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 – step by step instructions to making a print using plants

Anthotypes, colouring and food colouring

Anthotypes: How different paper effects the emulsion color

Finding plants and pigments for making anthotypes

Heather Siple

Organic photography

Safety first – plants to watch when making anthotypes

The anthotype process

The chemistry of anthotypes

The history of anthotypes

Working with anthotypes


Anthotypes by Malin Fabbri

Bromoils & oil

Oil pigment printing

Bromoils, oilprints, resinotypes and oleobroms: Early twentieth century processes which begins with a silver bromide print and ends with an oily or inked print of alluring elegance.


Bromoil and oil pigment printing

Bromoil on aluminium sheets

Making a bromoil print

Papers for the bromoil process

Carbon and carbro

carbon and carbro

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 print process

Carbon printing – getting started

Carbon printing – process overview

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

The carbon transfer process


The Carbon Print by Sandy King and John Lockhart


Fumed silica figure 1 detail

Based upon Sir John Herschel’s gold printing process, Dr. Mike Ware will carefully guide you through a process of making prints which display hues from delicate reds and pinks to blues and blacks.


Improve your Siderotypes with fumed silica pre-treatment

The new chrysotype process


Sarah van Keuren

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.


A Non-Silver Manual: Cyanotype

Beat the blues: Making cyanotypes

Combining gelatin silver and cyanotype

Cyanotype – the classic process

Cyanotype chemicals in a rusty old jar

Cyanotype workshop compendium – free of course

Cyanotypes on fabric – preparing the fabric

Cyanotypes painted with acrylics

Debunking the myths of cyanotypes

How to produce low-contrast cyanotype prints

In-camera cyanotype negative prints

Making a cyanotype pinhole in-camera?

Making a cyanotype quilt – from the garden

Making cyanotypes in-camera

Papers for traditional / classic cyanotype process

Papers to use for cyanotypes


Photography with iron (iii) salt

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

Preparing your image for cyanotype printing

The Big Cyanotype Exposure Survey – Results

The digital camera, the cyanotype and grain

The New Cyanotype – Cyanotype II process

Vandyke over cyanotype: a combination process with special effects

Vinegar-developed cyanotypes: non-toxic midtone contrast control

Washing cyanotypes on fabrics or cloth


Blueprint to cyanotypes by Malin Fabbri and Gary Fabbri


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.


Silver plating


Making the Sliding Box Camera

Gelatin silver prints

Chromoskedasic Sabattier

Gelatin silver prints, or gelatin dry-plate, appeared on the scene in the 1880’s, replacing the wet-plate process and revolutionizing the photographic industry. It has remained the standard for silver halide photography. Here we explore hand coated paper and look for ways to incorporate other alternative process with silver gelatin printing.


Chromoskedasic Sabattier: a step-by-step guide

Combining gelatin silver and cyanotype

Heather Siple

Silvergum – gum over silver gelatin

The silver gelatin dry plate process


Gumoil by Terri Cappucci

As the name implies, gumoils transforms a gum print into an oil-based image through labor intensive rubbing, wiping, and etching. In most cases, a positive matrix takes the place of the usual negative employed by other processes.


Frequently Asked Questions about the gumoil process

The gumoil process

What is the Gumoil process?


Palma Allen

Working with reflected light in the long, infrared wave range can produce images of unexpected results with surreal visual effects. Infrared photographs have a spectacular glow and luminance, where highlights are usually diffused and contrast can be pronounced.


Graveyards and Infrared Photography

The infrared process

Kallitypes & vandykes

Sarah van Keuren

Although both silver and iron are required for Kallitypes and Van Dykes, the former is a bit more expensive and labor intensive of the two siblings. Depending on paper and toning, images can run the range of black, sepia, and beautiful rich browns. Extra care must be taken to ensure permanence of the print.


A Non-Silver Manual: Vandyke brown

Argyrotype process

Beyond the blues: Vandyke brown printing

Chris Byrnes

Formula overview for Vandyke, Kallitype and Argyrotype

Instruction sheet for the Kallitype printing kit

Kallitypes v.s. Vandykes

The Kallitype Printing Kit – A great start

The Kallitype Process

Vandyke notes

Vandyke over cyanotype: a combination process with special effects

Liquid emulsion

Tina Maas

With a liquid silver emulsion applications can be made to a variety of surfaces such as tile, glass, pottery, wood, canvas, stainless steel and coated metals. Brushing, dipping, and spraying are among the techniques employed for applying the emulsion to three-dimensional surfaces.


Liquid light emulsion on wax

The liquid emulsion process

Lith prints

Tim Rudman

Using a lith developer, this delightful technique generally overexposes a silver print which is then developed in the diluted developer. Lith photographs display a wonderful luminance. Success with lith printing can depend upon your choice of paper, the handling of the negative, and several other key factors.


