Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography

Lesson 18/49 - Sharing Curves


Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography


Lesson Info

Sharing Curves

You've got this curve, you got your map, things have worked well and then you wanna share it with somebody else. So that's also the reason that you can basically, in that same process where you did the curve renaming up there, once you've saved that curve, it's one of the reasons that naming becomes important, is you're able to share that curve out with somebody else. So if you're gonna share the curve, all you have to do is, I'll save this to my desktop. When you save that curve out, what you end up with is a file that looks like that. So it's just gonna have in there a little script file that basically tells Photoshop where to put the points on the curve. It doesn't matter if you're on a Mac, it doesn't matter if you're on Windows, it, pretty much, doesn't matter if you're on a newer version or an older version of Photoshop. So if you create this curve preset, you can share it with pretty much anybody else. So one of the things that I like to do is, if I'm working on my process and I...

'm doing cyanotypes and I'm using a certain printer and I can find somebody else that's doing the same thing, we can swap curves and see like how close are the curves, how much of a difference is there in the printers. Also, I have friends who work on different printers than I do. So if I'm sending them work, cause I want them to print it on their printer for whatever reason, or they're printing a project for me and they need to reprint a negative, I can start to see the response that their curve has by sharing it. The one reason I bring it up is a lot of antivirus programs will see it as a script and will actually scrub it out. So you're gonna want to put it into a zip file, an archive file or change the extension and then have it changed back, because several of the virus scanners will go in and actually pull that out. But it's an amazing way. And the community of people who work on alternative processing is a very sharing and open community. So they're really good about working to share that kind of information. So it's not uncommon to find curves to download or somebody asking for a curve like that. It's one of the great elements of the community for that. Okay, we're zoomed in here on this curve. Do you see how 20, 30 and 40 almost appear to be the same? If I bring up the curve adjustment here and if I look at where 20% is and I look at where 30% is, again, that looks like a pretty significant slope in the line. But what you're looking for ... Okay, you can see now that 20 and 30 are, for the most part, identical. This is what you're looking for when you print. So you'll see this in some of the sample step wedges, we'll show you when we get to the cyanotype. When those print the same, they're gonna look the same on the computer as well. And that's the key of what you're looking for in that little extra side step wedge. So if you get somebody else's shared curve, their ink in their printer, may allow the way their curve is set up for their 20 and 30 to actually be separated. But when you print, they'll look the same. So when you do your test, when you get one of these third-party curves or somebody else's curve, when you print them and you look at that step wedge, you're looking for where 20 and 30 look the same. Because if you look at the difference between, say, 50 and 60, that looks like about a 10% change. So those little step wedges can help you come in and figure that out. And I always, always, this is why I always like the 21-step wedge, is when I get a curve that I didn't create. It gives me a chance to come in and look for where those little pieces are compressed and then I can come in and make the change. And you can see, just by that little bit of a drag, I can start to get the separation in there. But now you can see that 20 is lighter than 10. I'll make it even a little bit more. So if I did this it would dark 10, bright 20, dark 30. So as I make that correction, I'm still gonna make sure that I can hold that separation. What I might need to do to get 20 to 30, I got 30 to 40 to match, I now might also need to adjust 10 a little bit to get 10 to 20. So when you're getting somebody else's curve, because like I said when we were talking about printer settings and print pre-settings, those inks, those dyes, all of those little things are different. And just between the K3 ink and the Ultrachrome ink from Epson, there was a little bit of a shift. And I like the shift, I like the change in technology, I like the improvement that we get, but that does require a little bit of a calibration. So you're gonna come in and look for this. And this is why a little bit of visualization might keep you out of having to redo the whole step wedge testing reformulation. Because if you can make that gradation change, you might be able to use somebody else's curve. Or, if you switch papers, is the other place you'll see this a lot. You switch from Arches Platine to Stonehinge, you're like oh, all I need to do is just a little bit of a tweak there. I don't actually need to print, scan, measure, find my 40 and do all that work. I can literally just change a little bit of the slope I have as I'm getting started there. Alright, a couple of other things when you're working with a curve and when you're working with the structure for your file to keep aware of. Keep an eye on that color space, because I wanna change the color space of the file here. We'll convert. And if we zoom back in on that step wedge, look at the 30 and 40 change. So the other thing to keep an eye on is as you're dragging and dropping documents and you're dragging and dropping files back and forth, this file right now is in Pro Photo. If I create a new document in the Adobe RGB space ... I should probably make one a little bigger than that. And I'm gonna drag and drop this, I'll grab this whole piece. And I drag and drop that into my other layers. I gotta find it, where'd it go? Close that. Close that, too small screen. I'll get it, I'll get it, I know exactly what to do. We're gonna move that over there so that I can find it. And I drop it in. When I drag and drop that, I've gotta make sure that it stays in the target profile space. Occasionally you'll get a message for convert to profile. You wanna make sure you converted into the Adobe RGB space. If it stays in the Pro Photo when you drag and drop, you'll have a mismatch. And sometimes you just click by that dialogue box. The other piece, which I should've shown you earlier but I just thought of, that's gonna trip somebody up because it happens all the time when you're creating the curve. I should've shown this to you earlier. When you add a new point in, so the value of this point is 52 and the value of that point is 64. So if I click in there and I want to add a value of 89, it's gonna pop up and give me this message. This message will appear because I'm bounded on that point, between those two of the input has to be between 53 and because that's where those two points are on the curve. Because I put in a value of 89, it says I can't bound that input between there because the input is stuck between those two other points. So you'll see this sometimes, particularly when you're creating the initial curve, because that's what's getting set up for those points to be created. And so, as you're clicking it's best to just go in order, but if you get this, it's because you're trying to input a number outside the bounds of two dots you've already created.

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!