[alt-photo] Re: salt printing

David Pitcher pitcherd1 at msn.com
Sat Aug 25 04:15:30 GMT 2012

I switched over to primarily making Salt prints from Platinum a little over 
a year ago because of the cost of the metals.  Silver much more economical, 
especially when working with experimental substrates.

My experiences with Salt Prints over the past year summarized:
I would consider tonal range equal to that of Platinum/Palladium based on 
the process I have been following.  Printed a handful of 31 step wedges 
along the way and measure with a densitometer. Salt is capable of printing 
25 distinct measurable steps before reach paper white and is the same as 
what I get with Platinum.

My choice of papers are Magnani Revere Suede(Preferred), Magnani Revere 
Platinum, and Arches Platine.

Un-toned prints have a deep chocolate brown with bright clear highlights, 
there is significant darkening as the print dries.  I tone prints using the 
Gold Toning kit from Bostick & Sullivan(.2% Gold Chloride & 2% Ammonium 
Thiocyanate) anywhere from 2 minutes to 10 minutes and get deep black to 
eggplant or blue/black shadows. Toning is done prior to fixing.

I print with digital negatives using QTR to optimize negative density to 
match emulsion.  I started with my Platinum QTR curve and slightly tweaked 
to produce the final Salt curve I am using.  Digital negatives are printed 
using an Epson 4880 with Ultrachrome Inkset and the Matte Black ink 
cartridge on Pictorico OHP.

Exposure is under an DIY UV exposure unit consisting of 12 VHO Super Actinic 
T8 Bulbs(peak at 420nm) powered by electronic ballasts.  Exposure times 16 
minutes with this light source, which is 4x longer than my Platinum exposure 

2% Ammonium Chloride Solution
    70ml Distilled Water
    2g Ammonium Chloride
    2g Sodium Citrate
    Distilled Water to make 100ml solution

12% Silver Nitrate Solution
    Part A
    12g Silver Nitrate
    40ml Distilled Water
    Additional Distilled Water to make 50ml solution

    Part B
    5g Citric Acid
    40ml Distilled Water
    Additional Distilled Water to make 50ml solution

    Equal parts A & B combined at time of coating paper (1.5ml of each to 
coat 8x10)

Print Processing Details:
3% Salted Wash Bath(1% Citric Acid & 3% Morton's Kosher Salt)
I use tap water instead of distilled water and add 0.20ml of Fresh Water 
Fish Ammonia/Chlorine Treatment per 1000ml tap water to neutralize Ammonia 
and/or Chlorine from in the tap water. My water is "city" water and not from 
a well.  Print is gently agitated in this bath face up for 5 minutes.

Tap water wash bath for 15 minutes changing the water every 5 minutes.

10% Sodium Thiosulfate fixing bath for 4 minutes. Print will become lighter 
and turn a rust orange.

1% Sodium Sulfite clearing bath for 5 minutes.

Tap water wash bath for 5 minutes

Print washer for minimum of 45 minutes.


-----Original Message----- 
From: Christina Anderson
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2012 5:23 PM
To: The alternative photographic processes mailing list
Subject: [alt-photo] Re: salt printing

Ohmagosh. I see. That is VERY interesting and makes total sense, that the 
amount of reduced silver in the image depending on the shadows or highlights 
of that particular image, would influence color. Very neat. Not read that in 
the literature.