Lith printing in the digital age

Lithprint materials update

The lithprint process

Lumen prints

Chemilumen: Chemigram and lumen print with ferric ammonium citrate.

Using a UV source, such as the sun, make delicate contact photographs and photograms using old or fogged silver gelatin paper. No development required! Just fix, tone, and enjoy!


Chemilumens – combining chemigrams and lumen prints

Emulsion transfer – lomographs onto a surface

How to make a starry lumen print – a step-by-step process with printing tips

Lumen negatives

Lumen printing (Lycksten)

Lumen prints

Miscellaneous processes

20th century techniques

This section is reserved for brand new processes, undocumented practices, unique techniques, and other creative alternative approaches not addressed elsewhere.


‘Forgotten’ processes

Ceramics and photography – a beginning

Graphite and silver nitrate

Lippmann Colour Photography

Nature printing

Oleobrom process

Printing-Out Processes

Pyro, digital negatives and alternative processes

Shooting With X-Rays

The physautotype process

Mordancage process

mordancage photography

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.


The Mordançage background and process

Working in the Mordançage process


Making Photogravures With Polymer Plates: A modern technique of historical photo-mechanical printing using steel-backed polymer plates, etched with ... by hand with traditional intaglio processes

Copper photogravures, solarplates, photo intagio, polymer gravures and heliogravures are all printmaking techniques, where a photograph is set in a plate, the plate inked and the image transferred to a paper.


Base exposure times when making photogravures with polymer plates

Copper photogravure


Intaglio photogravure printmaking

Photo intaglio – an overview

Photo polymer gravure – the why’s

Photogravure on copper

Photopolymer printing on a budget

Photopolymers – a brief description


A technique developed in the mid 19th century, by which images are photographically transferred to a matrix (either an aluminum plate or, less frequently, a stone), and printed by hand. A classic combination of photography and printmaking employing a variety of skills.


Photolithography – a history and its process


Rosemary Horn

No photo paper? No worries. Just go and find some leaves! Learn how to contact print onto flat plant or vegetable matter using a positive intermediate. Let your creativity soar!


Photosynthesis: A world where you can grow your own photographic supplies

Polaroid lifts and transfers

Blog Elizabeth Graves

Utilizing Polaroid peel-apart films, an artist can lift or separate a developed print and join the image to another surface, such as paper. In a transfer, the artist takes the negative portion while still in development and, using a brayer, presses the image onto a desired surface.


Impossible Project Silver Shade Film: so very temperature sensitive

Polaroid Emulsion Lifts equipment – how Ivy Bigbee works

Polaroid Transfer equipment – how Wendy Cook works

Transfer to Polaroid

Polaroid SX-70 manipulations

Polaroid SX-70 Time Zero

Referring to either or both the Polaroid SX-70 camera manufactured throughout the 1970's and the celebrated SX-70 Integral films, beautiful image manipulations can be achieved through the use of this engaging camera/film technology.


Polaroid SX-70 / Time Zero Equipment – how Renata Ratajczyk works

Polaroid SX-70 manipulations – the video

Polaroid SX-70 revisited

Polaroid SX-70, or time zero process


Salted paper

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.


A dash of salt

How to make salt prints – the video

Salt printing: Exposing the print

Using paper negatives to make salt prints


The salt print manual by Ellie Young


Alex Chater

Eggs, ammonium bichromate, and a variety of pigments including acrylics come together for an exercise of multiple printing under a UV light. Created by the late Peter Frederick, this process is suitable for printing on synthetic materials such as Yupo.


Temperaprint (Chater)

The fundamentals of temperaprint

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

Ambrotypes – a beginner’s view

Blue plate special: Wet collodion images on blue aluminum

How to modify a film holder for wet plate collodion: design #2: magical magnetic tape

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

The classic tintype process

The modern tintype process

The wetplate collodion process

Wet-Plate Collodion Process – Ambrotypes


Making the Sliding Box Camera

Making the Traditional Wet Plate Camera


woodbury types

For more than half a century, Woodburytypes were a standard in high quality photographic reproduction. Related to the intaglio printing process, Woodburytypes employ materials such as gelatin and pigment, and historically required the use of a hand press.


The woodburytype process

4 thoughts on “Alternative photographic processes A-Z

  1. Crazy question: I have found that I can get chemicals for dental photo processing on the second hand market. These include developer and fixer. I can get gallon jugs for less than $10.
    Can these be used for B&W film??

  2. “Pinholes” It is not a Photographic Process. But a Technique Fotográ the possibility of using different “Photographic Processes” ..
    Pinhole Photography is essentially the appropriation of the Image Formation Technique, in order to obtain Photographic Images. For this, some of the proposals listed in the photographic processes can be used

  3. @antonio: Yes, agree. It’s not a process, but a means of taking photographs. A lot of artists use pinholes to achieve different effects in their alt. proc. work, so that’s why we’ve made and exception and listed it here.

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