View Full Version : Can someone point me in the right direction

12-20-2011, 02:04 AM
Hello everyone. I'm need some deciding the best process for my project. Next year the camera I'm making along with some images taken with it will be displayed in an exhibition. What I'm looking for is something that will be reasonably stable under the gallery's bright lights and can be printed on art paper. Because of the very high cold of the raw material I will be using one of the kits that are on the market.. so what would be best ...Argyrotype/Van Dyke.. Cynotype that has been toned as I done want the blue colour...or may be liquid light.. at the moment I'm drawn to the argyrotype kit.


12-20-2011, 01:30 PM
Hi Colin.

Argyrotype is well worth considering as it is easy to get decent results and will have plenty of longevity for the exhibition (and many years after). I have done a fair bit of cyanotype toning and although I can get decent browns and dark greys/ violets, I always end up losing some contrast due to the highlights staining. The argyrotypes do need a decent negative density in order to get good shadows while keeping the highlights clear; that is the one key advantage I find with the traditional cyanotype is that the scale is so short and a thin negative can be used (which also means much less ink used in a digital negative). I like argyrotypes but getting the final tone consistent between prints can be tricky if you have lots of variation in humidity. Although most literature and books talk about using Tween in the argyrotype sensitiser, I advise trying without it too as it caused me no end of trouble.

I am not sure what the supply of paper is like in Australia, but here in the UK there has been a trend over the last few years towards making all art paper unsuitable for iron-based alternative techniques. Whether it is the buffering agents or sizing I am not sure, but fogging of the sensitiser before exposure is getting much more common. As far as robustness to paper characteristics go, in order of most tolerant to most sensitive for me are: traditional cyanotype, VDB, Argyrotype and cyanotype II. The only way I can print with cyanotype II at the moment is either onto cotton or linen cloth, or onto paper I have made myself, even all versions of Fabriano I can get fog the emulsion. For the papers that even cause issues with traditional cyanotype (e.g. Daler-Rowney Bockinkford 300 - fogged every iron-based sensitiser I tried), I size them with gelatine and either gum or carbon print onto it. I know gum printing is available as a kit too, however there are lots of variables that can have a big impact on the final print and it took me a long time to get consistent results. Carbon printing can give fantastic results, but it is very time consuming and again takes many attempts to get the workflow right for consistent results.

I have not tried liquid light yet; I did consider it but fell in love with carbon first :)

Best regards,


12-20-2011, 07:41 PM
Hello Evan many thanks for all the info. It looks like the main problem I may face is the limited supply of water colour paper that can be purchased here in West Oz.

The only kits/sensitizers that are sold locally are the Fotospeed Cyanotype and Argytype also Rockland Liquid light and Classic .

Because I have plenty of time on my side, I will check out what water colour papers are available and see if I can track down one of the carbon process type kits. In my 1960 BJ annual the carbon formulae can be found ..the high cost/quanty of the raw materials is a problem.


01-22-2012, 05:28 PM
Up date on how it's going . Before Christmas I ordered some water colour paper from the UK and Fotospeed Argytype kit from Australian supplier . The paper arrived one week later no sign of the kit, so I made a phone call and found out it was out of stock ETA unknown ( could be several months) so I changed my order to Liquid Light..

01-24-2012, 03:38 PM

I am interested to know how you get on with the liquid light. I have had a number of ideas that would need the image plane to curve in many directions at once and Liquid light would be ideal.

I made my Argyrotype and carbon senstisisers; it is not difficult but it does require a source for the raw chemicals (a few grams of the raw ingredients makes a lot of emulsion). It really does depend on what you can get these days as health and safety is making obtaining of many of the ingredients for alt printing difficult. The number of suppliers of chemicals is dwindling fast here in the UK with some ingredients (such as ammonium dicrhromate) being very hard to source.

Best regards,


01-24-2012, 05:32 PM
Evan I will kep you posted...Re- the number of chemicals suppliers, for some items it's now zero in WA.. I did find one suppler over east who still has Hypo and Silver Nitrate. I may get some and try that old egg 'n salt coating.


01-25-2012, 02:29 PM
Indeed, Albumen is a fairly simple process, as is Van Dyke, which is the direction I would suggest you consider - ammonium ferric citrate, tartaric acid, and silver nitrate are all you need for the latter.

Cheers -


01-26-2012, 04:20 PM
You don't even need the egg. Salt prints are easy to do on the right paper (it is a process that is sensitive to paper variations). I made beautiful salted paper prints the first time that I tried it, using just sodium chloride and silver nitrate. The fixer is plain hypo, and a bath in sodium sulfite after that is all that it needs. I get even better results with paper that is sized with arrowroot starch. You can usually find that at a food store.

Colin - you should get a copy of Christopher James' book, if you don't already own it. It is wonderful inspiration, and so full of good images that it makes you want to try every process.

01-27-2012, 07:21 PM
Many thanks for the info guys.

Earl I will check that book out.

George must see if I can get some ammonium ferric citrate

01-28-2012, 08:08 PM
George is that green or brown ammonium ferric citrate?

01-28-2012, 11:05 PM

01-28-2012, 11:34 PM
Thanks Jon