Sarah Lycksten shows us how to have fun with lumen printing and photography – exploring and experimenting with new techniques!
Take a black/white photo paper, put a piece of plant, flower or something else organic on top and finish off with a piece of glass. Leave in the sun for half an hour or why not when you go to work and you’ve got something to look forward to when you come home.
Bring your photo-sandwich inside and rinse of any organic bits, put in fixer. You will find the image changing rapidly in the fixer and usually get a pleasant surprise when you look at it in normal light. Rinse and you should have an archival image as long as you’ve taken care to not leave any organic residue that would make the image deteriorate eventually.
Sounds simple, and it is, but there’s a lot more you can do with it.
The composition is important. You will benefit from trimming your plants to make out more detail.
You can also experiment with putting stuff on the glass, partially coat it with paint, foodstuffs or place items on top, like a shadowgram. Use tape at the edges to create a border.
Wet the paper before you put the plant on and you will get a darker image with more detail in the subject.
Or just spray the plant with water before you put it on the paper but make sure you get it in the right position straight away because the damp areas will show in the final picture, unless that’s what you are after.
It is a technique that puts you in the hands of chance and the fact that every image will be unique. So many factors affect the final image like air humidity, UV-factor, the subject’s humidity, temperature etc. But you can alter the exposure in some ways dodging or burning in parts of the image with a magnifying glass, although it will take a bit longer than with your usual darkroom print.
It works well with most papers, especially old brands. Different papers give various colors.
A great way of using up old fogged papers.
Handcoated papers work well to, and a fantastic way of using up old liquid emulsion that might be fogged. Liquid emulsion gives brilliant colors from bright yellow to purple and orange!
Take care not to leave in too strong heat for too long. The heat will melt the emulsion. I usually leave them on the balcony but not in direct sunlight.
If when you come to fixing your image, you find the paper has stuck to the glass, just spray the back of the paper with water, if you can’t soak the whole thing, and it should come loose.
When you have your final print you can always reverse it. Use your Lumenprint as a negative and put face to face on top of an unexposed paper and expose it.
You can tone or bleach it.
Using negatives instead of flowers you need a negative with lots of detail and contrast. It will give a very soft image with a surreal feel to it.
Like this pinhole picture by the sea turned into something more resembling a desert landscape.