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  1. #1

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    Album prints not working... And also saltprints... WHY???

    I was trying some pop processes lately. I was impressed by the Centennial POP papers and I wanted to experiment with some home made printing out process different than cyanotype. Cyanotypes are great and easy but so far is the only process that didn't ever cause me problems like anything else.

    With albumen papers I prepared 500 ml of albumen following carefully instructions in my books and crossing those informations with other sources (internet). The albumen solution was stored in the fridge aged 7 days. Today I tried coating the first papers. The problem is that when I put silver nitrate on top of it the brushing lifts the albumen away, no matter how hard and long I dried the albumen coat with an hair drier. I made an experiment also without silver nitrate using plain water: the water and the brush stroke dissolve again the albumen creating annoying streaks in the final exposed paper. The final exposed paper, by the way, looks terribly ugly. There's a lot of white spots, streaks, damps, everything but a pleasant image. So maybe the coating is not the only problem here. Could be the albumen solution? Could be the silver nitrate gone bad? I know maybe I could use a casserole and dip the entire paper in the silver nitrate instead of using brushes. But I don't have a casserole to dedicate to such things and I don't have preservatives for the silver nitrate. Silver nitrate is quite expensive in Italy and to make 250-500 ml of 12% solution that could go bad because of pouring out and in again... it's not easy thing to accept. But I've read of people that coat both the albumen and the silver nitrate by brushing and those have no problem at all. My books contain no troubleshooting and don't even mention the problems I had. I tried also coating with a rod, but I got the same problems.

    I've tried also salted paper, but I had problems also there: inconstant results. Each print is slightly different than the other (slight different tone or contrast with the same negative/exposure/washing). Also I had also stains in some prints (e.g. reddish/orangish stains which are noticeable in daylight only or graysh stains). I tried also here to coat the silver nitrate both with a rod and with a brush... I though those stains could be puddles of silver nitrate, but I was really careful to brush the sensitizer in the most evenly way. I thought that the salting solution was gone bad and made a new one using a different gelatin, but nothing changed. I don't know what to do...

    I'm really frustrated. I have tons of books and have read everything available on the web. Everything seems executed exactly as the texts describe, but then I got problems that is like nobody else has...

    Last year I had to give up with Van Dyke for the same reasons... Couldn't make a single decent print... always problems

  2. #2

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    This clearly sounds frustrated, for understandable reasons. I remember such feelings back when I tried to master the chrysotype process...
    I am afraid I cannot be of any help with albumen prints, having never tried them myself.
    I have made, however, salt prints, and, for an encouraging note, this is the only process I ever tried in which the very first print turned out a success. Problems came later, though...
    So this is all about salt prints, anyway far more interesting than albumen prints, as far as I am concerned:
    At the risk of being redundant, let clear a few points: 1) are you aware of James Reilly's book? This is certainly the place to start.
    Have you mixed citric acid with the silver nitrate/included citric acid in the salting formulary? Other organic acid? I take it that you use gelatine in the salting formula.
    Which salt are you using?
    Which paper are you using?
    What is your salting procedure? Brush the solution on the paper, immerse the paper, let it float on the solution (that is what I would highly recommend)
    Have you used any dichromate as a contrast agent in the salting solution?

  3. #3
    juan's Avatar
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    My alternative process is limited, but I think you may be expecting too much if you are after consistent results. All of my prints are slightly different, and I think that's part of the charm. Also, the paper you use is important. I'm now using Arches Platine, but others have gotten good results with other papers. I had to get samples of numerous papers before I found one that works well in my situation. Such things as the humidity in the room where you work makes a difference.

    I don't know if you can get them in Italy, but Richeson 9010 brushes work far better for coating the silver nitrate than anything else I've tried. I make salt prints and salt the paper using an ordinary Hake brush - but the silver nitrate I coat with the Richeson. It gives a much more even coat than any other brush I've tried - and better than a coating rod.
    juan

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lukas Werth
    At the risk of being redundant, let clear a few points: 1) are you aware of James Reilly's book? This is certainly the place to start.
    I got James Cook and John Barnier books, plus the old "Keepers of light" - these are my main sources about alt. photo processes. Then comes the web with apug, alternativephotography.org, etc.

    Have you mixed citric acid with the silver nitrate/included citric acid in the salting formulary? Other organic acid? I take it that you use gelatine in the salting formula.
    yes I have a 12% solution with a little of citric acid. This solution is some months old, but has been kept in a dark small bottle. I use an eyedropper to carry out only the required sensitizer and never put back anything inside the bottle. The solution is very transparent, no precipitates, and I always work under safelight conditions.

