Lith & Tone

Stanton Moor, Derbyshire

Picture 34 of 34

6x6cm Hasselblad, print split-toned in copper and selenium. © Roy Hammans. All rights reserved.


It’s easy to colour and print an image with digital photography, and countless identical copies can be made. But to do the same with a silver-based photograph is much more of a challenge.

This gallery shows traditional silver-based work where ‘alternative’ processing has been used. This may be the Lith Process or just straightforward print toning using a variety of chemical solutions.

The Lith process if quite complex and time-consuming, but the result is rather unique. In fact, reproducing exactly the same print more than once is even more of a challenge. Perhaps the leading exponent of the technique is the photographer Tim Rudman, with whom I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days back in 2009 learning his methods.

Toning silver prints is a fascinating topic about which Tim has written perhaps the most concise and thorough guide in ‘The Master Photographer’s Toning Book‘, now reissued but still rather expensive due to its rarity.

I have experimented with selenium, gold, copper and iron toning and some examples are shown here.

Images shown here originated in most cases from film negatives in a variety of sizes, but some work from digital negatives is also included. In every case though the final print is made in the darkroom in ‘the old-fashioned way’.