Alternative Processes – Lumen prints

Finally got some work made in class.  It’s kind of strange calling this photography, I don’t know if it counts or not; we aren’t using cameras.  We are using photo paper, though so it still counts as “chemical imaging” which as a term, I’ve always preferred to “analog photography.”  Lumens are made without chemicals, and are a reaction by various organic substances on photo paper, pressed behind a pane of glass and left in the sun for an extended period of time, usually longer than 10 minutes and up to several hours.  It’s a great way to use up some old photo paper if you’re not sure just how good it is anymore.  The colors can get pretty wild, especially interesting as all these examples are with black & white paper.  It would be nice to get some RA-4 paper and see what happens with that sometime.  The top two are Ilford fiber paper from the 1990s, the bottom two are probably still good Ilford RC paper from my Intro to Photography class a year and a half ago.

I brought a 7″ reel of junk tape with me from home, I thought maybe the oxide particles would interact with the paper, but they didn’t, however the citric acid and vinegar certainly did, and the tape effectively blocked all light from getting to the paper.  The one on the left was done with some mystery fluids that may/may not have contained vodka, one of the girls brought in all these spray bottles: some were labelled, some weren’t.  The top two images are before and after throwing the paper in fixer.  The instructor isn’t real crazy about fixing lumens sometimes, I guess she just really likes the colors before, and it certainly does change when the paper is thrown in the fixer.  I just can’t imagine keeping something in a light-tight box and never looking at it, but I suppose the scan would have to be enough.  I completely forgot about scanning the bottom two images before tossing them in the fixer; it would have been nice to have a before and after for those, but at least they’re not going to fade on me.

I’ve wondered if the color would be preserved if we were using color blix instead of black & white fixer, but I don’t happen to have any.  Maybe someone out there who does home color processing will give that a shot someday, it would be interesting to find out.

It’s about an hour and a half since class ended, I’ve just been in the photo lab scanning the rest of my work and trying to flatten out that fiber print in our press.  I really have to say: considering we’re all adults here and all of us have taken several photo classes already and should know our way around the darkroom, people sure do leave a mess sometimes.  For an hour I sat here in the classroom while I assumed there was someone in the darkroom printing, but actually there wasn’t, but whoever used it last left a pretty big mess all over the counters, left the fixer tray uncovered, and left the water running.  So being the only one left…  I feel sorry for the lab assistant; one thing I hate is cleaning up other people’s messes, and doing it on a regular basis must be hard indeed.

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One thought on “Alternative Processes – Lumen prints

  1. Pingback: Alternative Processes – Cyanotypes | The Resurrected Camera

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