• Salt print

    Alternative Processing is Fun!


    Some of you who follow me on Facebook or other social media may already know that I recently took a class on alternative photographic processes at Phoenix College. I thought it would be cool to share a little about alt processing and what my experiences were learning these new techniques. First I want to define alternative processes, I took the following from wikipedia:

    The term alternative process refers to any non-traditional, or non-commercial photographic printing process. Currently the standard analog photographic printing process is the gelatin silver process, and standard digital processes include the pigment print, and digital laser exposures on traditional color photographic paper.Alternative processes are often called historical, or non-silver processes. Most of these processes were invented over 100 years ago and were used by early photographers.

    Alternative processing has become popular again in this digital world, I believe it’s because we are looking for ways to stand out and be different. I took this class to force myself to get out of my comfort zone and make new, unique art. I’m always learning new techniques so that I can grow as an artist. What’s great about many of these techniques is that they are very easy to work with and can give consistent results- once you get the technique down. The processes we focused on were more of the simple, easy to learn ones. The first I want to discuss is the photogram.


    Photograms are images made on a photo sensitive material without using a camera. Objects are placed on the light sensitive paper and placed in the sun or under a UV light for a period of time. The final image is a shadow or silhouette,  it can have variations in tone based on the transparency of the object used. Photograms can be done on traditional photo paper or a paper coated with chemicals for an alternative process. The first photogram I did was leaves on a tracing paper coated with a salt solution then with a silver solution, this process is called a salt print. They are not very permanent and the colors will change and fade over time. Take a look at the following images, both are of the same print, the first was the same day that I processed the print.

    Click to view large.

    The second is the same print, a few months later. As you can see the print became darker and the lighter, yellowed areas turned a purple color. If continually exposed to light over time the print will continue to change and eventually will darken over the years. This process is not considered permanent.

    Click to view large

    I will discuss more alternative photographic processes in a future post, next up- Cyanotypes!




Toni is a landscape and cityscape photographer based in Phoenix, Arizona.


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