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Thread: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

  1. #1

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    in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    I am trying to work out the technical issues regarding Salt Printing (Using the gelatin sizing approach), and I would ideally like to produce negatives of the correct contrast rather than making digital negatives with an inkjet printer.
    However, I am finding it very difficult to get a negative with sufficient contrast. Yesterday I made some 4x5 negs on HP5+ and I chose FX-37 as the developer, because my previous experience with it showed me that it was capable of building significant contrast if you used longer than recommended times. However, yesterday I exposed the HP5 at 600 ASA and did an N+2 development and still the negative was not contrasty enough to get a good salt print.

    Can anyone with experience in the process recommend a film + developer combination that is more likely to yield a negative appropriate for Salt Printing? I have Delta 100 available to experiment with - would that be a better choice? I've found HP5 to be rather flat in general, so maybe I just chose the wrong film?

    Thanks!
    Here's what I got yesterday:Click image for larger version. 

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  2. #2

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Most medium speed or high speed films will get pretty contrasty if you develop enough but I'm not sure specifically what type of density range is typical for this process. Some suggestions:

    -Try overdeveloping in HC-110. HC-110 will tend to give a more "upswept" curve and builds contrast more easily than some other developers. Another option to try could be Ilford PQ Universal for low fog/high contrast. Try with Delta 100 since you have it on hand.

    -Try a staining developer with lots of development since the stain density adds to the silver density for more contrast

    -Intensify the negative (or try selenium toner intensification) in conjunction with the above

    TMY-2 can quite easily build significantly more high value density than many other films, however it is very expensive

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Try X-Ray

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Hi Paul. I’m viewing on my phone with whatever limitations that has… but I wouldn’t be disappointed in that print.

  5. #5
    Tracy Storer's Avatar
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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Be careful of overdevelopment, you want the shadow areas of your neg to be quite clear, it's as important as sufficient density in the highlights. I've only printed Salt from vintage collodion negs in a workshop at GEM with Mark Osterman, but he kept referring to "void" in the negs.
    Tracy Storer
    Mammoth Camera Company tm
    www.mammothcamera.com

  6. #6

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Back in 2016 I did a lot of testing.

    Here are the final combinations that I had decided on:
    FP4+ ASA 50 Rodinal 1:25 17 min 68 degrees average density range 2.23
    FP4+ ASA 100 HC-110 1:4 10 minutes 68 degrees average density range 2.57
    FP4+ ASA 100 HC-110 1:4 16 minutes 68 degrees average density range 2.58
    HP5+ ASA 320 HC-110 1:4 10 minutes 68 degrees average density range 2.15
    HP5+ ASA 320 HC-110 1:4 6 minutes 68 degrees average density range 2.41

    Base + Fog 0.09-0.11 for FP4+ and 0.20-0.24 for HP5+

    In the end I decided on using FP4+ ASA 50 Rodinal 1:25 17 min 68 degrees average density range 2.23

    Processing in JOBO 3005 drum atop a SST4 processor at its middle speed. 2 minute pre-soak of distilled water.
    1,000 ml of developer for 5 sheets of 8x10 film. 500 ml for pre-wash, stop bath, and fix.
    Exposure metering was done by taking incident readings... it just worked 95% of the time.
    "Average density range" was for negatives exposed on a sunny day.

    I've never had much luck shooting and processing X-Ray film. Very seldom any problems with FP4+ over the years. I have to admire those who shoot and process X-Ray films. I have used X-Ray film for testing my lenses, and minor problems seem to always hound my technique.

    Past two years other projects have prevented me from shooting for and making salt prints. Hopefully get back to Salt, Ziatype, and Platinum/Palladium come spring 2022.

    Happy to answer any questions...

  7. #7

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Thank you all for your suggestions. Greg, this was especially insightful and I will save your comments for future reference. Thank you. I always have FP4 on hand so this is what I will work with until such time I see a reason to go elsewhere. FP4 is one of my top 3 films already.

    Ideally, I would like to stick with a developer I already have or can make at home. I did some looking at Sandy King's web site and I see he has plenty of data for developing specific films to specific CI with Pyrocat HD, so this is what I am going to pursue now. I just processed two test sheets of FP4 with Pyrocat at 2:2:100 for 18 minutes, and it looks much more promising than yesterday's HP5 tests. (Totally clear shadow areas, and very dense highlights) I will be printing one of these negs this evening to see how they do.

    Tracy, I understand what you're saying here. I already make collodion glass negatives and I know how to build plenty of contrast (and voids) for alt printing processes. But I would also like to find a way to make negatives with similar traits that don't require Photoshop and a printer.

  8. #8

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Delta 100 works wonderfully for making negatives for palladium, so it should also work pretty well for salt prints. The developer I use is PC-TEA. I expose from 50-100 depending on the contrast of the scene. The density range of my palladium mixture is around 2.4 from pure black to pure white. The density range of important details is in the 1.4-1.7 range.

    That print looks pretty nice to me as well, it’s possible you could need just a little more exposure as the rebate area of the negative isn’t quite as black as the area around it.

  9. #9

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    Quote Originally Posted by NHE View Post
    Delta 100 works wonderfully for making negatives for palladium, so it should also work pretty well for salt prints. The developer I use is PC-TEA. I expose from 50-100 depending on the contrast of the scene. The density range of my palladium mixture is around 2.4 from pure black to pure white. The density range of important details is in the 1.4-1.7 range.

    That print looks pretty nice to me as well, it’s possible you could need just a little more exposure as the rebate area of the negative isn’t quite as black as the area around it.
    Thanks for that - I do plan on making some Delta 100 negatives coupled with Pyrocat HD and see how well those fare in Salt Printing. I printed that first negative again, aiming to get closer to D-max in the rebate area, but all that did was get me a very dark print that had highlights that went far too dark. That negative is not ideal for this process.
    The FP4 negative I made yesterday (processed in Pyrocat as Sandy King recommended to achieve a CI of about .95) printed very well:

    Click image for larger version. 

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    I pulled a glass plate negative (Foma emulsion on glass, hand poured) out of storage to make a salt print, and it had a very high contrast that worked well also:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    So, I think I have a good starting point for making negatives for the Salt process. Thank you for your suggestions, everyone.

  10. #10

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    Re: in-camera negatives for Salt Printing?

    FP4+ in Pyrocat HD works wonders for my negatives to be printed on salted paper. Paper also comes into the picture more than it does with any other process I use. I use Fox-Talbot's original notes as to paper, salt formula, etc.

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