Introduction to Van Dyke Printing


Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography


Lesson Info

Introduction to Van Dyke Printing

So I'm super excited to be here an entire day in the dark room is like the perfect day for me, so I'm super excited about that, and the Van Dyke process is actually a great process, I call it a gateway process it because it's got a look to it and an aesthetic to it that starts to get a little closer to what you see in some other processes but it's super easy to work with, it's a lot of fun to work with, there's a lot of options you can do with a Van Dyke print. I showed some examples of how Jean had some images where she had done a Van Dyke over a sienna type or vice versa, but today we're gonna kinda focus just on the Van Dyke process and some various on the Van Dyke process. So, I talked to you yesterday about how alternative processing is really about experimentation. And as you work, as you figure out, and as you develop your own process and your style, you're gonna figure out there's certain things you want to do, there's certain things you might want to change, and a lot of alter...

native processing is about problem solving. So we're going to go ahead and use the Van Dyke process to start to talk about how you would approach those various issues, ways to kind of subtly modify the process, pretty much everything is really easy to do, super easy to do, and hopefully everything's going to come out great, we're going to make some amazing prints. But, just like with it yesterday, we still want to make sure we have our safety in the dark room so we still have our surface coated. The Van Dyke process uses a couple chemicals which I'll talk about later, but one of which is silver nitrate. Silver nitrate is, it's a diluted form, so it's not a super concentrated form, but it's actually what creates the middle for the UV exposure to work with. So silver nitrate though will stain pretty much anything it touches. If it gets on your skin it'll actually turn kind of a dark gray, a dark brown. It doesn't come off unless you scrub your skin raw but it will just dissolve over time and it doesn't absorb or cause any problems through the skin but if it gets in your eye it can cause loss of eyesight, so it's one of the chemicals that we definitely want to make sure we have protective eyewear with. So I go ahead and put back on my safety glasses and as I said yesterday, once I'm in the dark room, and it doesn't matter if I'm doing silver gelatin or anything in the dark room, I just have on safety glasses. As a photographer, my eyesight is the most important thing to me, so I want to go ahead and make sure I preserve that. I'm also going to go ahead and wear my gloves for any process, like I said, I have nitrile gloves. One dopey trick for these, sometimes the gloves when they come they'll come in a box of like or whatever they'll get really stuck together. Sometimes you can just give it a little puff there and it'll make the glove actually easier to go on, except when you're doing a demo, and then it's harder to go on. So get the gloves on. Now, the Van Dyke process is also way more sensitive to ultraviolet light than the sienna types. So yesterday we left most of the studio lights on, everything ran great. When we actually start the coating process and start working we'll flip the studio into a state of being ultraviolet protected. So to do that, I've got ruby lith, which is a ultraviolet protective material over some of the studio lights. So the room's just going to go kind of a red color. So if you have ever watched a movie or been in a dark room you may be like oh that kind of looks a little familiar. It's the same kind of look. The only thing the ruby lith does is just block up ultraviolet light so it lets through the rest of the light and it doesn't cause the light to get particularly much, particularly darker, so you can work in as much volume of light as you want, as long as you've UV protected it. One of the cool things is, the chili pepper holiday lights the lights you can string up that have chili peppers you can get for the Southwest, they don't allow any ultraviolet light through. And so, just the red light in anything that basically blocks up with the color red. I have flashlights that I've got red caps for, I have a head lamp that's red, so when I'm doing processes, just anything that kind of gets you to a red light. The other option you can use, is you can go to any place that sells light bulbs, and they'll sell what are called bug lights and they're lights that are basically designed to keep bugs from coming to your house and so they have this kind of really weird greenish-yellow glow, those are also safe, and they actually just screw into a normal socket. So you can literally just get a bug light, screw in a couple bug lights into a normal lamp, turn them on, turn the other lights off, and you have an ultraviolet safe environment to work in. I am going to do the coating process, though, with the regular lights on, but you would not do that. I just want to show you the coating process is exactly the same. No actually let's turn the lights off. We'll coat them the right way. We'll coat the paper for the Van Dyke under the lights.

Class Description

In a world where most photos are captured digitally it’s good to remember the beauty of print and all of the creative options alternative processes have to offer. The history of printing photos introduces techniques and tools that can improve your eye in the field and open up doors to new perspectives. Fine artist and educator Daniel Gregory gives the steps needed to get you started in exploring the many formats out there. You’ll learn:

  • An overview of what alternative processing is and the many formats out there
  • How to create a digital negative
  • How to setup and test your curve
  • How to print a Cyanotype
  • How to create a Van Dyke Print
  • Chemistry, Safety and Developing techniques
  • Platinum and Palladium Printing processes

In this introductory course, you’ll be given the key elements to get you started in expanding your creativity and exploring alternative photographic processes.


1Class Introduction 2Overview of the Alternative Process 3Overview of the Digital Negative Process 4Working with Black and White Digital: What You Need 5Working With Black and White Digital Images: Color Settings 6Working with Black and White Digital Images Lightroom 7Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop 8Working With Black and White Digital Images 3rd Party Plug-ins 9Avoiding Key Artifacts 10Creating the Step Wedge for Curve Corrections 11Organizing Your Adobe® Photoshop® Files and Curves 12Setting Up the Printer 13Lab Safety and Workspace Set-Up 14Setting the Maximum Black Time 15Getting the Initial Curve Test Numbers 16Correcting the Curve 17Printing the Curve 18Sharing Curves 19Caring for the Digital Negative 20Intro to Cyanotypes and Safety 21Paper and Brush Types 22Coating Process and Cyanotype Chemistry 23Making the Cyanotype Print 24Washing the Cyanotype Print 25Creating Cyanotypes Photograms 26Toning Cyanotypes and Cleaning Up the Darkroom 27Introduction to Van Dyke Printing 28Setting Up the Van Dyke Workstation 29Van Dyke Paper and Coating 30Van Dyke Exposure and Developing 31Van Dyke Troubleshooting and Resources 32Van Dyke: Split Toning 33Van Dyke: Wash Cycle and Drying 34Van Dyke: Clean Up Process 35Introduction to Platinum / Palladium Printing 36Platinum/Palladium Coating Chemistry and Safety 37Platinum/Palladium Paper and Coating Options 38Platinum/Palladium Exposure and Development 39Platinum/Palladium: Equipment and Supplies 40Ink Jet Negative Coating and Exposure 41Platinum/Palladium Chemistry Options 42Ink Jet Negative Development 43Platinum/Palladium Waxing Images 44Platinum/Palladium Troubleshooting and Resources 45Sharing Your Work Digitally 46Archivability 47Matting and Framing Options 48Editions and Signing Options 49Alternative Processes: Further Exploration



For a long time, I have read, studied and tried alternative processing, mainly Platinum/Palladium printing. I want to create longest lasting prints and may be share the info at Creative Live. But this presentation saved me many a hours. A few minutes into the lecture, I purchased the class and as the class progressed, I was extremely glad. Thank you Creative Live, thank you Daniel Gregory.


Excellent class on Alt Process and fantastic bonus materials included with purchase!!! I have extensive digital printing and darkroom experience but haven't done much alt-process to date. This is perfect timing for me as I have several personal projects that I would like to re-visit using some of these techniques. Thank you Daniel!!!

John Hendricks

So good to hear the info. I am glad to have more input into this, my favorite process! Bought this one and will gain a LOT from this!