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The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes 3rd Edition

Christopher James

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 2009, 2002
  • 736 Pages


Written by internationally acclaimed artist and photographer Christopher James, THE BOOK OF ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSES: 3rd Edition is the definitive text for students and professionals studying alternative photographic processes and the art of hand-made photographic image making. This innovative Third Edition brings the medium up to date with new and historic processes that are integrated with the latest contemporary innovations, adaptations, techniques, and art work. This 800 page edition is packed with more than 700 exquisite illustrations featuring historical examples as well as the art that is currently being made by professional alternative process, artists, teachers, and students of the genre. The third edition is the complete and comprehensive technical and aesthetic resource exploring and delving into every aspect of alternative photographic process photography. Each chapter introduces the history of a technique, presents an overview of the alternative photographic process that will be featured, reviews its chemistry, and provides practical and easy to follow guidance in how to make it work. In his conversational writing style, James also explores the idiosyncrasies, history, and cultural connections that are such a significant part of the history of photography. Featuring traditional and digital contact negative production as well as an array of processes, spread out over 28 chapters, THE BOOK OF ALTERNATIVE PHOTOGRAPHIC PROCESSES: 3RD EDITION delivers clear instructions, practical workflows and advice, humor, history, art, and immeasurable inspiration.

Christopher James, The College of Art and Design at Lesley University

Christopher James is an internationally known artist and photographer whose photographs, paintings, and alternative process printmaking have been exhibited in galleries and museums in this country and abroad. His work has been published and shown extensively, including exhibitions in The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The George Eastman House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first two editions of his book, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes have received international critical acclaim and are universally recognized by artists, curators, historians, and educators as the definitive texts in the genre of alternative process photography and photographically integrated media and culture. Christopher, after 13 years at Harvard University, is presently University Professor and Director of the MFA in Photography program at The College of Art and Design - Lesley University. He is also a painter, graphic designer, and a professional scuba diver. His web site is
  • Completely revised and updated, the exciting new Third Edition has been significantly expanded and lavishly illustrated and now features over 700 images.
  • New chapters offer thorough coverage of such alternative processes as the Athenatype, Bayard's Direct Positive Process, the Whey Process, Pélegry's Paper Negative Process, fumed silica/alumina substrate applications, inkjet intaglio, and paper and alternative substrates.
  • Numerous chapters have been extensively expanded, including chapters on wet plate collodion, gum bichromate, platinum/palladium, albumen, and calotype among others.
  • The thoroughly reworked Digital Options chapter now delivers an even stronger emphasis on digital integration with alternative processes image making.
  • Myriad new images from artists from the first two editions as well as an abundance of new imagery from secondary students, post-secondary students, and educators accompany the many historical images--enabling instructors to "set the bar" for students to see what is possible and to illustrate what their peers are producing.
  • Detailed table and sink set-ups, supply lists, web and artist links, online resources, and critical chemical information provide an easy transition from classroom to home studio.
  • Revised Forward Matter opening chapter and Light Markings concluding chapter instigate a full conversation and discussion of how photography is rapidly changing, how the medium is being redefined due to digital technologies, and how alternative processes is now considered the "new photography" for artists dedicated to the handmade work of art in the future.
  • Clear instructions and detailed workflow processes make this an accessible, practical resource.
  • Appendices such as Chemistry, Conversion Tables, Light and Exposure, an Alternative Process Shopping List, Resources, and Bibliography provide a well-rounded introduction to the topic and opportunities for further exploration.
  • Online Instructor Resources feature Keynote/PowerPoint presentations, an image library, and table and sink set-ups so that instructors can spend less time preparing to teach and more time actually teaching.
  • James thoroughly examines history and techniques, including lensless cameras, calotype, salted paper, anthotype, cyanotype, argyrotype, chrysotype, POP, kallitype, ambrotype, wet collodion and gelatin dry plate emulsions, Van Dyke, platinum/palladium, Ziatype, carbon, gum bichromate, albumen, alternative paper, alternative emulsions & imaging systems, and digital negative workflows.
  • Providing an extraordinary and abundant visual resource, striking illustrations offer examples of rarely seen historical images and contemporary work from such professional artists as Sally Mann, Michael Kenna, Chuck Close, Anselm Keifer, Luis Gonzalez Palma, David Hockney, the author himself, and more.
  • Student artwork from all ability levels is featured throughout, providing readers with motivation and inspiration.
Forward Matter.
1. Making Art With a Box of Air: The Pinhole & Camera Obscura.
2.The Anthotype and Chlorophyll Process: The Art of Printing With Flowers and Vegetation.
3. The Calotype Process and The Art of Fixing Shadows.
4. Bayard's Direct Positive Process - 1839.
5. The Salted Paper Process.
6. The Whey Process.
7. The Cyanotype Process.
8. The Cyanotype: Variations & Inventions.
9. The Argyrotype Process.
10. The Chrysotype.
11. Fumed Silica/Alumina.
12. The Kallitype Process.
13. The Platinum & Palladium Process.
14. The Ziatype Process.
15. The Athenatype Process.
16. The Albumen Process.
17. Wet Plate Collodion Process: Tintypes, Ambrotypes & Glass Plate Negatives.
18. The Gum Bichromate Process.
19. Dichromate Options: The Chromatype, 3-D Gum, Alternative Surfaces for Gum, The Dusting-On Process.
20. Carbon.
21. The Van Dyke, B-V-D & Brownprint.
22. POP: Printing Out Paper and Toners.
23. Hand Applied Emulsions and Contemporary Dry Plate.
24. The Non-Digital Negative: Alternative Process Options.
25. The Digital Chapter: An Odd History, The Digital Arts - A Personal Perspective, Workflow and Curves.
26. Inkjet Intaglio: Direct to Plate Photopolymer Process.
27. Paper and Alternative Substrates: History & Preparation.
28. Light Markings: Thinking While Writing and Alternative Odds and Ends.
A. Chemistry.
B. Conversion Tables.
C. Light & Exposure Options.
D. A Simple UV Exposure Unit.
E. An Alternative Process Work Space.
F. Alternative Process Shopping List.
G. Resources, Artist's Links, and Internet Sites.
H. Bibliography: Historical and Contemporary.

