Experimental Photography Workbook: A Manual of Analog Black & White Darkroom Practice

by Christina Z. Anderson

Buy “Experimental Photography Workbook” directly from Christina Z. Anderson
Christina Z. Anderson by Christina Z. Anderson
$50   for paperback including shipping. Only shipping to USA available, a new version is in the pipes and hopefully will be available globally.
Please note that a new edition is coming this fall.

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A technical book highly recommended both for beginners and pros.

Customer rating:

9 of 10   Rated 9,28 – based on 254 votes

Info about edition 6 – now released!

The Experimental Photography Workbook, 6th edition,  is a completely revised and updated version, professionally published, now with full-color images from over 100 photographers illustrating all processes. Inside you will find succinct how-to’s on photograms, clichés-verres, lumenprints, chemigrams, photo-chemigrams, collage, photomontage, photo transfers, pinhole, zoneplate, holga, paper negatives, sabattier, chromoskedasic printing, painting with light, lith printing, liquid emulsion, modern tintype, mordançage, dye mordanting, bleachout, toning, applied color, abrasion tone, bromoil, encaustic, distressing film, etc. The Workbook is the perfect “short & sweet” manual to put play back into the analog black & white darkroom, and will be a perfect impetus to increased creativity for students and professionals alike.

Table of contents

Preface to the 6th Edition
Supply List
Section 1:  (Mostly) Camera-less Experimentation

  • Chapter 1 Photograms and Clichés-Verre
  • Chapter 2 Lumenprints
  • Chapter 3 Collage and Photomontage
  • Chapter 4  Photo Transfers

Section 2: Camera and Film Experimentation

  • Chapter 5 Pinhole and Zoneplate
  • Pinhole Exposure Tables
  • Chapter 6 The Holga
  • Chapter 7 In-Camera Tips
  • After Dark Chart
  • Chapter 8 Film Experimentation
  • Chapter 9 Paper Negatives

Section 3: Darkroom Experimentation

  • Chapter 10 Sabattier/alias Solarization
  • Chapter 11 Lith Printing
  • Chapter 12 Liquid Emulsion
  • Chapter 13 Modern Tintype
  • Chapter 14 Miscellaneous Darkroom Techniques

Section 4:  Colorful Monochrome

  • Chapter 15 The Chemigram
  • Chapter 16 The Photo + Chemigram
  • Chapter 17 Toning, Traditional & Experimental
  • Chapter 18 Abrasion Tone
  • Chapter 19 Applied Color
  • Chapter 20 Dye Mordanting

Section 5: Finished Print Experimentation

  • Chapter 21 Mordançage
  • Chapter 22 Bleaching and Bleachout
  • Chapter 23 Bromoil
  • Chapter 24 Encaustic


  • Time/Temperature Chart
  • F-Stop Printing Chart
  • Print Exposure Change Table
  • Chemical Weights (g to tsp)
  • Conversion Table, Quick and Easy
  • Units of Measurement
  • Sample Syllabus
  • Sources for Supplies
  • Recommended Reading
  • Index


  • 260 pages with 276 photographs
  • ISBN no: 978-0-9846816-0-0
  • Published by Z Photo Press 2012
  • English
  • Softcover: 8.5 x 10.75 x.53 inches

Preface written by Christina Z. Anderson

It is amazing to think that the Workbook is now in its 6th iteration and is a decade old. It originated unintended. I was assigned to teach an experimental photography course and there was no one book that included all the processes I wanted to teach.  Some processes were not even in the literature. That first labor-intensive semester I researched and compiled weekly handouts for every process. Then to save time passing out the handouts, I spiral-bound them at the beginning of each semester. Then on a fluke I wondered why not make a spiral-bound manual for sale on the Web and in bookstores to promote the experimental darkroom? From that point, the Workbook took off.

It has been a popular book because it is very condensed. Perfect for photographers who prefer “Just the facts, ma’am,” the “Cliff notes” of experimental photography, it includes almost every experimental method for the analog black and white darkroom (there are some analog color images as well). Few books of this nature remain, though they might have abounded  in the mid-20th century.

The analog darkroom is changing more than at any other time in history. Programs are abandoning their darkrooms. Commercial photography is predominantly digital. Gelatin silver is fast becoming an “alternative process” along with platinum, gum bichromate, cyanotype, and other 19th century processes. This vast change in the industry necessitated revision of the Workbook.

For instance, the Workbook no longer contains color wet darkroom processes, chromogenic paper descriptions, and Polaroid processes. Now the Workbook concentrates on the black and white darkroom and the processes that are still better analog than digital. Some processes can be mimicked digitally (e.g., infrared), but some cannot, so the need for the black and white darkroom continues. Besides, the black and white darkroom holds a magic that the digital dimroom cannot approximate, the magic of  an image materializing in the developer, the magic of chance happenings.

