Chemilumens – combining chemigrams and lumen prints

Fabio Giorgi gives us a brief overview on how to combine two processes: Chemigrams and Lumen prints, or possibly three, since he is using cyanotype chemistry for the chemigram.

A classic cyanotype

A classic cyanotype.

What about mixing together lumen-prints, chemigrams, silver nitrate, or a cyanotype sensitizer… Sounds weird? I agree, but the results can be quite rewarding.

This is what may happen when you end a cyanotype printing session with some sensitizer left unused, a pack of fogged photographic paper and, mainly, if the “What if…” pops up without warning.

Chemilumen: Chemigram and lumen print with ferric ammonium citrate.

Chemilumen: Chemigram and lumen print with ferric ammonium citrate.

The process is simple. Brush the paper and immediately expose it, still wet, to sunlight, fix and wash.

In all tests the paper used was a fogged Kentmere VC Select RC paper, exposed 60 minutes under bright sunlight. UV index of 4. Fixing was done in a plain 5% hypo solution and the final wash was 5 minutes long in running water.

With silver nitrate 1-2%

With silver nitrate 1-2%.

Before fixing, a 3% hydrogen peroxide bath helps to lessen the effects of alkaline nature of the fixer.

The reaction of the citrate with the silver in the paper makes the image very much similar to a Van Dyke brown.

With a low concentration silver nitrate solution the result is a salted paper look alike.

With silver nitrate 10%

With silver nitrate 10%

Perhaps due to the excess of silver, after fixing, some metalic silver patches can be seen on the top right hand side of the image.

Plenty of room here to test with papers, time and toning..


  1. Fabio Giorgi
    Posted August 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    For the portuguese version, go to

  2. Olive Dean
    Posted August 28, 2012 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

    I have been doing this for about a year now, but I call my images “lumens with cyanotype- ” sometimes I paint the cyan onto the photog paper , sometimes I spatter it on, but usually I leave it to dry ,before solar exposing. My. work can be seen in this website’s gallery, too

  3. jessica corlett
    Posted January 12, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink

    hi! looks very exciting but still a little confused on the process. do you start with a cyanotype exposed and/or fixed? and then brush on sensitiser and develop again???

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  1. By QUIMILUMENS « Alternativa fotográfica on August 2, 2012 at 2:19 pm

    […] Essa é a versão em português do artigo publicado no site Alternative Photography.… […]

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