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Alternative Photographic Processes - (Hand made photographic -emulsions and processes)


Processes - Manganese Lactate Printing

While there are some advantages to this process, it can be tricky to work with.

It is an inexpensive process that uses non toxic chemicals but produces extremely archivally stable images. This process is unique in that it produces a positive image, so if you desire a positive image, you will need to work with a positive transparency. Making photograms for instance will not produce the normal X-Ray negative like images.

By adding microbial cultures to milk it makes it go sour, and converts lactose to lactic acid.


11.5 Grams of Potassium permanganate : Before use, read Health hazards:.

28 ml of Lactic acid : Before use, read health hazards

8 grams of Glucose : Before use, read health hazards


It is important that these steps are follow carefully! Wear eye and other protection etc. Do this in subdued well ventilated area. While the chemicals are not toxic, during the mixing there is great heat generated, and the mixture can leave a stain on the hands.

Step 1.

Dissolve 11.5 grams of potassium permanganate in 100ml of distilled water. Because the lactic acid generates a great deal of heat as it combines with the potassium permanganate, once this first solution has dissolved, place the container in a larger container of cold water.

Step 2.

The Lactic acid ( 28ml) is combined with the potassium solution one drop at a time. It is liable to bubble and fume strongly and should be done in a safe environment. Wear eye and other protection like gloves etc. to do this in subdued well ventilated area. The lactic acid can be combined via an eye dropper, or run down a glass rod. A hollow glass tube used for scientific applications is ideal.

Handle it carefully.

Continue to mix well between each drop. Once all the lactic acid has been mixed, and the bubbling has ceased, the liquid should have a rather thick purple brown consistency. Be aware that while Lactic acid is relatively stable it deteriorate after about 5 years.

Sept 3:

Mix the final component. 8 grams of glucose in 30ml of hot distilled water, which is then left to cool and then filtered to take out any remaining crystals or irregularities. This is gently combined with the mixture. Failure to filter out these small crystals increases the chance of fish eye when the emulsion is coated on to the paper.

Step 4:

Coat paper or support base as appropriate in subdued or safe light and then place in a dark area to dry. Because the emulsion is a dark purple brown colour it is very easy to see the coating progress on the paper base. despite the apparent thickness of the emulsion it is actually quite thin and requires brushing in several directions to obtain an even coating. Once the emulsion has been brushed on with a brush, leave it to sit for a minute or so and then even out the coating with a foam brush. If the glucose crystals are not filtered from the mixture there is a good chance that fisheyes will appear on the emulsion surface as it drys.

Step 5:

The image is solar contact printed as for the Van Dyke Brown and Cyanotype. On a bright sunny day the exposure will be about 4min to 15 mins. You will need to do a test exposure so coat enough spare paper to allow for this. Be aware that a positive process like this reacts in a different manner than the standard photo-processes. The areas of the image that are too light will be so because they received too much exposure, darker areas are dark because they received a lesser exposure.

If the process is working, you will notice a thin negative appearance as well as a heavier positive image on the brown coating.

Step 6:

After the exposure the image needs to be developed. This is done in a saturated solution of aniline sulphate which produces a green positive image. Development takes about 30 seconds at 20 °C and works by bleaching the areas exposed to light while colouring the remaining areas. Once the process is complete, no fixing bath or clearing bath is necessary.

Step 7:

However the print should be washed for in continuously running water for 10mins before drying in the normal manner.

Alternative colourations:

By adding a few drops of ammonia (Before use, read Health hazards) to this solution the print can be developed up with a violet colour.

By adding orthotoluidine sulphate and a few drops of hydrochloric acid (Before use, read Health hazards)a Deep blue colouration can be obtained. For a normal image tone, use a solution of paraminophenol.



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