Salted Paper/Albumen recipes?

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by smieglitz, Oct 26, 2005.

  1. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Does anyone have a favorite recipe for salted paper and albumen printing? I'm looking for ones from actual personal experience, not the ones commonly listed online or in Reilly or other books unless they have worked well for you.

    Favorite papers or unusual techniques (e.g., Schaeffer where he salts, sensitizes with 12% AgNO3, then rinses and sensitizes again with 1% AgNO3) would be welcome.

    I'm experimenting with a few different recipes this week and trying to see which works the best for me.

    Thanks for any info.

    Joe
     
  2. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Well, great results from my initial experiments. I used two different salt formulas and tried brush sizing and sizing using a puddle pusher and got equally good results. The difference in today's prints compared to my past efforts has to do with a change in paper and in the silver nitrate sensitizing solution.

    I got the following recipe from Michael Mazzeo (http://www.michaelmazzeo.com/) who I took a wetplate collodion workshop from 2 months ago. (Great workshop BTW.)

    Salting stock solution is 2 gm ammonium chloride in 98 ml distilled water.
    Paper is Crane's Cover stock.
    Sensitizer stock is 20 gm silver nitrate in 80 ml distilled water. This solution is brought to pH2 by the addition of citric acid crystals. (It took about 1/2 tsp of citric acid to reach this pH.)

    The paper is salted using a hake brush and dried. Then, under a red safelight I used a different hake brush to apply the silver nitrate solution and the sensitized paper was then dried in the dark.

    Following exposure I bathed the print in a 1 1/2% solution of sodium chloride for a couple minutes then followed that by a 5 minute wash until no cloudiness was observed coming from the print. Clerc's Gold Toner was used until a lilac color was achieved. The print was then rinsed in tap water and fixed in a solution of plain hypo (15 gm sodium thiosulfate in 1 liter water) for 5 minutes each in two successive baths. After a 1 minute rinse in tap water, I immersed the print in a solution of Kodak Hypo Clearing Agent for 5 minutes followed by a 30 minute wash. It's not dry yet but it looks like the nicest salt print I've ever made.

    I also used a different salt solution on one print and that looks like it worked equally well (although I overexposed that print). That salting solution was:
    6gm sodium chloride
    8 gm ammonium chloride
    13 gm sodium citrate
    3 gm 250 bloom ossein (photographic gelatin)
    600ml water

    The ossein was added to the water and allowed to swell for 15 minutes. The solution was then heated slowly until it reached about 100F and the gelatin dissolved. The other ingredients were then added in the order given.

    I'm very pleased with what I did today and will post a scan of the properly exposed print as soon as I can get to it.

    I think the stronger silver nitrate solution (20% instead of the usually recommended 12%) and dropping the sensitizer pH to pH2 with the citric acid really made a big difference. The coating is very even and there is good max density with a single coat of sensitizer regardless of whether it was done with a brush or glass coating rod. Salted paper has always given me headaches with inconsistent and poor results in the past, but this combo looks like a winner.

    Joe
     
  3. rogein

    rogein Member

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    Very cool Joe - looking forward to seeing scans of your results.
     
  4. Don M

    Don M Member

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    This is a yes and no answer-

    yes I have a fovorite (matt) albumen paper

    500 ml. of egg whites(prepared the standard way but with no additives)
    500 ml. 2 percent solution of cornstarch
    mixed together

    after coating and drying the paper,I use the standard VDB formula.
     
  5. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Ok here are the scans. (Caution: nude in woods image.) No manipution during scanning and only a bit of unsharp mask applied post-scan to simulate the actual print appearence. Both had the salt and sensitizer applied with a hake brush. I hope the lovely lilac color from gold-toning is coming through - I'm on a LCD monitor which makes it hard to tell what the scans actually look like.

    The image at left is done with 2% ammonium chloride as the salt and 185 units exposure on a Nu-Arc 26-1K plateburner. At right the salt was the blend above and included some ossein, given 200 units exposure. The image at right is cleaner and has more contrast even with more exposure, presumably the difference has to do more with the addition of ossein than the different salts. In any event, I'm pleased with the initial tests.

    Joe
     

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  6. John_Brewer

    John_Brewer Member

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    Nice work and thanks for sharing Joe. :smile:

    J
     
  7. Annie

    Annie Member

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    Joe... Just wondering... on my monitor the 2nd print shows a shift in tone (warmer) as well as contrast... is this true of the original prints? If so is the tonal shift attributable to the addition of the gelatin or some other factor. Thanks for posting your prints!
     
