Black and white photographs can be printed onto almost any surface- not just paper.
Generally, the process involves painting a special silver gelatin emulsion onto the
surface, in the dark room. The surface is exposed to film, taken through developer
and fixer, and dried.
Here’s a description of how I created the photos that were printed onto
- Clean the shell first with water/soap, then with bleach in order to whiten the
- After drying, coat the surface with gelatin [1 package plus 1 1/2 cups water, dissolved]. Drain and dry. (You must be careful to remove excess gelatin from the edge, or the resulting photo will not be fixed properly)
- In the dark room, warm and solubilize the silver gelatin- I use MACO variable
contrast [Photographer’s Formulary].
- Paint the liquid on the shell, in one direction. Stand upright. Remove excess from edges. Air dry or
carefully blow dry.
- Repeat  but paint at right angles. Stand, dry, and store in light tight bag [I
use old print paper bags].
- Expose to film in enlarger. Note that a shell of similar size but not treated
should be used to guage the correct enlarger settings. Usually I run a “test shell”
with different exposure times in order to get the correct exposure.
- Carry through developer [Dektol], 2 fixer baths, and water. Dry thoroughly. It is critical that all of the silver in the photo emulsion be fixed, or else darkspots will appear upon aging.
- Spray with clear Krylon acrylic spray [obtained at any hardware store], dry.
OWL’S HEAD LIGHT