Elizabeth Graves Photography

About the Artist | Gallery Shows | Bibliography | Articles | Stock Photographic Images | Links of Interest | About Alternative Photographic Processes

About the Artist

A. Elizabeth Graves has been making photographs for more than 20 years, but initially used photography for purely informational or reference purposes. In architecture school, she used photographs to capture architectural details and proportional relationships she would later sketch or draft. This approach, which attempted to capture as much information as possible in each frame, later evolved into a simpler, more direct style with simpler, bolder aesthetics. While she primarily considers herself to be a landscape photographer, significant portions of her portfolio relate to either botanical subjects (a recurring passion, especially in color) or the built environment (primarily in monochrome).

In recent years, Elizabeth has been expanding her methods and moods of expression by experimenting with a variety of "conventional" black and white and "alternative" monochrome photographic printing processes. While digital technology plays a major role in her infrared images and in creating negatives for alternative process printing, digital printing alone doesn't satisfy all of her expressive needs. Silver gelatin and antique processes offer unique beauty and the satisfaction of a hand-crafted, wet-process print which can't be matched by other means.

Elizabeth encountered her first alternative process, cyanotype, while seeking a simple way to make contact sheets without an enlarger between visits to the public darkroom. Prussian blue prints were so satisfying, she quickly abandoned her beautiful blue contact sheets to make both larger cyanotype prints from digital negatives and an extensive collection of photograms. In addition to cyanotypes, Elizabeth prints with the gum bichromate, kallitype, and vandyke printing techniques. Each process has unique characteristics. (Samples of different types of images, intended to show the mood that these processes can imbue in prints, are provided on this site under the name of each process. More unified bodies of work are displayed by their subject.) She is currently developing a portfolio of vandyke prints depicting three-dimensional signage and San Francisco's eclectic architectural details.

Elizabeth is intrigued by the way viewers respond to modern subjects printed with antique processes. Contemporary architectural subjects are especially well suited to cyanotype, yet the results often confound viewer expectations of nostalgia. In an image-saturated culture, an old way of presenting new things is a useful tool for discussing photographic conventions and fashions.

Gallery Shows

Soho Photo Gallery's Fourth Annual Alternative Processes Juried Competition. Winner. Group show. November 6 - 29, 2008, opening reception on November 6th, Soho Photo, 15 White Street, New York, NY. "Soho Photo's most recent competition resulted in a month-long show at Soho Photo that included the winning photographs of 28 photographers from all over the United States. Their work was chosen from that of 130 photographers who had submitted more than 500 photographs, representing the wide range of alternative methods."

Out of the Fog: Richmond District Artists and Others Exhibit Their Creations for Eric Mar. Group show, September 20, 2008 - November 5, 2008, Eric Mar for Supervisor Headquarters, San Francisco, California. Art show in support of Mr. Mar's successful political campaign for Supervisor, District 1.

Un-Scene San Francisco Photography Tour. Group show (5 artists). March 19, 2008, W San Francisco - Great Room I, 3rd Floor. Elizabeth won!

Join W San Francisco, the UnScene Tour and 944 Magazine and feast your lens on never before seen images of the City by the Bay, taken by local emerging artists at the UnScene San Francisco photography exhibit. Mix and Mingle with art lovers and take home a fav photo or two. One lucky photographer will also win the chance to be "seen" at the Jack Fischer Gallery in downtown SF.

Visual Edge: Handcrafted. Group show. Exhibit: January 5 - February 3, 2007, Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, 551 Sequoia Pacific Blvd., Sacramento, CA 95814 (moving in 2008).

Alternative & Early Processes Exhibition 2006, Gallery 1885, The Camera Club of London, 16 Bowden Street, Kennington, London SE11 4DS. Group show. Open 7 days a week 11a.m. (10a.m. week-ends) to 10p.m. Exhibition: December 1 - 28, 2006.

"Exhibition of commended entries in The Camera Club International Alternative and Early Processes competition."

Past Is Present: An exhibition of contemporary artists working with historic photographic processes, September 9 - October 28, 2006, sponsored and organized by The Laboratorium. Group show. Shown at the Visual Studies Workshop Gallery, 31 Prince Street, Rochester, NY 14607.

The prints displayed at the Viewpoint Photographic Art Center, the Camera Club of London, and the Visual Studies Workshop (c/o The Laboratorium) were from Elizabeth's Foliage in Blue series, a collection of botanical studies of patterned plants. Botanical subjects are extraordinarily complex and detailed, providing an enormous range of structure and pattern from plant to plant, each of which is well-suited to close up study. Large cyanotype prints of the small details of patterned leaves provide an opportunity to observe the beautiful structures of the natural world and the way natural structures may be repeated on both small and large scales.

