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  1. #1

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    New at Salt Printing - Some problems

    I tried my hand at some Salt Prints this weekend with variable sucsess.

    I used Food grade gelatin mixed with distilled water. Let it cool to around 40C.
    To this I added my salt (approx 20g Sodium Chloride in 500ml ).

    1. Spread sizing/salt solution evenly over a full sheet and allowed to dry overnight.

    Next I added the silver nitrate and this is where the problems started.
    First print :
    2. Used 0.5 ml of AgNO3 and applied this in a line using a syringe.
    3. I used a foam brush and spread the sensitizer over the area (5x4).
    4. Allowed to dry 5 mins and force dried with cool hair dryer for 5 mins.
    5. Exposed using UV lamps (Solarium) for 6 mins

    Result was a very weak image - very pink in colour, limited tonality except over the area where I deposited the Silver solution. This was dark brown/black.

    Print 2
    1. Same as 1
    2. Coated the print area over the sizing and allowed to dry.
    3. Applied the 12% silver solution (0.5ml) over print area using glass rod instead of foam brush and allowed to dry
    4. Exposed for 6 mins

    Result was same as print one.

    Left it overnight to stop frustration setting in. Surfed the net, consulted my books etc and read everything again and came up with a potential answer. Seems the salt/silver ratio was out.

    Print 3 (see attachment)
    1. Dumped the gelatin and made fresh batch without the salt. Coated a sheet and started again.
    2. Mixed a 3% NaCl solution in distilled water.
    3. Applied the sizing solution
    4. Applied a thicker coating of silver nitrate (1ml) using foam brush and exposed.

    This time I at least got a complete image across the whole area but had a deep pink tone. After washing, fixing and drying I can see that I am under exposed so will need to try again with more exposure.


    So to my questions to all you (S)Alt Printers:
    1. Should I be able to get decent results with these ingredients? Recipes stipulate ammonium chloride but mine hasn't arrived yet so I tried Sodium Chloride. Also Potassium citrate, this also hasn't arrived yet so missed it out.
    I beleive this is just for colour!

    2. Should I carry on trying or wait for the real chems?

    3. What quantity of the silver solution should I use for a 5x4 image. I assumed (wrongly) that it would be about the same as a cyanotype (0.4ml per 4x5)

    Cheers


    Phill


    I have attached my first full print for reference. Note the lack of contrast, no max density and the overall pink tone.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails fruit1.jpg  
    Last edited by philldresser; 07-30-2006 at 06:45 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Added image and corrected text
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

  2. #2

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    Addendum

    Also noted that Selenium Toning salt prints did not work very well for me. I found no references to Se toning anywhere so gave it a try but got very mucky results. Solution was 1:29 (KRST). Anyone else tried this on Salt Prints?

    Phill
    It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.

  3. #3
    Donald Qualls's Avatar
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    I've gotten good density with salt prints made with either straight sodium chloride or a mix of sodium chloride and potassium bromide (the latter seems a little faster, but has higher contrast and narrower range). I'd first note that a negative that prints well in silver gelatin probably lacks contrast for salt printing; this and other silver-based printing out processes are "self masking" in that the silver image that appears during exposure blocks further exposure in the same area, which tends to compress contrast (especially in the darker tones). It looks to me, from my attempts so far, that I need to both expose *and* develop my negatives longer for salt prints (more exposure to get the shadows off the toe so they have better separation, and more development to boost overall contrast).

    My prints are always very warm toned when simply exposed, washed (to remove residual silver nitrate or convert it to chloride), fixed, and washed (to remove fixer residue), though not quite as much so as VDB. From examples I've seen, use of ammonium chloride in place of sodium chloride may change the image tone, and of course toning with selenium (very, very dilute; the solution contains rapid fixer and will bleach the print) or gold changes the print tone quite a bit as well.

    I'd be tempted to try a bleach/redevelop sepia tone on a salt or VDB print, if I had the chemistry for it...
    Photography has always fascinated me -- as a child, simply for the magic of capturing an image onto glossy paper with a little box, but as an adult because of the unique juxtaposition of science and art -- the physics of optics, the mechanics of the camera, the chemistry of film and developer, alongside the art in seeing, composing, exposing, processing and printing.

  4. #4

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    Was it the salt? Table salt often includes additives, including ferricyanide which can kill the speed of anything photographic even in very small quantities. If you are unsure of the salt, you might try again using either ammonium chloride or reagent (well, practical grade would do, but for chemical use) sodium chloride.

  5. #5
    roy
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    While not having any knowledge to contribute, I shall watch this thread with interest as I am about to try making salt prints. I have seen reproductions of prints, which I have been led to understand were made by the process, that were a "steely blue" in colour and I was wondering if this colouration could be achieved with a gold toner as with some silver gelatine papers.
    Roy Groombridge.

    Cogito, ergo sum.
    (Descartes)

  6. #6
    Ole
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    Sodium chloride should work just fine, as long as there aren't too much additives in it.
    I use sea salt, which is pure enough (not "flor di sel", but coarse crystals).

    You need negatives with a really, really long scale for good results. Staining developers help a lot in this.

    Gold toner is a very good idea to shift the colour from brown to blue-black. Platinum or palladium toner works great too.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  7. #7

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    You lack citric acid (or an equivalent)! Read James Reilly (see my comment to another post about albumen and salt prints), this will give you, as far as I can see, the best systematic overview of the technique available. An organic ingredient is necessary to "activate" the silver nitrate.

  8. #8

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    An additional thought, after looking at your scanned image: does your negative have the right contrast? It needs to be very high, considerably higher than, for instance, normal pl/pd!

  9. #9
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    And what is the ph of your wash water - the initial wash? It needs to be into the acid range, too. I have to add a bit of citric acid to my water, too.

    Paper will also affect print color, scale, etc. You might want to experiment with several papers.

    I'm finding salt printing to have a great number of variables to work through.
    juan

  10. #10
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    Try a small batch of this:

    - Non-iodized table salt at about a 1.5% concentration.
    - Increase the silver nitrate to a 20% concentration and bring the pH to about pH2 using acetic acid.
    - If your negative is not dense/contrasty enough try selenium toning it (1+3) for about 5 minutes.

    Joe

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