Photographs by Frank

15 August 2021

New Salted-paper Prints

I have spent the past week making a new batch of salted-paper prints. In doing so, I mined my archives for photographs that I think will work well as salted-paper prints. The initial exposure for all of these photos were made between five and ten years ago.

Making salted-paper prints is an iterative process.

I process the image in Photoshop making educated guesses as to how the negative should look to give me a good print. Then, I make a negative and use that negative to make a small test salted-paper print on 5×7 inch paper.

I probably get things exactly right the first time about two-thirds of the time. If the print is not to my liking, I go back to the computer and make further adjustments in Photoshop. Most often these adjustments involve dodging and burning… adjusting the brightness of very localized areas of an image. It is very rare that I need to make more than a second negative.

The photograph of the dragonfly in this series is one of those rare images. After the second iteration, I was still not satisfied with the print. In this case I went back to the original file and began anew. Of course, I had the ‘education’ gleaned from the first two unsatisfactory versions and thus the third version “hit the nail on the head” as they say.

The first five images below are all 4×5 inch prints (on 5×7 inch paper). Many times, after making a successful print at that size, I will make a larger negative (6×7 1/2 inches) and print that on 8×10 inch paper. The last two prints in this series are of the larger size.

This process illustrates why I much prefer working with digital negatives for alternative processes compared to analog (film) negatives. Both ideas (making detailed adjustments to the negative and printing an image at different sizes) are possible but extremely difficult in the analog realm.

I often have thought of making even larger prints, maybe up to 11×14 inches. My light source is large enough for a 16×20 inch contact printing frame. However, when I begin to work out the logistics of the larger trays and the space they would require as well as the cost of the materials for such large prints, I run smack into the wall of reality!!!

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Autumn Harvest
Autumn Harvest
Common Whitetail (female)
Common Whitetail (female)
Bluejay
Bluejay
Mockingbird with Prey
Mockingbird with Prey
Western Chipmunk
Western Chipmunk
American Avocet
American Avocet
Willet Feeding
Willet Feeding

4 July 2021

Grange Print Sale

Filed under: Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 12:00 AM

Using one’s talents to do good in the world is always a good idea.

A few weeks ago, I approached my friends at the Antrim Grange offering to sell salted-paper prints of three photos to aid in their fundraising towards a renovation of their very old building. The details of this offer can be found here.

As part of the “kickoff” for this effort, we sent a press release to the local papers. The Monadnock Ledger-Transcript in Peterborough picked up on this and a very nice article appeared in Thursday’s paper. A scanned copy of the article (as a pdf file) can be found here.

I guess that this counts against my proverbial fifteen minute of fame!

2 June 2021

New Salted Paper Prints

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 4:00 PM

I have been ‘mining’ my archives looking for photographs that I think would do well as salted paper prints.

Here is the latest batch made yesterday evening. The images are 6×7.5 inches or 6.5 inches square on 8×10 inch Hahn. Platinum Rag paper. I made two copies of each.

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Bass Harbor Light (Mt. Desert Island)
Bass Harbor Light (Mt. Desert Island)
Birches & Fence
Birches & Fence
Stone Church (Antrim Center)
Stone Church (Antrim Center)

27 May 2021

Salted Dragons

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Odontates,Salted-paper Prints — Tags: — Frank @ 9:00 PM

Hopefully you were not expecting a new snack food!

I have been ‘mining’ my archives for photographs of dragonflies that might make good salted paper prints. Here are three examples made yesterday.

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Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (salted paper print)
Twelve-Spotted Skimmer (salted paper print)
Halloween Pennant (salted paper print)
Halloween Pennant (salted paper print)
Calico Pennant (salted paper print)
Calico Pennant (salted paper print)

19 April 2021

Dodging and Burning

Warning… photographer talk ahead!!!

Dodging and burning are terms that describe making local adjustments to a photograph during the making of a print. Dodging is the process of selectively lightening an area. Burning is the opposite; selective darkening.

In the days of yore, when working in the darkroom, dodging and burning were done one print at a time. One manipulated the light falling on the photographic paper as one exposed the print. Master printers were able to make these adjustments with a fair amount of precision, but there was always some print-to-print variability even with the best printers.

