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Photogram projects by Lloyd Godman - photogram artists

Related photogram techniques

Rather than simply laying objects onto a piece of light sensitive paper, there are also some other related techniques that are also called "photograms".  

Luminogram, Chemigram, Clich'e verre


"In the case of the Chemigram photochemical reactions themselves contribute to the contents of the picture in that one creates the image by manipulating the photochemical process or else by applying the chemicals manually, thus combining painting with photography" Floris Neususs

In normal photographic processing great care is needed to cover the exposed print with even amounts of developer - this gives even development over the the entire surface so as no chemical marks show on the final print..

Although the results might be somewhat uncontrollable and unpredictable, Chemigrams not only exploit the uneven marks chemicals might leave on the paper they are actually made by applying either developer or fixer onto the print in an uneven manner.

They can be made by painting, dripping or spraying developer onto various areas of a fully exposed piece of paper, or the paper can be activated with a range of chemicals during development. Adam Fuss for instance has made photograms of rabbits with their entrails lying on the paper. As well as the physical body of the animal, the body fluids  become part of the image through the exposure to light and as a chemical reaction to the material.)

The adjacent Chemigram  was made by painting weak solutions of developer and fixer over the paper as it was being exposed to a very dim light. It was frequently washed with water, repainted and splashed etc.


Dichroic fog

In normal processing if fixer contaminates areas of the print before it is developed strange often swirly marks appear. this is where the two chemicals have reacted - the fixer is working an areas before the developer can get to them or fully develop them. It often comes from fixer carry over into the developer try, or if a piece of paper is discarded in the bottom of the sink. Chemigrams use this normally undesired technique to produce images or effects on the paper.

So we could use a wide range of creative chemical applications. Below are some possibilities

1. To produce a purely abstract image, fixer of various dilutions might be applied to selective areas of the paper then the paper exposed to light, developed and then fixed

2. The paper might be exposed to light, then various dilutions of developer painted on and washed off then the print fixed.

3. An image might be exposed onto the paper and the same technique of applying various dilutions of developer painted on and washed off then the print fixed.

4.An image might be exposed onto the paper and areas painted with diluted fixer then developed

By combining any of these there is a wide range of possibilities. Just remember that when you mix developer and fixer you can produce some interesting results, but the more work you make the more mixed the chemicals become an dafter a while you make have to start with a fresh batch of chemicals.



A detail of a section of the chemigram above. Notice the layering as various strength developers have been painted on and then wash off.

There can often be a problem with chemigrams on Black & White paper stabilizing the image. If the image is formed through painting various developers onto the paper in a room light, to form a wonderful array of subtle colours, the silver image still has to be be fixed to stabilize it. In the process the colours can shift remarkably. There appears to be only two alternatives:

*Keeping the image stabilized in the dark is not really a practical solution.

*Rephotograph the image onto colour film say with 120 or 4x5 and then reprinting onto colour paper, or as an inkjet print. There is an ambiance that is lost in this process but there is not really many other options that I know of to keep the image in a permanent state.


A combined photograph and chemigram.
The photograph was developed first by brushing on the developer to process this area, and then the marks on the outside have been created by painting 

various strength developers  onto the paper which was fully exposed to light. 

In 1977 Collen Cripps used the technique of covering her hands and face with a thin layer of Vaseline  and pressing it against a large sheet of photographic paper and then exposed it to light. During the development the developer was prevented from reaching the areas where the Vaseline was making a unique self portrait .

Alex Syndikas has also used this technique in his work


Polli Marriner works with silver chloride POP paper to make her chemigrams images. These have an "amazing in depth of colour and tonal range, from creamy white to intense purple black but with reds oranges and violets between, also there is an amazing re-deposit of silver thing that gives metallic pooling and streaking, when in the states I was told it is called halo effect, it happens on traditional paper but not as much".




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