Esoteric Photography, Alchemical Art.

I've been looking into alternative photography recently, more specifically, making prints using unconventional techniques. It's a practise that lies somewhere between photography, painting and printing. It utilises archaic chemistry and modern technology (and the sun), to create haunting images with unpredictable and deeply atmospheric qualities.

For example, 'digital negatives' are a kind of reverse engineering of digital photography whereby a negative is created from a digital positive. The process is fairly straightforward. Here it is very briefly.

a. Take a digi image you like, bung it into photoshop reverse it, make it monochrome and tweak the levels to adjust mid-tones and contrast, some practitioners recommend giving it an overall orange hue for reasons of tonality in the subsequent creation of a positive (See links for detailed processes.)
b. Print out the image on a sheet of A4 inkjet/photocopier transparent film so that you have a nice big A4 negative.
An interesting variant of this is to print the neg on regular paper then use oil or wax to make it transparent, this yields even spookier soft edged images.
c. Exposeyour neg on your treated paper out in the sun or some other UV source.
d. Give it a wash to develop it and see what you've got.
e. Of course you don't even need a negative, you can instead create 'photograms' by judiciously placing objects directly onto treated paper and exposing as normal.

Cyanotypes (cyan) and gum bichromate prints can be developed in plain old water or helped along with vinegar or perroxide solutions, it's all about experimenting.
You can even go on and use tea or coffee to add further tones to the prints. Some of my favourites I've seen so far are cyanotypes washed in tea, they look great because the vivid blue is really toned down.

You'll need the appropriate chemicals but luckily they are readily available and pretty easy to mix. Alternative photography processes are in use by lots of artists these days and you can find tons of info on the web, but to save you time here's some useful links I've discovered on my trawlings.

All encompassing Alternative photography site:
Really informative Gum Bichromate site :
UK suppliers of chemicals :

I really like this guys work on flickr and there are lots of other esoteric photo printers on there, such as this group dedicated to digital negatives

go forth and create images in your own likeness



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