This revision focuses on more images in every chapter; clearer sections; complete revision and/or  new research added to the chapters on Lumenprints, The Chemigram, Photo+Chemigram, Tintype, Toning, Encaustic, Bromoil, and Bleachout; in effect, a decade of  research, practice and teaching these processes has added significantly to every chapter. There is no better way to understand a process than to teach it and have 18 students at any one time be your lab partners. You will see work from around one-hundred of my students and a few “visiting dignitaries” along with their discoveries throughout the text. I thank my students for their collaboration in making new discoveries with me. With their help I have come closer to a greater understanding of experimental photography.

How to put this Workbook to work? It is simple enough for a high school darkroom, as well as a semester-long class at a university, if students are given a menu of choices. Many experimental ways of image making are introduced, but to excel in any takes time, and therefore limiting the class to a number of processes or a menu of choices is really the way to go. Included in the Appendix is my sample syllabus that may be helpful.

It is of utmost importance to enjoy the process of experimentation and not seek an end product of perfection. Desiring perfection at the start is a killer for creativity! Going with the flow of process, with no specific outcome in mind, allows for creative energy to grow and new discoveries to be made. How many experimental processes were born from mistakes? My personal discoveries were. It is so important to let go of perfection and have fun playing. The Workbook encourages exploration into ways a photographer can “mess with” straight photography—ways a photographer can have fun in the darkroom. Joy is the outcome of creating meaningful work.

Hitting a brick wall with any of the processes means it is time to set that process aside and try something else. Don’t abandon the process permanently, telling others “it doesn’t work.”  It is amazing how many people assume that when a process doesn’t work, either the process is flawed or the book is flawed, but they never consider their own personal workflow may be flawed as well. Usually the biggest flaw is expecting perfect results without a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. A process may not have worked at one particular time, but at a later date, having tried it and filed the process experientially in the back of one’s mind, the “Eureka!” moment may come.

May you benefit from this past decade of my research at Montana State University  with increased creativity and continued pleasure in the analog darkroom. And to my students who are represented throughout this book, my journey would not have been half as productive and enjoyable without you, working alongside me all the way, creating work better than I could ever create by myself.
– Christina Z. Anderson 2012

About Christina

Christina Z. Anderson is Assistant Professor of Photography and Photo Option Coordinator at Montana State University, Bozeman, where she specializes in alternative and experimental process photography. She has authored three books:   Tutti Nudi, Reflections on the Reemergence of the Nude during the Italian Renaissance, The Experimental Photography Workbook, and Alternative Processes, Condensed. In the works is a comprehensive book on the history and practice of gum printing. Anderson’s alternative process works have been published in The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, 2nd Edition, Photographic Possibilities, 3rd Edition, PhotoTechnique Magazine, the British Journal of Photography, and Silvershotz and exhibited in over 65 shows in 22 states as well as Puerto Rico, China, Belgium, England, and New Zealand.  Her web address is christinaZanderson.com.

Feedback on Experimental Photography Workbook:

“I didn’t know what to expect from the book. I only knew it was about alternative photography, but I was delighted to know it was mostly about lab techniques. Thanks again for an excellent book.”

Otoniel Cruz.

“I found a lot of inspiration and new ways of picturemaking.
Everything is in short forms with the practical tables and “how to..” knowledge. Christina Anderson has done a great job.”

Roman Sokoler.

“I am a high school photo teacher and always on the look out for classroom resources. The students are excited about the processes and want to experiment soon!”

Tanya Braunstein.

“I rate the book a 10, it was much more than I expected.”

Francesco Mastalia.

Feedback on Christina’s delivery:

“The book arrived on time. Faster than other mail orders I’ve placed. The book was in perfect condition even though mexican mail carriers are known for their lack of care of mail.”

Otoniel Cruz.

“On time and well packaged.”

Roman Sokoler.

“The book arrived quickly and in excellent condition.”

Tanya Braunstein.

“Very usful and inspiring! Would have been nice with more pictures though.”


“I postponed the purchase of this book for too long. The content has re-energized my enjoyment in experimental fun.”


“CONTENTS on book could not be any better. FABULOUS WORK!!!”

Laura Galicia.

“Great book, has notes on a large assortment of alternative processes. the hands on tips are great, very informative.”

David Brown.

5 thoughts on “Experimental Photography Workbook: A Manual of Analog Black & White Darkroom Practice”

  1. Christina, disculpa que no hable inglés y tampoco tu idioma. ¿El libro tiene alguna edición en español?, Gracias.

    Pd.: La traducción al inglés es de Google.

    Christina, sorry I do not speak English and neither does your language. Does the book have any edition in Spanish? Thank you.

    Pd .: The English translation is from Google.

  2. Hello! I want Know the book is write to español too? or only it is write in english. Sorry for my english i am from argentina.

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