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  1. #1
    500+ Posts Ned.Lewis's Avatar
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    Jul 2012
    Sonoma County, California

    Lightbulb First salt prints

    One of the reasons I built a big foamcore camera was to have a go at salt prints and also a kind of homemade POP. Yesterday and today I made my first salt prints and it is really fun. Not too much to say yet, I've only made 4 but all four came out. I started as simply as possible-- just salt and silver nitrate.

    The first one looks neat but there is some fog. I sensitized 2 sheets and the second sheet sat overnight while the first one was exposing. It developed roughly the same amount of fog unexposed. The fogging was not visible after 3 hours of drying, but appeared slowly over the next 12 hours. I still like the way the prints look, but the fog is too much.

    1st: ~12 hours under a single blb uv fluorescent bulb.
    2nd: 2 hours indirect sunlight... my daughter wanted me to stop it because it looked really nice, but it was a bit underexposed.

    Last night and today I did everything the same but added 5% citric acid to the silver nitrate. That seems to have eliminated the fog:

    3rd: 14 hours under the BLB... looks like it could have even used a little more, but it's nice and the highlights are bright white.
    4th: outside for 3 hours facing the sun, with the first 2 in direct sunlight, but late afternoon. The sun set while it was out there. It looks just about perfect, maybe a little overexposed... the sky just has some tone in it and the highlights are not pure white. I love the way details in the highlights look in these.. there is a kind of delicacy that is very nice.

    I've done a couple homemade POP too but I'll save that for another thread.

    All in all I'm really pleased and can't wait to make more of them. It is very fun and there is a certain kind of extra fun to see an image appear on a paper that you coated yourself. It almost seems too simple to work, but up comes this beautiful lilac colored image. I wish there was a way to save the delicate violet color before it hits the fixer! My daughter wants to scan the image as it is, not fix it, and store it in a box in the dark sort of like we do with solargraphs. She has a point. #2 looked truly delicate and lovely prior to fixing.

    These are all made from 8x10 paper negatives shot in the homemade camera. Adorama VC paper with no preflashing and no filter and developed in fresh dektol... basically skipping all the steps we do to control contrast. I'm also exposing them just a bit more than usual, so there is a little more tone in the shadows and the highlights are very dense.

    I brushed on the salt solution, let it dry, then brushed on the silver nitrate solution and let it dry again. I'm looking forward to playing with different salts and additives to see what colors are possible.

    I'm having too much fun making the prints and shooting new negatives to spend much time on the internet these past few days, but I'll get around to scanning some eventually.

    I do have one question. I want to go all the way and make calotypes too. I seem to be getting a consistent coating by brushing on the salt and brushing on the silver nitrate. Is there any reason I can't make my calotypes the same way, brushing on the potassium iodide solution then the sensitizer? Everything I've read talks about floating the paper in the potassium iodide but I can't see why brushing it on won't work just like it does for these salt prints. Maybe there's something I'm missing but it seems to me it would be simpler.

    Happy New Year to everyone. 2014 is going to be a good year!
    Last edited by Ned.Lewis; 01-02-2014 at 01:51 AM.
    Some photos: Ipernity
    ( pinholes and solargraphs mixed in among the rest)

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