Lith prints

Fine art photography using the contact printing process & lith developing of images made  with antique cameras, vintage cameras and DIY cameras with alternative processes.

"Lith printing is a simple but ‘different’ Black & White printing technique, using ‘ordinary’ B&W or colour negatives, a suitable black & white paper and Lith developer – from which the process gets its name.  It involves heavily overexposing a suitable black and white paper – usually by two or three stops - and then only partially developing it in a highly diluted lith developer." Tim Rudman

The Lith developer works by a process called "infectious development". Particular papers are needed for this process to work. The development takes longer than with ordinary developer, but once the blacks start to form deeply they rapidly develop and the print must be lifted out before too much development takes place. Some lightening of the print occurs in fixing. Contrast is controlled by exposure time and developer concentration. These variables also contribute to the print colouring as do the paper type, the developer type and age. A wide range of effects are possible with this process  which offer scope for plenty of experimentation which I enjoy. The lith developer I use is Moersch easylith and is obtainable in the UK from Silverprint. I have successfully used Fomatone MG Classic 132 Semi Matt paper and expired Kodabrome RC II F4 paper.

Tim Rudman, has boiled the practice of Lith printing down into two golden rules.


Golden Rule One:

Image color and contrast are related to grain size in the paper emulsion, which in turn is related to its stage of development.  Small grains of early development are soft and warm. Large grains of late development are hard and cold. The progress of development is affected of course by dilution, temperature, time and freshness of the developer.


Golden Rule Two:

Highlights are controlled by exposure.

Shadows are controlled by development (‘snatch point’).