  8. rogein

    rogein Member

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    Joe, from the scan it's hard to tell but on the right print it looks like the step tablet is *just* reaching max black @ 200 units?

    Cheers,
    Roger...
     
  9. rogein

    rogein Member

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    Whoops, forget what I asked - my 7 year old niece was over last night and mucked with my monitor settings......no wonder everything looked 'off' all day!
     
  10. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Annie,

    Yes. The print on the right is warmer, sort of a purple-brown while the one at left is kind of purple-gray. On my LCD monitor at work both prints appear more neutral than they actually are. I'll check at home tonight to see if there is an improvement on a CRT monitor.

    They are different salts so I can't really say if the tonal shift is only due to the addition of gelatin, but I suspect it is the main factor. I'm planning to run some more tests comparing different amounts of gelatin with the same two salt mixtures as above to see if I can't get the highlights to be a bit clearer when max d is reached. I'm also curious as to whether more gelatin affects the color as well as contrast.

    Joe
     
  11. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Looks similar at home. The images are much more blue onscreen than on the actual print.

    I'm amazed that there are 18 distinct steps printed out on the image with the stepwedge. That's a total density of about 2.75 or so.

    Joe
     
  12. Annie

    Annie Member

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    Joe... very interesting about the gelatin and the tonal shift. I have noticed with platinum that slight variations in image tone occur with different proportions of gelatin to other agents in the sizing mix for the paper. I do wonder though if there is a threshold where the addition of too much gelatin to the mix will result in a decrease in contrast... anyway thanks again for sharing your investigations...
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Gelatin type, level and bloom index were used in early formulations of many silver halide based light sensitive sytems to control contrast. The pH was another method.

    So, I'm not surprised at these results, nor would I be surprised if other addenda commonly used in the photo industry varied the contrast and dmax.

    One thing that I believe to be common in any print material is that it requires about 100 mg / dm sq of silver metal (or perhaps any metal?) to achieve both a good dmax and a good contrast in an image (with average developers). If you cannot put that down on your surface, something will suffer. A level of 50 mg / dm sq might yield acceptable results if the form of the metal were suitable. As silver becomes more finely divided, the achievable density per unit weight goes up. So, the development method is critical to achieving a given density from a different level of silver.

    PE
     
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  15. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Here's a bit more info and a few more examples:

    I tested several different salt and albumen recipes this week. For salted paper I tried a plain 2% ammonium chloride salt solution, a salt mix (previously posted in the thread) with 0.5% gelatin, and the same salt mix with 3% gelatin. The latter was not good. I think the extra gelatin somehow reacted with the salt and prevented the prints from clearing as well. They had poorer contrast than either of the other variations. Without some gelatin the prints are very matte and lower contrast.

    I also tried the same plain ammonium chloride and mixed salts in a standard albumen and tried single- vs double-coats of both salt and albumen, tried hardening in a drymount press vs unhardened double coats, hardened vs unhardened single coats, fixing before and after toning and a couple variations in toners. The first two images in the attachment show my favorite results.

    For salted paper I ended up preferring a mix of salts and 0.5% gelatin toned in Clerc's gold toner to produce a purplish hue, as in the 1st image. The 2nd image is the same mix of salts mixed in the albumen and single-coated without heat hardening. I modified the Clerc's gold toner by adding 10 gm of sodium citrate to it to produce a more purple tone. The 3rd image is a double-coated albumen print with the first layer heat-hardened. The salt mix was the same for this print but no citrate was added to the gold toner. The latter print is warmer and also exhibits pronounced coating streaks which are absent in the salt print and very minimal in the single-coated albumen print. So, other than preferring a salt mix over plain ammonium chloride, the moral of this story appears to be K.I.S.S.

    All images on Cranes Cover natural with 20% silver nitrate bath at pH2 for the sensitizer.

    Next up is comparing brush or rod coating to flotation methods.

    The negative for the salt print is 5x7 Efke 25 @ EI 12 developed in HC110-A for 5.25 minutes 68F and then intensified in selenium toner 1+3 for 5 minutes. The negative's highlight transmission density on the cheek is about 2.05 above fbf. The albumen negative is the same film only at EI 25, developed and intensified as the other. Cheek highlights are about 1.90 above fbf on that negative. Lighting was an electronic flash in medium softbox with a silver reflector panel to one side as fill. Scans reduced to half-size to fit the posting limit.
     

