I thought I had posted this over a year ago. Apparently, I was mistaken.


Solarization is a style of print exposure and development whose appearance is markedly different from “normal” photographic representation. Unlike such strategies as negative prints or the use of camera lens filters, the resulting print is a unique distortion of the tonal scale that does not appear to conform to that of the original scene.

For a successfully solarized print, try a negative that would normally print well with a #2 or #1 filter (dense/over-developed/a contrasty scene), and a #5 filter. The printing procedure that follows is a series of steps that approaches repeatability (although the process is notoriously difficult to control).

Each piece of photographic paper receives two exposures and is developed twice. An acid stop bath would inhibit the second development, so set up an extra tray of plain water for a rinse in between the developments.

(Does this help?)

Use full sheets of paper to make test “grids” rather than strips. Make exposures for, say, three-second increments at f 8. Develop, then rinse thoroughly for up to a minute; drain, squeegee and/or blot in some combination in order to remove all the water from the emulsion. (At this point some images may not show much at all for some of the exposures. Don’t worry: this may work in your favor when the process is finished.) Return the paper to the enlarger. (It is practical to place a sheet of contact printing glass on top of the easel to keep the damp paper from the easel and baseboard.) Make a second series of exposures without the negative (but still with the #5 filter) perpendicular to the first, for maybe two seconds each at f 16, then develop, stop and fix the paper normally.

Examine the grid of to find a combination of exposures you think will work for the image. Unlike traditional representational printing, there may be a wide spectrum of interesting choices.

For many more details, see:

Note to selves: let’s try adding more potassium bromide to the developer and not rinsing in between developments.

Update: I did post before, after all:

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