Dye Transfer printing – a lost art.

Dye Transfer printing – a lost art.

A printing process that although expensive & rather complicated, gave wonderful colour prints.
Unfortunately, Kodak in 1994 (the only supplier) ceased production of all materials for using this process. A great shame because the method gave incredible control of both colour & contrast for the finished print: it must be noted that this was control over sections of the print (just like in B&W printing) not just changing the look of the complete print.
The process involved taking a well exposed and developed transparency (the larger the better) and from this; producing a series of contrast masks, highlight masks, and separation negatives, you are then ready to expose the matrix film. The matrices (3 of them) are exposed with R separation & placed in a cyan dye, the G in the magenta dye and the B in yellow dye. These were then rolled out onto the dye transfer paper (in registration) with the combination of all three producing the final colour print.

Get a cup of coffee or depending on the time of day, a glass of wine and watch this entertaining short video, then look at some of the links I have provided to see the method & final result.




It beats the hell out of sitting in front of a computer screen with Photoshop or Lightroom !!!

4 thoughts on “Dye Transfer printing – a lost art.

  1. I made one dye transfer but I found I was not insane enough (or wealthy enough) to continue the practice. This was a course they taught at RIT many years ago but it was not required. I did get very good results with Cibachrome and used the products for years. They were not inexpensive but far cheaper to do it yourself than have someone do them for you.

    1. My sentiments entirely, nearly as bad as making B&W contrast inter-negatives for 6×6 printing and using a very soft pencil for shading.
      I still have a small amount of Ilfochrome paper in my freezer, but only two boxes of chemicals. One day I will use it and then nothing until I return to UK and source something else; hence going over to the dark-side for my colour work.
      Digital is a lot easier though less satisfying.


  2. The best I can say about this was that the enthusiasm of those who used this method was truly joyful. But in those same years, I did chemical printing of color negatives, and it was easier, more economical, and allowed for equal creative freedom. The only disadvantage that I found was that you had to work in complete darkness. Ah, how things have changed.

    1. Dedication……. comes to mind.
      I use a sodium safe light for finding things in my room when printing colour, although it points away from the work area and it is only on for short periods. Use a Jobo CPE2 for processing so I put my red light on then.
      But as you said “things have changed” I can take a glass of wine when on the computer screen ….. 😉


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