A photograph is worth a hell of a lot more than a thousand words…

An Accident.

This photograph is from about 2 1/2 years ago. I held the process for this photograph close to the vest for a long time, but I did share it eventually.

I dicovered this effect quite by accident. I was taking an alternative process class, and I had a stack of work prints that I was experimenting with in the darkroom. I was getting ready to begin work on the final project for the class. All of my film had been developed and I was ready to get started on the prints.

I had a several baths of various chemical laying about and was running prints through different processes splashing here and splashing there and just seing what does what when mixed with this and that. This print as originally created was woefully under developed. The negative was fine, but I printed it the developer had been exhausted and came out a flat gray. The darkest tone in the print looked like an 18% gray card.

Normally I would have tossed it in the trash, mixed up fresh developer and started again, but I kept it because I am a packrat. I dropped the print into a copper toner bath. I left it there for about 20 minutes but it just wouldn’t get dark enough to look like anything worthwhile. It was friggin pink. It looked like a pepto-bismol/easter egg nightmare. I figured it was a loss, so I pulled it out and was going to toss it in the trash. But before I did, I decided to drop it in a bath of exhausted lith developer just for shits and grins and to see what it would do. The image disappeared almost immediately. I chuckedled to myself and said, “so thats what it does.”

I walked away and moved on to something else, forgetting about the print (well, blank sheet of paper) in the lith developer. about 15 minutes later I walked by the lith bath again and noticed that the image was slowly returning. Lith printing is slow and infectious anyway, so I should have put two and two together.

I dropped what I was working on and tended to the now reemerging image. 40 minutes later, this was the result. Because I left the print to sit unattended, the paper floated in the lith bath and redeveloped unevenly and created a pleasing effect.

These tones are beautiful. I love these little accidents and am quite happy that I fell backward into it. This is still one of my favorite prints. It also helps that Beth is a knock out.

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