The liquid emulsion process

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*Black&White, *Photography, *Poster

I will try to explain in some entries the basics of the method I use to create my work via photosensitive emulsions. Here you will see the first experiments… yes… yes… me and Rorschach would be best buddies.

Always be careful when handling chemicals.

You can apply the process to a surface of your own choice, while a variety of surfaces can be coated with various emulsions, paper is the most widely used for most processes and the most preferred.

The best papers for coating will be those that are not too soft and have been sized. (Sizing or size is any one of numerous specific substances that is applied to or incorporated in other material, especially papers and textiles, to act as a protecting filler or glaze.)

Working with paper and processes that do not require highly sized paper makes working much easier.

Unsized papers will soak the sensitizing solution too deeply and unevenly into the paper. (If you wish to experiment with softer papers, you may need to size them with gelatin before coating them.) Use any paper that can stand soaking, such as many watercolor, etching, and charcoal papers, commercial offset cover stock, or heavier sketchbook pages. Clobbered papers may bleed or fade. Any paper can be coated with an emulsion but there is great variation in both the and physical strength of papers, and many are not suitable for coating.

I normally use Liquid light or Tetenal liquid emulsion they are silver-based sensitizer for applying on any surface, exposing by an enlarger, and processing in conventional chemistry. It is virtually the same emulsion found on ordinary photographic paper, but in a liquid form and can allow the emulsion to be coated on a wide range of surfaces.

Safe Light

Use a dark yellow, light amber or red safelight while coating but when emulsion is drying and for storage total darkness is recommended.

At room temperature, liquid light is a solid gel and before use the bottle must be soaked in a container of hot water until it becomes a liquid at about 110 Deg F. It is not necessary to melt the entire contents if only a portion is to be used as the mixture is of a similar consistency throughout and in fact shaking the bottle will cause bubbles to form which can effect the application of the emulsion. Use containers and tools made only from plastic, rubber, enamel, stainless steel or glass. (Other metals such as plain steel or brass may contaminate the emulsion. Temperature and humidity in the darkroom should be moderate.

Increasing density and sensitivity

A small, precisely-measured amount of paper developer added to liquid emulsion just before use will give maximum speed and contrast. Add exactly one part of working developer to 10 parts of liquid light. Example: Add 15ml of dektol, Neutol or equivalent diluted 1-2 (Not stock or concentrated solution) to 150ml of liquid light. Mix well, an coat this mixture during the same day. (Once coated and dried, material can be stored of an indefinite period).

Applying liquid emulsion

Normally most people use a brush, small sponge or a nap type paint applicator, by using a paint roller, spray gun, or by flowing on the emulsion and draining off the excess. At the same time, coat a few pieces of paper or file cards with the same mixture to serve as test strips to calculate the correct exposure. Like paint, too thin a coating of liquid light will show streaks and brush stokes. If an even coating is required, two thin coats will cover better than one and the second can be applied after the first has become tacky or dried. As you are applying the solution, remember to keep the emulsion warm in a water bath as it will begin to set again if it becomes cool.


Liquid emulsion can be exposed once it is dry by using an enlarger, contact printing, or by a slide projector. Liquid emulsions are slower than normal enlargement papers and requires a longer exposure time. So remember to make some test sheets.

Processing liquid emulsion – development

For preparations on paper, develop like a normal print in a tray, or for other surfaces paint the developer on with a brush or sponge. A developer like Dektol or Neutol should be used diluted 1 part with 2 parts water. It is important that while the temperature of the developer is warm it is not above 70 deg F or 21 deg C. to avoid melting of the emulsion. For large surfaces where the developer must be applied to a portion of the print at a time, even out the development by first wetting the emulsion with cool water.


Do not rinse with water or use a stop bath after developing. Use two consecutive identical hardening fixer baths. The first acts as a short stop; immerse for a few seconds to neutralize the developer. Next place in the second bath for 10 min or more until the chalky white pigment disappears, leaving the highlights completely transparent. (The second fixer should always be new and some agitation should be used).


Wash in the normal manner for at least 10 min in running water.

First tries

This textures were created using the exposed emulsion only with light and playing with the developer and water to create the ink like texture during development.




Escrito por

Founder of Lichtbild & Head of his own strange world / Vintage Enthusiast / Photographer / Graphic Designer /Typography "lover" / Book Collector / Spanish+German Mix / Lives in Coruña / Sometimes heads back home & Sleeps. /*

10 thoughts on “The liquid emulsion process”

  1. Die Bilder sehen echt cool aus! ;) Interessant hat meistens einen so negativen Beigeschmack, aber wenn ich das jetzt sage, meine ich, dass es wirklich interessant ist. Und nicht negativ! ;)

    Me gusta

    • Sind nur alte experimente mit flüssiger Fotoemulsion also Schwarzweißentwicklung kannst ruhig Interessant sagen ;P – ist nur ein bisschen Gepansche XD will versuchen in einigen Beiträgen die Methode erklären die ich bei der Entwicklung benutze :D

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