Sabattier effect (Partial Solarisation)


Sabattier effect or as it is more commonly but incorrectly known 'Solarisation' is achieved by partial reversal of the image by exposing it to light during the development process.

This results in a final image which exhibits both negative and positive tones.

It was discovered by the French scientist Armand Sabattier in 1862 and has been used by many photographers in particular Man Ray in the 1930's ref the Ray Miller series of images.

The degree of the effect is dependent upon the point in the development process when the second exposure is made and the strength of this exposure.

One interesting effect of the technique is a line (Mackie Line ) produced at the boundary between reversed and unreversed areas which can be exaggerated by copying or contact printing on to high contrast material.

This technique is best carried out with two light sources, one for the initial image exposure and the second for the 'solarising ' exposure.

The initial exposure can be an enlargement from a film negative, or a contact print from a paper negative. Which ever is used first determine exposure time and produce a print as a reference.


© Phil Gee
© Phil Gee
© Phil Gee
© Phil Gee


Initial exposure details
aperture (ƒ stop value):
Lens to Base distance:

Partial Development

Solarising Exposure details
L-B distance:

Full Development

Admire ( critical evaluation)

You can then use this image as a 'Paper' negative for further effects