— Dane Creek

A Digital Negative Lith Print

Kentmere Kentona Fineprint VC paper in Rollei Vintage Creative developer. 1:1:16 ratio, 24 sec. @ f/11 exposure, 13:01 development.

One of the best photography classes I’ve ever taken is Lith Printing with Gina White at Photographic Center Northwest. Lith printing is just plain fun. Yeah, you have to develop your prints for a LOT longer than a regular gelatin silver print, but when the shadows start to develop and things start happening fast it’s just crazy cool.

On Thursday night Gina invited me to crash her current lith class as a thank you for providing some lith developer at the last minute for the class to use. I jumped on the opportunity to try something I’ve only done once before: lith printing from a digital negative.

The image above should be familiar, as it’s the shot from First Beach last weekend. I have very little digital negative experience, so I gambled and printed two versions of the image on Pictorico OHP. One was a straight inverted image with no curve applied, and the second had a digital negative curve for some random Epson printer applied. It only took one test print in the darkroom to realize the one with the curve was the winner.

There’s definitely a different quality to a lith print when the starting image was a digital negative. I find the shadows are even more chunky than with a regular negative, and I suspect this has to do with the relative coarseness of the ink when compared to silver particles on film. The other big difference is how much light the OHP lets through: it’s a crazy amount. My exposure time was 24 seconds at f/11. And when you lith print you expose 4x over what you would for a regular gelatin silver print. CRAZY. And a huge advantage when doing lith, as it helps avoid 4 minute exposure! The development time is long enough already!

It’s a very different feeling image compared to the original, but I have to say I like it. I needed about another 20 minutes to really lock in the development time to bring out a few more of the shadow details, but it’s not bad at all for a first try.