Photographs by Frank

18 February 2021

First Salted-Paper Print

Filed under: Alternative Processes,Landscapes,Salted-paper Prints — Frank @ 11:30 PM

I’m excited!

After much reading and gathering of supplies, I spent this afternoon and evening making my first salted-paper prints*.

Salted-paper printing is the progenitor of all of modern (film-based) photography. The process was invented in the 1830’s by Henry Fox Talbot and announced at the Royal Society in London at the end of January 1839, a few weeks after the Daguerreotype was announced in Paris. Both processes lay claim to being the “invention of photography”.

The salted-paper process is deceptively simple, one begins by soaking paper in salt water. After the paper is dry one makes it light sensitive by coating the salted-paper with a solution of silver nitrate.

When the sensitized paper is dry one exposes the paper to ultraviolet light through a negative. Traditionally the sun is used as a light source. I used the same exposure box containing blacklight LEDs that I use for cyanotype. Upon exposure, an image ‘magically’ appears on the paper, fully formed.

One then processes the paper through a number of solutions to remove the unreacted silver making the print stable to further exposure to light.

The procedure I used is essentially that described in Chapter 5 of Christina Anderson’s book “Salted Paper Printing/ A Step-By-Step Manual Highlighting Contemporary Artists“. I used a 4×5 inch digital negative and printed on Hahnemuhle Platinum Rag paper as it came from the mill (i.e. I did not size the paper.) The prints are untoned.

I made four prints today using two different negatives. Shown below is the very first print I made. The others are still too wet to be scanned, so I can’t show them yet!

NextGen ScrollGallery thumbnail
My Very First Salted-Paper Print
My Very First Salted-Paper Print

* Well, this is not precisely true. I made a few salted-paper prints at a workshop I attended maybe 15 years ago. But that is not anything close to making prints in your own dimroom. I have no idea what has become of the prints I made back then. I must have decided that they were not worth keeping.


  1. Wow! What a process. It must provide a sense of satisfaction to get this good result.

    The subject reminds me of ruins of old log “cow camps” that I’ve seen in Colorado.

    Comment by Pat Nelson — 19 February 2021 @ 12:20 AM

  2. Congrats on your Salted-paper print!

    Well, someone is putting his retirement/covid time to good use! The featured print looks like a sepia print. So, do you prefer this process to your cyanotypes/

    And, for me, why?
    You have a good image that would be a great print via the usual ways of printing??

    Comment by Joe Kennedy — 19 February 2021 @ 9:00 AM

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