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  16. circumstance

    circumstance Member

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    What does coating with 12% AgNO3, rinsing, and then coating with 1% AgNO3 achieve?
     
  17. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    If I read Schaeffer right he is postulating that the excess sodium chloride will be removed by the water rinse following sensitizing with AgNO3. The 1% silver nitrate bath is presumably to ensure an excess of silver over chloride in the emulsion.

    But, by that logic only insoluble silver chloride would be left in the paper after the rinse has washed away the sodium or ammonium chloride salts and the subsequent 1% silver bath probably isn't needed since there would be no chloride left to react with it. That's my guess anyhow. (But, note I'm not a chemist so take it with a grain of ... uh ...umm ... salt. Sorry for that one :smile: )

    I have had better results just using a more concentrated and acidified silver sensitizing solution than using Schaeffer's method.

    Joe
     
  18. dmax

    dmax Member

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    Joe,
    Thanks for posting your results. This might complicate things a bit, but since you're running the variables through anyway, I might as well bring it up. For my albumen prints, I find that I get more consistent and predictable results by double coating with the salted albumen (2% sea salt). I normally albumen coat with brush. The second coating of albumen is applied while the first is semi-dry/moist. I then float the paper in 15% silver nitrate. I never got clean results from coating silver with any kind of brush, hake or othewise. Nor could I get consistent results from using a puddle pusher. I get streaks with both methods. And so following David Goldfarb's recommendation, I switched over to floating the albumen coated paper in the silver solution. I now have a much higher level of success, and a much reduced level of frustration.

    Compared to a single albumen coat, I get better density, contrast and definition from a double coating of albumen. I'm no chemist, so I'm guessing that the double coating makes more salt available to bond with the silver nitrate, thus increased density. Plus the added gloss from a thicker albumen coat also helps.

    I haven't been working with albumen for very long, but after many trials and errors, I have finally settled on two types of papers. Although rather expensive, Fabriano Artistico is my favorite. It gives me consistent results. Canford cardstock in three varieties (Snow White, China White, and Ice White) also work well, primarily because the paper structure holds multiple coats of albumen very well.

    Maybe if you tried double coating with the albumen you'd get the contrast that you like.
     
  19. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I notice the papers mentioned probably do not give any gloss to the albumen prints. Since typically 19th and early 20th century albumens were glossy, I prefer that look.

    In order to get a decent gloss I went to Strathmore 500, plate finish, single ply. A single application of albumen works well on this paper for me. Also by using a gold/thiocyanatge toner I can get the typical purplish color when I want it.
     
  20. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Jim,

    I just participated in a wetplate collodion workshop last month from master tintypist John Coffer. Strathmore 500 plate is also his choice of paper to duplicate the look of 19th century albumen prints from collodion negatives.

    Joe
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'm also using Strathmore 500 plate, one ply. I've experimented a bit with 1-ply. 1-ply is easier to work with.
     
  22. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Jim,

    Where are you purchasing your Strathmore 500?

    Thanks,
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Best price I've found is at Jerry's Artarama online for more than 25 sheets of Strathmore 500 Plate 1-ply. 2-ply I've found locally in various places in New York.
     
  24. colivet

    colivet Member

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    "Does anyone have a favorite recipe for salted paper and albumen printing? I'm looking for ones from actual personal experience, not the ones commonly listed online or in Reilly or other books unless they have worked well for you."

    Well, I have tried once Salt printing by development as described by Alan Greene in his book Primitive Photography/ A Guide to Making Cameras, Lenses, and Calotypes.
    I'll be honest, I feel I got very good results on my first try. Check my one print on my APUG gallery.
    Last week I was thinking of getting more chemicals for a second try. I loved the tonality I got.
     
  25. cjarvis

    cjarvis Member

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    The one I've published in different places is from my personal experience.

    Sizing/salting solution

    * 12 eggs or enough for 500ml of egg whites
    * 15-g ammonium chloride or table salt
    * 15-ml distilled water
    * 2-ml 28% acetic acid
    * 15-g sodium citrate (optional preservative)
    * 2 drops Kodak PhotoFlo (optional)

    Sensitizer

    * 37.5-g silver nitrate
    * 250-ml distilled water
    * 2 drops 6.5-7% potassium dichromate (optional contrast control)

    I've used Lenox 100, Strathmore 500 and Cranes Kid Finish. Obviously the heavier the stock, the less curling you'll encounter when floating.YMMV.
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I get more curling with Strathmore 500 2-ply than 1-ply. It may be a humidity issue.