152: Saltprints

The final type of alternative processing we looked at was Salt printing, which dates back to times older then cyanotypes. Henry Fox Talbot was the one to create this process, and just like cyanotypes, requires the combination of two different mixtures to form the light sensitive solution.

Mixing process:

  1. Mix 20g of Sea salt or sodium chloride (not table salt) with 1 litre of water well. Then place your paper into this liquid until fully soaked.
  2. Leave your paper to dry or dry with a hairdryer
  3. Then mix 12g of Silver Nitrate with 50 ml of Distilled water
  4. Then mix 6g of Citric Acid to 50 ml of Distilled Water
  5. Place the two mixtures into a brown bottle.
  6. Pour some of the contents into a bowl, and using a brush, paint the surface of your paper with the solution.

(Note 1: Place an X on the side your are not coating to so you know what side to expose. Note 2: Wear plastic gloves as this solution will stain and leave black/brown marks)

  1. Leave to dry naturally or use a hairdryer

Now you can go off to making your print! It is advisable to use negatives or acetate sheets this process to get the best results.
Placing your negative onto the paper, sandwich it all together with two glass sheets so that the image won’t move. You will begin to see the paper turn a reddish-brown very quickly; the exposure time depends on the sunlight so judge well!

Once you have taken your image inside, make sure to wash all the residue solution off the paper, whilst at the same time mix 500ml cold tap water + 25 grams of sodium thiosulphate powder + 2 grams bicarbonate of soda or dilute standard fix to 1:19 (but it can bleach out the image slightly).

Place your washed paper into this fix for about 5 images so that the image won’t fade at all, then wash for a further 10+ minutes.

photo 2(3)

I think out of all of the alternative processes we have looked at, the salt prints are far by my favorite. Yes it may be a longer process overall then the others, but the quality of the picture is undeniable; plus there is also something about that earthy look to the picture that makes it look like it has just come from the olden times. This is the process I would prefer to carry out in the future if possible, that is depending on what my pictures are based on though!


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