    Which salt are you using?
    I made two of them. I begun with a gelatin/table salt solution then I switched to a gelatin/ammonium chloride solution because I thought that table salt was responsible for printing issues. The change didn't solve the problem of the random stains. By the way I like the tones of table salt more, ammonium chloride is more reddish.

    Which paper are you using?
    I've tried Fabriano Artistico, Fabriano 5 and some Schoelleshammer n.6 leftovers. Fabriano papers have more texture inside and they look better. With schoelleshammer (very smooth and on the lightweight side... about 200gsm I believe) it's more likely to experience stains and uneveness problems.

    What is your salting procedure? Brush the solution on the paper, immerse the paper, let it float on the solution (that is what I would highly recommend)
    have tried floating and brushing
    but then when it comes to silver nitrate I use only brushing/coating with a rod. But after my "frustrated post" I decided that coating the sensitizer by floating has to be tried as soon as possible. This will eliminate a lot of possible factors responsible for bad results.

    I need to buy some caolin, this should keep the silver nitrate intact for a while. I'm a little concerned because silver nitrate is quite expensive in Italy and I don't have the money to waste a lot of it. I've read that caolin is a good preservative... How much would last a silver nitrate solution preserved with caolin and eventually some acid preserver?

    Have you used any dichromate as a contrast agent in the salting solution?
    not really
    I had some successful prints, but just by chance... And those have are reasonably contrasty for my tastes, so I don't think adding more poison to my soup would make things better. I do handle potassium dichromate for bromoils (happily I can make those with some success) and I know how nasty it is, I prefer to avoid that when it's just an option.


    thank you very much for your reply...
    you were right, that was a "frustration post"... I feel much better now :-) And I'm ready tro try again as soon as I get some caolin and some info about preserving silver nitrate...

    have a nice day! :-)

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by juan
    My alternative process is limited, but I think you may be expecting too much if you are after consistent results. All of my prints are slightly different, and I think that's part of the charm. Also, the paper you use is important. I'm now using Arches Platine, but others have gotten good results with other papers. I had to get samples of numerous papers before I found one that works well in my situation. Such things as the humidity in the room where you work makes a difference.

    I don't know if you can get them in Italy, but Richeson 9010 brushes work far better for coating the silver nitrate than anything else I've tried. I make salt prints and salt the paper using an ordinary Hake brush - but the silver nitrate I coat with the Richeson. It gives a much more even coat than any other brush I've tried - and better than a coating rod.
    juan
    thanks for the answer, Juan...

    well of course I expect to have different results in each prints, that's the fun of it... But changes in contrast can be annoying when prints get too flat. I don't have such feeling with cyanotypes - my cyanotypes give me quite constant results as long as I follow the same steps all the time. And it's the same with liquid emulsion or other things I do.

    I got some Hake / Jiaban brushes from Silverprint. They do fine for other processes, including cyanotypes and liquid emulsion (maybe they tend to lose some hair every now and then but they're not that bad). And I also have some coating rods that seldomly use. I like to see brush strokes (just a little bit of course!) in my prints, especially at the borders.

    Anyway, I was just a little bit frustrated for the insuccess. Complaining with the gods of photography doesn't help to much :-) so I think it will be better for me to try this floating thing also with the sensitizer. That will eliminate a lot of possible mistakes and if still something won't work then must be something else...

    Bye!

  6. #6

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    I suggest you concentrate on learning to float the paper on the silver solution. It is not that hard to do, it takes a steady hand and a good tray, but will give my much more consistent results.

    Brushing has many variables. What brush you use, how much silver, the concentration of silver (% solution), the ambient humidity in the room and of the paper etc. etc.

    Try floating. You can practice with water and food colour until you get it right.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by CraigK
    I suggest you concentrate on learning to float the paper on the silver solution. It is not that hard to do, it takes a steady hand and a good tray, but will give my much more consistent results.

    Brushing has many variables. What brush you use, how much silver, the concentration of silver (% solution), the ambient humidity in the room and of the paper etc. etc.

