Photographic Prints & Positives

Albumen prints

Prints made on paper coated with a solution of albumen (egg whites) and ammonia salt, which is then sensitized with silver nitrate and printed. Usually toned with chloride of gold. Popular 1850-1890.


Under-exposed collodion negatives on glass that are backed on the non-emulsion side with a dark material, such as varnish or black paper, to make them appear to be positives. Popular 1851-1870.

Bromoil prints

Bromide prints that are developed and then bleached. Bleaching removes the black silver image and enables the gelatin to absorb oil-based pigments, which are applied by hand. Introduced in 1907.

Carbon prints

The carbon process is a permanent, non-silver process. The most popular version was J.W Swan's, introduced in 1864. A tissue, coated with pigmented gelatin, is exposed under a negative. The exposed gelatin hardens and becomes insoluble in water. The tissue is then backed with a transfer sheet on the gelatin side and washed, which removes the original tissue and the unhardened gelatin. A positive relief image is produced, which is then transferred to a paper support. Carbon images were also transferred onto a variety of supports, including ceramic, glass, and metal. Popular 1870-1910.

They are often indistinguishable from the photomechanical Woodburytype, which employs the carbon process in its manufacture.

Ceramic photographs

Photographs produced by any of a variety of processes on porcelain, earthenware, or other ceramic supports.

Chromogenic color prints

Also called "dye coupler prints." This term represents the majority of the color prints made today. Part of the material that forms colored dyes upon development is included in the emulsion during manufacture. During development, the silver image is bleached out, leaving only the dye image.

These prints are commonly referred to as a "Type C Print" if made from a negative and a "Type R Print" if made from a transparency. Introduced in 1936.

Cloth photographs

Photographs produced by any of a variety of processes on cotton, silk, or other cloth supports. (1)

Collodion printing-out paper prints

A printing process where collodion is used rather than the usual gelatin layer, and the images are printed out rather than developed out. Popular late 1880s-1920.

Copy prints

Prints produced by rephotographing another photograph.


Blue photographic prints employing light sensitive iron salts, most commonly on paper. They were invented in 1842 by Sir John Herschel but not used generally until 1880.


Image formed on a silver-coated copper plate, sensitized by fumes of iodine. The image is developed in mercury vapor, which produces a unique direct positive image. Announced in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who had developed this process after his partnership with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce. Popular until 1860.

Dye destruction prints

Also called "silver-dye bleach prints." The dye destruction process depends upon the bleaching of dyes that are formed wholly in the sensitized material, rather than formed during processing.

Color photographic prints made under various trade names including Utocolor in the early 1900s and Gasparcolor in the 1930s. Cibachrome (now Ilfachrome) was introduced in 1963.

Dye transfer prints

Color photographic prints made from color positives or negatives by a subtractive imbibition process. The subject is photographed through filters onto three color separation negatives and printed onto a single sheet of paper.

Among the many trade names are Pinatype (introduced in 1903) and Eastman Wash-off Relief (1935-1946). The Kodak Dye Transfer process, introduced in 1946, is no longer commercially available.

Gelatin silver prints

The gelatin silver process uses gelatin, an animal protein, as the binder and developed silver as the image material. The most common black and white print process, introduced in 1885 and still in use today.

Gelatin silver printing-out paper prints

A type of gelatin silver print where the image is printed out, rather than developed out. Introduced in the 1880s and still marketed as a studio proof paper.

Gum bichromate prints

Photographic prints using a direct carbon process. Made by coating paper with a light-sensitive gum arabic solution and a pigment of any color, the print hardens selectively during exposure to a negative. Additional coatings and exposures are possible. The process was developed in the 1850s but little used until the 1890s.


The process of heliography was invented by Niépce around 1825. A glass or metal support is coated with bitumen of Judea, which hardens in relation to its exposure to light. Washing with oil of lavender leaves only the hardened image area, and a unique direct positive image is produced. In The World's First Photograph, the highlights are bitumen and the shadows are the bare pewter plate.

The pewter plate was sometimes etched and printed, producing photoetchings.

Instant camera photographs

Also called "diffusion transfer photographs." These photographs are made from film packets that contain their own developing chemicals. They may be color or black-and-white, and while they are usually prints, they may also be negatives or transparencies. Polaroid introduced the process in 1947.

Leather photographs

Photographs on leather, such as collodion positives on japanned leather (pannotypes) or carbon transfers on white or light-colored leather.

Lenticular photographs

Photographs formed and viewed through lenticular screens (transparent sheets, usually plastic, embossed with a pattern of tiny lens segments). Applications include additive color processes, introduced in 1909, and stereoscopic systems in which an image appears to be three-dimensional.


Photographs on opal (opaque white) glass. They are made either by transferring a carbon image onto the glass or by exposing a light-sensitive emulsion on the opal glass to a negative. Popular 1880s-early 1900s.


Also called "gold tones," and Edward Curtis called his prints "Curtones." Photographs made by printing a negative onto a glass plate, producing a positive image. The back of the glass plate is then painted with gold mixed with banana oil or with bronze powders mixed in resin to give the appearance of gold.

Palladium prints

An iron (non-silver) process for making photographic prints in which palladium is reduced from a salt to form the image. Introduced around 1916 when platinum became very expensive because of WWI. It is a permanent process still practiced widely today.

Platinum prints

An iron (non-silver) process for making photographic prints in which platinum is reduced from a salt to form the image. Introduced commercially in 1879 as Platinotype, it is a permanent process.

Resin-coated paper prints

Photographic prints on a paper base coated on both sides with plastic to reduce processing time. Introduced around 1970.

Salted paper prints

The first process to produce positive images on paper from negatives. The light sensitive salt is formed in the fibers of the paper rather than in a binder. The paper was sensitized by floating it on a solution of silver nitrate, dried, then printed out from the negative. Often referred to as calotypes when printed from these paper negatives. Popular 1840-1855.


Also called "ferrotypes" or "melainotypes." A variant of the wet collodion process producing a direct positive image on a thin sheet of lacquered, or "japanned," metal, which was usually iron. Later, in the 1880's, the collodion was replaced by dry gelatin. Popular 1855-1930.

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