Kallitype developers - some questions!
I have been playing with Kallitypes for a couple of weeks and really like the process and the results I have been getting aren't to bad considering the time : experience ratio.
I have read many articles and books , each with their own subtle twists or advice, and finally decided on a 'standard' practice to get me going. Experimentation will come later with toning, different developers etc but for now its straight prints.
After reading these articles/books I am left with a lot of unanswered questions regarding the process and wonder if it (the process) is so flexible or open to interpretation that the variance will never lead to a concensus.
I have a few series of questions and so will split the posts into these sections and post seperately.
I am currently developing my kallitypes in commercially available Borax. Most books recommend Borax to be used with Rochelle salts in combination but I couldn't find any. In my haste I used Borax alone and get 'good' results from it. I have only processed a maximum of 6 prints (5x4) through 500ml in one session and seen no loss of activity. I have noticed that temperature of the Borax solution does affect the end colour. The warmer the solution the warmer the colour. (This has not been done scientifically, only an observation. It might be other factors at play).
So my questions here are
1. What is the Borax (developer) actually doing to the sensitized image?
2. How open is this effect to experimentation with ther alkaliis/chemicals?
3. How does the chemical used affect the colour?
4. What properties do the different developers (recommended) have over the Borax?
5. Does Temperature play a part in the colouration of the untoned print?
Look forward to you thoughts and experiences
It is not tradition that secures the survival of our craft, its the craft that secures the survival of our traditions.
I've never used Borax. I use a 20% Sodium Citrate developer with 2 ml. of a 5% Potassium Dichromate solution per liter (to control contrast).
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I never considered it before but I recently realized that there are 3 types of Sodium Citrate; Mono, Di and TriSodium, with solution pHs of ~ 3.7, 5.0 and 8.5 respectively. Artcraft and the others I buy from don't say which variety they stock. Since the Kallitype process is acidic I am assuming that the mono-Sodium Citrate is the common form and that which is required? Curiosity.
Originally Posted by magic823
Dr. Mike Ware has pretty well demonstrated that the alkaline developers produce as less than archival image. This applies to borax and rochelle salts...
I use primarily sodium citrate for the lovely image color, esp if palladium toned. Check my chapter on kallitypes in Coming Into Focus by John Barnier for the fine points.
I mostly use a citrate developer, but on occasion Potasium oxalate. I switched to these after a few years of Rochelle Salts because of longevity.
Look up Sandy King's article on Unblinking Eye (www.unblinkingeye.com). It is very simple, complete and will lead you to more permanant prints. \
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I also recommend highly Russ Young's chapter on kallitype in Coming into Focus. This is the source I used when I first started printing with kallitype and the information is very sound. In particular I am glad to have started with Russ's chapter because of the recommendation to use sodium citrate, which I believe to be much superior to many of the other developers recommended in the literature.
Originally Posted by Jim Noel
By the way, I personally use trisodium citrate and adjust the pH back to around 6.0 by adding more citric acid. However, the supplies of this I have, from Artcraft and The Chemistry Store, both mix up to around pH 7.3, not pH 8.
This longevity issue with Borax developers is something I have not heard of before. I have been using sodium citrate developer (like Steve and Sandy) but am interested in the Borax-based developers.
I checked out Dick Steven's Kallitype book from the library yesterday to satisfy my curiousity of his "exhaustive" treatment of the Kallitype process. Yep - it's all in there *EXCEPT* mention of sodium citrate during his developer parade. Every permutation and combination of other developers and especially Borax-based developers are discussed.
The literature - "Keepers of Light" and other historical process books never discuss longevity in terms of developer. They discuss the historical confusion over fixing times/processes.
Two questions - Is using Borax developers a really bad idea or just an unknown that needs to be explored further? Is experimenting with the ratio of Ferric Oxalate to Silver Nitrate a fruitful exercise (pursuant to the experiments in Dick Steven's book)?
My objection to borax developers is that the pH is quite high, certainly more than pH 7.0, and in that condition you can get the formation of iron hydroxide. If this stain forms it is very difficult to remove from the paper, even with very strong clearing agents. And if the stain remains in the paper, it will almost surely over time react with the silver.
Originally Posted by Dug
I am not specifically aware of what Mike Ware has said about borax developers for silver iron processes, but if he questions their longetivity I am sure his reasons are sound.
BTW, I don't believe Dick Stevens mentions using either potassium oxalate or ammonium citrate as a developer for kallitype. But they both also work very well with kallitype, as they do with Pt./Pd. General thinking today is that since kallitype is so similar to Pt./Pd. the same materials should work well with either process. That has been my experience, especially with papers and with the importance of low pH developers. I am guessing that most of Steven's research was done well before much of what is considered today better practice for Pt./Pd. was known, and is therefore based mostly on historical literature, most of which dates from the first two or three decades of the 20the century since kallitype was not widely practiced from about 1945 to the rebirth of alternative processes in the late 1970s.
Believe it or not, I have used Monosodium Glutamate purchased from a local asian grocery store to develop Kallitypes. I don't have my notes in front of me just now but I seem to recall that a 30% solution gave me rather pleasant tones, quite warm, with a hint of orange.
Oh, almost forgot to add:
I've also developed PT/PD and Kallitype prints in Eno and Bromoseltzer. Both are in fact sodium citrate solutions when mixed with water.