> Not quite. The affect on color is relative to how light or
> dark the image is... how much silver is held in the paper to form the
> image... that's the killer for me. No matter how exact I measure the
> chemistry, the amount of silver that forms each image will affect the
> final color. I'm conjuring up a plan to use a histogram to guide my
> tweaking... haven't gotten down to designing the information transfer to
> a volume or time variable yet and it might be a bogus idea... too soon
> to tell.
> I'm measuring with a 10ml syringe.... exactly 4ml per 12x15
> sheet. I might be off a drop or so, but not much. I could try measuring
> drops as a means to reduce another variable I suppose.
> I know the
> table you're referring too with the speedier salts listed against their
> contrast. In my experience the isn't much difference in contrast, only
> speed and final color.
> One last note, the final color can't be judged
> before the print is totally dry. That tends to slow down these tests.
> Humidity is pretty constant since I have AC in my darkroom, but since
> it's MI... it's always high.. 55-65%
> ~Darryl
> On 2012-08-23 12:28,
> Christina Anderson wrote:
>> Darryl,
>> Can I quote you :)? I am
> thrilled to find someone really doing salt on this list, separate from
> albumen anyway...
>> Do you find salt a longer tonal range than
> pt/pd?
>> What is your choice of fixing bath and time?
>> So the
> amount of silver nitrate influences color...you would have to be,
> therefore, exact with your drop-to-sq.-inch count to get similar color,
> right?
>> One thing I am puzzling with is Young's use of the word
> "contrast." If a certain solution is faster in exposure, she then
> equates it with lower contrast. Now, I could be the one confused but I
> have always understood contrast to be separate from exposure. Once
> maximum black and maximum white are achieved, the number of steps
> between the two is either fewer (more contrasty) or greater (less
> contrasty) but if comparing faster and slower solutions this gives a
> false read.
>> That would be like, in the B&W darkroom, exposing a
> grade 0 paper and a grade 5 paper the same time and comparing the
> papers' contrast.
>> I would first get the standard printing time
> (SPT) and then compare the number of steps. But I could totally have it
> wrong all these years. PLEASE correct me??
>> I have the PDF, and just
> ordered the book, but thanks for the offer. I wanted to see the step
> wedges in print.
>> I do like her clear method of writing and
> testing.
>> An off-lister suggested Ware's article on salt, too.
> OH, one other thing. I was able to see Panera and Hajicek's giant salt
> print photograms done in the sunlight at F295 a few years back. Now THEY
> were stunning. And of course Dan Estabrook's work is a favorite of mine.
> Jesseca Ferguson as well.
>> Chris
>> Christina Z. Anderson
> christinaZanderson.com
>> On Aug 23, 2012, at 12:09 PM, Darryl Baird
> wrote:
>>> Chris, I spent a good portion of this year working on
> getting salt printing "down" and I've discovered there isn't a single
> formula published that works completely as "advertised" in any of the
> sources you've just cited. Young's work is, by far, the most complete,
> yet there are gaps or things a little glossed over. I revised Young's
> formula (using Potassium Chloride) with a couple of additives in the
> sizing, and a minor modification in the hypo stage. I was happy...
> notice the past tense. Young published her research as a dissertation
> first, then revised it into the pdf "manual." I have both if you'd like
> a copy of the former. One of the latest finds (for me) is a statement by
> Reilly about the color also being determined by the amount of silver
> used (retained in the paper) in making any image. It made perfect sense
> that the final amount of silver within the image being toned would have
> an affect on the final color. This one little "detail" sent me over the
> top considering I want EVERY print I produce in a portfolio to match in
> color. So, my next challenge is to manage a method to estimate the
> amount of total silver present and adjust either my toning time or
> volume for each image. PITA I'd already resorted to a single-shot
> solution for each step, never reusing chemistry in order to narrow or
> eliminate the color variables from each.
>>>> From Reilly, Chapter
> 8:
>>> Toning "Among the factors which influence the outcome of the
> toning operation are the pH of the binder (gelatin, arrowroot, albumen,
> etc.) materials used, the pH of the silver solution, **the amount of
> silver deposited to form the image,** the thoroughness of the initial
> wash in processing, the pH of the toning solution, the presence of other
> substances in the toning solution, the strength of the gold solution,
> its temperature, its age, and the time of immersion of the print." Steve
> Achell has some helpful advice in this document... it was helpful in
> some of my formula changes.
> http://steveanchell.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=34%3Asalted-paper&catid=15%3Aoutput-darkroom-and-lightroom&Itemid=39
> [1] and
> http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/pop-printing-out-process/printing-out-processes
> [2]I'm also going to start a new printing test using fumed silica.
> Darryl On 2012-08-23 09:50, Christina Anderson wrote:
>>>> Dear
> All, I noticed last night when googling it that it is available on
> Amazon here and also on the alternativephotography.com website
> here:http://www.alternativephotography.com/wp/processes/saltprints/the-salt-print-m
>>>> lt-Print-Manual-Ellie-Young/dp/144528328XFor some reason,
>>> ow
> how long I have had it, I have a PDF of it from the web, so at one point
> it was free. In any case, I want to give credit to her for her research
> and did buy the book (I can't stand reading PDFs). It seems between
> Reilly, James' chapter on salt in his book, and Young's book there isn't
> too much other current literature on the process, unless it is just
> lumped under albumen which is quite popular. OH and Ed Buffaloe's
> article on unblinkingeye.com which BTW includes a CASEIN sizing for the
> salt print I am dying to experiment with, because it would be matte like
> casein is, and like Reilly talks about
> hy.com/wp/processes/saltprints/a-dash-of-salt">htt
> nativephotography.com/wp/processes/saltprints/a-dash-of-salt Happy fall
> to everyone! Chris Christina Z. Anderson
> christinaZanderson.com_______________________________________________
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