Developed-out Salted Paper Prints

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NedL

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A rainy weekend day when I’d like to print makes me think about this process sometimes. I haven’t tried it yet, and don’t know anyone who has used it successfully. I know several people who tried and said the paper turned black all over in the developer, maybe because of the paper used or maybe because it needs very short exposures compared to printing out. The process is supposed to work even on the darkest rainy days. I’m posting this here in case anyone is interested in reading about it.

Alan Greene in his book Primitive Photography* discusses how developed out salted paper prints had a reputation for being neutral or colder toned, but he disputes this and says they can have a warm tone indistinguishable from being printed out. He also correctly points out that they are just as “historically authentic” as more typical printed out salt prints. Greene says that sunny days are for making photographs and rainy days are for printing. There's something very appealing about that on a day like today.

( The following paragraph is summarized from The Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography )

In the early 1850’s, the French calotypist Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard was making developed out prints at his studio in Lille, France. The English calotypist Thomas Sutton sent negatives to Blanquart-Evrard for printing, and offered to no avail to pay to learn the details of the process. In 1855, Sutton published a book A New Method of Printing Positive Photographs, by Which Permanent and Artistic Results May Be Uniformly Obtained, which described his developed-out process using whey. Soon afterward, Sutton decided to open his own printing studio, and again contacted Blanquart-Evrard, this time being invited to Lille to learn the details of the printing there. After Blanquart-Evrard’s studio failed, he and Sutton opened a new printing facility in Jersey, which only lasted a couple years. Presumably the prints made at this facility used developing out methods.

Sutton was the editor of Photographic Notes. I’ve attached to this post a description of developed-out plain salted paper prints that he wrote and published in Photographic Notes in 1860. I’ve also attached an excerpt from the 1856 book On the various methods of printing photographic pictures upon paper by Robert Howlett, which describes Sutton’s whey process and also a process by Thomas Hardwich which used a gelatin binder. Hardwich also wrote about developed out printing in his 1857 book A manual of photographic chemistry: including the practice of the collodion process.

So, between the two attached files, there are instructions for plain salt, salt with gelatin, and whey. For anyone who makes salted paper prints, it is worth reading the note at the end of Sutton’s whey process instructions for removing hypo:

Every trace of hyposulphite should then be removed, by washing for twenty-four, or even thirty-six hours, in an abundance of water, which must be changed at least a dozen times.

Many of Sutton’s prints still survive in good condition today, as do those of other printers ( like Thomas Rodger ) who practiced long washes.

I suspect like anything else in photography, it would take a lot of practice and experience to learn to print developed-out salted paper well. I would be interested to hear any experience if anyone tries it. Besides Alan Greene, I’m not aware of anyone who currently uses this process.

*Note, Google Books links used in this post don't work the same way in all countries, but you should be able to search for the same works in your country's version Google Books if you are interested.
 

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nmp

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Interesting, Ned.

Regarding the paper turning all black, looks like the exposure balance is the tricky part as explained in Mr. Hardwich's process:

sutton2B.jpg


I am guessing that unlike the traditional silver gelatin DOP's, these salt papers as prepared (so far I can tell in your references) contain the excess silver nitrate that we are familiar with in the traditional printing-out salted papers. So in the developer, there will be reduction of this silver nitrate in the unexposed areas as well as the metallic silver-catalyzed developing in the exposed areas. If the exposure is too low requiring longer develop, the former becomes dominant and an all-dark paper would be the result in the extreme. On the other hand if it is overexposed, the developing is too fast and it becomes tricky to stop it without affecting the highlights (did they do vinegar stop baths then?)

That brings us to something analogous I had been thinking....

I have had this idea for a while (in alternative process world, every "new" idea you might have will already have been done only a hundred years ago....:smile:) to use a developer on salt prints - the primary aim being to increase its Dmax. But unlike Sutton, my proposed approach is to combine the POP and DOP (DPOP?) steps. The idea is this - don't know if it will work or not (I have not done any work on it yet, it's on the list) - what if you take the normal salt print that has been POP-exposed, then instead of washing followed by fixing, do washing, developing/stopping and then fixing. The washing step would involve thorough rinsing in distilled water first (to remove soluble excess of silver nitrate out of the paper) followed by tap water or salt solution to convert any remaining nitrate to halide. I already do this in my salt-free salt process, though for a different reason (https://www.photrio.com/forum/threads/salt-free-salt-print-toned-with-himalayan-black-salt.155417/). This step would likely (hopefully, may be) prevent/reduce formation of silver in the highlights while in the developer. At the same time development/reduction(chemical) of more silver salts in the darker zones should add density to the salt print than what is possible with POP alone.

