[Alt-photo] Troubles with Calotypes, James' "Contemporary" Method

Brittonie brittonie at gmail.com
Wed Jan 10 10:38:47 UTC 2018

Hi there,

I know canson marker works very well.

Another thing (I think we were talking on Facebook)

When you say new brush  do you mean one new brush for each step?

I've found that the only way to get decent results in my workflow is new gloves and a new cotton swab for each step and very carefully keeping my coating spaces clean and seperate - using the same brush particularly with the Gallic acid or acetonitrate tends to darken and ruin any hope of image... I also found if I kept the same gloves on all through the process fingerprints and marks end up everywhere.

I'm a fairly free going printer in that I tend to be a little loose with measurements and coatings generally but calotype is sooooooo sensitive I really really have to reign it in- which I like. It makes me have a better working practice in other things.

The cotton ball "buckle brush" is good because of the quick disposable nature and lack of contamination. I generally don't like to make a lot of easy in printing but definitely think this is another good place to start.

Also found I didn't need as much of the developer or even half the time suggested in the James book.

> On 10 Jan 2018, at 05:00, Ned Lewis via Alt-photo-process-list <alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org> wrote:
> I've not tired Rives BFK but the Canson Universal Sketch is buffered and
> does not work with the calotype processes I've tried.  I have not tried a
> pre-silvered process like the one you are using, I think if anything they
> might be more susceptible to paper problems.
> 1:1 ANS and saturated gallic sounds like way too much ANS to me... some
> calotypes can be developed without ANS at all, if like yours, they are not
> washed after sensitizing.  When we do need ANS, the amount varies from just
> a few drops to just a few ml.   I don't have a copy of the James book, but
> glancing at it in Google Books I noticed something odd... I saw the part
> that said to mix ANS to gallic 1:1, but a page or two before, on page 73
> writing about "part A-2", he says, "The silver and acid restrainer should
> be added to the developer little by little as needed as you develop the
> image".  That sounds more like what I'm aware of.
> You could try acidifying the paper prior to preparing it for a calotype.
> Good luck!
> On Tue, Jan 9, 2018 at 6:26 PM, Marek Matusz via Alt-photo-process-list <
> alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org> wrote:
>> Well, I have not done a single calotype but I know that salted paper
>> printing is very sensitive and incompatible with buffered paper. Is the
>> advice for calotypes to use unbuffered papers ? I am sure calotypists would
>> chime in. Most of the Japanese kozo papers are thin and unbuffered
>> Marek
>> Sent from my iPhone
>>> On Jan 9, 2018, at 7:15 PM, Keith Schreiber via Alt-photo-process-list <
>> alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org> wrote:
>>> Hi Jason,
>>> I have no personal experience with Calotype, but I do have something
>> that may be of use to you. It is a 12 page booklet on Talbot's Calotype
>> process from the Fox Talbot Museum. I'll scan it to a pdf file in the next
>> day or 2 and send it to you.
>>> Cheers,
>>> Keith
>>> Keith Schreiber
>>> jkschreiber.com
>>>> On Jan 9, 2018, at 5:13 PM, J. Jason Lazarus via Alt-photo-process-list
>> <alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org> wrote:
>>>> All -
>>>> I recently decided to start challenging myself by learning some new
>> processes. I've been lurking in the shadows of this group for some time and
>> have quite a bit of experience printing Cyanotypes, Albumen, Van Dyke,
>> etc... so my new challenge is the Calotype process.
>>>> I'm using the 3rd edition of James' book as a resource for printing and
>> I'm using the "contemporary" version of the process outlined in his book,
>> but I'm not getting results. I've had suggestions elsewhere that have urged
>> me to attempt the Pelegry Calotype method rather than the basic one
>> outlined in James' book, but I'd rather not give up so easily. I'm
>> convinced I'm overlooking something, but after several attempts, I'm
>> seeking out advice from the hive mind here.
>>>> Consistently, no image forms on my paper when developed. The paper
>> develops and slowly turns dark brown, but no actual image develops. I'd
>> immediately blame overexposure, but I've developed non-sensitized iodized
>> calotype paper and had similar things happen in the developer, albeit with
>> lighter browns, but still, it acts as if this non-sensitized iodized paper
>> is exposed. Worried that it's overexposure from the safe lights, I've
>> reduced my safelight usage to absolute minimum and reduced the number used
>> to a single one, approximately 10 feet away from the paper. My only
>> thoughts are that I'm either doing something completely wrong or maybe I'm
>> misreading something.
>>>> So.. although provided in much finer detail in James' book, this is
>> what I'm doing:
>>>> Created a 8% Silver Nitrate solution. Applied it to the paper (I've
>> attempted both Rives BFK and Canson Sketch) with a new brush.
>>>> Created a 5.5% solution of Potassium Iodide to submerge the paper in.
>> Submerged paper while still showing a sheen from the Silver Nitrate for 2
>> minutes.
>>>> Washed the iodized paper for 2 hours, switching out tap water every
>> 30-45 minutes and shuffling the paper, too.  Line dried the paper
>> afterwards.
>>>> Coated the paper with an Aceto-Nitrate solution (11.4g Silver Nitrate
>> in 100ml distilled w/ 19.4ml of glacial acetic added) - 4 drops to every
>> 4ml of distilled.
>>>> Exposed (while damp but not wet) for both 2 & 4 minutes w/ a 4x5 camera
>> at an aperture of 9.  An exposure of f/5.6 at 1 minute was suggested in the
>> book in well-lit outdoors. It is -15F outside, so I'm shooting through my
>> bay window.
>>>> Developed in a 1:1 solution of Aceto-Nitrate and saturated Gallic Acid
>> (approximately 0.5% - its cold in my darkroom).
>>>> The paper slowly turns brown and then, within 4-5 minutes, is a rich
>> dark brown.  Because it shows literally no image information, I haven't
>> continued with the washing or fixing.
>>>> So... where am I messing up? I'd greatly appreciate any help I could
>> get with this process. Has anyone had success with James' contemporary
>> version? Its been suggested that I should switch to Alan Green's Primitive
>> Photography book. Thoughts?
>>>> Thanks to all.
>>>> J. Jason Lazarus
>>>> Term Instructor, Photography
>>>> University of Alaska Fairbanks
>>>> https://nam03.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=
>> www.obscura-works.com&data=02%7C01%7C%7Cd6b855d7d9684ad879ab08d557c7b43b%
>> 7C84df9e7fe9f640afb435aaaaaaaaaaaa%7C1%7C0%7C636511437583394905&sdata=
>> 0Z2XV2%2Fh7l5fWaXOuqZ249OOYOYcUavjdjxoBsC2Gew%3D&reserved=0
>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org
>>> _______________________________________________
>>> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org
>> _______________________________________________
>> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org
> _______________________________________________
> Alt-photo-process-list | altphotolist.org

More information about the Alt-photo-process-list mailing list