This summer I tried my hand at some alternative processes, including lumen prints for the annual Utata summer project. It’s deceptively easy — all you need is some photographic paper and a picture frame, coupled with your own imagination — and it’s loads of fun.
So, how to do this? You’ll need a darkish space to set up your paper for exposure. I used a contact print frame to hold the print flat while it exposed , but a photo frame will do as well. A piece of glass might do the trick as long as it’s heavy enough to flatten your object (if it needs flattening, if not I don’t see any reason to use one).
The subject doesn’t have to be a plant — I got some interesting results with a feather. But plants and flowers do have the advantage that when you press them they release moisture that reacts with the paper and adds to the effect.
So when you’ve selected your plant, go to your darkened room and arrange it on the photographic paper and squash it into the frame. Then put it somewhere light until the paper darkens. I left them indoors for a few hours on a sunny summer afternoon. Some people say that the paper will melt in direct sunlight but I didn’t find it a problem.
When the print is dark enough, go back to your darkened room and remove the plant (or whatever you’ve used). You can scan the prints without any visible harm – I set up the scanner first so that I didn’t expose my print to unnecessary light, and kept the room darkish until I’d finished. I guess you could also photograph them with a DSLR, but I haven’t tried that.
I washed my prints in water and then fixed them in the darkroom so that I could enjoy them in daylight. They lighten considerably but the effect is still very pleasing.