Makes sense?

By the way, I have a bunch of ascorbic acid from some other project. Would that work as a developer instead of gallic acid?


:Niranjan.

P.S. I am glad you guys are getting the much needed rain finally.
 

koraks

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Not precisely as outlined here, but I did some brief testing with salted paper prints developed in extremely dilute Rodinal. By extremely dilute, I mean something like 1+500. I did a quick search, but I can't seem to find any scanned examples at present. My experiences were:
* Exposure time was MUCH shorter than for regular POP salted paper
* Development, as I recall, was pretty swift
* There was a huge tendency towards fog
* The dmax was very, very poor
* Image tone was purple to grey, with some interesting tones
However, due to the low dmax and high fog, I found the results unusable. I didn't pursue the approach any further. Maybe one day, but I focused on proper salted paper prints instead and frankly, I don't see how a DOP approach would add anything to them apart from shorter exposure times.

Edit: ah, found them. Thanks Google :wink:

Saltinal-1.jpg

Saltinal-2.jpg

Saltinal-3.jpg


I posted my experiences back then on LFPF: https://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/archive/index.php/t-130505.html
6th post from the top
 
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NedL

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Hi Niranjan and Koraks,

I think Hardwich means that the shadows become jet black, with no midtones, like a grade 5+ print. I do suspect that overexposure is the most likely reason why it would turn black all over, with alkali in the paper being another possibility. Unless the paper is alkaline, I don't think gallic acid will turn the unexposed areas of the print dark. But if there was alkali in the paper, then it would reduce the silver nitrate too and cause fog all over the print, or maybe a black sludge film deposit over the surface!

This is a little different from what Koraks did. Rodinal is a chemical developer, but gallic acid is used as a physical developer, so it needs a source of excess silver to work at all. I think the unexposed silver nitrate probably goes into solution and provides this excess. I think ferrous sulfate would also work, but if you tried ascorbic acid it would be more like using rodinal. Possibly rodinal or ascorbic acid would work better if you washed the excess silver nitrate out of the print before developing it IDK? Niranjan, your second idea is a lot like this.. I would expect it to work because there is still unexposed silver chloride... although it's possible that the contrast would just explode and you'd end up with pure black and pure white with little in between... it would be a fun thing to try, I think you should try it! Basically it would be intensification before fixing.

Calotypes and salt prints can both be intensified later by additional physical development ( after they are all fixed and washed ) in gallic acid, with a few drops of silver nitrate added to provide the additional silver.

A few years ago I tried an interesting experiment which is an eye opener about physical development. I took an ordinary piece of photopaper and exposed a negative in my enlarger for 10 or 20 times the usual amount. Then I completely fixed it in rapid fixer and washed it. The paper looked perfectly white, because the metallic silver particles that had been formed were still microscopic and invisible. Then I put it in a tray of gallic acid, let it sit for a while and nothing happened. Then I added a few drops of silver nitrate and the image appeared in a few minutes, eventually a very strong image with good density. So, I developed a photograph by fixing first and then developing second :smile: The fixed paper would not have developed in a chemical developer like rodinal because all the unexposed silver bromide had been removed in the fixer, but if you'd developed it before fixing it would have been massively overexposed. The picture was very ugly because it turned the gelatin a dark yellow-orange color, even in areas that had been masked during the exposure.

I agree with Koraks that the main advantage of DOP salt prints would be the shorter exposure times and the possibility of printing on dark days. At the risk of saying something controversial, I think it's possible it might improve prints made with UV bulbs instead of the sun ( I cannot control contrast by using diffusers with my BLB bulbs nearly as well as with the sun, so I'm thinking DOP could provide contrast control by the length and speed of development... ) -- at least for people like me who control contrast during printing/processing rather than by using a digital negative.

Sun's out today and I have a print exposing right now!!
 
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nmp

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Reading the Sutton2 pdf, I noticed that in the case of whey-based process, Sutton does not use any external salt. He even suggests to wash salt out of the "rennet" (I had to look up what that was...I better not tell my vegetarian friends what that means when they eat pizza.) He does use Canson paper which he described as one having "caustic potash" in the first paper. So that could be the source for salt (silver hydroxide) formation. Am I reading it correct that he was doing a "salt-free" process? What was the function of whey - simple sizing or something chemical?