Textbook Only Options

Traditional eBook and Print Options

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  • STARTING AT $16.49

  • ISBN-10: 1305805860
  • ISBN-13: 9781305805866
  • STARTING AT $23.49

  • ISBN-10: 1285089316
  • ISBN-13: 9781285089317
  • Bookstore Wholesale Price $78.00
  • RETAIL $103.95

"Christopher James displays in the third edition of this book all his knowledge on the so-called "alternative processes", and offers the reader historical data, formulas and visual examples, all explained with preciseness and clarity. The most interesting feature in this publication is that it opens perspectives for creative events, encourages the desire to explore techniques that are part of the history of photographic representation, and helps to articulate and to confer meaning on the desire of generating images in the present. In brief, his work allows us to visually explore existence and helps to understand the development of contemporary subjectivity."

What a wonderful book! Clear and concise, with all the secrets of the dark arts in one volume. Call it the King James."

"Christopher James' new edition has expanded right alongside the boom in interest in older techniques, as more and more contemporary artists reach backward to look forward. Covering processes from the first discoveries of the 1830's to the latest inventions and re-inventions, the book includes an astonishing breadth of work and a wide range of artists that show just how rich this field has become. If you need any proof that handmade photography is alive and well in the digital age, here it is, in spades."

Cengage provides a range of supplements that are updated in coordination with the main title selection. For more information about these supplements, contact your Learning Consultant.


Instructor Companion Website

ISBN: 9781285089331
The Instructor Companion Site provides additional course content, study aids, and sample test questions to help students succeed in the course. Many Instructor Companion Sites also contain critical-thinking questions, activities, and web links. To access faculty Companion Sites, please visit and search by ISBN.