Christopher James says:

"With the loss of many traditional contact negative materials, Pictorico has filled the void allowing alternative process artists to produce digitally generated negatives for even the most discerning photographer … a perfect blend of 19th c. romanticism and 21st c. technologies."

Christopher James is artist and photographer, whose paintings and alternative process images have been exhibited in galleries and museums in this country and abroad. His work has been published and shown extensively, including shows in The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The George Eastman House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. His book,The Book of Alternative Photographic Processeshas received unprecedented critical acclaim, was the winner of The Golden Light Technical Book of the Year award, and has become the standard reference text in alternative process image making. The second edition is available in store now.

After 13 years at Harvard University, He is currently Professor and Chair of Photography at The Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University.


The Pictorico OHP Solution:
The New Contact Negative for Alternative Processes

"Let's deal with a little reality … mastery of traditional film stock is becoming a lost art.  There are fewer types of film to master, fewer places to purchase it, and fewer vendors who process it than there were just a year ago. The facts do not support unbridled optimism about the future when it comes to traditional wet-lab film stock or the beloved, by alternative process photographers, Polaroid's Type 55 P/N.

That said, digital negatives offer special advantages to the alternative process artist. Most obvious is the ease and flexibility of making and altering the negative so it can be optimized for the particular process you will be doing. This allows for real flexibility. The ability to output on Pictorico OHP, a large format, high quality, ceramic-coated, inkjet film, makes the digital negative option far more efficient than working in a traditional lab. It is faster, less expensive to archive, more flexible, less precious, and can be endlessly modified to mold to your intentions and process, i.e., with curves unique to a specific technique. Most significant, Pictorico OHP's new ceramic coating is capable of holding an ink load density that will allow you to produce alternative process contact negatives with densities that are necessary for ideal technique and output.


The ability of the digital negative to customize densities and curves, to match the peculiarities of the processes you are printing in is, to put it simply, a terrific improvement over the wet lab. An example would be the need of a platinum/palladium negative for a long and gently sloping toe and shoulder curve, for delicately separated highlight and shadow detail. By digitally creating a steeper curve, and dictating the D-min (minimum density) and D-max (maximum density) of the negative, you can provide yourself with a negative that is far easier to print in an alternative process. Add to that negative a color layer that mimics the UV screening pyro tint and you have greatly improved your chances for a good printing experience. This control well exceeds the speed limits one can master in a traditional darkroom environment, which remains dependent on how well everything went during the original shoot.

In the first edition of my 2001 book,The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes, I went into a lengthy discussion of what was needed to make a decent digital negative, what you had to spend to get the right equipment to do it, and all of the myriad steps you had to take to get from where you were to where you wanted to go… out in the sun with your new contact negative to make a new print. In the new, second edition, my intent was to simplify this process with easy to follow workflows so that you could achieve success quickly and easily with a minimal amount of digital expertise.


Digital contact negatives on Pictorico OHP can be fine-tuned as a positive, cleaned up with healing brush and cloning tools, adjusted with levels and curves, and taken to a point where the image on the screen is exactly the way you want your print to look. Then you may assign a custom curve profile for the process you are performing andinvertthe image to get to a negative state. This inverted negative file can be further enhanced with the addition of a color layer, printed out on Pictorico OHP film, and within minutes be successfully employed in any contact print-based alternative process.

I am seeing a resurgent passion for the alternative process image and am observing students using their digital imaging skills to produce powerful visual statements where context, syntax, and content are in harmony with their handmade print intentions. They are using its best, and distinctive, qualities to produce negatives and prints that are as unique as any created in any discipline, and Pictorico OHP is a product that lives up to their expectations and demands."

Christopher James