In part of three of making prints of my shoot with Cognito, I made a kallitype from a film scan. A kallitype is an iron-based contact printing solution that yields a wonderful tonality that, in my opinion, can only be found in analogue printing. Here’s a quick overview of the process and some thoughts on why you should venture out and try something different!
A Truly Hybrid Process
As film photographers, by far the most common workflow is the lab route. We handle the film and camera, send the exposed film off to a lab, and then get back digital files. There’s nothing wrong with this approach, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t options out there for increasing how much hands-on time we have with our own work. In the last video, I made prints in the darkroom. This can be very daunting, as you really do need a light-tight dedicated space with room for a tray setup, chemicals, an enlarger, etc.
With kallitype, you can do the entire process in one tray and it can be prepped in a tungsten-lit room. Any old light bulb will do for prepping your work! Although I used a DIY UV light box for control, you can, with a watchful eye, expose the image out in the sun. A kallitype can also be toned using very stable metals for archival longevity. In the video, I use palladium and gold to tone my images. This not only creates an attractive color, but ensures that my print will last for decades at a minimum.
But one of the coolest things about kallitype and many other contact print processes is that you don’t need to shoot on film to do it. You can invert a digital black and white file and create your own negatives on transparency. You can print these on an inkjet printer!
As creatives, we get tired of producing the same kind of images over and over. At least, I know I do. A break in the norm can be really helpful in escaping the creative ruts that we find ourselves in. Why not try an alternative process? You can create some truly beautiful work while learning something new and adding to your tool bag. There are many other processes out there besides kallitype that you can try out. Some of them, such as cyanotype, are pretty cheap.
How To Get Started
I have a fantastic book, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes. It’s a wonderful reference book that has detailed recipes, equipment lists, and helpful tips for many processes. Although not a necessity on day one, it will be a fantastic resource as you continue on your journey.
Bostick & Sullivan is a fantastic resource for purchasing the materials you’ll need for your chosen process. They have everything from brushes to UV boxes to chemicals.
Thanks for following along as I made these three videos! Hopefully, they have inspired you to venture out and try something new. As the saying goes, “there’s more than one way to skin a cat.” Don’t get bogged down in routine. Keep on learning!