Albumen Questions

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by photomem, Oct 7, 2009.

  1. photomem

    photomem Member

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    I am required to complete a project for my studio class in which I must blend two of my interests. I have boiled the list down to photography and cooking. I am thinking of creating some albumen prints and I am trying to do so with the materials I have on hand. I know I will have to buy silver nitrate, but I am curious if I can use the Kodak Rapid-Fix with the prints. Also, any pitfalls any of you have had and could tell me it would help.
     
  2. Paul Cocklin

    Paul Cocklin Member

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    I can't really help at all with any of your questions, but I just had to say I think this is a really cool project. One day soon I want to try albumen for myself. Good luck!

    Paul
     
  3. photomem

    photomem Member

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    I have just discovered that you can also use Coffee or Tea as a toner.. Maybe I can create most of a photo via food?
     
  4. largeformat pat

    largeformat pat Member

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    G'day,
    I would suggest using a alkaline fixer. These are more gentle than acid style fixers. water 750mls. 250 grams Sodium Thiosulfate. 15 grams Sodium sulfite. 10 grams Sodium Metaborate. then water to 1 litre. Fix for about 10 minutes. When coating your paper with Albumen I suggest double coating and using Isopropyl Alch to help dry. I have found this leads to better coating. The other option is to try Salt printing. A few less steps. The image is in the paper not on it. It almost looks like a sepia watercolour when untoned.
    Pat
     
  5. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    The Kitchen Photographer. You also can use coffee as a film developer, there have been several threads about it here on Apug. Also, Phototechniques had an article several years ago about making a pyro developer for film with green tea. Dilute white vinegar works as a stop bath. As for prints, you can make albumen or you could also try salt prints. Both will require Silver Nitrate, which is not found in very many kitchens. Of course, you could try Anthotypes (search Apug) which can be made with wine, vegitables, flowers, berries, etc. I suppose you could also make your own paper from old kitchen rags, but that may be going too far.
     
  6. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I would not use rapid fix with Albumen. Use a standard fixer - I use TF-2. I make my albumen from the egg whites sold in the grocery store - they come in a container like a quart milk container. I then make a large quantity of paper over the following weeks and let it age by air drying rather than using alcohol, though there's nothing wrong with the alcohol method.

    I'm not usually a magic bullet believer, but the Richeson brush is one. Search the name here. It has very soft artificial bristles that do not absorb the silver nitrate the way others do.

    Good luck.
    juan
     
  7. photomem

    photomem Member

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    Ok, egg whites are beaten, resting in the fridge. So begins the project.
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Use a two-bath plain hypo as fixer. I would definitely not use any kind of rapid fixer, or you'll bleach the image right off the paper.

    The first part of the process can be non-toxic. I use egg white, sea salt, and vinegar and mix this solution using my ordinary kitchen utensils.

    Silver nitrate and everything after is toxic. Gold toning is traditional, but selenium toning also works. The image must be toned. Coffee will color the paper excessively. Tea might be interesting, but I haven't tried it.

    Read Reilly's book, which you can download from albumen.stanford.com
     
  9. photomem

    photomem Member

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    I have downloaded and read most of Reilly's book, but there are two things I am curious about..

    1) As the Albumen denatures in the fridge, will it become less viscous?

    2) Before sizing the paper ( I plan to do this next Sunday), should I let the mixture sit and come back up to room temperature for a while?
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The mixture becomes less viscous and more uniform in general, but always filter through cheesecloth whenever the solution goes from the container where you keep it to the tray and back. Keep the solution clean and refrigerated when not in use, and it will last a very long time, particularly if you use a little acid as a preservative.

    The albumen mixture should be at room temperature before coating.

    I recommend floating the paper, both for the albumenizing and sensitizing steps. This takes some practice, and there are a few different ways of doing it, but it was the standard historical method, and people who made thousands of albumen prints evidently found they got the best results this way, even though they must have been aware of other methods used for other print processes. Any kind of brushing of the silver nitrate solution will leave brush marks, which you may want and find interesting as an aesthetic choice, but if you want a uniform coating, I wouldn't do it that way. Some people have been able to achieve a uniform coating with a coating rod, laying down a line of silver nitrate solution and drawing it across the paper in one smooth motion--no pushing it around--and cutting off the edge where the silver nitrate first contacts the paper. John Coffer seals two sheets together back to back with rubber cement, fully immerses the paper in both the albumen and silver nitrate solutions, and then cuts off the sealed edges.
     
  11. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I agree with David - the albumen will last a long time with a bit of acid and refrigeration. I also float the paper for coating with albumen. But, I've found the Richeson 9010 to be the best way for me to apply sensitizer. Test to be sure you're applying the correct amount. I've found that different papers take different amounts.
    juan
     
  12. photomem

    photomem Member

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    OK, So I have sized the paper, and applied the Silver Nitrate. I am a bit concerned however because the paper started waving when I applied the Nitrate. Does this mean that I did not size the paper properly?
     
