salted paper drying at the Central Valley Project
Salted paper images rival the better-known platinum prints, and exhibit a uniqueness as the image is not only on the surface of the paper, but also slightly beneath. Salt prints were the first silver-based photographic method developed for making prints from negatives and date to 1834.
In salt printing, a piece of paper is floated on a solution of chlorides and gelatin. It is then coated with a solution of silver nitrate and citric acid. When it is again dried, a negative is placed against the paper and contact printed, historically with the Sun. The process of exposure is through “printing out,” not “developing out” as in modern silver-based papers. A proper exposure, which may last up to 30 minutes, is judged by the examination of the evolving image on the paper. When the desired image is obtained it is washed in salt water, gold toned, fixed, and washed again. Each print is then hand waxed to protect the image.
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gold-toned salt print from antique glass negative