Mike Ware - Alternative Photography
Mike Ware - Alternative Photography

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A Technical History of Photographic Printing in Platinum and Palladium

This account of the underlying chemistry and historical practice of the platinum and palladium printing processes has been compiled on the basis of my 36 years experience with the medium. Its writing was initiated in 2010 by my appointment as a scientific consultant to the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. Over the ensuing six years, the NGA became the hub of a wide-ranging, inter-institutional research collaboration by curators, conservators, photographers and scientists, that culminated in an International Symposium in 2014, the proceedings of which - greatly extended - were published in 2017 as Platinum and Palladium Photographs: Technical History, Connoisseurship, and Preservation, with 46 contributors, edited by Constance McCabe, under the aegis of the Photographic Materials Group of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. This beautifully illustrated and scholarly published book may be purchased from the AIC website:


but it deserves a technical appendix, so I am here offering my scientifically oriented supplement, with over 840 references to the original literature and WWW, as a freely downloadable 51.5 MB .pdf of 396 pages.

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The History, Science and Art of Cyanotype: Photographic Printing in Prussian Blue

My first monograph on Cyanotype was published by the Science Museum of London in 1999, but has long been totally out of print. Over the years since then, I have substantially restructured and extended this text in an updated and illustrated digital edition that is freely available for downloading as a 400 page 75 MB pdf file from my website online: https://www.mikeware.co.uk/mikeware/downloads.html

This book engages with the history, aesthetics, practice, conservation, and chemistry of the cyanotype medium. With over 800 references to the original literature and the WWW, I hope it may serve as a useful resource for photohistorians, curators and conservators of photographs, and students of the art-science of siderotype: print-making with iron-based photochemistry. This work includes full practical instructions in the various processes of cyanotype. It also incorporates accounts of some contemporary scholarship on the medium as art, and discusses a number of issues about the practice that are currently being raised with increasing frequency in those alternative process online forums where it receives interest.

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Silver Photographs on Paper: Chemical History of their Invention, Deterioration, and Conservation

This is a compilation of my writings on silver photography published over the last twenty-five years; they divide naturally into four categories:

Included is an updated version of my 1994 Science Museum publication: ‘Mechanisms of Image Deterioration in Early Photographs’ - long out of print. These four sections, comprising 23 chapters over 273 pages, include 750 references to the original literature. It may be downloaded as a 50 MB pdf.

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Chrysonomicon Part I

Gold in Photography: History and Art of Chrysotype

This is the first monograph devoted to the role of gold in photographic imaging, offering an historical appraisal of the origins and occasional use of the chrysotype medium. It touches on alchemy and the decorative use of gold in the arts and crafts, then describes in detail the invention of chrysotype by Sir John Herschel in 1842 at the dawn of the photographic age. While the medium evoked only sporadic interest, by the beginning of the 20th Century it had been entirely discounted. It was not until 1984 that I began my researches into devising a modern, chemically viable chrysotype process, comparable with platinotype. This text recounts the history of that re-invention, with illustrations of contemporary examples, and speculations concerning its future possible use. All the technical details for practising the new process, first published in 2006, are contained in Part II of this work.

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Chrysonomicon Part II

Chrysotype Manual: Science and Practice of Photographic Printing in Nanoparticle Gold

This practical text is intended to provide comprehensive, user-friendly instruction in the economic hand-crafting of permanent chrysotype photographic prints in pure nanoparticle gold on fine paper. It also provides the scientific background to the photochemistry of imaging in gold and, more generally, a technical reference to the theory and practice of all the iron-based or ‘siderotype’ alternative photographic processes of printing. It may therefore also be of interest and possible use for the practitioners of platinotype, palladiotype, kallitype and argyrotype. The appendices include chemical preparations and a technical glossary. This work was first issued in 2006 by ffotoffilm publishing as a companion to my Gold in Photography and, although now out-of-print, both volumes may still be purchasable in hard cover from siderotype.com.

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What's Who?

A dictionary of things named after people and the people they are named after

Roger Jones and Mike Ware

An encyclopaedic foray into the world of eponymy - the naming of things after people - which gives an account of events, ideas, inventions and discoveries which bear the names of the men and women - famous or forgotten - who lived, dreamed, made or explored them. There is virtually no field of human activity which has not left these historical nuggets embedded in our language. In this blend of the familiar and the surprising there is something for everyone who cares about the words we use and the living history they embody.

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Workshop Notes

For each of my siderotype processes described in detail under Practical Instructions, here are concise summaries of the essential technical data: requisite chemicals, quantities and procedures. Each is downloadable as a short .pdf. Originally compiled for distribution to students attending my workshops, these notes, when printed-out, may be found helpful as aides-mémoires in the studio or ‘dimroom’. They assume that the reader is already familiar with the general modus operandi of alternative photographic printmaking.

Simple Cyanotype

Download SimpleCyan.pdf (3.5 MB) >>

New Cyanotype

Download CyanoWork.pdf (136 kB) >>


Download ArgyroWork.pdf (132 kB) >>


Download PalladioWork.pdf (446 kB) >>


Download PlatinoWork.pdf (183 kB) >>

New Chrysotype

Download ChrysoWork.pdf (345 kB) >>

Preparation of Digital Negatives

Download DiginegWork.pdf (3.7 MB) >>

Siderotype Data Sheet

Download DataWork.pdf (31 kB) >>

Algorithm for Diagnosing Fogging

Download FoggiWork.pdf (41 kB) >>

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