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The next part in my Introduction to My Favourite Photographic Processes (see part one here) will look at salt printing.

Salt printing was one of the first way that photographs were printed and was used by Henry Fox Talbot and others of the era (like Hill and Adamson who are worth a look but used other printing methods as well). The good part about salt printing is that you can do it at home in only semi-darkness and with only a handful of toxic chemicals.

Henry Fox Talbot April 1844

Henry Fox Talbot April 1844

I use the book Spirit of Salts by Randall Webb and Martin Reed which is well written and has good examples of both historical and contemporary works using the methods they give. The book doesn’t just cover salt printing, but gives 20 or so other methods, some more complicated than others.

The first thing you do is find a paper to print on, any of a variety of watercolour papers work. You can use the different textures and amount of creaminess to suit your needs.

Once you’ve selected your paper, you soak it in salt water and let it dry.

Then you coat it with a silver nitrate solution, either by brush or one of a  few other options, all more difficult than using a brush.

The coated paper needs to dry in darkness because the silver nitrate solution is light sensitive. It also doesn’t keep very well, I notice that I can get one day and possibly a morning out of it before it starts to lose sensitivity.

…next post will show you how printing process works.