Alternative photographic processes A-Z

Instructions and recipes on how to work in alternative photographic processes and non-silver techniques. Instructions are provided by photographers and teachers working in the process, written with a practical approach, so; enjoy learning a new process. Have fun! If you are new a good starting point is the cyanotype process and if you want an environmetally friendly process start with anthotypes.

Albumen prints

Albumen process

Replacing the salt print process by the 1840’s, albumen prints combine beaten egg whites with salt and potassium iodide for a higher definition photograph.


Albumen printing


The Albumen Print


A fun and easy way to make images using juice from fruits, plants, flowers and vegetables as both sensitizer and pigment! Practiced by Sir William Herschel in the 1840’s, this method is very suited to photograms. Although anthotype prints are novel and unique, permanence of the image depends upon your choice of organic extract. Anthotypes step-by-step.


Anthotype? A what?

Anthotypes, colouring and food colouring

Finding plants and pigments for making anthotypes

Safety first – plants to watch when making anthotypes

The chemistry of anthotypes

The history of anthotypes



Carbon and carbro

Carbon print by Sandy King.

Patented in 1846 by Joseph Swan, carbon prints typically utilize a pigmented tissue, potassium dichromate , and gelatin to create images of amazing beauty and longevity. Carbro printing follows much of the same procedure as carbon printing while utilizing a bromide paper.


Carbon printing: An alternative process not for the faint of heart


Chemigram by Cynthia Huber


The chemigram


classic cyanotype process

The cyanotype, also known as a blueprint, is considered among the easiest of all the historical methods. Dating from 1842, this classic Prussian blue process is a great place for both beginners and accomplished artists alike to explore. Cyanotypes are economical, permanent, have few pitfalls, and are versatile in that a variety of toning effects are possible.


Cyanotype – the classic process

Cyanotypes on fabric – preparing the fabric

Photography with iron (iii) salt

Preparing the canvas: cloth, paper and natural fibre fabrics for cyanotypes

Preparing your image for cyanotype printing


Make the sliding box camera by Ty Guillroy

Considered among the original of alternative processes, daguerreotypes possess a look, feel, and beauty unlike any other historical method. Not for the faint of heart or the ill-equipped, those desiring to explore the rewards of this endeavor must exercise a high level of responsibility and caution.


Making the Sliding Box Camera

Gum bichromates

Gum bichromate and casein pigment printing utilizing water-based colors are but two among several forms of dichromate techniques resulting in expressive monochrome and full-color imagery.


New EU regulations that may restrict Gum printing

The 19th century gum bichromate process in 21st century concept and techniques

Mordancage process

Also known as etch-bleach process, this rare and slightly esoteric process physically manipulates the silver gelatin print through acid bleaching, rubbing, and lifts. Images appear dreamlike, far removed from reality.


Working in the Mordançage process


A slit pinhole in a pinhole camera

The expressive world of lens-less photography allows for dreamy and magical photographs. A camera, usually handmade out of a box or can, allows light to pass through a small aperture onto photo paper or film. Images created with a pinhole camera can also be incorporated into other alternative processes.


Slit-pinhole photography

Why pinhole?


The Salt print manual by Ellie Young

Salt printing, originally developed by Fox Talbot and typically practiced until the 1850’s, combines salt, silver nitrate, and a UV light source to produce delightful reddish brown images.


The salt print manual by Ellie Young

Transfers and lifts


Acrylic transfer printing – building the print

Wetplate collodions

Liam Smith tintype portrait

Wetplate, or wet collodion process dates from 1851 through the work of Frederick Archer. A glass plate is coated with cellulose nitrate, an iodide, and silver nitrate. The plate is then exposed and processed  while still wet. The tintype is a version of wetplate which utilizes a sheet of black painted metal.


A visual guide for beginners to making a tintype photograph

Say goodbye to cyanide: a less toxic approach to fixing wet collodion plates


Making the Sliding Box Camera

Making the Traditional Wet Plate Camera