Lith Printing Technique

One of my photographic heroes is the Dutch photographer and film director Anton Corbijn. His approach to photography has not changed that much in 25 years and his signature look is created by what’s called Lith printing - you would know his work with U2 and other bands.
It is a very cool method of black and white printing where the final print produced is a gorgeous contrasty slightly peachy warm toned gritty enlargement. It can vary enormously but the look cannot be produced any other way – digitally it is very hard to get the same look.
Quite a few years ago (it was big in the 90’s) I went through a Lith stage when darkrooms were still quite common and I have a number of very nice portraits done in this way.
Lith printing is fiendishly difficult to get any two prints that looked the same and this was one of its beauties. Basically a high contrast lithographic developer was used on conventional photographic paper (Oriental Seagull was a preferred) and the paper was pulled from the developer when it looked good and quickly halted in a stop bath. A bit hit and miss but so personal and bespoke.
Portraits have been one of my true loves in photography - a connection albeit a very temporary one to someone and the ability to render them though my lens. My portrait of Australian actor, arts guru and local Leichhardt dad Mark Gerber was created digitally and after a lot of tweaking the final product looks pretty close to my beloved Lith look of yester year. What do you think?


George Fetting
George Fetting

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