Salt Print - Newbie Question

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Herzeleid, Mar 24, 2012.

  1. Herzeleid

    Herzeleid Member

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    I have done a few experiments with salt print. So far so good everything seems fine. I can have decent prints no more darkening or bad brush strokes after switching to glass rod coating.
    I am using the formula from Christopher James' book:
    1000ml water
    8 gr gelatin
    20 gr sodium chloride
    18 gr sodium citrate

    and %10 percent silver nitrate solution.

    But

    I want a bit of more contrast, without turning to potassium dichromate option for now.
    In the book it is mentioned that decreasing the sodium citrate or eliminating all together will increase contrast.

    Which way I should go? Do you add sodium citrate at all? Or do you prefer lesser amount of sodium citrate.
    What is your opinion I wanted to know before I start wasting precious silver nitrate :smile:
    Oh and btw I would really like to have more reddish purplish tones, any tips?
     
  2. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    My only advise (I have only made a few salt prints), is to expose and develop your negatives for the process you are using. If you need more contrast in your prints, get more contrast in your negatives.

    Most processes have ways to adjust the contrast, but often it comes at a cost. For example if one is using Potassium chlorate to boost contrast for platinum/palladium prints, it works fine until you need to boost contrast so high that the amount of Potassium chlorate starts to cause grainy images.

    I believe fine-tuning one's negatives for a particular process is the best way to go.

    Have fun!

    Vaughn
     
  3. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Vaughn is correct. The only appropriate way to get more contrast in a salt print is to get it in the negative. This process requires more contrast in the negative than any other. The 1840's paper negative that I printed for MoPA a few years ago had greater contrast than any I film negative I have seen other than those made with lith film.
    You don't mention your film or developer. You must use a film in the 100-125 ISO range, or slower. Even some of these will not produce the maximum contrast required. Efke 100 is an example of a film in this range which will give you what you need. I use either FP4+ or lith film in camera.
    You need to use an active developer. Although I don't use it, HC110 at a dilution of 1+4 from stock should work if you use the times recommended for 1+7 dilution. It will get you close,but time may still need to be increased for the ultimate negatives for this process. ABC, Pyrocat HD, W2D2 all work well, as will your print developer.
    So there are a lot of choices from which to choose. Make a choice or two and make tests.
    Before I am asked, I do not recommend development times and temperatures because I don't know how individuals meter for exposure, agitate during development, etc
    Good luck.
     
  4. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Correction:
    That sentence should read Efke 100 is an example of a film which WILL NOTGIVE YOU WHAT YOU NEED!
     
  5. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Serdar, not exactly an answer to your actual question but I still wanted to mention: I remember reading somewhere (could be Reilly's The Albumen and Salted Paper Book - full of useful information...) that the silver solution's strength should be about 6x of your salt solution - I mean for best results... I think you can use a 12% silver solution; more silver -> stronger / darker and contrasty (in terms of print's dynamic range) images...

    I have little to add to Jim's comment: I personally use Pyrocat-MC (mixed it myself, you don't necessarily have to mail order it...), this developer is capable of giving strongly UV blocking negatives and lots of exposure scale. (10-12 stops...) Definitely try it! Also, FP4+ is great for strong / dense / contrasty negatives. (If you're using film negatives that is...)

    BTW, don't be intimidated of silver prices, the real cost lies in paper, not silver!

    As a last note: Definitely try gold-thiourea toning, untoned salt prints are kinda thin skinned / pretty vulnerable to atmospheric pollutants. (You'll get neutral / colder tones though. But a much more robust image: both in terms of longevity and dmax...)

    What film / developer / paper do you use? (The more information you provide the more feedback you'll get...)

    Regards,
    Loris.

    (Bol sans diliyorum...)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2012
  6. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    If you want a true historic answer related to Talbots original salt prints (photogenic drawings), contrast is not inherent in this process. If you use his original formulation and dry in darkness, a scan can provide what you may be looking for. But then some people on this site will probably say that I don’t know what I’m talking about.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi clivehL

    i know you know what you are talking about, and would love to read talbot's writings related to his original salt prints.
    can you tell me if they are available to read online ?


    many thanks !
    john
     
  8. Herzeleid

    Herzeleid Member

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    Thanks everyone

    I should have given more info on negative, unfortunately I am not shooting film for the prints. (I really wish I could but not for now).
    I am using acetate transparencies for printing, and I was guessing there is a limit to the density that I can reach with transparencies
    so I should first fiddle with formula.
     
  9. Herzeleid

    Herzeleid Member

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    Hi Loris,

    Unfortunately for now I am using transparencies for my thesis project. They are ok with VDB and cyanotype, but salt is new I still need to experiment and optimize.
    And I am not getting the perfect transparencies, I am content with the flaws and imperfections, because it fits the project.

    I looked for gold-thiourea at the chemist shop but can't seem to find it may be there is another name for it?
    And I am also considering waxing prints but it is not decided yet.

    About the paper I am using Canson Montval for all of the processes.

    Thanks again
    Serdar
     
  10. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Serdar,

    See the toner formula given in this article. (It works with all silver / iron-silver alt. processes...)

    You'll need gold chloride (or potassium gold chloride - that's what I use...), thiourea, sodium chloride (kosher table salt w/o any additive...) and tartaric acid in order to compound the toner.

