Unveiling the Beauty with Elizabeth Opalenik

We shall begin with a brief history of the mordançage process and share the work of Denis Brihat and Jean Pierre Sudre, the French photographer that created the 1960 formula we use today.  As her mentor and friend for over 15 years,  Elizabeth learned the process directly from this master in his Provence atelier in 1991.  Sharing the work of others in Mordançage will add valuable insight into directions for making it your own creative voice.  Nothing beats seeing an original mordançage piece.

Elizabeth will demonstrate safe chemistry mixing and understanding the test strips to discover proper exposures for negatives or photograms.  We’ll field trip to make negatives and we will also learn about preparing digital negatives for mordançage images. Mordançage, with intent,  takes time to master.  Information on materials to bring shall be sent prior to the workshop.  Darkroom days will be spent testing papers and redeveloper combinations, experimenting with oxidation and toners to alter color, and deciding to save or not to save the veils.  Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. Veiling is Elizabeth’s contribution to Mordançage where she is considered the master.  Discussions will focus on possibilities and inspiration for the final image including the possibility of hand painting.

By the end of the workshop, students will have a safe working knowledge of the process, with a good foundation into the techniques for your darkroom.  After  26 years of committing to the mordançage process, Elizabeth has many possibilities, pitfalls and discoveries to share. By working with a small group of photographic peers, students can combine information on papers available today to further enhance their making of these one of a kind images.  Experimenting is highly encouraged. A working knowledge of the darkroom is essential.

Come prepared for challenges and laughs as we enjoy a week of darkroom creativity.


Elizabeth Opalenik

From her earliest days doing advertising and editorial assignments, Elizabeth Opalenik has been hired for the sense of poetic grace and movement she brings to her images.  As a fine art photographer Elizabeth now extends that sensibility to philanthropic projects documenting stories in the Amazon and South America for Medical Ministries International on projects concerned with eye care. She is a sought after educator for the sense of wonder and possibility she creates in her students. 

Elizabeth’s heart is in her Oakland, California darkroom where she creates unique photographs in the Mordançage process, continuing to pioneer new possibilities with the signature veiled images. Platinum/palladium printing, hand-painting, and other diverse processes including paper making for books and printing remain a focus. From portraits to landscapes, her passion is working with images made involving water. She remains true to creating images in camera, but bridges technology, mixing digital and traditional when appropriate to utilize all the creative possibilities. Elizabeth uses images as stepping stones that trace where the mind has been, believing they reflect the unique vision that each of us carries through life.

Her innovative images are represented, collected and shown internationally and have been profiled in most major photographic publications. For nearly 30 years, she has conducted photography workshops in the United States, Australia, Iceland, Bali, France, Italy, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba and Argentina, privately and in conjunction with The Maine Media Workshops, Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, The British Guild of Portrait Photographers, Stanford Continuing Education, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, Les Rencontres d’Arles, National Geographic Expeditions and others.

To view images from her monograph “Poetic Grace: Elizabeth Opalenik Photographs 1979-2007” please visit Elizabeth's website by clicking here.

What Elizabeth's students have said:

"Elizabeth is supremely sensitive and supportive."
- Steven Fierberg, Los Angeles, CA

"Learning from Elizabeth Opalenik is to learn from a true master and a lovely woman."

Course Dates

Aug 13 to Aug 19



Class Size