View Full Version : Salt Print on Watercolor Paper

04-08-2009, 05:46 PM
Method: I washed a sheet of coarse Artists Watercolor paper in running water for about a half hour. Immersed the sheet in salted water for 10 minutes. When dried. I coated it with a solution of Siver Nitrate (a pinch of crystals in approx 2oz of water. When dry I contact printed with a 8x6 lith negative. Exposed outside under a cloudy bright sky. Surprisingly the image appeared within seconds. After a minute I immersed in plain hypo for 20 minutes, then washed in running water for half an hour. This is a straight scan, and the color is as it came out I am very pleased with the outcome, as most of the time I was guessing and estimating. The cross at the upper right, identifies the coated side.


04-08-2009, 07:45 PM
Great print. I love how you guessed and estimated. I usually ponder over books and recipes too much. I found its better to mark the back side then it doesn't interfere with the image.

04-08-2009, 08:16 PM
g'day hartman

an excellent print

your description makes this process seem a little easier than others i've read

how truthfully does this print recreate the tonal qualities of the neg?

could you list the materials required?

04-08-2009, 08:52 PM
For some strange reason I never thought of that Chris. ;)
Ray. I used Lith film to make a negative large enough to contact print, and although I developed it in normal print developer (not 'Lith' ) most of the gray tones were eliminated. The tones were in the most part black and white.
I have found over the years that getting 'hung up' on rules, regs and formulae is quite wearing and can become obsessive. Yes, learn the rules and digest as much knowledge as possible, but live alittle dangerously, it is photography not nuclear fission. (Having said that, I wish I could work out the exposure times accurately for my pinholes :( )
Thank-you for your comments! I appreciate feedback and constructive criticism.

04-08-2009, 09:09 PM
Chris I always use the same materials for salt prints, apart from Lith film for the contact negative, as I can now produce 11x9 negs on the computer using transparency film.s
I add salt to 300 mls (the amount is arbitary, it is just I have a 300 m bottle) of hot water until it is completely dissolved and can take no more. After it cools you should dilute this by 18 to 1 before use (I just estimate the dilution)
At this point most formulae state that 5g of silver nitrate should be dissolved in 40 mls of 'purified' water. I can't measure out 5g so I just take a pinch and dissolve it in 'boiled' cooled water.
The time the paper is immersed in the salted water and how many coats of siver nitrate solution you apply is open fo experimention I guess.
BTW. Have you tried making your own paper, or has anyone? I mean from pulp onwards, and sensitizing that?

04-09-2009, 07:49 AM
g'day hartman

an excellent print

your description makes this process seem a little easier than others i've read

how truthfully does this print recreate the tonal qualities of the neg?

could you list the materials required?

Ray - Salted paper is among the easiest of the alternative processes - second only to cyanotype. I use straight sodium chloride for the salt - pickling salt at the grocery store (non-iodized). Most books say 2% salt solution, but I have used 3 grams per 100 ml (3%) as well. If you have some citric acid on hand, put in the same amount as the salt. Soak the paper, let it dry.

The silver nitrate works great at 10% solution - 10 grams in 100 ml. One or two coats - two seems to give deeper tones. Coat the silver nitrate in subdued incandescent light - I use a 15 watt bulb, and dry in the dark.

Contact print with a negative from the camera or an inkjet negative. Salted paper has the longest contrast scale of any photographic printing process, so you need a negative with good highlight density.

The first processing step should be a salt water bath to get rid of excess silver (3% salt + 1% citric acid). Then fix in plain fixer (10% hypo if you can mix it yourself), optional hypo-clear (sodium sulfite) and then wash in water.

I like to tone with a gold toner after the first wash and before the fix, but that is not necessary.

The prints are beautiful, and look like they were made by William Henry Fox Talbot. They can have a wonderful, delicate tonal range, especially if you have a lot of information in the highlights.

Read Wynn White's 'A Pinch of Salt' article on the Alternativephotography.com website.

Tom Persinger
04-09-2009, 10:37 AM
nice print and wonderful explanation Hartman!
Welcome to F295! good to have you with us


04-09-2009, 01:25 PM
Very nice picture and interesting technique. Thanks for describing the details of your procedures.

04-09-2009, 04:16 PM
Thank you earlj, Tom and renon. I hope to keep contributing to the cause.

04-12-2009, 12:32 AM
Really nice print, Hartman! I like your simple approach. You evidently don't size the paper, which some people insist is necessary, but you've shown it works just fine without. In fact, your thorough washing beforehand probably got rid of any sizing if the paper ever had any! It's good because sizing is an annoying extra step IMO!
I never tried using handmade paper with salt printing but I did try cyanotype with my own handmade paper. I had to handle it very carefully when it was wet and immersed it in water only while supporting it underneath with a piece of plexiglass. The print itself was marginally successful but I don't think I'd have liked it any better if it were on commercially made paper! :) All that is to say, I think the only caution to using your own paper is it must be fairly strong when wet, and/or must be fully supported during processing and washing.
Keep at it and show us more!