Salt printing is a method of photographic printing known today as an ‘Alternative Process’.
First developed by British Alchemist / Photographer William Henry Fox Talbot in the 1830’s, an invention that contributed to the development of the traditional photographic darkroom ‘Silver’ print as we know it today.
The hand printing process starts by coating traditional art papers with chemicals including Sodium Chloride, also known as household salt.
A photographic negative is then used in contact with the sensitised paper which is exposed to daylight to create the final print. The use of Albumen(egg white) helps create an image with a soft sheen, often preferred for its increased tonal density and vibrance.
The process produces a warm but slightly soft toned image where every print is unique due to the subtle variations of chemical coating strength, paper texture and absorbency, intensity of sunlight and exposure times.
The average print will take many hours to produce with their success being dependent on sunlight strength and the final tone will stabilise over a period of several days, and sometime even longer.
Some of my own prints have been toned with Selenium or Gold tonerto produce a warmer finish and also enhances the prints archival stability.
I am currently working with a mix of digitally generated negatives alongside medium, large and ultra large format film captured negatives. Both mediums have their individual qualities and benefits.
As a photographer I am often inspired, or at least lead by the weather conditions, but I now find myself following the daylight conditions to plan my Salt printing.