We Simplify The Technical!

How to transfer your photography to wood and other surfaces. Nancy Abens gives us great tips and inspiration on transfers and also on creating custom books and covers on episode 151 of The Understand Photography Show.

*Please scroll to the bottom of the post for more images from our guest.*

Episode 151

How to Transfer Your Photography Onto Wood and Other Surfaces with Nancy Abens

Photo Transfer

Many different techniques.

  -Print your image onto DASS Art film (coated acetate).
  -Must use a PIGMENT printer (Epson SureColor)
  -The larger the print, the more difficult the transfer process becomes.

  -Painted cradled birch panels are coated with “super sauce” by DASS Art.

 “I like the birch panels because it produces a finished work that doesn’t require framing.  It’s a more sculptural and dimensional work of art.”

  -After several minutes, lay out the image on the film and smooth it out.
  -Carefully peel off the film.  The inked image will be transferred to the board.

  If part of the image doesn’t transfer, you can repair it.

  “Spotting” -process of adding ink where the transfer lifted off.  Can be done with Copic Markers .

Can use a variety of substrates and solutions for transfer:  plaster, gel transfer, even hand sanitizer!

  -Heavy watercolor paper – or any heavy paper that can get wet

  -Stone paper (a heavy paper made of limestone and resin)

  Creates a different texture to the image as the solution doesn’t soak in, but sits on top.

  Allows for manipulation of the edges, reminiscent of a polaroid emulsion transfer.

Making a Book of Transfers

  • Determine how large you’d like your image – 5”x5” or 5”x7” work well.
  • Determine how wide you’d like your border – 1/2” to 3/4”
  • Measure and carefully tear your paper (to get that natural, rough-edge look) 

  – Use a printmaking or watercolor paper (Rives Bfk , Stonehenge )

  Usually available in 32” x 40” or 22” x 30” sheets 

  – A 5×5 image fits well on a 6×6 page – tear the paper into 6” wide strips.

  – Determine how many pages you want, attach another strip as needed.

  – Fold strips accordion-style –  Bone Folder Tools can be used for crisp creases.

  • Adhere or transfer your images to the paper.
  • Create a front and back cover by covering mat board with pretty papers or fabrics.
  • Bind your book together.


  • An early processing technique for photography using light sensitive chemicals.
  • An emulsion of Potassium Ferricyanide and Ferric Ammonium Citrate is painted onto watercolor paper and allowed to dry.
  • Print a B&W negative of your image onto a transparency film (Pictorico).
  • Lay the transparency onto the dry, coated paper and place under a sheet of glass in the sun for 1-20 minutes.
  • Rinse the paper with water to reveal a blue and white image.
  • This can also be done by laying objects onto the coated paper (usually plants), creating a “photogram” – photography without a camera.

Photo Intaglio

  • A processing technique using a polymer emulsion plate to create a detailed etching of an image.
  • An image is printed onto a Pictorico transparency as a B&W positive, the same size as the plate (4” x 5”).
  • A sandwich of emulsion plate, halftone screen, and image transparency are exposed to a UV light source for about 45 seconds.
  • Remove the halftone screen and expose for an additional 45 seconds.
  • Brush the plate under running water to reveal the etched image.
  • Prints can be made from the plate using a water soluble printing ink (Akua Intaglio Inks) pressed onto damp paper.


A much more laborious and repetitive process that creates a richly toned, contrasty image without a lot of detail.

“The power of art is to help us understand the really big things that are happening and to help people see them through different eyes.”

Finding Nancy



Mentioned on the Show

Blurb books

Transcend JetDrive

Hacking the Digital Print by Bonnie Lhotka


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Gear Recommendation of the Week

Circular Polarizer with Multi-Resistant Coati

B+W’s F-Pro HTC Kaesemann Circular Polarizer MRC is a screw-mount filter available in 20 different sizes to fit mounts from 37-120 mm. The filter ring is brass. Polarizers are used in photography to eliminate reflections on glass or water and to saturate colors, particularly blue skies, also by eliminating reflections. Polarizers block certain orientations of polarized light. You need to rotate them in order to block the orientation that will eliminate glare.

Florida’s Best Photo Spots!

Florida Photo Spots: Naples and Collier County by [Farren, Peggy, Fitzpatrick, Joe]

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Nancy Abens Tricolor Heron Bold Photo Transfer
Nancy Abens GrapeLeaves, Hydrangea and Banana Photo Transfer
Nancy Abens LittleBlueHeron#2 Photo Transfer
Nancy Abens Garden Gleanings #1 Photo Transfer
Nancy Abens Shell Collection 1 Photo Transfer

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