Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography


Lesson Info

Setting Up the Van Dyke Workstation

Couple other things from a troubleshooting standpoint I don't normally tape down my paper because my hands are big enough I usually can hold the paper when I'm coating. But this is just blue painter's tape. So one of the things I recommend from a troubleshooting standpoint and when you're first getting started as you start to coat it's really easy to, that paper can start to slide around particularly if the surface you're coating on is slick. So just a little bit of the painter's tape, and the reason you want to use painter's tape is it doesn't permanently adhere. Scotch tape, duct tape, gaffer's tape, masking tape, will actually adhere and can rip the paper. But this kind of tape won't. So basically you can just tape down opposite corners. You don't need to tape down all four corners. Just tape opposite corners of the paper. That keeps the paper from moving around, and it'll actually make it a little easier to coat. And a roll like this size will last a long, long time. You saw how mu...

ch tape I needed to actually tape down. The other thing you can do is you can pull back the tape. And then you can lift this up, and then you can just use that tape again as it comes down. Again you can see on this corner there is actually some tape from a previous coating session. So getting that tape down is a great little troubleshooting piece. So we're gonna print a photograph here of Creepy Pete. So he is not an actual real person. I would normally not call anybody Creepy Pete. He's one of those fortune-telling machines. And the fortunes he gives out are about as creepy looking as he is. So we go ahead and just like we did before we make the tic marks for where we're gonna do the coating surface. And that's going to kind of give us where out edges are. The Van Dyke solution, when it comes in your kit, will come in a bottle this size. It's 100 milliliters, And that will get you 30 or so eight by ten prints. What's in there is a green ferric ammonium citrate. There will be a quiz, you will have to spell it correctly. There's about nine grams of that dissolved into 33 milliliters of water. And then there's tartaric acid, and in there you've got about 1.5 grams into 33 milliliters of water. And then you have the silver nitrate. The silver nitrate is about 3.8 grams that's dissolved into 33 milliliters of water. Then you take part A, which is the ferric ammonium citrate, you add it to part B and stir until dissolved, that's the tartaric acid. And the last thing you do is you take that new AB solution and then you add in part C, stir until it's thoroughly mixed, and then it needs to go into a dark brown glass container, or a container that doesn't let any light through because you don't want it to get exposed to the ultraviolet light. So it goes into a solution container like this. And at that point if you're mixing it yourself you're going to want to let it sit for a few days. It need to kind of season up, it needs to ripen. You can use it immediately, but your results will be a little bit better if you give it a day or two. It's one of the nice things when you're getting started, you can order this, and then if you fell in love with the Van Dyke process, by the time you got through this you could order up the other chemistry and mix up a larger batch if you wanted if you were going to go through and coat. But this is the only solution, so unlike with the cyanotyper we had an A and a B, that we had to mix together, this is our entire coating solution. You'll also get an eye-dropper or you'll need an eye dropper for the solution you'll want to make sure these get cleaned out with distilled water at the end of the day you don't want any residual chemistry to get left in there because that could impact the print. And you can see I've actually taped the eye-dropper to the bottle, using the magic blue tape, very versatile, Used that blue tape, and the reason for that is if I just take that eye-dropper and throw it back in a box of other eye-droppers, I now don't know did that last have platinum in it? Did that have cyanotype in it, did that have Van Dyke in it, so I just want to make sure in that organization we talked about for the darkroom that that stays with the appropriate piece. And then I have a Rubbermaid container, Can you bring just one of my little containers? And for each of my own processes I then have a Rubbermaid container that the things fit in. So Gena's gonna bring over a little Rubbermaid, and the reason I do that is, what lives in there is, the different chemicals and chemistry that are required for, so like here's one, and this is my cyanotype kit so here's the hydrogen peroxide, the cyanotype brush the toners, the actual cyanotype, so I just have one of those for each process. there a couple of dollars from a supply store. The reason I do that is, if I want to work on my Van Dyke process or I want to work on my cyanotype, and you can take that away, Gena, I can then pull out the one kit that I need and I know that all the chemistry is in there. Now some processes will use similar chemistries. Sodium thiosulfate, which we'll use for this process, is a fixing agent, and it's used in a number of different processes. So something like that I might use and then store somewhere else. But the Van Dyke solution, the Van Dyke brush, and all the components would be included in that. When we get to the platinum palladium here in a little bit, there is multiple vials, multiple options for that, so having that all organized is a good thing. And then the other part I like about that is sometimes I need more space than I have in my darkroom and if I need to print somewhere else I can just go in and grab that one bin and I know I have everything I need to print for the day.

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!