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  11. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    Seeing as I am one of the people that disagrees with you. Could you elucidate on this statement a bit? Quoting the relevant passages from Talbot's notes would be a good start.

    Also, bear in mind that his photogenic drawings and his calotypes were two, very different (albeit related), processes. They are not the same thing. Generally when we refer to salt-prints we are referring to the latter, rather than the former.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2012
  12. Prof_Pixel

    Prof_Pixel Member

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    You can get "The Pencil of Nature" by Fox Talbot at http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/33447
     
  13. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Relevant passages from Talbot's notes are perhaps too numerous to quote, but I would suggest you refer to Larry J Schaaf, Records of the Dawn of Photography; Talbot's Notebooks P & Q
    (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). You can then back this up by actual experiments to confirm his observations. When you mention that generally when we refer to salt-prints we are referring to the latter, rather than the former. I thought calotypes were called calotypes and not salt prints. Perhaps what is in confusion here is that I am not referring to an alternative print making process, but recording the imagery as the image changes during chemical reaction. Perhaps this should be called Imageography?
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi clive

    i think calotypes refer to the paper negative that was printed out onto salted paper .. ( at least that is my understanding )
    i do similar things as you do ... watch unfixed sun prints change over time ... and i would love to do that with salted paper
    and silver nitrate .. i find it to be much in touch with my 19th century alter ego .. i gotta win the lottery though, salted paper prints
    probably cost oodles more than old expired almost free photo paper ...

    thanks for suggested readings !
    john
     
  16. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    My understanding from research, education and training is this; What you refer to as a salt-print is what Talbot frequently referred to as a "photogenic drawing" (essentially a photogram on salted paper sensitized with silver nitrate) and I think this is where much confusion sets in. What I (and just about everyone I know) refer to as a salt-print (or salted paper print) is the later process Talbot used to make prints from his paper negatives (i.e., the calotype). While the basic printing process is similar, the formulae are a bit different.

    It's important to note that while Talbot was unhappy (ish) with the aesthetic compromise that using hypo instead of a salt solution required, he favored permanence above all. It's easy to see how the salt-print became the de-facto standard for quite a while, eventually yielding to the platinotype and factory prepared albumenized paper. (Slightly OT, albumen prints are just salt-prints on albumenized paper)

    Warmest Regards,
    Andrew
     
  17. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    I accept what you say entirely, as he was trying to discover a practical photographic process. My point which perhaps I did not explain well, is that in doing so, we have much to learn about image evolvement within the short time frame of these early photographic experiments.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2012
  18. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Another way to increase the contrast with a regular film is to selenium tone the negative. I've made successful salt prints using Polaroid type 55 negatives toned for about 5 minutes in Kodak selenium toner diluted 1+3.
     
  19. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    And I have done the same with standard B&W film -- but first a light bleaching to knock the shadows down a little, then selenium toning to bump up the highlights (wash in between).

    Works best with negs that got sufficient, or even a little too much, exposure.
     
  20. Gadfly_71

    Gadfly_71 Subscriber

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    You can also improve contrast on a negative by sepia toning. I would recommend trying it with an unloved negative to start with, and be warned, the image will nearly disappear when you bleach it. Immersion in the sepia toner after the bleach will bring it back, but it's kind of scary to watch.
     
  21. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I'm a newbie too. I bought a Salt print kit from Bostick and Sullivan and it came with potassium dichromate to increase contrast. It seems to work, but still not enough contrast for my Polaroid type 55 negative. I'm beginning to think that I have to shoot and develop a negative specifically for salt prints. I'm wondering negatives for salt prints can be printed on silver gelatin paper.
     
  22. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Yes, you will and no, you usually can't. Salt prints are very long scale and want a high contrast negative. A good place to start is with ISO 100 speed film, normal exposure, and double development time. That ought to get you within spitting distance of the ballpark.

    Mike
     
  23. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    But sometimes you can -- I don't know why.

    This negative prints normally on silver gelatin (grade 2 or with no filter on VC paper), yet made a salt print just fine -- and it was a lucky first-time-with-salt-printing print, so I have no idea if I can repeat it.

    It was double-coated (on Crane's Cover), with no contrast agent added.
     

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  24. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Vaughn, how one double coats with salt print?

    a. 1 + 1 salting and then 1 + 1 silver nitrate, or,
    b. 1 salt + 1 silver nitrate and repeat?

    (It's -a- I guess...)

    TIA,
    Loris.

    P.S. I don't have experience w/ salt prints but w/ all other iron and iron-silver processes double coating significantly increases sensitizer contrast... Maybe that's how you've made it work???
     
  25. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    The paper was soaked in the salt and gelatin mixture and dried.

    Then coated with the silver, dried, then coated again.

    Much later I tried to make a set of my boys. This one I had to coat 4 times to get a decent print. The neg makes a fine platinum print (on x-ray film processed at the hospital).

    PS -- I am not 100% that this a scan of the salt print or the platinum print.
     

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  26. Krishnan Srinivasan

    Krishnan Srinivasan Member

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    Sir ,
    I also tried few salt recipies.
    what I learnt from my experiment is Less of sodium chloride darker the print.
    Use Sodium Chloride & Sodium Citrate in 1:3 ratio.
    Hope you will achieve more contrast.
    Good Luck :smile: