Photographs by Frank

15 August 2022

Nothing Precious

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Cuprotype — Tags: — Frank @ 9:00 PM

I spent Saturday experimenting with a newly rediscovered and modified process for making prints.

The Obernetter process, first described in the 1860s, uses iron and copper* to make brick-red images on paper. The pigment produced by this process is, most likely, Hatchett’s Brown (i.e. Cu(II) Ferrocyanide).

Several years ago, this process was updated by Jim Patterson (see:

A couple of weeks ago, Jan de Young posted on the results of an ‘out there’ experiment involving the reuse of used photographic fixer to make a print from a negative. Initially, I (and others) thought that Jan’s process was a variant of Van Dyke brown printing.

One thing lead to another and another fellow, Niranjan Patel (whom I have never met but that I feel I know well from his presence on various alt photo sites) posted to the altphoto email list, his take on these processes. Niranjan made the key discovery that silver (from the spent fixer) plays no role in this process and thus these images are not at all related to Van Dyke brown prints but rather are more accurately described as cuprotypes (i.e. copper-based images).

I won’t bore you with the technical details as I have posted them to the altphoto email discussion cited above. However, here are three examples on three different papers.

All three prints were made using the same chemistry. The reason for the different hues in final prints is unknown as yet. I’ll be trying a few more experiments in an attempt to understand these differences. However, given the vagaries of these alt processes we may never know.

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* Thus the title of this post… nothing precious as in no precious metals (e.g. silver, gold, platinum or palladium)!

1 Comment

  1. Very interesting! I think the third print is my fav. Haven’t you found one process as your go-to one, tey?

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 16 August 2022 @ 2:50 PM

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