Alternative Photographic Printing

History of the process: This process started in the early 18th century and played an important role in the development of the positive and negative as we know them today. The Salted Paper process was the culmination of several centuries’ worth of research by remarkable men and women studying the relationship between light and chemistry. However, the concept of a “photograph” only really came to life in the imagination of William Henry Fox Talbot in 1833.

While on honeymoon Talbot considered how charming it would be able to permanently capture the images he was seeing, and upon his return home to share these with friends and neighbours. When the honeymoon was concluded, Talbot returned to England and set to work on a solution for his inspiration. In 1834 he came up with a significant discovery, the Salt print or the Calotype was born. In his salt paper techniques earliest incarnation, Talbot coated a fine piece of writing paper, most likely a gelatine size rag stock, with a solution of Sodium Chloride (salt). The salted paper was then dried and sensitized with a second coating solution of Silver Nitrate. Talbot then placed a selection of objects such as feathers, lace and botanical specimens onto the coated sheets of paper before exposing the sheets to the sun (ultra violet light). Once the paper was exposed and the objects removed they formed images on the paper and acted as negatives. Talbot then attempted to make a suitable positive print by repeating the procedure on another piece of sensitized writing paper. By contact printing the original paper negative he produced a positive print. Page 3 Then, in August 1835 Talbot coated another piece of paper and in its wet state exposed it in one of his 2-inch square mousetrap cameras. It was at this moment in history that the first camera generated negative was created. From this point on various other forms of chemical coating were used to produce a hard copy or photographic print such as Cyanotype, Callitypes, Van Dyke brown, Platinum, Palladium, Gum Bichromate, Albumen and many more.

Salt / Cyanotype / Van Dyke / Brown Printing

The required chemical emulsions are specially mixed and prepared at Silvertone and then very carefully hand brushed onto high quality 100% cotton papers using special imported wooden Hake brushes or glass rods. Enlarged digital negatives are produced from the original negative, transparency or computer generated images. These negatives are then contact printed onto the coated paper by exposing them to ultraviolet light. The exposed paper is then either washed, processed, fixed or toned where necessary.