Greater Concord Photo Club
A Friendly Group of Photographers in Concord, NH
A bit of photographic history…
In January of 1839 two photographic processes were announced to the world: the daguerreotype by Louis Daguerre in Paris and the “photogenic drawing” by Henry Fox Talbot in London. The daguerreotype had a relatively brief run as king of the photographic hill, especially for portraits. However, it was Fox Talbot’s invention that evolved into the modern film-based processes common until the digital age.
The photo I show here is a scan of a salted-paper print, the current name for what Fox Talbot called a photogenic drawing. The process I use is in its essence the same as that which was disclosed in January 1839.
One begins the process by soaking paper in a solution of common table salt (sodium chloride) and then drying the paper. The salted paper is made light sensitive by brushing on a solution of silver nitrate thereby producing silver chloride in situ. After drying the paper again, one makes a contact print by exposing the paper to ultraviolet light through a negative. (I use ‘digital negatives made by inkjet printing onto a clear plastic sheet.) Processing of the exposed paper through a series of baths removes the unreacted silver thereby ‘fixing’ the image so that it is stable to further exposure to light. The print is then thoroughly washed and dried a final time.
The 4×5 inch print shown here is part of a series of nine photographs of an old homestead on the banks of the Missouri River in central Montana. I am currently working to make 8×10 inch salted-paper prints of these photographs. I am hoping, eventually, to make a set of 11×14 inch prints given the time and resources.
Between the lean of the building and the look of the grass, I can easily feel the wind. Nice exposure and capture.
A nice image made nicer by the description. That’s what happens when you give a chemist a camera.
Yup!!! There is the whole periodic table to explore!!!!
First iron (cyanotype), and now silver. In the short term, I’m going to try toning salted-paper prints with gold.
Further down the road, I’m planning on trying my hand at platinum/palladium prints but this will have to wait for warmer weather.
And there are a few other precious metals that work in similar processes.
Makes for an interesting photograph.
This photo looks midwestern so I’m glad you added that info. Always something to learn from a Frank photo, thanks so much for taking the time to describe your process. Very nice.
Very “Little House on The Prairie” feel. I actually have some old glass negatives I’d love to do something with. Maybe I could get some guidance.
How large are the negatives?
I would probably start by placing the negatives on a lightbox and making high resolution photographs of them.
Thanks for your suggestion. I thought I might try to scan them.
there size is 5×8 inches. Should I try to clean them before I scan?
I hate when people say ‘there’ when it should be ‘their’. Please forgive my error.
I am certainly no expert in this area.
I would probably scan them first before attempting to clean them. That way you have something to fall back on if they get damaged in cleaning.
As for a specific method for cleaning… this looks like good advice to me: https://news.lib.wvu.edu/2014/09/02/brush-the-dust-off-identifying-and-cleaning-glass-plate-negatives/
If you think that the negative might have some value, I’d talk with an expert before doing anything other than scanning them.
You might see if the folks at the state historical society can offer advice on either cleaning them yourself or in pointing you to an expert. I know that they offer this sort of advice to local historical societies, but I’m not sure if they so so for individuals.
Thanks. sounds like good advice.
Love it, I immediately got the midwestern feel as well! I especially love the grass.
Thank you so much for the history lesson and description. I love the foreground of this photo–unique in that there is a lot of grass which most photographers would have ignored.
Thanks for all of the comments.
If anyone is interested in the rest of the images in this series, I have posted them on my website… http://gorga.org/blog/?p=5035
Intriguing subject and process. The roiled grass in the foreground adds to the poignancy. I have a weakness for old houses that nobody loves anymore.
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