Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Lith printing

Lith printing is my new adventure, started just recently.
I thought it may be a nice technique for printing collodion glass negatives and I truly find the results much more interesting then with traditional B&W printing.
I did only two printing sessions - with film negative and with collodion ambrotypes and I still have a lot to learn, but I really like it so far. 
I like the fact that the results are unrepeatable and a bit unpredictable. On the other hand the choice of paper, exposure and development times give many options of controll and allows for creating completely different prints for the same negative. 
The interesting fact about lith printing is the way of controlling the contrast - brights are controlled by the exposure and darks by the development and can be adjusted separately. Short exposure time and long development will result in bigger contrast and fine grain, while long exposure and short development gives less contrasty and grainy, often 'dreamy' like prints. It will also influence the colour of the print. But a lot depends on the quality and age of the developer, which is exhausting very quickly. Development in this process is called 'infectious' what means that dark tones develop faster then bright ones and the darker they become the faster they develop. Watching this and waiting for the 'snatch' point can be very exciting. 

In my first steps I have used Fomatone MG classic matt and gloss papers and Rollei Vintage Lith Developer, and here are the examples:

contact print from 8x10 collodion plate, 40s exposure (f8,just to have comparison with times used for enlarging film negs) 6min development, Fomatone MG classic gloss:

25x25 cm print of 6x6 B&W negative, 2min exposure (f8), 11min development, Fomatone MG classic matt:

contact print from 4x5 collodion plate, 35s exposure (f8) 6min development, (gloss):

contact print from 8x10, varnished collodion plate, 90s exposure (f8) 7min development, (gloss).:

more about lith printing:


  1. High Monika, I'm also making lith prints with collodion ambrotypes. I don't think many are...
    I don't have an enlarger so I just use a light bulb. I've noticed I need very, very little light. I'm down to using a 7.5W bulb 2ft away.
    Is f/8 putting out little light? Only a few seconds and I have exposure.

  2. hi Scott,thanks for your comment and tips. yes f8 gives rather little light, I 'll experiment with some other light sources as well. Can I see your results somewhere?

  3. I had better results using a 25W bulb with cardboard over it and I poked a 1/4" hole. My own little aperture ;)
    I was having trouble with the mid tones and have a few plates that have been very helpful in learning more about lith using ambrotypes. The thin nature of the negative makes it different than film. Did you redevelop to do these? I think that's what's great about lith. You can use the ambrotype as is without the redevelopment.
    I have some fomatone coming Wednesday and also ordered some Fomalux. Fomatone I used earlier but mostly on film negs to try and understand lith. For ambrotypes I was vastly overexposing so it didn't go so well. Fomalux is a silver chloride contact paper (like azo) that is 30X slower than most papers and apparently liths beautifully. So I should be able to use regular light bulbs for exposure.

    I really haven't had much success but I'm on APUG, LFF and Quinn's Collodion forum under 'schrochem'
    Here are four that came out reasonably well. These are fomabrom so there is quite a bit of grain.