Dye Sublimation Emulsion Lift


Seascape on an overcast day, a broken pier in the middle and a bird flying on the upper left corner
Photograph and emulsion lift by Karin Lizana

    It's no surprise to people who know me that I love to experiment with alternative photographic processes. Still, sometimes I struggle with the fact some materials are getting harder to get and are becoming expensive. 

    I had totally forgotten I didn't discover this process. I found Dass products while taking an experimental photographic process class in college. When I took that class, we didn't have Polaroid film like today. The only one available was the Impossible Project, but it was hard to find and expensive, so we learned how to make lifts using the Dass transfer kit. I was browsing Dass's website when I saw a video that explains the dye sublimation lift process from start to finish.

    The only printer currently on the market that makes dye-sublimation prints is the Canon Selphy series. As of today, a pack of 108 4x6 sheets costs $35, which makes each lift $0.35 compared to $2.5 for each Polaroid lift. Another advantage is people don't need a special camera to make these lifts. Any digital photograph can be printed and lifted using this process. 

Dye sublimation print detached from the original paper, floating in water on top of a watercolor piece of paper. The photograph is a view of the Tower building neon signs in a foggy San Francisco summer night.

     Since the Dass video is still up, I'm sharing it with everyone who wants to try this process. The video does an excellent job of explaining all the process steps.

    In my experience, you can leave a few prints soaking overnight, and all of them will be ready to lift in the morning. I haven't seen any issues with leaving the prints for 10 hours in the water. The emulsion is plastic, so it doesn't disintegrate. Still, you need to handle it with care because the plastic rips if there is too much friction between the water and your fingers.

California seascape with a bird in the middle of it on a sunny summer day
Photograph by Francisco Rojas. Emulsion lift by Karin Lizana

    If you are interested in experimental processes using digital files, I recommend you to check the video tutorials on the Dass Art website 



Popular Posts