Processes

I use a variety of different techniques in my work, often the process is tailored to the meaning of the piece.

Large Format Cameras

I have a small selection of large format cameras. Alternative photography techniques require the negative produced to be the final size of the printed image. This requires large, often heavy and cumbersome cameras. My preferred cameras will create a negative of 5 inches by 4 inches which means my work is fairly small. Whilst bravado led many photographers to operate bigger and eventually huge cameras capable of impressive print sizes there is a quality to smaller prints that has made the 5×4 and half plate size the favourite of many practising alternative photographers.

Film

Film is arguably not an alternative photography technique but as digital imaging dominates the market of traditional photography it is generally viewed as an alternative process. Large format film is shot by the individual sheet. A single sheet of film can be developed by itself and separate images treated differently during development. Often with the added slowness and care in the large format process it is not uncommon for a single image to be taken of a subject. The uniqueness of each image is important to the artist and often you can recall the exact settings used, the weather and time of day that the exposure was taken.

‘Modern’ film isn’t ideal for alternative processes but several techniques exist to enable high quality contact prints to be made from a film negative.
I develop my film using home-made formulas. Commercial film developers whilst excellent for traditional printing and also scanning are not ideal for the development of a negative to be used for primitive photographic techniques. Experience dictates the time and temperature to develop the negative matched to the printing process.

Calotypes

Calotypes vastly out date film and is one of the first photographic processes discovered in 1840. Calotypes use a high quality paper stock, this then undergoes multiple processes to create a light sensitive paper that can be used instead of film. There are many variations on the process each offering advantages. For speed the original dubbed ‘talbotype’ is the most practical for portraiture. Talbotypes still demand exposure times considerably longer than modern film. However this process requires the paper surface to still be damp with the chemicals it was treated with during exposure and even during development in a darkroom. This can make talbotypes impracticable for venturing afar.

Contact Printing

Contact printing is a traditional and now alternative printing technique. A piece of high quality; usually cotton rag paper is treated by hand with various chemicals. This process makes  the paper sensitive to ultraviolet light. In darkness a negative is placed on top of the paper and the whole thing is locked down and sandwiched inside a printing frame. This printing frame is then placed outdoors and left to expose the print onto the paper. The quality of paper, the recipe of chemicals, the hand brushing or other coating methods and even the quality of light effect the result of the print. No two contact prints will be identical.