View Full Version : Paper negatives - which paper to use?

Curtis Nelson
21-Jun-2015, 22:13
So I'm almost done building my 8x10 pinhole camera, and I need to order some paper so I can start experimenting with paper negatives. What paper seems to work nicely for this purpose?

Michael W
22-Jun-2015, 01:49
I've had good results with Foma matte RC.

22-Jun-2015, 02:07
If you are intending to contact print from them, one decision to make is how much texture you want in the final print that has come over from the negative - if you use RC paper, there'll be none detectable, but you will get varying results from FB paper depending on the base.

You also might want to think about contrast (paper negatives are inherently high contrast, except perhaps if you use a very soft graded paper), and I know a few people who prefer very long outdated paper with even a bit of age-fog to tame that.

Some people say glossy paper is "sharper" than matt or pearl type finishes, others say it increases the chances of internal reflections in the camera ...

Like anything else though it's a bit of a personal choice and like asking "which is the best camera" you'll get answers mostly based on what the individual answering themselves uses.

So, FWIW, I use whatever expired RC paper I can get cheap. At the moment I'm using glossy Kentmere VCRC paper that must be 10 years old, which cost a very few pounds for a box of 100.

Good luck.

22-Jun-2015, 07:28
Maybe I'm not following the discussion. Sorry.

The first thing that came to my mind, having made albumen paper prints and salted paper negatives <http://albumen.conservation-us.org/> years ago, and actually treated a few paper negatives, often very translucent, that do not wet well, see <http://www.vitaleartconservation.com/> I think of a translucent medium prior to the use of glass or plastic <http://www.vitaleartconservation.com/PDF/Brief_History_of_Imaging_Technology_v28.pdf> to make photograph negatives or positives. Coated sized paper came later. The used of a Baryta layer came even later.

I would try large sheets of Whatman's filter paper. I purchased mine from Fisher Scientific (through an institution) some 35 years ago (1980s). We used it in Paper Conservation scientific studies of rate of light, heat and heat and humidity deterioration because it was/is pure cellulose without sizing. The problem was that unlike good quality handmade paper, the fibers have been heavily bleached, and thus-pre-degraded, making experimental-deterioration somewhat problematic. Earlier, I had used Whatman's #1, in 150 mm disks, stolen from the chem. lab at school, cut into squares (unfortunately small) to make salted paper prints. Works well.

Normally, we see small filter paper disks cut from a web formed on the papermaking machine. The sheets are offered so that scientists can make any filter shape they may require. On Amazon I found (1) Whatman Filter Paper Sheet, Grade 1 Price: $59.95 - $820.33 and (2) Frymaster LLC 8030170 filter paper 16.5 X 25, 100/BOX on Amazon for $100.

I found that Whatman goes through great effort (I think I visited the factory in the UK, while I lived there for a year in 1995/6) to make the internal pores equal size with excellent random distribution of fibers that are just the right length to hold the sheet together while wet (high filibration) without wet-strength agents, while also allowing a uniform flow (medium length, small fines removed) of liquid through the sheet.

When you immerse unsized paper in a medium (albumen, or even gelatin) it will saturate the paper pores and become more translucent. It may take several immersions to get the greatest transparency. However, the sheet will be quite rigid and prone to breakage. Think fiberglass impregnated with resin. If you are after salted paper negatives. Historic workers often oiled or waxed the paper after the image had been developed to make it more translucent. These negatives will never be as clear as glass, but then it is tough to get much to stick to glass over any appreciable length of time, unless your using gelatin. Of course, gelatin came into the pool of photographic materials well after the salted paper process was created [see history of..., above] and used.

Tim Vitale
Oakland, CA

22-Jun-2015, 08:42
If you buy variable contrast paper, you can choose high or low contrast in your negative. Used without a filter, contrast is high and results are similar to wet plate collodion, with blank white skies.

Used with a yellow filter, images are less contrasty, to me seem mostly like a normal negative. Results are similar to ortho film with a yellow filter. There is some cloud detail and skies are darker. Prints from these negatives look mostly like prints from normal film.

22-Jun-2015, 08:51
True, and I use a yellow filter on my lensed cameras when using paper negs.
The OP is using a pinhole camera of course and adding a filter could make exposure times unwieldy.
Of course, there are development and printing techniques to manage contrast as well

22-Jun-2015, 10:45
I've liked Arista #2 preflashed a bit. Go through the paper negatives thread, everything you need to know is there