Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography


Lesson Info

Paper and Brush Types

First thing we're gonna do is we need to pick some paper. And we're gonna then go ahead and start the process of doing some coating for the initial cyanotype we're gonna do. And we have a number of ways we can coat a cyanotype and there's a number of different papers we can choose from. So I've got, we're gonna coat this paper. This is an Arches Platine paper. It's got a beautiful deckle edge. It comes up in a four size, some of them will actually have a watermark on them, that has the Arches Platine watermark. So one out of every four pages, because they come on a 22X30 sheets that get cut down. This is 11 by 15. This is a Bergger paper, this is Bergger CO2320. That's 320 gram weight. 100% cotton rag paper, but you see no deckled edges. Beautiful paper, works in all processes, people really like it. This is the Rives BFK paper, also a very beautiful paper. Deckle edge on multiple sides. It has a little bit more tooth, so it has a little bit more texture and pull on it. When you feel t...

he paper, it feels like it's got a little bit more of a rough surface. Some papers you can coat both sides of. The Hahnemuhle platinum paper we'll be working with tomorrow, you can coat both sides of that paper. Other papers like the Rives have different tooth on different sides. There actually is an up-side to the paper, that you're gonna wanna coat. And you can feel it. So as you grab the paper, people always wanna know. You usually, in like 99 out of 100 times, you're coating the smoother side of the paper. So if you drag your fingers and you're like well the back feels a little rough, you're gonna coat the front side of the paper. The other way you can tell is if you've got one with the watermarking on it, you wanna be able to read the watermarking correctly. It tells you the correct way. So I actually save one of my watermarked pages and I have that setting aside and for the papers that are a little tougher to tell, that is the guide of touching different ones. The other piece you're gonna have is you're gonna want a smooth and level coating surface. So if your coating surface is not level and you pour the chemistry on there, it'll start to run across the page. So you want it as level as possible, so when you pour the chemistry, it's gonna stay where you actually pour it. Because you wanna be doing the coating process. This is not quite 1/4 inch thick glass. So I just went to a glass supply store and had them cut this piece of glass a little bit bigger than the coating size. And then I had them sand the edges, just so I wouldn't cut my fingers. This gives me a very level surface. And glass doesn't absorb any of the chemistry so if anything spills on it, I can easily just wipe it up, wipe it off and I'm ready to go. What's underneath that, just so you can see, it's on a board that has some measurements for different size negatives. Back in the day when I was using a really thin tissue paper, I could see my coating sizes for my different negatives. So that's what that piece was created for. So, I've got a couple of different coating options. This, right here, which is the brush we're gonna be using, this is a goat hair hake brush, H-A-K-E. And then it's sewn together here with a non-metallic thread. And when you're looking to buy a hake brush, you wanna get one with a non-metallic thread in there. Because if not, you can get a chemical reaction between the metals of the wire that's holding the bristles in. And so you want the nylon thread or the natural fiber thread that's there. The ones that come from Bostick and Sullivan in the kit, are that way. This is actually the brush that comes with the kit for that. You can also use this thing called a puddle pusher or a glass rod coater. So, this is for an 8X10 negative so you can coat with an 8X10, you can't coat anything bigger or smaller, cause that's gonna be your surface coating area. Because the chemistry will wick across the glass rod and then basically, this is used to drag across the paper to spread the chemistry. So you'll go that way, back and forth. We also have ... These are synthetic brushes. This is a Sterling synthetic brush, beautiful brush. This is a, I always say his name wrong. It's a Richeson brush. Both are synthetic pieces. They have this metal part on them. So one of the things I do is I get a clear acrylic fingernail polish and then I just paint that edge and the very tips of the bristles. And that helps the chemistry from being absorbed up or leeching down. Cause these are originally designed for paintbrushes. These brushes are the only brushes I use for my platinum printing. The reason for that is the synthetic brush absorbs significantly less chemistry than the hake goat hair brushes do. Platinum chemistry is exponentially more expensive than other processes, so it just ends up saving a lot of money in the coating process. And I think it also does a beautiful job in the smoothness of the coating. You can absolutely use these brushes for any other alternative process you want and get good results. The brushes are just more expensive.

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.


Class Introduction
Overview of the Alternative Process
Overview of the Digital Negative Process
Working with Black and White Digital: What You Need
Working With Black and White Digital Images: Color Settings
Working with Black and White Digital Images Lightroom
Working With Black and White Digital Images Photoshop
Working With Black and White Digital Images 3rd Party Plug-ins
Avoiding Key Artifacts
Creating the Step Wedge for Curve Corrections
Organizing Your Adobe® Photoshop® Files and Curves
Setting Up the Printer
Lab Safety and Workspace Set-Up
Setting the Maximum Black Time
Getting the Initial Curve Test Numbers
Correcting the Curve
Printing the Curve
Sharing Curves
Caring for the Digital Negative
Intro to Cyanotypes and Safety
Paper and Brush Types
Coating Process and Cyanotype Chemistry
Making the Cyanotype Print
Washing the Cyanotype Print
Creating Cyanotypes Photograms
Toning Cyanotypes and Cleaning Up the Darkroom
Introduction to Van Dyke Printing
Setting Up the Van Dyke Workstation
Van Dyke Paper and Coating
Van Dyke Exposure and Developing
Van Dyke Troubleshooting and Resources
Van Dyke: Split Toning
Van Dyke: Wash Cycle and Drying
Van Dyke: Clean Up Process
Introduction to Platinum / Palladium Printing
Platinum/Palladium Coating Chemistry and Safety
Platinum/Palladium Paper and Coating Options
Platinum/Palladium Exposure and Development
Platinum/Palladium: Equipment and Supplies
Ink Jet Negative Coating and Exposure
Platinum/Palladium Chemistry Options
Ink Jet Negative Development
Platinum/Palladium Waxing Images
Platinum/Palladium Troubleshooting and Resources
Sharing Your Work Digitally
Matting and Framing Options
Editions and Signing Options
Alternative 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!!!
  • 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!