Lumen Printing with Aoife Herriott

Lumen printing is a cameraless photographic technique which can best be described as a solar photogram. The prints are made with silver gelatin photographic papers, the traditional photographic paper used in the making of black and white prints since the late 1870’s. In fact the process was first used in the 1830’s by the inventor and photography pioneer Henry Fox Talbot who invented the salted paper and calotype processes, precursors to photographic processes of the later 19th century.

The prints are made by placing organic materials on top of the photo paper and exposing in sunlight for anything from 2 - 48 hours. It is an unpredictable process with results varying greatly depending on a number of factors including the type of photo paper used (I find fibre based papers to work best), subject matter and it’s moisture content, exposure time, heat and humidity etc... The prints are then fixed in a chemical solution though unfortunately this has the disappointing effect of drastically fading the colours. The modern solution to this is to digitally scan the prints before the fixing stage. I then tone the prints in either gold chloride or selenium prior to fixing as this helps to retain some of the colours or change them in other sometimes pleasing ways.

The prints were all exposed on Ilford and Fotokemika EMAX fibre based papers. They are then reprinted on Hahnemeule Torchon watercolour papers.

“There is a beautiful transcience and a certain magic to the process of creating lumen prints. They retain for me an air of the mysterious and of the ephemeral nature of time as they themselves are objects in a state of constant change."