One obstacle faced by those working with historic photographic processes is how to quickly and easily create a reliable negative−a method that doesn’t involve complicated steps, calculations, graphs and all of the tedium that might cause one to fall into a glazed stupor. Another challenge is consistency of procedure. If you’re working in an inconsistent manner success will be rare. If you can control both the procedure and the negative, everything else will fall into place and success will be yours.
Nearly all 19th Century prints were made using contact printing methods, which means that the negatives were the same size as the finished print. Ergo, the bigger the print, the bigger the negative! Large format cameras were used in the 19th Century and are still favored by photographic purists today. This technique not only requires a large camera and film, but also a high degree of skill and tenacity. It can be cumbersome and laborious, but also greatly rewarding.
Today, there is a digital option and it is convenient, flexible and eases the task of production. Digital negatives can be created from film or digital files and manipulated for any process. And, because they are reproducible they alleviate the stress of working with one-of-a-kind film negatives. There is no one right way to create a digital negative. I recently began using a method that is simple, straightforward, and to my great surprise, enjoyable.
You will need a computer, scanner, Photoshop and all of the items necessary for print making: brushes, chemistry, hygrometer, paper, print frame, etc. including a consistent ultra-violet (UV) light source. There are several options, ranging from simple do- it-yourself creations like a fluorescent light fixture with black-light-blue (BLB) bulbs to expensive and cumbersome graphic arts plate burners. These digital negatives were made using Arista OHP Transparency material.