Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography


Lesson Info

Printing the Curve

Okay so now we've got a Curve. We've Tone mapped it, we think it's accurate, it looks good, we're all excited about actually working with and processing the photograph. So how do we go about doing that? What's what do we need to actually perform doing that? So I'm gonna come back in over here, I'll come back into my Lightroom catalog, we'll go back and let's grab, let's say we're gonna print this one. So I'm gonna open this image up in, Photoshop. In this case it's Profoto 'cause it came in Profoto. So I'm gonna go on ahead at this point, make my conversion to Black & White, I can see what it looks like. So I have my Black & White conversion. I'm gonna edit all that. I make some more adjustments. I make my tweaks. The thing I didn't do in my workflow is I'm then gonna duplicate the image, and I'll call this Cyanotype 'cause I'm gonna print in Cyanotype. I now flatten this image. 'Cause this is my original still over here that has all of the edits. I always wanna be in a nondest...

ructive workflow if all possible. So I'm gonna go back to my edits, I'm gonna come over here, I'm now gonna resize my image. So this image came at 14x9 but I wanna print this 10x6, so I'm gonna do my resizing. If I wanted to print this 30x20, I would need to resample 'cause my resolution is low. So that's why I'm out of that original master file because I'm gonna be, I might be resizing, I'm gonna be making some changes to document space but that's part of the reason for that duplication. So I duplicate that and now I'm gonna go on ahead and I'm gonna convert my profile into Adobe RGB because it was a Profoto document. You can see there's no real shift in color there. The reason for that is I'm in that monochromatic space, everything's good, I've got the original Profoto for the color manipulation. Now I've got my document, I'm ready to print, so I want the Step Wedge in there. So I'm gonna go ahead now, I'm gonna run and I'll go ahead and run an 11 Step Wedge. Close that off. I'm gonna drop in my Step Wedge, I'll leave it sized for there. I'm not worried about those trees 'cause I got the Step Wedge in there but I do see this. A lot of people do this. They will rotate that, and they will bring it down and print it low. Or you can increase your Canvas Size. And let's say like I was gonna print this, 18x13, a Canvas size like that, I can then take and drop that Step Wedge off the image and now print the Step Wedge onto the image and not have it over the photograph. So you have options of just kind of wherever you wanna place it. If I need to transform and wanna resize the image, I could come in and resize my actual photograph in the window if I wanted to. All the edits I wanna make, I make it in this file because it's the duplicate. I now am gonna come in and add a Curves Adjustment layer, but it's gotta be above the Step Wedge. That Curve that does the Tone mapping needs to be above the Step Wedge. The reason for that is, I'm gonna do a Cyanotype. There's what the image looks like once that Curve's applied. So I said it was not a good looking adjustment. To get that, it's gonna print that. That's okay. If the Step Wedge, you can see down here, I got my Tones and my Step Wedge affected by that. But if my Step Wedge is above that, it misses the Tone mapping and my Step Wedge will be off when it prints. So everything has to be below that level. Then I'm gonna apply the Invert. So now I've got the Invert on there which is gonna build the Negative. Step Wedge gets included. And in this case, it's gonna print without that Black background. So having the Black background there allows me to use less ink in the transform. We're gonna talk about why you'd want that Black background when we get into printing the Cynaotypes here in the next segment. But at this point now, I'm ready to actually print this image. I've got my corrected Tone Curve in there, I've got the Invert, I've got the Step Wedge. If I don't want the Step Wedge, this is the other reason I kinda like this format, I printed this and I'm like, "Wow that came out great." Tones look good, Step Wedge looks good. Step Wedge has its own layer, turn it off. Hit the Print button. In this case, I can always just choose Print One Copy. Takes all the settings over there in the printer before, spits it right out of the printer. So I can come through and print that way. The other piece that, once you've gotten to this point, a couple of other things to consider is I had this original master file that I made my edits in and this is now my duplicate. So when I talked about originally I had that workflow where I had final prints and then I had working files, this duplicate would get saved as the final print 'cause this was the thing that got printed. In it holds the actual Curve that was applied so that allows me to make sure that I've got the necessary information, to do when I need to do the correction.

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!