Monochromatic prints of natural subjects provide an opportunity to view these subjects in an abstract. Without the color cues that would immediately identify the images as being of plants, these blue prints lend themselves to broader potential interpretation. The images on display could be viewed as aerial views of landscapes, and are reminiscent of the paths that water may carve into earth at a large scale. This interpretive possibility has inspired the titles of several images in this series.


cover to Alternative Photography: Art and Artists, Edition IAlternativePhotography.com : Art and Artists, Edition 1, by Malin Fabbri, released November 2006. Malin's latest book is an amazing work: two samples of work from 115 artists working with what we call the "alternative processes," the primarily hand-coated emulsion processes that were invented long ago, whose heyday as mass-produced, factory-made materials has long since passed, but which have characteristics that today's new products and digital media cannot match. For anyone who has wondered why any artist would want complete control of their photographic prints, right down to the characteristics of the emulsion, and what can be done with that level of control for artistic purposes, this is an encyclopedic art book that answers that question in 115 different ways.

Here is Malin's description:

Alternative Photography: Art and Artists, Edition I highlights the work of over 100 of today's most active photographers working with alternative processes. Discover how the different processes create a unique look in a print, and get an insight into how the processes function. Here you will find both information and inspiration. Artists introduce themselves, their work and why they chose the qualities of that particular process.
This is a high quality coffee table book, available in both soft and hardcover, and can be purchased from its page at the Lulu website (lulu.com/alternativephoto). Additional information is available from alternativephotography.com's profile of the book.

cover of book Like Sand from Orchids LipsLike Sand From Orchids Lips: Limited Collectors First Edition, published by TCB Cafe Press/Cafe Andre, July 2006. "The joint themes 'Orchid Chic: Passion, Fashion & Orchids' and 'Sand: The Human Form in a Formless Medium' were interpreted by a pool of international photographers, and the resulting fine-art photography book is illuminating to the eye and the intellect." Elizabeth is a finalist in the TCB Cafe Press/Cafe Andre Juried Photography Competition 2005 in the category "Orchid Chic: Passion, Fashion & Orchids." Three of her images are featured as full pages in this limited edition coffee table book; one of her images adorns the rear cover.

cover of book Blueprint To CyanotypesBlueprint to cyanotypes - Exploring a historical alternative photographic process, by Malin and Gary Fabbri, May 2006. This high quality, glossy, heavily illustrated textbook describes the technical and artistic opportunities presented by the cyanotype process. The book provides all of the information required to begin using this non-toxic, archival, photographic printing process. Stellar and diverse examples of prints from a range of contemporary artists using cyanotype demonstrate how the process can be used to express ideas in a wide range of artistic styles. A full page reproduction of a cyanotype photogram represents Elizabeth's visual contribution to this first edition.


Vinegar-developed cyanotypes: Non-Toxic Midtone Contrast Control, May 2008, published at alternativephotography.com. Comparisons between water and 5% white vinegar development on classic cyanotype formula prints.

Wet plate collodion studio rental in San Francisco, January 2008, published at alternativephotography.com. This is an interview with Michael Shindler of RayKo Photo Center regarding wet plate collodion facilities and the renewed popularity of this handmade process.

Vandyke over Cyanotype: a combination process with special effects, Spring 2007, published at alternativephotography.com. "Impermanence can be interesting." An aging experiment on unfixed vandyke over cyanotype prints.

How to mount and mat a print for framing, October 2006, published at alternativephotography.com. This article provides general instruction on a simple way to mount and mat a print for framing.

Cyanotypes and Chocolate: a Match Made in San Francisco, July 2006, published at alternativephotography.com. This interview with an artist and chocolatier describes his documentary photography/craft project, in which his photographs of San Francisco local street signs and marquees are printed as cyanotypes and used to adorn gift boxes and tins.

How to Make an Elegant Photo Album, March 2006, published at alternativephotography.com. This bookbinding instruction article is an illustrated guide to creating a handmade photo album/portfolio with clean lines and metal post binding for displaying photographic prints.

The Kallitype Printing Kit - A great start, October 2005, published at alternativephotography.com. This article provides scans of Elizabeth's very first prints made using the Photographerĺ─˘s Formulary kallitype kit's three different developer recipes to illustrate what a complete beginner to the process can expect on their initial efforts.

Stock Photographic Images

Alamy.com logoStock photography by A. Elizabeth Graves at Alamy
Download our images 24/7 from Alamy - a leading portal for both general and specialist images.

Botanical and landscape images from Ms. Graves' extensive collection will be available for world wide licensing beginning in March, 2005. The complete catalog will gradually appear thereafter.

