The Methods - bdrichardson

The Methods


From l. to r. below: 

1.  Getting  a digital negative ready to place on  sensitized paper  in the UV light box.

2.  Bath time for this print.  It is soaked, toned, "fixed," and bathed again before drying & waxing.

3.  Rolling a film image onto a prepared metal plate to create  a modern "tintype."

Waxed Salt and Collodion Chloride Print Process . . .


The techniques utilized in both these types of prints date from the mid-1800s.  Salt Prints were some of the first "photographs" ever printed.  My Salt Prints are created from digital negatives--a wonderful marriage of old and new.  The negative might be from an old Kodachrome slide or original Black & White film--or it could even be from a digital image captured last month! 


Collodion is a clear viscous solution made by dissolving nitrated cotton in ether and alcohol. In the 1850’s early photographers used it as a solution to contain light sensitive silver iodide which was coated onto glass and metal photographic plates. These were exposed in the camera to produce tintypes, ambrotypes, and glass negatives. The process required coating the plates immediately before exposure and developing them before the coating dried. So, the photographer had to be in the “field,” not only with a camera, but with an entire darkroom! By 1865, a few noteworthy photographers, anxious for a less cumbersome work flow, experimented by coating paper instead of glass plates with silver nitrate and chloride. These hand-coated papers were first made in Paris, Madrid and Bavaria, and eventually by the Eastman Kodak Company which began manufacturing coated papers as “Aristotypes,” which were popular from the 1880s to the 1920s. But production of pre-coated papers effectively ended 100 years ago. To achieve a Collodion print today, a special acid-free Baryta paper must be hand-coated individually by the artist with a hand formulated collodion emulsion freshly made on-site. After the coating dries, the photographic negative is placed in contact with the sensitized paper and is exposed to sunlight. And voila, the image appears! Prints made on this hand coated glossy paper are toned with gold chloride to give the prints their distinctive purple-brown hue.


In both processes, the negative is then placed in contact with the paper which in the case of Salt Prints, has been sensitized with sodium chloride and silver nitrate using traditional darkroom protocol of UV light, gold toning and a "fixing" bath of sodium thiosulfate.  In the case of the Collodion prints, the emulsion on the paper contains the silver and salt.  Salt Prints are finished with a coating of beeswax and lavender oil.   

All prints are custom matted (8-ply archival) and custom framed in a black matte textured hardwood.

Modern Tintypes . . .


These new-age "tintypes" are created from both old film and newer digital images. They are individually printed onto film and hand-transferred to aged metal plates using a chemical emulsion process.  The metal has been aged using a lengthy hand-worked technique which involves soaking the metal--sometimes for a week or more.  The plates are soaked in simple compounds with found objects and organic matter to create patterns and textures.  Each transfer is unique and no two are identical.  All are signed on the back.


The metal gives the images depth; when hung, these images change as the light changes throughout the day, rendering different moods and tonalities.  They are custom framed in hardwood or authentic American  barnwood; no glass is used.



Acrylic . . .


These sleek self-framing works are first printed on archival metallic paper.  The image is then sandwiched between 3 mm of high-grade Plexiglas and backed with 3 mm of aluminum dibond.  This process is more complex than a simple "acrylic print"  and offers more depth and richness allowing the image to "pop!"  This method also makes for a far sturdier piece.


While contemporary in look, even older black and white images can be given a sleek and modern interpretation with this process.