Is there any APUGER using this finish to their prints, have seen or know the technique?
Under the pictorialist influence, varnishing was done in the early 20th c to add brillianace to matte paper. Normally a lithographer's varnish was used. It became unnecessary as papers with a greater brilliance became available.
At the time, older workers remembered how albumen prints dazzled the eye, and wanted to achieve similar results from platinum and silver. Paul Strand used varnish for the same reason some are fascinated by ferrotyping, to make the details more vibrant in the print.
Today, it is despised by curators for it darkens the print considerably over time.
The technique has little to offer today, for papers are very different than 100 yeas ago. I don't think it adds anything to the appearance of the image, and unless the craftsman is skillful in using varnish, lacquer, or shellac, the image will be diminished.
I don't like putting glass over my silver prints; glass adds the same 'gloss' of a varnish. While it intensifies the overall 'blackness', it also obscures the distinct and delicate dark tones possible with any good silver paper.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
Not varnish, but I spray shellac on Ilfochrome (it comes in pressure cans). I've found that in the 30 years since Cibachrome was first introduced, the prints don't fade but actually darken, except for those sprayed. So far haven't coated any digital prints.
Strand did it to make his prints look wet. As I understand it, the varnish is deteriorating and cracking, and is soaked into the paper base, so any deterioration will be irreversible.
Regardless of the craftsman`s skill, all lacquers and varnishes contain ingredients that reduce the life of photographic materials. All coatings contain a resin dissolved in a mixture of true solvents, extenders and additives to regulate the evaporation rate. Most of the liquid phase ingredients attack the emulsion, while most of the resins tend to oxdize and show yellowing, becoming brittle, particularly the older formulas with organic resins. Contemporary papers have all the aesthetic and technical characteristics that photographers sought to correct with varnishes nearly a century ago.
Photos are made four inches behind the camera
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Not a smart idea to put any finish on the surface of your prints. Quite foolish.
I saw this on the alt-photo list from Dan.
Take a look:
I have some matte finish prints which I lacquered 40 years ago. They still look fine. However, the lithographers varnish was not slathered on the prints. The standard practice was to dilute it with 5 to 6 parts of rectified turpentine. The thinned varnish was applied with a cotton ball and immediately removed with a soft cotton cloth. This left an almost imperceptable film on the print, just enough gloss to perk up the contrast.
While it may be argued that there might be something in the varnish that would affect a photographic print that has not been my experience. I do not use the technique anymore as print surfaces are better now.
Paul Paletti just took delivery on a first strike of Strand's Mexican Portfolio. The prints were pulled in 1940 with Paul Strand standing on press. There was a special plate made for this strike which applied the varnish in the press. I don't know what the composition of the varnish was (Strand was always trying to get printers to put it in the ink) but Paletti says there is no noticeable deterioration of any of the prints.
Because I use water-based acrylic coatings regularly for inkjet prints I tried some on silver gelatin prints out of curiosity. The D-max increased by around 0.15 to 0.20 for air-dried FB glossy paper (Ilfobrom) with increased separation in the shadows - the increase in density reduced rapidly and was unmeasurable in the midtones.
If I wanted that effect with FB papers I would glaze them (ferrotype in US English) rather than cover them with some slime of unknown provenance. If I used RC papers, and wasn't bothered about longevity, I might consider coating them. Golden UVLS or Glamour 2.