I can even burn in and dodge my prints. Humidity needs to be controlled, but so does temps in standard developing so it's doable and not that bad unless your in the desert. Post processing is stupid simple. Water to stop development, citric acid to clear, water to rinse. Matched prints would be hard, but everything Zia is a real one off.
     
  11. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I feel like I just now getting into it......so here is a relative beginner's experience thusfar.....Cyanotype is easy and cheap, but it is blue. I like it for some images, but not too many. Then, I tried Van dyke. Van Dyke is just as easy as cyanotype (e.g. still a printing out process) and still inexpensive. I did them both as straight prints and gold toned (gold toning adds maybe a dolar per print). I wish I'd started with VanDyke. I'll be trying palladium toned kallitype soon now that I feel more comfortable with the whole process.

    Have fun -- Mark
     
  12. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    I can't tell ya

    As the brothers Isley once crooned:

    "It's your thang. Do what ya wanna do."

    :cool:

    Joe
     
  13. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Well, guess I could relate how I started (and still feel the novice at it). First pass was with Ziatypes (see Bostick & Sullivan) a POP process using palladium. Did this using the sun as a light source (not recommended, unless unsure of continuation of other alt process). Built a UV Box, yeah!!! could print anytime and was much more reliable. Then started with VDB, these were fun and toned in LiPd or KRST some came out quite nice, but not the look I wanted. Bit the bullet and started palladium (see Kerik's comment above - it really is not that expensive) and seem quite happy with them.

    I still do Zia's, they have there place (great to get those different color's). Depending on the humidity where you live, they are a fun process (like Wayne said). Sandy's point about the kallitype is also something to consider...just have not made it to that process yet. Best advice I can offer is try the process that interest you, I found learning with 4x5 negatives saved paper and chemistry so consider that, and most of all get some GOOD paper for the process you intend to learn. Read everything you can (if you do go with VDB, be aware that the hypo will bleach them and that dry down is much more apparent in some alt process than in silver - at least IMO)>

    Good luck, have fun and let us see something soon. Oh, and congrats on the UV box.
     
  14. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Lets hope it stays that way! lol
     
  15. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Do the blue thing