Experience the Van Dyke Brown Print Workshop

Experience the Van Dyke Brown Print Workshop

The Van Dyke brown process, named for its similarity in tone to the browns found in Van Dyke's paintings, is a simple and elegant alternative photographic process that yields rich brown-toned images. Below is an outline for a workshop program on how to create Van Dyke brown prints, including an overview of the process and a list of materials needed.

Workshop Programme: Van Dyke Brown Print Photography

Session of 3 hours (2 x 1 1/2 h.)

Date upon request

- Brief history of the Van Dyke brown process and its place in the history of photography.
- Overview of the process and what to expect during the workshop.

Materials Needed
- Participants will be introduced to the materials required for the process, which include:
- Van Dyke brown solution (ferric ammonium citrate and silver nitrate mixed with distilled water)
- High-quality, 100% cotton rag paper or other suitable art paper
- A brush or glass rod for coating the paper
- Negatives (digital negatives can be used, printed on transparency)
- A contact print frame
- UV light source (sunlight or a UV exposure unit)
- Developer (a simple solution of sodium carbonate)
- Stop bath (plain water works fine)
- Fixer (Sodium Thiosulfate)
- Washing tray and archival washing aid
- Protective gloves and safety glasses

Preparing the Paper
- Mixing the Van Dyke brown solution.
- Techniques for coating the paper evenly with the sensitizing solution.
- Drying the coated paper in the dark.

- Placing the negative on the sensitized paper in a contact print frame.
- Exposing the paper to UV light, timing the exposure based on test strips or experience.
- Discussing factors affecting exposure, such as the type of light, distance from the light source, and characteristics of the negative.

Developing and Finishing 
- Developing the print in the sodium carbonate solution to bring out the image.
- Stopping the development process by rinsing the print in water.
- Fixing the image to make it permanent.
- Washing the print thoroughly to remove any residual chemicals.
- Drying and flattening the prints.

Discussion and Wrap-up
- Reviewing the prints created by participants.
- Troubleshooting common issues and answering questions.
- Discussing ways to protect and display the finished prints.
- Providing resources for further learning and exploration of alternative photographic processes.

Additional Activities (Optional)
- Advanced techniques, such as toning or combining Van Dyke brown prints with other processes (e.g., cyanotype).
- Field trip to photograph subjects for creating digital negatives tailored to the Van Dyke brown process.

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