I had been wanting to try salt printing for some time. It is the oldest process that we would recognize as being photographic and harks from the mid 1830’s when Henry Fox Talbot discovered it.
It has an incredibly wide tonal range. (Without wanting to enter the dynamic range of blah vs blah debate at this juncture.)
The thing that most drew me to the process were the blacks I had seen, deep dark velvety smooth impenetrable blacks that were nuanced and kept detail. I know, oxymoronic!
What I had planned to do was shoot and contact print 3 different images on large format film to see how salt printing worked in various scenes. To this end I dragged my old Sinar out, gave it a bit of a dust and photographed one of my favorite rocky hills in central Victoria. That's as far as I got before I ran out of time.
So I shot some stuff on digital several days before the salt printing course that I was booked in to do with Ellie Young at Gold Street Studios. She is the Australian go to person for all things old through to ancient in photographic processes.
The process is very enjoyable. It was great to get hands on and leave the computer behind for the day (once digital negs had been made of my images), lots of photographic smells in the air, most importantly time and space to discuss and ponder, a lovely slowing down and the thrill of watching the print come to life.
I learnt that as well as being the oldest photographic process it is also the most fickle! Everything matters - paper moisture content, atmospheric humidity, thickness of coatings on paper, drying time between coats, favorite breakfast cereal and of course sock colour!
I kid you NOT this shit is unforgiving!
I don’t know if or how this lovely old process fits in to my practice, I do know it was fun and I hope to use salt printing again.
Here are the images as colour jpgs and copies of the salt prints also as colour jpgs.
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