I enjoyed reading the first pdf - the article written by Sutton himself. I could not help but notice the flourishing and boastful language of the time and also very personal. Not to go too off-topic but his description (the first part of the article) of why a photograph on a "plain paper" is superior to a glossy albumenized paper for artistic photography was delightful and it might be one of the earliest observations that I have seen on the merits of pictorialism without using that word. Very interesting, indeed.

:Niranjan.
 
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NedL

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Yes that's correct! They called it the "serum" process and whey is used instead of salt. There's a version of it in Greene's book too. Something in the whey provides the light-sensitive silver compound. ( Also in albumen printing, a lot of the literature refers to "silver albumenate" which is also supposedly light sensitive even without additional salts. And many references say that an "organic binder" is necessary for salt printing to work at all, but I'm not sure that's true... it may be like a lot of notions that kept being repeated over and over again... it would be interesting to know. )

Whey was also often used in making calotypes, not by itself, but in addition to iodide, bromide or chloride. And my understanding is that they didn't think of it as only a binder, but as something that could improve the characteristics of the negative in other ways too.

Sutton is an interesting character. Some of what he wrote was very critical of others, and even hypocrtical. But I enjoy reading what those printers had to say about albumen vs. plain salted paper, or starch vs. gelatin sized paper, or paper negatives vs. glass, etc.. it's all very subjective and there were always a few printers that went against the prevailing aesthetic. And in this case I agree with Sutton :smile:
 

Máx Arnold

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I came upon this thread looking for information about exposure times.
The process seems interesting, and I personally think that the 2nd and 3rd prints that koraks got were great (specially the third one).
I wanted to make this process as a way to produce paper negatives in camera, since the silver halide precursors are expensive to me. What exp time did koraks get for the third one?
I guess Rodinol is too much of a good developer for this ancient process, maybe using caffenol, or the already mentioned gallic acid... Maybe ferrous sulphate? But dilluted in the same way as rodinol, or more...
Another thing I think is on the washing step before development, so as to remove the exess silver nitrate... I think it's a good idea, since the
 

Máx Arnold

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I came upon this thread looking for information about exposure times.
The process seems interesting, and I personally think that the 2nd and 3rd prints that koraks got were great (specially the second one).
I wanted to make this process as a way to produce paper negatives in camera, since the silver halide precursors are expensive to me. What exp time did koraks get for the second one?
I guess Rodinol is too much of a good developer for this ancient process, maybe using caffenol, or the already mentioned gallic acid... Maybe ferrous sulphate? But dilluted in the same way as rodinol, or more...

I think the washing step before development is a great idea... Maybe if the salt was in excess instead of the nitrate it could be better to prevent the fogging in the underexposed prints?

As for the in camera exposures, I'm not intending millisecond exposures, but a two second exposure... And at f/ 2.8 or lower (most homemade cameras can be made that way) it will be (I think) possible...

We'll see what we get...
 
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NedL

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Hi Máx,

Talbot's original experiments with paper negatives in the 1840s were with paper coated with silver chloride ( +/- gallic acid and other things ). He did not have good success making negatives in camera until he started using silver iodide, but I don't remember exactly what the problems were with silver chloride ( probably speed, but I don't know why he didn't go back to chlorides after he got developed-out silver iodide paper working. )

A calotype is a paper negative made with silver iodide and it can't quite get as fast as you want if it is exposed dry -- you might get to an exposure of 6 or 7 seconds at f/2.8 in full bright sun. If they are exposed while still wet you could get down to a second or two.

The link that John gave you in the other thread, to Chris Patton's seawater emulsion instructions, would make a faster emulsion. It has two stages that increase the speed very much: the "ripening" which happens as the silver nitrate is slowly added to the gelatin+salt and then kept warm for some time. Then the emulsion is cooled and washed in cold water ( to remove all the excess salt ) and the second speed-improving stage called "digestion" is done, where the gelatin is kept warm for some time before being cooled for use.

In the discussion above, gallic acid works differently from a modern developer like rodinol. Roughly speaking, gallic acid needs some free silver nitrate to get the silver to make the image, while rodinol gets the silver from unexposed silver chloride. So if you tried this approach, you'd want to wash the paper before using a developer like rodinol. Or, as you suggested, you could use excess salt, or even wash the paper prior to exposure.

Good luck and have fun experimenting.
 