For the UV sensitive contact printing processes (e.g. cyanotype, salted-paper printing, et al.), dodging and burning were not practical for a number of reasons. The main one being that there is necessarily little space between the light source and the print. Thus one’s ability to see where you were attempting to dodge or burn was limited and thus imprecise.

Using digital negatives to make contact prints has changed all of this. By making adjustments to the digital file we can make very localized adjustments that are “frozen” when one make the digital negative. Thus, one gets the same adjustments in each print when one makes a contact print. Furthermore, since those adjustments are made in the negative, one can apply them to the UV sensitive contact printing processes without the need to actually get one’s hands in the space between the light and the paper.

With experience, one’s first draft of a digital negative is usually pretty close to ideal, but after one makes that first print from a negative you often see that a small amount of fine tuning is necessary. Thus, one goes back to the computer to make a few tweaks to the image before printing a revised negative and making another print. I probably make second drafts of about half of my negatives. It is very rare that I need to make a third draft these days.

The four images show below are examples of the end result of this process. I had made initial prints of these images previously but each of them needed a bit or dodging and burning to be ‘perfect’. I made those adjustments and printed new negatives on Saturday. Yesterday, I made new salted-paper prints using those negatives.

The differences between the two drafts were small. A bit of burning in (darkening) on the shoulder of the marmot. Similar adjustments on the lily pad in the second photo and the dead tree to the right of the gate in the last photo.. The third image had a bit of dodging (lightening) of the pinecone and a bit burning in of the lightest leaves throughout.

The resulting prints are, to my eye, subtly but significantly improved over the initial prints.

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Marmot
Marmot
Lily Pad and Pine Needles
Lily Pad and Pine Needles
Untitled
Untitled
Old Gate
Old Gate

17 April 2021

Tonight’s Fortune / New Salted-Paper Prints

Simplicity of character is the natural result of profound thought.

— Found in a fortune cookie this evening.

The ‘fortunes’ usually found in Chinese restaurant fortune cookies usually leave much to be desired. However, this one seems worth sharing.

Early spring (and that is stretching it… we had eight inches of snow yesterday) is tough photographically. The light is often drab, as is the landscape. Thus making new photographs is hit-or-miss.

However, I have been staying busy experimenting with salt-paper printing. I’ve been trying different types of subjects and different papers.

The prints shown below were made on three different papers. Artistico Hot Press is a medium weight (200 gsm) very traditional water color paper; it is just a little bit warm. Crane’s Cover is a moderately heavy (240 gsm) paper that is often used for alternative process printing; it is a fairly warm paper. Platinum Rag is a heavy (300 gsm) paper made specifically for alternative process printing (especially platinum printing, as the name suggests); it is pure white. All of these papers have very smooth surfaces.

Each paper has its idiosyncrasies when it comes to coating and exposure. It is amazing to me how different the same negative can look when printed on two different papers. This is all part of the fun!

Here are a few salted-paper prints made in the past few days…

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Shorebird (on Aristico HP)
Shorebird (on Aristico HP)
Dragonfly (on Crane's Cover)
Dragonfly (on Crane's Cover)
Dragonfly (on Platinum Rag)
Dragonfly (on Platinum Rag)

16 March 2021

Three More

Yesterday was cold and blustery; the high was in the teens. We had the stove in the basement going so the temperature there was in the upper 50s. All of which made spending the afternoon in my basement dim room appealing.

I made ten salted-paper prints from four negatives and added some experiments in toning the prints with gold/borax.

The first print below (“Untitled”) is on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag and is untoned. The second print (“Cobblestones”), on BFK Rives, is toned for a short time. The last print (“Farm Field Fence”), on Rives Heavyweight, is toned pretty much to completion.

As usual, showing the subtilties in these prints after scanning them is always suspect. The artifacts are best experienced in hand.

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Untitled
Untitled
Cobblestones
Cobblestones
Farm Field Fence
Farm Field Fence

5 March 2021

Trees

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 12:00 PM

I have been making photographs of trees in winter, showing their “bones” for a a couple of years. Most of these photos are made using my camera obscura.

I decided that these photos might look good as salted-paper prints and thus prepared negatives from six images in this series. I finished making 4×5 inch prints on Stonehenge Warm paper yesterday.

