I find steaming easier than the alcohol bath, because it is likely that steaming will be necessary anyway to make the paper pliable when it is time to sensitize it.
I've tried Strathmore 500 2-ply plate as well, and it gives a nice surface, but I found it harder to coat using the float method, because it curls up in the tray more. If you want to try 2-ply or heavier, you might just leave a larger margin to cut off before printing.
David have you ever tried John Coffer's trick. He folds the paper in half(large sheets) and glues the three edges so the paper is sealed. He then does all his coating. (floating method is my guess) floating both sides of the paper. I guess you could say it is totally immersed. After it is dried he then cuts the edges away and he then has two sheets of albumen paper instead of one. No need to worry about edges curling because your floating both sides anyway. Now someone will probably chime in and say that is not John Coffer's method and I will have to retract this but my memory is not what it use to be. But when I heard about it I thought it would be a perfectly easy way of doing it. I'll be seeing John next month so I will ask him about it.
The person I learned from said he tried that, and it just seemed messy, and that it's not so hard to float the paper if you learn the technique, so I just learned the technique, and don't see any need to add the extra steps of gluing the sheets together and cutting them apart.
David, Do you ammonia fume your sensitized paper? It is suppose to give you richer more brilliant prints. I know it is not needed but I was wondering if you have added that to your paper prep. Thanks, Robert
No. It seems like a solution to a problem I'm not having. The main issue is getting negatives of the right density, and the other elements will fall into place.
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What density range is ideal for albumen? I know for platinum printing I usually shoot for a density range around 1.4 - 1.7 UV transmission. For albumen I imagine it would be in the 2.2 range. Are you using glass wet plate negatives where you use negative intensification to achieve the desired density range or are you using film? I'm not suggesting that ammonia fuming is used for solving a problem. I'm just saying many use it to make a subtle difference. Their negatives may be perfect but they may want a little more brilliance from their paper.
Last edited by RobertP; 06-26-2007 at 08:09 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Thanks everyone (especially David). I think based on what the paper looked like before and after that it was a hardening issue. I will try steam on the paper I have, but given the amount of paper that can be coated from a dozen or two eggs ageing also sounds like a good idea.
Brushing the silver seemed to work fine. Thin paper was important as thick paper curled too much to stay on the surface of the albumen. But nothing I tried was as thin as the old prints I have, or as glossy.
Steaming didnt seem necessary - the paper was fine after a week or so of flattening. But it would probably help reduce the amount that dissolved in processing, which seems likely to be the main issue.
I haven't owned a densitometer since I started albumen printing, but the density range should be on the order of 2 to 2.2. If it prints well on Azo grade 2, it's about one zone too short. I find that a good negative requires a one hour exposure in indirect sunlight (or maybe 20 minutes in direct sunlight).
I'm surprised you're not seeing any wicking effects from brushing. Maybe that comes from not hardening the albumen first, but that causes other problems. I haven't seen any brush sensitized albumen prints that don't have brush marks. If you don't float, and if you have sufficient ambient humidity, you may be able to get away without steaming, but if the paper isn't sufficiently pliable, it's hard to float it in one smooth motion.
I'm generally using TXP, Fortepan 400 (until it runs out), Efke PL100, and FP4+ in ABC pyro these days, but I've also gotten good negs from old TMX in D-76 (new TMX has a UV mask that interferes with albumen and other UV dependent processes). I find, though, that I have to just decide to expose and develop for albumen for the best results, and these negs don't in general print well on any silver paper except maybe some 1950s Haloid Industro grade 2 that I have that's lost some contrast, so it's a bit like having Azo grade 1.
COATING BY FLOATING
according to that book the reason for double coating was specifically to even out the emulsion layer since drying took place while the sheets were hanging like wash on the line
Originally Posted by RobertP
my own personal experience is that to get an even coat in one shot you must use a different method of coating
when i worked for the "identicolor" franchise we would routinely coat as many as 20 layers on top of each other and these emulsions where loaded with pigments
the trick was the very singular way the coating rod was made-and the technique that you used with it which which could produce a completely consistant thickness
when albumin paper was a commercial mass produced product, the method of production was designed for high numbers of product for sale to the same end market that todays projection print paper is aimed at: photographic printers
if production numbers are your desired result then emulation of those methods would make sense
if consistant layer thickness is desired then the speed of production must suffer
a single wt rc photo paper sheet fixed without exposure can take many different types of coatings and will provide a very high gloss if the coating is consistent
i don't know if albumin will take the kind of metal plate treatment that we used in the 60's to put a high gloss on fiber base paper-rc was invented to do away with that along with the washing issues
the idea is to keep the emulsion on top of the support-the more it sinks in the lower the gloss-a non permiable support such as textured mylar drafting film coated by the method i know will obviously be very high gloss
any photo paper for dye ink jet is designed to minimize absorbtion -even the textured ones
if you mount 2 such sheets back to back you prevent curling when wet and would have the modern equivilent of the old methods of mounting a light wt paper on a stiffener
i intend to use that technique for my next run of emulsion coating
vaya con dios
I think albumen would crack or probably stick to hot ferrotyping plates.
It is important to get the albumen layer to form a skin at the surface of the paper before it is full absorbed into the paper base. I dry the albumenized paper on a line under hot lamps. Some people use a space heater.
Some people use a coating rod for sensitizing. I don't know if anyone is using a coating rod successfully for applying the albumen. Albumen doesn't set as it cools in the way that gelatin does (it's coated at room temperature), so some of the techniques for coating gelatin emulsions don't necessarily help with albumen.
The technique for sensitizing with a coating rod is to lay down a line of silver nitrate at one end of the albumenized paper and draw it across the sheet in one smooth motion. If you try to spread it around or go back, you get wicking marks as with brush coating.
My impression is that the float method was used for commercially produced albumenized paper in the 19th century. There were just lots of women standing over trays in those German factories. The paper was unsensitized, so the photographer still had to sensitize the paper with silver nitrate.