Developing Photos Is Way More Fun When It’s Kinda Dangerous
Photography

Developing Photos Is Way More Fun When It’s Kinda Dangerous

Brittany Nelson isn’t your typical photographer. Instead of making pictures with a camera, she creates fascinating textures and patterns using black and white photo paper and chemicals in an obscure process that’s just a bit dangerous. In Alternative Processes , Nelson uses archaic development techniques like tintype and Mordancage to create bizarre and beautiful abstractions. She’s never quite sure how things will turn out, because everything is left to chance as the chemicals mix in the tray. Mordançage is a relatively new name for an early 19th century process called called etch-bleach that photographers of that era used to reverse film negatives to positives. Jean-Pierre Sudre coined the term in the 1960s when he applied the technique using photographic paper instead of film. He and others often used the process as something of an analog Instagram filter, giving portraits and still lifes a melodramatic, haunted feel. Working with mordançage is a curious and difficult endeavor. First, a black and white print on silver gelatin paper is soaked in a toxic solution of copper chloride, glacial acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide. The result is a bright blue mixture that sometimes “bubbles like a cauldron,” Nelson says. […]

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