Fine printing process

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Joseph Nicéphore Nièpce : "View from the window of Le Gras"
The oldest surviving photograph, taken in 1826 using the asphalt process ( heliography or niepcotype)

The generic term high quality printing is mainly used in artistic photography and printmaking and includes all manually performed photochemical processes for the production of the printing block and for reproduction on paper or glass with light-sensitive chemicals. As a photographic process there is the totality of all chemical techniques used in photography, with which a photographic image on a carrier material (for example paper, glass, celluloid, screen) in the coated thereon photographic emulsion is produced.

Concept history

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, a multitude of techniques and processes for reproduction in photography and printing technology were developed. They formed the basis for today's printing techniques and imaging processes. These methods are still used today by artists and artist photographers and, as a distinction to the industrially used processes, are called fine printing processes . Originally the term noble printing only referred to the positive process on paper.

Types of procedure

A basic distinction is made between positive , negative and direct positive procedures . According to the photosensitive chemicals used, the techniques can be grouped as follows:

Chrome gelatin process

Josef Jindřich Šechtl: Lake Jordán in Tábor, around 1920
bromine pressure

Here the chemical principle is based on the tanning of gelatine (or other colloids ) under the action of light, which are mixed with ammonium dichromate or potassium dichromate ( chromate process ).

The tanned gelatin ...

  • ... is molded by being pressed into lead and transferred in this way to a printing block

Asphalt process

In the asphalt process, the photographic use is based on the photosensitivity of asphalt , which hardens when exposed to light. An image is created by brushing off or peeling off the unexposed areas with oil. Joseph Niépce took the first photograph in 1822. The oldest surviving photograph dates from 1826 (see fig.)

Halogen silver processes

Hand-colored daguerreotype from 1850 by J. Garnier

Halogen silver processes with bromine , iodine , chlorine or fluorine compounds were developed in the middle of the 19th century. They are still used today in photographic papers. Silver bromide papers are common photo papers for black and white photos. The silver compounds used are the silver halides: silver bromide , silver iodide , silver chloride and silver (I) fluoride .

The halogen silver layer ...

Process with iron compounds

Elmar Ratzkowsky: Bread and Wine, Kallitypie around 2005
Studio recording, digitally recorded, printed out as a negative using a computer and exposed as a kallitypie on Fabriano watercolor paper.
The cyanotype was initially used for photographic purposes, but the shade of blue was not particularly popular for photography.
  • Kallitypie = brown print , sepia print , Vandyke process , argentotype , Van-Dyke-Braun - 1889
This is a cyanotype process that was improved through experiments by John Herschel

(Heavy) metal process

These processes are the finest of the high-quality printing processes. The tones of the pictures and halftones are as noble as the material.

Color process

Other fine printing processes

Other photographic processes

See also


  • Wolfgang Autenrieth: New and old techniques of etching and fine printing. From witch's meal and dragon's blood to the photopolymer layer. Tips, tricks, instructions and recipes from five centuries - An alchemistic workshop book 6th edition, Krauchenwies 2010, ISBN 978-3-00-035619-3 ( table of contents , (→ excerpts online) )
  • Eder, Josef Maria - The pigment process, bromine and rubber printing, blueprint and dusting processes with chromates, pinatypia, kodachrome, hydrotyping, copying processes with coloring organic compounds, diazotype processes, images with tanning and chromogenic developers and artificial resins, Knapp, Halle, 1926, 600 p. Detailed handbook of photography Volume IV (reprinted by Lindemans Buchhandlung, Stuttgart, 1990, ISBN 3928126091 )
  • Heidtmann, Frank. - Fine art photographic printing processes today: rubber printing, oil printing, bromo oil printing, transfer printing, pigment printing, Carbro, Erwino process, three-color process, photo engraving and many others. ISBN 3870611839 Berlin [West]: Berlin-Verlag 1978. 349 pp.
  • Jaroslav Husnik, August Albert: The entire field of collotype and enamel photography . (= Chemical-technical library ; vol. 22). 5th edition completely revised and supplemented by August Albert. A. Hartleben, Vienna and Leipzig 1922

Web links

Commons : Photographic processes  - collection of images