[Alt-photo] Preserving color in a salt print (lovely lilac turning into brown after hypo)

Bert Kuijer gemeentehuis at gmail.com
Mon May 5 06:10:12 UTC 2014

Hi everyone,
A friend of mine had a question on the APUG forum about preserving the
"lovely lilac" color, that changes into yellow-brown after the hypo bath. I
promised him to forward his question to the alt-photo list. If you have an
answer and could reply here, I'll forward it to him. If you are a member of
the APUG forum, you could find his original question here:
His username is: NedL.
Thank you,
Bert from Holland
~~~~~~~~~~~ question from NedL ~~~~~~~~~~~~
"If you've tried making a salt print, you'll know that after the paper is
first exposed it has a lovely lilac color. This color changes when it hits
the hypo, to a yellow-brown, which dries down to differing shades depending
on all sorts of things. The final color can be reddish, brown, neutral and
even maroon, but nothing close to the original delicate lilac color.

A recurring theme from old and new descriptions of salt prints is the
desire not to lose those purplish tones. Reading them makes me wonder if
that's a reason gold toners became popular, because they cause a shift
toward purple, which people wanted because of the disappointment of seeing
the lilac disappear! Chrisopher James even has a teaser in his
instructions, saying he'll reveal how to do it at the end, which he does...
his friend washes her salt prints in salt water ( which causes a shift
toward red ) then re-exposes them to light to bring the lilac back out,
then doesn't fix them and stores them in a dark box, regarding them as
ephemeral objets d'art. I can relate to this... I make a lot of solargraphs
which can be similarly ephemeral, and my daughter is well aware of looking
at them in reduced light and quickly scanning them. After seeing one of my
first salt prints she insisted it was perfect and I shouldn't fix it...
just store it in a box. I think she had a point, and it never again looked
as nice as it did when we viewed it in the contact frame.

I was just reading a couple of articles about chromoskedasic printing. One
at the freestyle site and one at another site. Both mention that Jolly ( an
originator of the process, whose name is also attached to Sabatier effect
printing ) says if you don't want the colors to shift in the fixer then you
should fix your photograph in a 1% solution of sodium thiocyanate for 20
seconds. This to be used in place of regular fixer. Like in salt prints,
the varying colors in chromoskedasic printing are caused by different
silver grain sizes and densities. I wonder if this approach could work for
preserving the colors in a salt print?

Has anyone tried this? Thoughts? I just checked photographers formulary and
sodium thiocyanate is not particularly expensive, 10 grams for less than

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