  13. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I dry mine with a hair dryer set on the cool, unheated, position. The paper then curls a little, but the printing frame flattens it. You do know that the paper is good for only a few hours after sensitizing.
    juan
     
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  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Did you harden the albumen? Methods of hardening include aging, steaming, heating, and an alcohol bath. I usually make albumenized paper in large batches so that it ages, but I also steam it anyway to humidify the paper so that it is supple for sensitizing.

    I float the paper on the nitrate solution and let it drip dry, and it curls as it drips. Silver nitrate stains everything, so put a dropcloth or several layers of newspaper or something under the paper as it dries. Also, be sure to wear gloves, eye protection, and an apron when working with silver nitrate. I weight the corners so the paper surface isn't damaged as it dries.

    Normally I do this the night before printing. I consider the paper to be good for a day after sensitizing. I've tested sensitized paper that is months old, and it's actually usable, but it loses about two stops in speed, so it's not practical. It browns slightly as it ages, but that bleaches out in the toner and fixer.
     
  16. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    You might also consider the combination of using the albumen for photography and the egg yolks for cooking. This is an excerpt from James Reilly's "The Albumen and Salted Paper Book":

    A HINT TO ALBUMENIZERS.
    What can you do with the yolks of your eggs? Make them into cheesecakes that will be pronounced unrivalled. Dissolve a quarter of a pound of butter in a basin placed on the hob, stir in a quarter pound of pounded lump sugar, and beat well together; then add the yolks of three eggs that have previously been well beaten; beat up all together thoroughly; throw in half of a grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt, stir, and lastly add the juice of two fine-flavored lemons and the rind of one lemon that has been peeled very thin; beat up all together, thoroughly, and pour into a dish lined with puff-paste, and bake for about twenty minutes. This is one of the pleasantest "bye-products" we are acquainted with in the economics of manufacturing photography. Try it!​

    IIRC, Suda House had another recipe for a custard in her "Artistic Photographic Processes" book.

    Joe
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  18. photomem

    photomem Member

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    Well, I tried 3 prints. This being fall break at U of M, I did not have access to the digital lab nor the wet lab to create enlarged negatives. Had to send them to Kinko's to be printed.

    The Result?

    Utter Failure.

    All three prints came out as nice big 5X7 blocks of solid rust red with no image on them. This was exposing in full sun for 30 mins, then 15, then about 8. I know the negatives were probably not dense enough, but this really annoys me when it comes to Alt. Process. I will try it again, but probably at the first of the year when I have more funding to work with.
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    If you've got some sensitized paper (trimmings will do), have you tried using your original negs? Even if you come up with 24x36mm prints, you may have something interesting. Kertesz made tiny contact prints early in his career. They're kind of astonishing to see in person when you've seen them larger for years in books.
     
  20. photomem

    photomem Member

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    I had not thought of that, I am using 645 Negatives so I will get tiny prints, but they might look interesting.
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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  22. Paulette M

    Paulette M Member

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    Just some thoughts from my own science in the kitchen time...
    a) tea bags TOTALLY work when you are wanting to tone a print. Mind, that which tea you are using and if it has any additives and preservatives changes the effect. I found that black teas were by far the best.
    b) rapid fix does work when put into a concentration of about 6:1. I can't find the precise ratio at this moment but it does work.
    c) I found that the best negs were made on my black and white printer on acetate (or by oiling/waxing the paper after) sometime a two or three layered neg was necessary to ensure the density needed but its WAY cheaper than kinkos or using any fancy papers.

    Albumen was by far one of the best processes for the kitchen. And egg whites that have a bit of yolk in them make an excellent face mask!
     
  23. Donmck

    Donmck Member

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  24. tpersin

    tpersin Member

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    David- would you happen to have examples of how gold toned and selenium toned albumen prints differ in appearance? I've been trying to find an image of a selenium toned print and have been so far unsuccesful.

    Thanks!
     
  25. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I checked my files and I don't have a side by side comparison of the same print in gold and in selenium , but I've attached a test print from a 6x6cm neg, fixed for 1 min. in TF-4 and toned for 3 min. in KRST 1:32. You might compare it to some of the gold-borax toned albumen prints I've posted on my flickr site at--

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/sets/72157611396199449/

    or this one in my APUG gallery--

    http://www.apug.org/gallery1/showim...ine&direction=DESC&imageuser=60&cutoffdate=-1

    --and you can see that there's a range of tones possible with gold as well. The more neutral ones are toned longer. For selenium toning, it seems more common to fix then tone, while with gold toning, one tends to tone then fix in plain hypo, or at least that's what I do.

    It's hard to compare from scans, really, if they're not scanned and adjusted uniformly at the same time, since the differences are subtle, but I'm working on a calibrated monitor, and I look at the print in hand and the image on the screen, and try to adjust the digital image so that it looks like the print, which it never quite does. I find the selenium toned albumen prints a little duller than gold toned.
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 20, 2009
  26. tpersin

    tpersin Member

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    Thanks David! much appreciated....