    Try floating. You can practice with water and food colour until you get it right.
    thanks Craigk...

    however I'm not really concerned about the tecnique... But the possible waste of silver nitrate. I mean, how many times I can reuse a 12% 250 ml silver nitrate solution? What to do to prevent its decaying? Which safelight is the best to use? (i use a normal red light when handling silver nitrate, but that's with brushing, maybe with floating one as to see better to avoid spilling sensitizer on the back side of the paper).

    bye
    Fulvio

  8. #8

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    Album. prints not working...

    Albumen peeling off? From my experience, probably the paper type. I've had good consistent results with Platine. Also, I don't think it's a great idea to coat with silver nitrate as soon as the albumen is dry. I always let mine 'cook' for a while, sometimes by accident (more than organisation) up to 6-18 months! Hence, I do a lot of albumen coating all at once for say, a year or two's supply. Old books explain methods on how to treat it with vapours of some kind to 'set' the albumen (I forget now just what they were using) ... OR let it age itself. I always give 2 or 3 coats (dry in between) coating in each direction. Also, great to 'float' the sensitiser on but then you cover the whole sheet which means when you want to gold tone, it uses much more all around the borders. I brush coat slowly & surely, once in each direction, soft good quality brush, get great results. I've also had good results using a glass rod to coat silver nitrate. It's one of those processes which gives you two steps forward and ten backwards before it all comes together. I fiddled with it for 3 or 4 years off and on before I was really satisfied with the reults. Oh, and it's important to make sure you wash out completely the unused silver, washing out in the form of cloudy water. Hope all this helps.

  9. #9
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I use Strathmore 500 single ply usually, and I float for albumen and sensitization. I don't recommend brush sensitization for albumen printing, but you might have success with good technique and a glass rod, if you don't want to float it. If you clean the silver nitrate solution with Kaolin, you can reuse it until it's gone or just keep replenishing it and cleaning it with Kaolin as I do.

    It is important that the albumen dry quickly to form a skin on the surface of the paper. One way to do this is to shine some spotlights on the paper while the albumen is drying. You can also use a heater in the drying area. Like Blokeman, I make albumenized paper in big batches and it ages for months, but then I steam it before sensitization to be sure it is hardened and to humidify the paper for floating.

    I cut the paper to the size of the neg before exposure to avoid gold toning large black borders.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  10. #10

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    For a full electronic edition of James Reilly's book go to

    http://albumen.stanford.edu/library/

    click on monographs. This is THE ONE classic of the 20th century. Whenever I had trouble or wanted to try something new, I went back to him. From the other books I have read only keepers of light, but Reilly is much more detailed, and very dependable.

    Silver nitrate can be had at reasonable cost from jewelliers' suppliers or traders in precious metals. I may give you one or two addresses in Germany if you are interested; I see no reason why they should not ship to Italy.

    Now to the points (only relevant for salt prints, of course):
    Fabriano Artistico (hot pressed) is a paper which was dependably successful for me. (Is fabriano 5 still made? I heard they stopped it, much to my regret.)

    Do not work under safe light! There is no advantage whatsoever, only severe disadvantages. Not too bright normal bulb light is completely adequate: you want to see your coating!

    I always used sodium chloride; table salt should be okay, but iodine will change tonality. If I remember correctly, I had citric acid in the salting solution as well as in the silver nitrate. The silver nitrate keeps indefinitely as a pure solution, but in my experience with citric added it does go off after some months.

    Use the formulary with gelatine in Reilly (starch is much more difficult to handle), proceed according to his instructions, float the paper on the salt solution according to his instructions, take care no fluid goes on the backside. No dichromate is certainly best, if it suits your negatives.

    If your prints are up to ca. 8x10, coat with rod, not with brush, and don't float. I also think this is a waste of silver nitrate, kaolin or not. Under normal light you will also see whether there are any breaks in the puddle; if you have difficulites, try some Tween 20. Brush coating is more difficult here because with silver nitrate only you see hardly or not at all what you already coated and what not. Don't waste money on a very expensive brush. I think the rod is best here, because it minimizes the possibility of any marks.

    I skip for now remarks on further processing, trusting you have some knowledge here already. Just a work on the fixer: normal fixer, also rapid fixer is fine as long as it is not hardening, but use it in much higher dillution, and neutralize it (best with sodium carbonate)! it is a good idea to use fixer twice if you see the print turns out well: first the fluid you kept from the last print, pour this away, use fresh fixer, keep for the next print. It is also a good idea to help clearing the fixer with sodium sulfite, and wash with not too cold water. These steps are essential!

    As far as I can see, with this procedure you should be in the right ballpark, further problems must be treated when they turn up.



 

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