Jan 262011

Among the day-to-day workings of the Studio, I always endeavour to make time for new projects and research that will ‘bring something else to the party’.

You may have caught these posts from last year (after clicking, scroll down), when I first started working with HP’s Large Format Digital Negative Application.

Well, ever since, I have been in regular contact with an aficionado of the Alternative Process, Richard Freestone, and initial testing is now underway.

Currently, we are working with Callotypes, or Salt Prints, with a view to ultimately producing Platinum/Palladium Prints.

As Richard describes, “These are Salt Prints, or ‘Callotypes’ as Fox Talbot named them when he announced the process back in 1840.

“The paper is first soaked in salt water and dried thoroughly. It is then coated with a Silver Nitrate sensitizer and again dried. After exposure with the negative under an Ultra Violet light, it is washed and fixed with Hypo before being washed again and dried.

“Longevity-wise, it is worth noting that some of Fox Talbot’s original prints are still as good as the day they were made.”

HP’s process is comprised of two stages to achieve the Digital Negative…

Firstly, a Target Print is created to enable us to assess how the digital file should be treated.  This has a beauty all of its own:

Callotype Target Print made with HP's Large Format Digital Negative Application

Callotype Target Print made with HP's Large Format Digital Negative Application

The second stage involves the production of the Digital Negative itself, made on the basis of the Target, printed with HP’s DJz3200 onto a specialist film, suited to Alternative Printing Processes:

Digital Negative made with HP's Large Format Digital Negative Application

Digital Negative made with HP's Large Format Digital Negative Application

“But why is it green?”, I hear you ask…

Well, this is the beauty of HP’s process; researchers and engineers on the project have found the green channel on the DJz3200 to act as the perfect UV cut for making Alternative Process Digital Negatives, hence their green appearance.

When the final print is ready from the above negative (an image from my own archive) you will be among the first to see a digital photograph of it!  I’ll keep you posted…

Finally, while we’re in ‘analogue mode’, I thought you might also like to see this topical video clip on the demise of the photographic darkroom:

  7 Responses to “Alternative Negative”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Digital Basics and Jack Lowe Studio, Jack Lowe Studio. Jack Lowe Studio said: Blog Post 70 | "Alternative Negative" More on the Digital Negative process at JLS. Feel free to post a comment: http://bit.ly/gTcHpG […]

  2. Good luck with your alt printing journey. I’m using the Epson 3880 myself, for pt/pd, but I look forward to seeing your progress with the HP. It looks a great machine, and it’s nice to see some support for digital negatives from a large company.

  3. Absolutely – HP have always been excellent on that front, in my opinion.

    I’ll keep you posted with further news…

    Best, JL

  4. Thanks for that Jack! I was experimenting with some large salt print photograms in sunlight a while back, and weirdly enough was thinking of them & you yesterday morning wondering how good a repro you might be able to get by scanning and printing. Unfortunately a long way down the list of priorities at the moment but I love it that you keep my best dreams alive ;-} Can’t wait to see the prints.

  5. My pleasure and thank you for posting, Julia…

    Maybe a new slogan, “Jack Lowe Studio | Keeping Dreams Alive”

    Best wishes,


  6. Good to meet you today Jack. Like you I have found Green to be the colour of choice for digital negatives. Northern Print have run a few courses on Van Dyke and Cyanotype and I showed a couple of pictures at their Christmas open show and Bruce Reid bought one. I suggested to Rebecca that maybe there was enough interest to start an Alt Photo group in the northeast. I started printing with alt chemistry a few years ago when I did a project at the museum in Bradford based on the work of Juiet Margaret Cameron. We did some pinhole portraits ( just to slow the process down and introduce an element of uncertainty) and then made and printed some digital negs using Mike Ware’s Argyrotype (Kallitype). Would be good to talk to you sometime soon and I’ll show you some of the tests I’ve done with 3 colour Gum printing which I am slowly getting to work for me.

  7. Good to meet you too, Chris.

    All great food for thought… JL

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