View Full Version : digital negative progress

02-15-2015, 03:00 PM
I have been working diligently to make prints for the late 2014 print exchange. I committed to myself that the prints would use the argyrotype process, a iron-silver process developed by Dr. Mike Ware. It is similar to Kallitype and Van Dyke prints, though I think that it is superior to both.

Even though I own both PDN and QTR, I have not developed a good workflow for digital negatives yet. Christina Anderson's new book Gum Printing and other amazing Contact Printing Processes provides a relatively simple workflow. She recommends using the Epson Advanced Black and White functionality, using Photo Black and as much yellow ink as the Advanced Color Settings will allow. Argyrotype gives a long contrast scale (22 or 23 steps on the 31 step wedge), so I had to lay down a lot of ink to make a good negative. I jacked up the color density slider as far as it will go - +50%, printed the 100 step gray scale, scanned it, and measured the densities in Photoshop. I created a curve and printed the image negative, and I like what I see.

The image was from a 2011 trip to Northwest Montana for a family reunion. We were staying at a resort on Swan Lake, which incidentally, is not that far from the Photo Formulary. I got up early, and set up my 8x10 plywood camera on the floating dock. If I remember correctly, the exposure was about 5 minutes. The negative was scanned on my Epson V700. I adjusted levels, and did some burning and dodging in Photoshop.

The paper is Fabriano Artistico Extra White hot press, acidified in 10% sulfamic acid. The sensitizer was coated with a glass rod. I exposed the paper before it was completely dry - it was still limp (the argyrotype process is very sensitive to the humidity of the paper). After a 5 minute distilled water wash, I toned the print in Gold Thiocarbamide toner (argyrotype is normally brown).

I am very happy with the result, and as soon as I can make two more just like it, Omar, Danny, and Ned will each have their very own.


02-16-2015, 02:19 AM
I'm really looking forward to seeing this!

Sandy King writes that a platinum toned kallitype is identical to a platinum print. I wonder if this process is another route to the same. Did you put a sheet of mylar or polyester film between your film and paper when you made the contact print?

02-16-2015, 09:53 AM
Ned -

I was able to make three more perfect copies of this print, so you guys are soon to receive your prints.

I always print alt-process contact prints with a sheet of clear polyester between the negative and the coated paper. This is especially important when printing with a film negative, as any transfer of sensitizer to the negative can result in a ruined negative.

I have some platinum juice as well as some palladium juice with the intention of toning with them, but I have yet to try it. The gold toning works great, and so far I am happy with what I see. I am pretty certain that platinum and/or palladium toning will work just as well, but with a different look.

I will try to get the prints in the mail tomorrow.

02-16-2015, 05:51 PM
I bet the computer screen does it no justice, but it still looks good.

I use a fair bit of Artistico for various processes and I do find it works well for most. Out of interest what substrate are you using to make the negative with?

02-16-2015, 06:50 PM
Scans of prints on plain paper are notoriously poor, but I think that one can get the idea. The print itself looks sharper than it looks on the screen, and the tones are cooler (gold gives a slightly purplish black).

I print my negatives on Inkpress transparency film. I got a good price from a friend for a 24 inch wide roll. I have yet to experience the problems that some have reported with this film. Perhaps I am not yet picky enough.

While I learn my alt-process craft, I have standardized on 11x15 inch sheets (1/4 of the standard 22x30 water color paper sheet size). I cut the 24 inch wide transparency film to 10x14 sheets. I print my negatives on an Epson 3800, which prints up to 17 inches wide. I plan to make some bigger prints once I get everything dialed in.

02-23-2015, 12:07 AM
It arrived here a couple days ago and the print is gorgeous. You can get an idea from the scan, but it has lovely deep tones, and a kind of "depth" that can't really ever show on a computer screen. The reflections in the water are really nice. The paper is very good, I think I will try some myself. Thank you Earl!