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Old 24th September 2009, 08:29 AM
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Default But which process?

OK folks - on a bit of a creative surge and wanting to produce some hand-crafted prints, I was wondering whether anyone had any tips as to the cheapest alternative process I can start out with.
I've never done anything like an alternative process before, but I have a decent level of craft skills and can turn my hand to almost anything. I don't mind making a mess (or poisoning myself ) but I want to make something with a quality hand-crafted feel to it; by that I don't mean a slap of liquid emulsion, I mean more an exquisite jewel of a print. I can contact print from 5x4 negatives, and I can also make enlargements with my enlarger, and scan stuff and make d*****l negs with an old laser printer (sorry Dave )
My favourite photographic period is the Pictorialists; I just love Clarence White, Frederick Evans, Frederick Holland Day, George Seeley et al. So obviously there's a lot of Gum Bichromate and Platinum printing going on.
Any advice would be gratefully received.
I don't have the money to purchase all the stuff at the mo, but intend to get started during the winter months. As I said at the start, the price of the different processes is a big factor, so any cost cutting etc etc that can be applied, would be much appreciated.
Looking forward to any replies
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Phil
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Old 24th September 2009, 08:48 AM
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Phil,

Cyanotype is a great way to start and is quite a low cost process. I'm sure Heather (Akki14) will come along shortly and give you some advice?
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Old 24th September 2009, 09:36 AM
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Phil, salt prints - silver nitrate is a bit expensive but a little goes a long way. Seen some wonderful salt prints close to. I really must give it a go myself some day.
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Old 24th September 2009, 10:17 AM
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I would nominate the Cyanotype process. If you start by using your 5x4 negs it is a cheap contact printing process. You will need the minimum of equipment, a few storage bottles and a brush; also some sunshine, or at least daylight to print. A split-back contact printing makes judging exposure easier, but it is by no means essential.
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Old 24th September 2009, 01:42 PM
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Gum printing isn't too expensive but high on the "Might Poison Self" scale... But I've somehow managed to not kill myself mixing up the dichromate solution.
It is, however, on the highly tricky and tedious side. I would love to have the patience for gum printing but I seriously cannot imagine having to print and reprint the same sheet 6-8 times to get the details in the shadows, midtone and high lights and in three different colours.
I've tried it with just the winsor & newton bottle gum arabic solution and some tubes of watercolour paint.

Van Dyke Brown isn't too tricky to start off with either. You're much more likely to get a good print your first time with it than with cyanotype but it does contain silver nitrate so it's a little pricey. It's a lot less picky than cyanotype about what paper it can be used on.

If you do want to try cyanotype, the traditional formula is fine to start with. I'd recommend Arches Platine paper as that's the best I've found. I don't develop my negatives for higher contrast, just normal contrast seems to work fine. Traditional formula is just 25g ammonium ferric citrate(green) in 100ml of water for Solution A and Solution B is 10g potassium ferricyanide. You keep them as separate solutions until you want to coat. Mix about 3-4ml of each in something. I'm weird and just mix in the graduated cylinder and use a disposable plastic straw as a pipette (with my thumb or finger over one end) then use that to a lay a line of solution onto the paper then brush it on.

OH! and I now recommend if you're going to do brush coating, practice on some cheap watercolour paper and with some cheap watercolour paints. Learn how to lay out a good "wash" (there's some watercolour painting websites that'll show you how if you google). You don't want too much solution or else you get puddles and those can sometimes crystallise and that's not so good unless you want that effect. It'll also mean you can practice brushing without being sloppy and splattering stuff everywhere. I never thought of this before someone mentioned on another forum they were having problems with drips and splatters...I have somewhat of a fine arts background so I've been forced to paint many paintings which means I have a level of skill purely in brushing stuff onto paper and it's not like painting a wall.

How's that for longwinded reply?
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Old 24th September 2009, 02:04 PM
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Thanks Heather, sorry to put you on the spot!
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Old 24th September 2009, 02:29 PM
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How about Lumen print?
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Old 24th September 2009, 02:37 PM
Dave miller Dave miller is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wiesmier View Post
How about Lumen print?
Otherwise known as a "Sunprint"?

It's a very good way to use up old paper, and to introduce kids to photography.
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Old 24th September 2009, 04:46 PM
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Thanks for all the great replies folks (and Heather, thanks for the in-depth; I used to do a lot of 'flat' gouache work when I did Graphics, so I know what you mean) - so it looks like Cyano or Salt. But just supposing (from the sublime to the ridiculous) - how much do you think starting in Platinum would cost ?
P
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Old 24th September 2009, 05:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil View Post
Thanks for all the great replies folks (and Heather, thanks for the in-depth; I used to do a lot of 'flat' gouache work when I did Graphics, so I know what you mean) - so it looks like Cyano or Salt. But just supposing (from the sublime to the ridiculous) - how much do you think starting in Platinum would cost ?
P
Not an expert, but I suspect that the best way to get started in pt/pd is to start in salt or cyanotype etc. You need to learn how to coat and use UV light to expose the paper etc and doing that with pt/pd salts is, I suspect, not cost effective.

Have fun!
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