Lumen prints

Marek Matusz gives us a brief overview of an old camera-less process.

Always be careful when handling chemicals. Read the health and safety instructions.

Lumen printBlack and white photographic papers are used in this process. Some have reported that old, outdated papers work best. This might have to do with age of papers, but also with the emulsion types available years ago, but no longer manufactured.

In any event dig into your photo storage and take those forgotten 20 years old, fogged papers. Have fun with them. Both exposure and development are done with the UV light and sun is the best source.

Place a plant cutting on the paper and leave it in the sun for hours. My exposures vary from about 30 minutes to 4 hours. I place a piece of glass to slightly flatten the plant cutting. In the heat of the summer the photographic paper will get moist in the area of contact with the plant. That is one of the important aspects of producing color shifts. As the exposure progresses the paper will darken.

Lumen printPapers

Try different brands and types of photographic papers. My examples here are made on fiber base, Forte warm tone paper. Typically warm tone papers will produce most interesting color combinations.

Development – none!

After exposure I soak the print for a few minutes in water and then tone if needed. Gold and platinum toners work best for me. I fix in a dilute solution of ammonium thiosulfate. The print will bleach considerably at this point. Toning, especially gold toning helps preserve the delicate colors of the original. Wash the print according to B&W archival standards and admire your artwork.

For some of the best examples look at work of Jerry Burchfield.


  1. Jennie Newman
    Posted May 26, 2010 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Hi Marek,

    I’ve left them for up to 3 and half days and still they work beautifully, the only problem has been buckling of the paper. Also the full moon alone, creates great images.

    I haven’t tried toning, so thanks for the tip, will have to try that soon.

  2. Steven Silberg
    Posted March 8, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I can’t wait to try this. I have some gold toner and some selenium. I’m going to try both. Any recommendations as to how weak to make either?


  3. Posted August 7, 2012 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    lumen print is fun to play, I have some burning experiments by using the sun’s direct combustion and use of strobe lights, and also some experimental results of combustion of I dissolved in the chemical developer, stobath and fixer. if deign visit or Thank you.

  4. Lena
    Posted March 23, 2015 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    If I understand right, I have exposed the print and then only toning it? Or also fixing after that? My normal fix solution 1+9. dilute solution?

6 Trackbacks

  1. […] That’s the kind of wonderful hunger Omaira Abadia let in my soul. I begun to read and search about alternative andclassical print processes and in that search found about Lumen prints. […]

  2. By Flower-gram 1 « Dark Pines Photo on May 19, 2011 at 2:45 am

    […] I call a flower-gram.  These digital image are intended to emulate/suggestive of the traditional photogram and solargram images.   I have been experimenting with different layering and processing of  my photographs and […]

  3. […] tu masz linka do ang strony…. http://www.alternativepho…en/lumen-prints […]

  4. By The Lumen Project « on December 9, 2011 at 3:10 am

    […] The RCC BioCommunications 2011 class published a book of Lumen prints (click here for a description of the print making process). […]

  5. By Flower-gram 5 | Dark Pines Photo on March 3, 2013 at 4:54 am

    […] unique types of paper or canvas, such as the first image in this post.  Some are attempts at Faux Solargrams such as the next two […]

  6. By Making Lumens | Julianna Thompson on June 20, 2014 at 8:56 am

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