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how to make creative lumen prints

Lumen Print Tutorial

Lumen prints are an incredibly an incredibly rewarding way to introduce yourself to the world of contacting printing, the biggest plus in their favour is that you don’t really need a darkroom to get them to work. Head out into the garden with some shears, cut off some leaves, branches and flower heads and get making!

Lumen printing – What you will need

  1. Black and White darkroom paper
  2. The Sun (this even appears in England)
  3. Organic material (leaves, flowers etc.)
  4. Flat surface (or flat board if you’re going to move it outside)
  5. Sheet of glass if possible
  6. Fixer


In a pitch black room, or a dark room under red light (If you don’t have access to a darkroom then your best bet is completing these steps at night) lay your photographic paper down onto your flat surface/board. Fixing it down is preferable as the wind may well blow it away, blu-tack works fine. Next, add the item you wish to make a print of, leaves, flowers and other cuttings from the garden are a good place to start as they are readily accessible. Place the item on top of the photo paper and ten place your sheet of glass over the top. This has the advantage of protecting your paper from the elements if a sudden shower occurs and will also stop the object from blowing away. It also squashes the object and anything that is in direct contact with the paper will be much sharper than an object which hovers slightly above it. Then put your photographic paper in direct sunlight. Depending on where you are in the world you may have to leave it for anywhere up to a week. I find that the most bizarre colours appear the longer that the paper is left, a week is the minimum exposure time for me but that may be because of the weak English summers of late. Lastly, once a sufficient amount of time has passed, take your object off of your photographic paper and place it in a fix bath. And that’s it, cameraless photography at it’s easiest. The images below are of branches from a tree in the garden, sandwiched onto the paper with a heavy piece of glass and left outside for a week. You can tell that it rained that week as water marks have appeared on the bottom half of the image, I think i’ll call that character.

lumen printing tutorial

This piece is a blossom tree, something about the triptych looks much more satisfying when mounted. Again, do not be fooled, this is indeed black and white photography paper. Cheap paper too from I havn’t had an opportunity to experiment with different paper stocks but I’ve seen deep reds and prussian blues all appear from different brands and weights of paper. Another awesome resource for lumen prints and all things based around alternative photographic process related is Malin runs a great site and has been kind enough to feature my alternative photographic processes before.

how to make creative lumen prints

Researching Lumen prints throws up some interesting images in Google, but for all the articles out there, the majority of the images are fairly similar and Lumen prints seem to be relatively unexplored. I wanted to push the boundary and explore what could be done with the introduction of layering silhouettes onto the image. After a few individual test prints of hydrangeas it became apparent that it didn’t take a huge imaginative leap to liken them to lungs or even the brain. It took three attempts, but the image below was born. It has awakened a new phase in my image making, converting from three dimensions to two makes one approach the project in a completely different fashion to regular photographic processes


lumen print




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