In short he hasn't and it isn't. (He suggested diazo systems are only
really suitable for proofing and require plastic papers.)
What follows is an attempt to record some of the main points of a lengthy
talk on the phone with Dr Perera about his work - his talk ranged somewhat
far and wide and at times deep. Should he get to read this he will have to
forgive me if there are things I haven't got exactly right. As he wants me
to tell you he doesn't have any access to the web - the only web in his
house is a large one inhabited by spiders - perhaps he won't see it.
He tells me he started his work on photochemistry at the age of 8 with his
father in Ceylon and is still continuing at the age of 62.
He is printing for a number of well known photographers and his prints for
some of them have been winners in the Association for Photography annual
awards. He has a good list of photographers and plenty of work at the
Neither his current or previous process is based on diazo or dichromates,
but use his own sensitiser formulation. He tells me that there are 13
non-toxic sensitisers available for those who study the patent literature
(and also chlorophyll, making 14). Why, he asked, are people so keen to
find out how he - or Fresson etc - makes prints rather than doing a little
research and finding their own ways. The idea that people should find
their own way in life rather than copying others was a lesson he learnt
from his father at an early age.
There is a possibility that an american company may buy rights to use his
process - he says that if you want to know it you need to bring your
credit card with you. It won't come cheap. However he says that if you go
down to the patent office regularly and keep up with developments in
chemistry you can work out your own new processes as he has. As he said,
if you phone up Kodak they won't tell you how to produce E6.
He discontinued the kits partly because of what he calls a 'gang of four'
- people in alt photo who badgered him to publish the formula. He feels
strongly that they wanted to exploit his work for their own profit.
He has now improved the process. He is also currently working on another
new process using different chemistry. He is only willing discuss his work
with other people who are also producing original work in photographic
processes and have something similarly novel to offer him in a
At the moment he is considering training an assistant in his methods - who
would have to sign a lengthy non-disclosure agreement. He says that if he
published his work others would start teaching workshops and claiming it
(or trivial modifications of it) as their own process. He intends that his
notebooks will be destroyed at his death so that people he feels don't
deserve it can't benefit.
I hope that this makes one or two points clear.
On Fixing Shadows and elsewhere:
Family Pictures, German Indications, London demonstrations &
The Buildings of London etc: http://www.spelthorne.ac.uk/pm/