Sabattier Effect – A Striking Darkroom Technique

 

Sabattier Effect pic

Sabattier Effect
Image: digital-photography-school.com

Based in Nashville, Benjamin Perlin maintains a focus on traditional film and darkroom techniques, as he feels these best capture the imprint of physical events. One technique with which Benjamin Perlin has experimented is the Sabattier effect, which describes a print that has not been fixed and becomes half negative and half positive with the passage of time.

Named after Armand Sabattier, the technique involves re-exposing a print to light, such that it acts as the negative on the unexposed silver. Highlights that would otherwise appear white are now grey, as they receive a certain amount of exposure. At the same time, striking white Mackie lines are created between the shadows and highlights.

Sabattier effects can be accomplished in a darkroom by turning on the lights three-quarters of the way through the development process. The technique is also useful in creating photograms that do not involve a camera. Instead, objects are placed directly on enlarger paper, with these prints emerging as silhouettes or shadow pictures. Various opaque and translucent pieces can be set in the light and taken off at various stages of the development process for a complex, subtle result.