Introduction to Alternative Processing in Photography


Lesson Info

Van Dyke: Clean Up Process

Last piece I wanted to talk about is in the clean up process the toner you're going to save cause you can replenish it and reuse it. So can just go into a dark colored jar. Your wash goes down the drain unless by local disposal rules you're not allowed to do that. But the fixer, so the fixer is is sodium phiosulfate mixer you're gonna come up with. This can be used over over again, until it exhausts. And there's a little test you can use. There's some little drops you can put in there. Depending on the size, it's, somebodies gonna ask, well how many prints can I run through It's gonna depend on the size of the print. Amount of chemistry you have. So it's hard to give you an exact number. How much you mixed up. But in general you'll get 20, 30 prints probably before it starts to degrade. But this can not go down the drain. This has the residual silver that's left in it. If you have a septic system, that silver will kill your process like that. If you're in the municipal system, it kills...

the system like that. And heavy metals really probably shouldn't be put back into our drinking water and waste water. So, this one we definitely want to dispose of properly. There's a couple of ways to do that. You just basically dump it into a, I put mine into old, get distilled water that I'm using, it just goes back into the distilled water jug when it's done. I write fixer on the outside. Cause I'm not like oh distilled water. Goes in there and then most municipalities have a hazardous waste place which will actually recycle that. A lot of, if you're in a major city, that has a photo school or a university that has a photo chemical department. They'll often times have what's called a silver reclamator, and you can just take it and you dump it into their reclamator and the machine pulls the silver out and then the school can sell the silver off and they can make money to help pay for different elements or different aspects of the program through the reclamation of the silver. Another option you can do, is if you drop steel wool into the bottom, this is my favorite from a chemistry standpoint, you drop steel wool into the bottom of your fixed container that's expired and then come back a few weeks later and the silver will have plated to the steel wool. So you end up with this silver steel wool plated and then at the point where all the silvers out of there you end up with basically an inert liquid. So that's another process and there's methods for that online. But the safest, most responsible way to do. Send it off to the hazmat center. They'll repurpose it, take care of it properly. Probably reclamate it. Or like I said, if you have a school, it's a great way for them to find some way to get some income, particular in the time when it's hard for schools to get funding. The photo school I work at, we reclamate a lot of silver. We make a few thousand dollars a year usually on silver reclamation coming off of the various prints and things like that. So I haul mine, I'm down to that. You can just look for a school and it's called a silver reclamator, is the thing you want to ask for. Alright, so any questions from anybody? I did have a question online from SFX who said, would you follow the same bath process on a wood substrate, if you, you were talking about processing onto other types of material. Following the process I would follow the exact same process. You gotta get to the same, you gotta wash off the residual salts. You gotta fix it so that it has some level of permanence. Now, how long it would be in the fixer, things like that would require some experimentation. But that'd be a great question. There are some alt processing forums up on, they just moved PhotoRio is a name of a website that is a lot of alt processors are up there. And then, like I said, that information is probably I guess Sandy, King, or Mike Where somebodies probably got some fixing information about using wood. But yeah, that would be a, definitely the same process would be used. The time I don't know how to answer that.

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!