Bromoil was one the favorite and beloved processes of the pictorialists and salon exhibition photographers during the first half of the twentieth century. No show of the photographic art of the pictorialists was without lovely, soft and painterly Bromoil prints.
In addition to the archival quality provided by the use of lithographic ink additional control of contrast and texture is provided using the Bromoil process. Starting with a digital image provides an additional level of abstraction that is more difficult to achieve with the traditional darkroom technique.
The traditional Bromoil process begins with a silver bromide print created from a silver negative. The solution to creating silver bromide prints from digital images is to produce full size negatives using a high quality inkjet printer. The density, contrast, and size of the negative can be controlled resulting in a quality negative. The resulting negative is then used to produce a direct contact silver bromide print used to produce the final Bromoil print.
In addition to the archival quality provided by the use of lithographic ink additional control of contrast and texture is provided using the Bromoil process.
The following steps are used to produce each of my Bromoil prints:
- A black and white silver bromide print is created using using the traditional chemical darkroom printing processes.
- The silver print is then bleached and tanned with appropriate chemicals removing the silver, washed and dried leaving a matrix of gelatin.
- After re-soaking and wiping off all surplus surface water the gelatin matrix has now absorbed water in direct proportion to the lights and darks of the original image.
- Lithographic ink is then spread evenly over the print. The oily printing ink adheres to the matrix in the dryer shadow areas and is repelled in the water-swollen highlights.
- Specialized brushes are then used to further distribute the ink, building contrast and adding a subtle texture to the final print.
- The result is a single (one-of-a-kind) Bromoil print.