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Máx Arnold

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Useful notes, koraks! Thank you
NedL... I feel a little bit spied on... Uh, anyway... The seawater emulsion seems the way to go, unless I try with bromide.
Yeah, I guess the problems Talbot had were becuase of the exposure time needed, mostly when trying to photograph animals, since they won't understand they have to sit in front of a camera still for seven seconds. Also, I really appreciate your explanation about the difference between gallic acid and Rodinol.
About the In-camera exposure times possible with this process, I bet they're under one hour, since koraks was exposing their prints with 30 to 15 seconds under artificial UV light, Maybe it gets to one hour at 12:00 pm. I have a cyanotype exposure time of 30 seconds on full sun, and in camera of 1h 30m with the same natural light, so this may be better than that.
 

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The link that John gave you in the other thread, to Chris Patton's seawater emulsion instructions, would make a faster emulsion. It has two stages that increase the speed very much: the "ripening" which happens as the silver nitrate is slowly added to the gelatin+salt and then kept warm for some time. Then the emulsion is cooled and washed in cold water ( to remove all the excess salt ) and the second speed-improving stage called "digestion" is done, where the gelatin is kept warm for some time before being cooled for use.
and from my understanding if it is going to be coated on PAPER one doesn't even need to wash it :smile:
i learned that talbot also used ammonium chloride ...
 

brazile

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Apologies for resurrecting this thread, but in case anybody is still interested: I have been intending to figure this process out for some time, at least since learning about it as an aside at a workshop for a different process at Eastman House (now GEM). With some advice from Mark Osterman, I've sorted out the basics, and as Ned suggested at the beginning of the thread, this is a good time of year for printing.

I've only just got going, but have results that encourage me to continue, see attached. Mark's researched method has you add citric acid to the salt (although neutralized a bit with baking soda), then sensitize with a weaker (5%) solution of silver nitrate also with a few drops of citric acid. Expose (I'm using a DIY light box I built some years ago for carbon printing) until the image is faintly there, but essentially complete, then develop in gallic acid with some acetic or citric acid, adding a few drops of silver nitrate as needed to goose the development. Fix in hypo, gold tone if desired, then wash.

I found that I was overexposing initially, which yielded exactly the results mentioned above. Once I backed off considerably, things started working. With my box (a bank of BLB bulbs about 6in/15cm above the frame) a time of about 45 seconds seems to work well. I suspect even less, perhaps 30 seconds might work once I get the development process better calibrated. But it's an inspection process, and my eyes aren't calibrated yet, especially in the safe light conditions this process requires (unlike salt POP, which can be done in low normal room light). Haven't tried with the sun yet, as the controlled environment of the box is helpful at this stage, but I probably will just to see how it goes.

I like the results enough to keep going with it, just to see where it takes me...

Robert
 

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Máx Arnold

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We have to recognize that this process is promising...
I can start to see this process as a means of making prints on an enlarger. I don't know what do you think... Maybe the exposure times would be quite longer than using regular photo paper, but that could have the advantage of better control over things like dodging/ burning, etc...
The thing that I like most is that there would be no need for making an emulsion and then coating it onto the paper, which would make making our own paper much easier (at the cost of other things).
Robert, you don't have to apologize for resurrecting this thread, even though it's pretty dead... Your experiments are light shining through out negatives! I strongly ask you to update the information whenever you can. The image you posted shows pretty much how useful this process can get.

It's a Talbot's process, alright? It's tricky, it's picky, but it can be good, it can be good...
 
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NedL

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..... but in case anybody is still interested:
I am! :smile: That is a very encouraging result and I would love to hear about anything else you learn or try! I think you're right... it will take some practice to learn just what the print should look like before development. In his book, Greene describes putting his contact printing frame in a window ( on a cloudy day! ) for a few minutes. Maybe once you get a good sense of exposing by inspection, you won't even need your BLB bulbs.
 

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Chiming in here as I have been experimenting for the past several months with making a variety of alt process prints with an enlarger modified to use a 100W UV LED light source. With a variety of tweaks I've been able to get exposure times as short as 10-15 minutes for POP salt, but now of course this thread has me thinking that could be reduced considerably by adding a developer step. No gallic acid on hand, but I do have some Rodinal and Pyrocat sitting around I may try in extreme dilutions after 30-60 second exposures just to see what happens...
 

brazile

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Sorry, I checked the thread for a couple days, and then I must have got distracted right when people spoke up. :smile:

I have continued with my efforts, and have had more promising results. I now feel like I can get a decent result from decent negatives. Still a long way to go to deal with more difficult negatives, or with different papers.

