U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Merits and Demerits of Salted vs. VDB

Re: Merits and Demerits of Salted vs. VDB

Sandy King wrote:
At 9:16 AM -0600 9/1/07, Christina Z. Anderson wrote:

However, in my packet of step wedges and test prints and tonal palettes printed in both, I notice that there is a fading and yellowing and mottling in the VDB packet I do not see in salt. The salt prints look exactly like they did the day I made them. In the troubleshooting section of my VDB chapter (Alt Proc Condensed) I have a quote from Mike Ware via Wynn White: "Most sources state that Vandyke prints can be cleared in plain water. In Mike Ware's description of the argyrotype process he explains the problems iron-based silver processes have. If processed in an alkaline solution residual ferric iron is left in the print which will eventually cause it to fade since iron (III) will oxidize silver."


There are two important steps that if carried out will dramatically improve the quality of VDB prints. The first is to make absolutely sure that the first wash is carried out in water that is slightly acidic. If the water is alkaline iron hydroxide will be set in the paper and this can can be removed in subsequent processing. However, don't make the first bath too acidic because it might bleach the silver.

Second, bite the money bullet and buy some noble metal solution (gold, pallaidum or platinum) and tone the print before fixing. This will eliminate bleaching and give you the deepest possible shadow values.

Sandy King

I use a platinum toner after an acidified wash. An important factor is the quality of the rinse water My apartment's water supply is through 50+ year old steel pipes. I have had bits of iron from this stick to my VDB papers while rinsing. I have gone to the use of distilled or de-ionized water for all of my process steps. Expensive, but consistency counts for a lot.

Gordon Cooper
Bremerton, WA