When The Mishaps Turn Into A Blessing!

Following on from the collodion workshop, as I mentioned two of the plates were kept as negatives. These would be used for my salt printing which can be dated back to 1833 when it was mentioned by William Henry Fox Talbot. He experimented with silver nitrate while on honeymoon, it sounds very unromantic but I guess like any of us who take pictures of our own honeymoons and holidays he wanted a keep sake of the  beautiful lakes in Italy. As he couldn’t draw which is how much of the world was viewed by others back then he experimented with a salt solution, allowing it to dry before applying the silver nitrate, which produced a stronger image.

Not much has changed since then and pretty much all of the ingredients are the same, however for my salt printing I used ammonium chloride (which can be found in some food additives and medicines, a by product off the gases that come from burning coal) which is faster acting than sodium chloride (common salt).

For my first print I used cartridge paper, soaked in the chloride mixture and then dried and painted with the silver nitrate mixture. However on immediate contact with my paper it turned brown, not to be deterred and throwing it in the bin I proceeded with my negative plate and salt paper and headed out into the sun. It continued to turn an even lovelier shade of dark brown and after 20 minutes I realised that my first attempt at salt printing was not working. But…and there is a but and a moral to this story, about never giving up and all that jazz. I washed the paper and an image appeared. Not my negative plate though, this was an image all of its own doing, from the contact of the solution with the paper and the exposure and the, well lets say some kind of contamination, had produced an abstract landscape, which I absolutely love. It has more character and passion within it’s surface than the other salt print that worked. My salt print had decided that as I hadn’t given up on it, it wasn’t giving up on me. Experimenting and mistakes make for the best images!!

Do I talk about my other print? Well it worked and thats about it although i was expecting more of a brownish tone to it however it is purple, and that’s all I’m going to say about that because other than having a somewhat successful print from a collodion negative it’s not very inspiring and frankly I don’t like it!


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