The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Living Process Life List

I have to admit I was a little punchy late last night when I wrote the "Don't Shine No Light On Me" post. Tuesday, you see, set yet another record for single-day attendance on T.O.P., busting Monday's record-busting performance by thousands of hits, and also, late last night we surpassed 1,000,000 total hits for the blog's brief existence (it's been going since late November of last year). That's not big-time by internet standards, but it's really not too shabby for a photography blog. Thank you, one and all—really. I'm very pleased.

In the same post I also breezed rather cavalierly past John Brewer's APUG Gallery offering, a cyanotype rather inscrutably entitled "Hens and Chickens." (It's the colloquial name of the plant, or actually the name is "hen and chicks." Whatever. Thanks to RS for telling me this.) But it really is quite a nice little cyanotype, cyanotype being a process that is (IMO) difficult to find an appropriate subject for. It also seems a picture that might work pretty well as a 4x5" contact print, another rather difficult fit for appropriate subject matter—I've seldom seen contacts that small that work very well. And you can buy a print for $40–$45 from the APUG Gallery. That's more than reasonable, it's, er, cheep. (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)

It put me in mind of a list I cobbled together many years ago: a "Life List" of photographic processes. The idea—inspired by birders, of course—was to collect examples of a number of different photographic processes from among reasonably available possibilities. It wouldn't be feasible to collect examples of every single photographic process, I don't think—you might find an autochrome or a salt print, but I doubt you'll ever find an Azochrome or a Woodburytype. And it's questionable whether some things (a coffee print, for instance, or a WWII wartime iron print, or an early Type C print) are worth owning. Still, I think it's fun and instructive to own some examples of "living processes," meaning techniques that are still being employed by working photographers today, perhaps with the addition of those historical processes that are feasible to come by, such as Daguerreotypes. You can still find Daguerreotypes in many antique stores. I have three of them, albeit all inherited.

Here's a basic birder's list for Living Processes:

Albumen print
Kodak Brownie print (the round ones)
Kodachrome 25 slide
Gum bichromate print
Carte de visite
Polaroid image transfer
Platinum/palladium print
Kallitype/Van Dyke print
Paper negative print
Gold-toned POP print
Pinhole photograph
8x10 contact print
Stereo print
Diana print
SX-70 print
Dye transfer print

I'm not a big collector myself, but I own examples of everything on this list save for an albumen print and a Polaroid transfer (never ran across the former and never cared for the latter).

Have I fogotten anything obvious? I'm just going off the top of my head here. Oh, cyanotype, of course, like John Brewer's nice little bargain sale print.


P.S. Our Official Millionth Visitor has won a COMPLETELY RESTORED FERRARI 308 GTB. He's a Mr. Richard Feyder of Fort Lee, New Jersey. Richard, please contact us for the keys. We're not pikers here on T.O.P. (Well, actually, we are.)


Blogger Richard Sintchak said...

Hens and Chickens because that's the name of the plant in the photo.

1:18 PM  
Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

Is your carte de visite warm toned and on thin paper mounted to a card, from the period of about 1865-1900? If it is, it is very likely an albumen print.

1:19 PM  
Blogger fizzy said...

Mike -- I think you Slashdotted APUG.

1:34 PM  
Blogger Matt Miller said...

How about carbon & bromoil?

1:54 PM  
Blogger Ernest Theisen said...

Well you missed a couple, Bromoil and Bromoil Transfer and the related Oil Print. Several hundred of us all over the world doing them. Lots of people still doing Carbro and Direct Carbon. Check out this site.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Yvonne said...

Mikey: You get all those visitors because yours is simply the most entertaining photography blog on the net. It's done wonders procrastinators everywhere. I think I should limit myself to one visit a day, but like nacho chips, it's hard to stop at one. Keep up the good work.

Cheers, YC

2:52 PM  
Blogger Will said...

also has several good articles on various processes.

"Hens & Chicks" is the name of the plant in the picture.

I don't think you slashdotted apug. They have issues every once in awhile.

Hint: view source, find direct link to image, paste into url

2:58 PM  
Blogger H_Leighton said...



3:10 PM  
Blogger Tom Monego said...

Isn't a Diana print a silver print, as a pinhole camera print? Diazo is really a commercial cyanotype, almost the same chemicals.


3:39 PM  
Blogger Max said...

Has anyone tried making pinhole images with one of those 39mp medium format backs? That should be a record in backwards thinking. But I guess originality counts.

7:39 PM  
Blogger jamietie said...

I don't know about the 39mp backs, but I've made a fair number of pinhole images with a 6mp Canon 10 and a pinhole lens cap.
An interesting effect, but not nearly as cool as on film. On major problem is that the microlenses on the front of the sensor tend toward color fringing. The fringing isn't so visible in this picture, but it's an example of a digital pinhole picture.

8:25 PM  
Blogger fivetonsflax said...

David, aren't you making albumen prints these days? Mike, you could definitely do worse than to own an original David Goldfarb print ...

8:53 PM  
Blogger fivetonsflax said...

I'd love to make pinhole pictures with my Canon DSLR -- I've even got the lens. But I have to find some way to get my sensor clean before I can make anything usable. ... Because *everything*, I mean *everything*, shows up at f/170.

8:56 PM  
Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

Hey, Ben, I didn't see you hiding in there. Yes, I'm making albumens. I'm off on Moloka'i for the next several weeks, though, so no new ones until I'm back home in August.

10:39 PM  
Blogger mcappello said...

Back in the 80s I did Kwik Prints.

2:17 AM  
Blogger H_Leighton said...

1:55 PM  
Blogger Robert Roaldi said...

For my high school camera club (late 60's) we were going to boil down an ox bone in acid to make gelatin (or however it's done), ember it with silver bromide and paste it onto a sheet of plastic to make film. But the guy in the club forgot to get a bone, and the chemistry teacher wouldn't let us do it anyway.

So, instead, we tried using a B&W reversal kit on a roll of Panatomic X (ASA 25 if I recall) and made some neat slides that I still have.

2:10 PM  
Blogger Dave New said...

Don't forget the Polaroid Swinger black and white prints that required the little squeegee of smelly liquid to stop the pictures from fading.

I still have my collection of Swinger photos from when I was a teen, including experimental double-exposure and split-frame shots (done with a piece of cardboard with a corner cut out, taped over the lens).

3:11 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home