Links of Interest

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See cyanotypes by Elizabeth Graves at Alternativephotography.com

Alternativephotography.com - A site for artists and photographers working with alt. photo. and processes: Galleries, technical information, articles and more.

Elizabeth was unveiled as a new/contributing artist on this site in June, 2005.

Alternative Photo Process listserv archive, the text archive of a very cantankerous mailing list, dominated in a lopsided fashion by gum printers. Do not wade in without a lifejacket.

photo.net, an on-line community with many great articles, many of the best of which were written by founder Philip Greenspun, but which have been expanded upon through comments by members.

Wynn White Photography. A gorgeous gallery of images by a very talented photographer living in Japan. White is also great at explaining alternative photographic process techniques: see both his gallery at alternativephotography.com and the list of articles beneath his biographical statement.

About Alternative Photographic Processes

Several of Elizabeth's galleries display prints made with antique or "alternative" photographic processes. General descriptions of these techniques are provided below. For additional technical information, visit alternativephotography.com.

Cyanotypes: Cyanotypes are monochrome photographic prints created with an iron salt chemical process first invented in the 1840s. The process was one of the first used to reproduce images for book publication, and was later modified to create architectural "blue prints." It is ideal for creating long lasting, Prussian Blue images.blue image two calla lily flowers

Each blue photographic print is the result of a lengthy preparation process. I mix solutions of two chemicals, creating an ultraviolet light-sensitive fluid, which I paint carefully onto high quality watercolor papers in subdued lighting. In sunny weather, I then use digitally enlarged vellum negatives, my hand-coated light-sensitive paper, and a sheet of glass to create contact prints. The exposed paper is developed in water, rinsed thoroughly, and hung to dry. The process is labor intensive, but extremely rewarding.

Gum Bichromates: Gum bichromates are handmade, photographic prints made with a process invented in the 1860s, and popularized in the 1890s and 1960s. It is one of the most versatile and painterly of the antique processes.black and white image of variegated ivy

The process relies on gum arabic (also known as gum acacia, derived from the acacia tree), watercolor pigments, and a solution of either potassium or ammonium dichromate. These three substances are mixed, creating a light-sensitive emulsion, which is applied thinly to watercolor paper. When covered with a negative and exposed to the ultraviolet light, the portions of the emulsion receiving sunlight cause the dichromate to react with the gum, rendering it insoluble to water. The print is developed through a long soak in water, during which the unexposed gum and pigment dissolve, leaving the pigment image fixed in the insoluble gum.

Because the pigments are diluted by the gum and dichromate in the emulsion, the initial print has the density of a light, delicate watercolor wash. To build up density and contrast, additional coats must be applied and the negative exposed again, generally the following day or later, whenever the first print has dried and contracted to its original dimensions. The prints displayed here contain one to four printed gum layers.

Infrared Landscapes: Infrared light is beyond the visible spectrum, ranging from 700 to 1000 nanometers. The images in this gallery were made by using a dark, technical filter which blocks all visible light, monochrome image of a stone pagoda and bright foliage but which allows light above 700 nm to pass through, and a digital camera with a sensor capable of recording infrared wavelengths. These images were originally in color, in a range of pale red and violet hues.

Photograms: These images were made by laying objects onto sensitized cyanotype paper and leaving them to cast shadows in the sun. The earliest photographic book, a collection of botanical photograms by Anna Atkins, was produced using this technique. While the approach sounds simple, it has an extremely wide range of artistic possibilities.deep blue image of onion-dome shaped glass shadows This technique can be used with nearly any photographically sensitized paper. For sensitive gelatin-silver papers, exposures are best kept to a few seconds and done only in the light of an enlarger.

Vandykes: These images were made with the vandyke brown printing process, which employes ferric ammonium citrate and silver nitrate to form an image. The images on this site are primarily early experiments vandyke brown print of ship's wheelwith toning, fixing, and oxidizing unfixed prints. The vandyke process is reasonably easy, and can make very satisfying prints which tone to a variety of pleasing colors. As with most alternative process printing processes, the final color of the print is highly dependent upon both the paper used and the stabilizing treatments given.

Wet Plate Collodion. These images were made through a challenging process wet plate collodion print on metal of saxophone detail (ferrotype)which involves pouring a liquid emulsion onto metal or glass plates, sensitizing the fresh plate in silver nitrate in a darkroom, loading the plate into a light-proof film holder, exposing the slow plate in a large format camera, and developing it before it has a chance to dry. Collodion produces grainless, unique images. Collodion can be used on transparent glass to produce glass plate negatives, or on opaque plates substances yields a remarkable, one-of-a-kind "print."

If the plate is made of metal, it is referred to as a ferrotype. (Tintypes fall into this category.) If it is glass, it is called an ambrotype.

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