I have many more images in this series, that I think I will print this way in the coming weeks/months.

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Apple Tree #1
Apple Tree #1
Apple Tree #2
Apple Tree #2
Pine Tree
Pine Tree
Maple Tree
Maple Tree
Tree
Tree
Apple Trees & Crotched Mountain
Apple Trees & Crotched Mountain

Missouri River Homestead

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 11:03 AM

The end of September 2017… Joan and I had left Yellowstone National Park via the northeast corner of the park and Cooke City. We were headed north through central Montana; our eventual goal was Malta.

After spending a night in Roundup, we continued on our way north. We made an unscheduled and very productive stop at the CM Russell National Wildlife Refuge where US191 crosses the Missouri River. There is a wildlife drive through the refuge on the north side of the river here.

In addition to river access, this gravel road is a hot spot for viewing elk during rutting season, i.e. at the end of September! However, this post is not about those photos!

Rather, this post is about the photos I made of an old river bottom homestead that is a short walk off the refuge road; I wrote about this site and showed the photos I made back in 2017.

Recently, I revisited these photos as I thought they would be good candidates for warm tones of salted-paper prints, an old, so called “alternative” photographic process. Or, in the words of Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer, an “ancient but still unconventional medium”. (Said about cyanotype, but equally applicable here!) I wrote about this process a couple of weeks ago when I made my first salted-paper print.

On Wednesday, I finished making salted-paper prints of nine photographs of this riverine homestead. The prints are 4″x5″ on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paper and are untoned. The scans I show here are a inadequate representation of the actual artifacts. The prints really need to be seen and held to fully experience, but in these days of COVID this will have to suffice for now.

I am planning to make a set of larger prints, but I am still mulling over how large. I have the trays needed to make prints on 11×14 inch paper (i.e. an image size of about 8×10 inches. However, I’m not sure that I have the space needed.

I would really like to make 11×14 inch prints but I have neither trays large enough nor a large enough space for all of the trays needed. The cost of the chemicals also becomes a factor in making large prints. An 11×14 image is almost eight times the area of a 4×5 image and thus requires eight times the chemicals.

I’m thinking that I should work out the mechanics of making large prints with cyanotype before attempting prints involving silver! I’ll probably have to also wait for warmer weather when I can set up tables for trays in the garage… we’ll see!

Anyway, here are the 4×5 inch prints:

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Missouri Riverine Homestead #1
Missouri Riverine Homestead #1
Missouri Riverine Homestead #2
Missouri Riverine Homestead #2
Missouri Riverine Homestead #3
Missouri Riverine Homestead #3
Missouri Riverine Homestead #4
Missouri Riverine Homestead #4
Missouri Riverine Homestead #5
Missouri Riverine Homestead #5
Missouri Riverine Homestead #6
Missouri Riverine Homestead #6
Missouri Riverine Homestead #7
Missouri Riverine Homestead #7
Missouri Riverine Homestead #8
Missouri Riverine Homestead #8
Missouri Riverine Homestead #9
Missouri Riverine Homestead #9

19 February 2021

A Response to Joe’s Questions

In his comment on my “first salted-paper print” post, my friend Joe raises some interesting questions (in italics below). I thought that I would reply publically here rather than in an email to him alone.

So, do you prefer this process to your cyanotypes?

It is not so much as preferring one process over another. Rather the key, I think is to fit the photograph to the process and to the “mood” (aesthetic?) that one wishes to convey.

And, for me, why?

I think that I can answer this on many levels. The fun of learning and hopefully mastering something new. Having another tool for artistic expression. Or to paraphrase Sir Edmund Hillary… “Because I can”!


You have a good image that would be a great print via the usual ways of printing.

It is interesting that you raise this point. Back a month or so ago, as I was setting up a printer with Piezography Pro inks, I make prints of this series of photographs using the “full warm” inks*. These prints (scans shown below), on a satin paper, are very nice but not as ‘special’ as the salted-paper prints.

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Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print
Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print
Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print
Warm-toned Piezography Pro inkjet print

* The Piezography Pro system modifies an Epson printer to use only black/gray inks. The inkset consists of two sets of four inks. One set is warm toned and one is cool toned. The software allows one to mix the two set of inks to arrive at a final print of any tone in between, including dead neutral, if that is the desired result.

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