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

Keith Schreiber keith at jkschreiber.com
Wed Jan 10 20:31:08 UTC 2018

Okay, here's a Dropbox link to a pdf file of Michael Gray's "WHF Talbot's Calotype Process" pamphlet:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/ig2pirupbxn7w61/Gray_Calotype.pdf?dl=0 <https://www.dropbox.com/s/ig2pirupbxn7w61/Gray_Calotype.pdf?dl=0>

Please let me know if you have any trouble accessing it.


Keith Schreiber

> On Jan 10, 2018, at 3:40 AM, Brittonie via Alt-photo-process-list <alt-photo-process-list at lists.altphotolist.org> wrote:
> Keith- can you share that off with the list? I'd like to check it out :)
> Thanks!
> B
>> 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
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