Define 'Alternative Process' : LUSENET : B&W Photo: Alternative Process : One Thread

Will someone please define 'Alternative Process' please? Anything non-silver? Then what about coat-it-yourself silver emulsions? Can formats be 'alternative'? Panoramic, for example? How sharp does a pinhole photo have to get before it's no longer 'alternative'? And why is infrared film considered 'alternative' since it's a commonly available material?

-- Peter Hughes (, December 24, 1998


Excellent question, Peter!

The way I define it--and others may have different definitions--is that anything about the picture-taking or photoprocessing aspects of photography that strays the standard method could be considered "alternative". Anything that alters what the camera saw, or the image, presents the image in an unusual way (like hand-coated emulsion on some unusual surface) or is a revived "old fashioned" processing technique, I believe we can safely classify as "alternative".

I think the exception is Panoramic, which is really about film formats more than process. BTW, in the grand scheme of things, Infrared may be commonly available to those who search it out, but it's certainly not used often, and it definitely alters reality.

Hope this helps!


-- Mason Resnick (, December 24, 1998.

How about the new black & white via color processing film. I just bought a roll to try and will do so asap! How are enlargements from this film as opposed to regular B&W enlargements? I no longer own an enlarger and was wondering about these enlargements as to whether the quality is there or not.

-- George David Snow (, June 08, 1999.

Alt-process prints are photo-chemically or photo-electronic captured images transferred onto a stable surface (e.g. water color paper) with techniques which may have never been acknowledged in typical photography. These prints charm the viewer with an off the beaten track handmade print which categorically announce they were not produced at the regular Photoshop. They look and feel different from ordinary photographic prints and are generally found in art galleries and museum exhibits.

These days interest for alternative photo processes seems to be increasing. Even the oldest methods like Daguerreotype, Salted paper, Cyanotype, Albumen, Kallitype, Platino type, Palladiotype are making a come back. Plus some newer processes like the Polaroid image and emulsion transfer are contributing as people break away form the typical way to express them selfs photographically. At least 35 distinct processes can be counted under the term of alternative photography processes some historic some not but most having to do with an image making process that is created through unconventional ways for an exceptional image effect

-- Farah Mahbub (, May 07, 2000.

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