And that, by the way, is an important point: I can't say whether DOSP is more sensitive to paper chemistry than other types, but I did find that some of the frustration I experienced while trying it out was due to the particular paper I was using. I started with Canson Bristol board, as that's what GEM recommends for salt printing in their workshops. I ran out, though, and stopped by a local store that had Fabriano Bristol board instead. While using it, I had some trouble with controlling what I can only call fog. I speculate that there's a buffering agent in the paper causing trouble, but that's just a wild guess. What I do know is that I had some Arches Aquarelle (140 HP) paper I'd picked up a few years ago for another project and, on a whim, cut some of it up and tried it. Instant improvement.

My current process is to expose the package in my light box for 30-50 seconds (depending on results), then develop in gallic acid for two minutes. Sometimes that is enough. When it isn't, I make a guess as to whether I think extending development as-is will do the trick. If not (i.e., the image is building very slowly), I add five drops of 15% silver nitrate + citric acid, then develop for another two minutes. This seems to be enough a lot of the time. If not, I repeat that step. Haven't had to do it (the added silver) more than twice (total) yet.

All of my test prints are somewhat sloppily coated using cotton wadding to brush it on. I've been parsimonious with paper so far, so have been simply cutting out blanks the same size as the negative or plate, and exposing them in a same-size contact printing frame. So the edges are invariably messy. Now that I'm getting better results, I'll likely try doing a neater job, with larger blanks and a restricted coating area. I haven't bothered to gold tone these yet, as I rather like the colors I'm getting with the process; they aren't that (to me) distasteful medium orange-brown salt prints so often are without toning. For me they're coming out more of a darker copper/bronze color that is attractive in person, and a bit tough to capture with an iPhone camera. But I'll include some examples here so people can see what I'm talking about.

The image I showed above is from a 4x5 negative, don't recall what, probably HP5+.

The first one here is from a collodion dry plate I shot at a workshop in 2019. The negative is somewhat messy (hey, I'm a beginner at that, too) so the edges are a bit messy. I feel certain I can get a better print out of it. It's dried well. I need to flatten it, and perhaps wax it (although I'll probably make another one first).

The second one is from an antique gelatin dry plate I picked up at a show a few years ago.

Both are in the wash. Once I get prints I'm really happy with, I'll deal with finishing them properly. I did wax one today, and it turned out fine, but I want to make a better print before showing that.

Robert
 

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brazile

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Oops, the second was too big. Here's the other one. I should mention that the source plate is quite old and was filthy when I got it. I've cleaned it up some, but it's rather silvered. Still printable, though!

Robert
 

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Those look really great! Well done.
I've had trouble with bristol separating during my normally long wash step. Paper is a huge variable in POP salt.
( I think the brisol I used was Strathmore, but I'd have to check my notes to be sure)
 

brazile

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Thanks! Yes, paper definitely matters, with this and with most POP processes, some more than others. But I've had good luck with the Canson BB in salt POP, FWIW. For albumen, Osterman recommends "Crob'art", but apparently the French version, which is said to be different in composition than the one available in the US.

I made a list last night of where I want to go with this, other than simply getting better at recognizing what a particular negative requires. It includes things like adding a bit of gelatin or starch to the salt solution (historically done, less than 2% soln) to see to what effect on texture? resolution? that has, digital negative curve calibration, rigging a UV light on the DIY "graflarger"-type thing I made for an old Intrepid 4x5 to experiment with enlargements, and (some more) in-camera paper negative attempts.

With that last, I have tried a couple times, got a faint image but nothing usable yet, it's fun, cheap, and easy, so I'll probably keep playing with it. The exposures are ridiculous, of course, but having done niepceotypes (in-camera albumen on glass negatives), that's old hat at this point. I'm (usually) fairly patient.

I'm also pondering an attempt at an albumen DOP, but will have to think about the order of operations there a bit more. Don't see why it wouldn't work, might possibly give a better scale.

The process of doing a digital negative curve calibration will also give an idea of the possible scale of this process, which I'm very curious about. Mark indicated that some of the historic versions he's seen in the archives are practically indistinguishable from Pt prints, and that has me intrigued.

Robert
 

brazile

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No gallic acid on hand, but I do have some Rodinal and Pyrocat sitting around I may try in extreme dilutions after 30-60 second exposures just to see what happens...

Sure, why not? I have read that this process calls for physical development, though, so it might not be enough. Perhaps go for something a bit more active, maybe Dektol? Might want to add some citric acid also. You could also make up a small dropper bottle of 15% AgNO3, add a few drops after developing for a while if you don't see density building up sufficiently. I'm no expert, though, so don't take my word for it. [Edit: Ugh, I see Ned covered this above. Had been too long since I read the thread, I guess.]

Robert
 
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