Photography Terms

Photography Terms

Albumen print 
A photographic printing process using egg whites in the emulsion.

Alternative Processes 
This term covers at least 35 distinct processes, some historic and some not; most having to do with processing the final print for unconventional effect.

A highly involved process than can generate one print or, in a transfer variation, many copies. Its chief quality is a delicate painterly/etcherly look. Lithographic ink is applied with a special brush to a gelatinized paper surface that selectively resists or attracts the ink.

A process by which a photographic print is made directly from a color transparency. Noted for rich color, brilliant clarity and unprecedented archival quality for color prints. Also called Ilfochrome.

Cyanotype and Vandyke 
These methods, and others, made from metals combined with their ferric salts (platinum, palladium, gold, copper, etc.) can produce infinite monochrome variations with capacity to convey special moods.

An early photographic process (invented in 1839) where the impression made on a light-sensitive silver-coated metal plate is developed by mercury vapor. Each is an original since no duplication process exists.

Dye transfer 
A method of making color prints or transparencies that gives the maximum control of color, balance and contrast. One of the most permanent color processes.

Gum Bichromate 
Often called “gum.” An early process in which exquisite colored prints are made by printing on paper coated with layer(s) of sensitized and pigmented gum arabic.

A recently discovered process which has the look and feel of some of the ancient processes. In combination with unpigmented gum, etching bleach and oil pigments, it is possible to build monochrome or polychromatic images.

An image printed on glass then backed in gold; also called gold-tone or curt-tone. It is often found in ornate, molded or gilded frames.

An old, but currently popular way of taking pictures using a simple box without a lense, but with a tiny hole and a sheet of film pinned inside opposite the hole. Produces unique perspective and dreamy focus.

A print in which the final image is formed in platinum or palladium. Both of these processes are extremely permanent and have delicate rich tones and ranges of greys that are unattainable in silver prints. These processes are enjoying a revival today with a number of contemporary photographers coating their own paper.

An intaglio printing process in which the image has been placed on the plate by photographic means using carbon tissues.

Polaroid Transfer 
It is possible to float off the emulsion layer of a conventional Polaroid print and apply it to a new paper support with interesting effects.

Silver print 
A generic term referring to all prints made on paper coated with silver salts. Most contemporary black and white photographs are silver prints.

A photograph printed within a very few years of the date when the negative was made. Prints made recently from original negatives that are old are called modern prints.