Tag: process

New Books

Since the move I’m still adjusting to my new work space. I haven’t quite figured out how to deal with all the windows in every room. I never thought I’d miss having an interior closet of a bathroom. Speaking of, even my closet has windows! I am starting to think that my only truly light-proof solution is to work at night. I’m a natural night owl anyway but I prefer not to exacerbate my tendency to stay up until all hours. But I’m getting to the point that if I don’t start creating something soon I’ll go a little nuts.


In the meantime my solution is to buy new books. Looking at other people working helps to get my juices flowing and motivates me to figure out how to make this space work for the fiddly printing methods I enjoy.


My first purchase this year was long overdue. I finally bought the bible of alternative processes: The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes 3rd Edition by Christopher James. The new edition has a brand new, huge section on wet plate collodion. It has been a trendy technique for a few years now. Despite that, it’s a cool process. If a nice lens ever makes its way into my life I may build a camera and play with wet plate but I have also been playing with a combo technique marrying digital manipulations with alternative printing methods to give me what I like about wet plate without all the chemicals and large format camera. I’m still playing but I think I’m close to something worth continuing. Anyway, this book touches on so many techniques that there will be something in it that sets your brain on fire. Half of the methods in the book were unknown to me until I read through it. It was nice to see Mr. James mention Luis González Palma (his official website is down as of this entry but hopefully it’ll pop back up soon). It is impossible to look at his work without some sort of reaction.


If you are interested in historical and alternative processes, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes is invaluable.



My next purchase was Salt Print by Peter Mrhar. I adore salt printing. It has such a dreamy quality even if I’m using negatives made from my digital images. Because it’s printed on water color paper you can do so many surface techniques to it. I know albumen tightens it up a bit but until we start our next flock of chickens I think I’ll stick with plain ‘ol salt printing. This book caught my eye because of the mention of orotones.

orotone(this image came from a website dedicated to orotones.)

The book has very clear directions for salt printing on glass to facilitate the creation of orotones. And I do love shiny things. We just discovered a pile of glass sheets in one of our sheds at the new house. Gotta love 100+ old houses and the weird stuff you have popping up when you poke around. The rest of the book has some valuable information about technique but I mainly bought it for printing on things other than paper and the various varnish formulas.


Photographic Possibilities by Robert Hirsch is the latest book to make it into my collection. I got it this afternoon as an early anniversary present. My husband is good at picking books for me. So far I can see that this book will be good at breaking any creative block concerning photography. I love the section on creative process and working through an idea. It also touches on numerous historical processes with well laid out chapters that include all the formulas you will need plus techniques. The book also goes into non-traditional techniques like chemigrams, hand-coloring with a variety of mediums, and transfer techniques. I need to spend more time with the book but so far it looks interesting.

Salt Print Attempt #1

Last night was exciting! Well, it was exciting to me.

I tried salt printing for the first time with the kit from Bostick & Sullivan. I also used the gold toning kit though so far it looks like the prints need longer toning times. It was an interesting few hours. For starters, I have no idea what each stage of this process is supposed to look like. This is completely foreign territory for me. At least I’ve done cyanotypes on and off over the last 10 years or so. Tonight I was going off of written descriptions of what to look for and just winging it using various internet sites. I think I got lucky as far as which curve to use and how to print the digital negative for this process. I’m knocking on wood and kissing my muse’s butt right now.

I used two different digital negative printing methods and tried both out last night. One looked nice. The other was a miserable failure. I had a feeling the second one would not work but I had no idea what would happen with the first.

First, my failure:


It’s still wet but you can see the overly high contrast, lack of detail, and the muddy highlights.

I was following some advice on a random website that suggested using colored ink to block light and allow the highlights to develop slower. I followed his directions but the results were less than stellar. I had my doubts as I was working on that so I also decided to do a mix of advice off of several websites and tried to create as dense of a negative as I could while preserving as much tonality as possible.


I still need to learn more about the process but I’m pleased with this attempt.

My other attempt was much better. I’m not sure if I could have pulled more detail into this negative or not. I’ve seen some detailed prints online and in books. I need to research the process more and see how far I can push it. This kit is nice but once I get this down and get fairly predictable results I may move on to mixing my own formulas to see what happens.

Just for the sake of, I put together a file so I could see the original image with the cyanotype and salt print. The variety of the different processes is interesting and I feel confident enough in proceeding with these alternative processes. Now to figure out a project to turn into a series …