While you’re stuck at home, why not try out some cool photography science experiments? In this short 5-minute video, the George Eastman Museum shows you how to make your own photographic prints using salt.
The George Eastman Museum recently shared a video on how to make your own Daguerreotype at home, but some folks weren’t sold on the process since it still required a few specialized items to make it work and was extremely time intensive. Despite the necessary items being pretty easy to come by, they still required some effort to procure.
But what if there was a photographic method that used an item that is found in pretty much anyone’s kitchen?
The salt process is the earliest silver-based photographic technique that is used to make photograms, primitive in-camera negatives, and prints from paper and glass negatives. It was created in the mid-1830s by English scientist and inventor Henry Fox Talbot. You may recognize Talbot’s name from this old camera made of wood, brass, and bone that mimics one of his designs.
The process described in the video above follows the same simple formula Talbot created. There are only three ingredients you need to make a piece of paper sensitive to light: water, salt, and silver nitrate.
By applying a solution of both silver nitrate and sodium chloride to fine art paper, you can make the silver nitrate sensitive to light. That is to say, make it into a photographic print paper. The resulting paper, once dried, is not sensitive to white light. In order to develop a negative onto the paper, you’ll need to use a UV source like the sun or special UV lights like the video shows.
To say that only three ingredients are required for this method in its entirety is a bit disingenuous, as you will also need gold chloride (or selenium) to tone the image and fixer to remove the unused silver. They also apply a wax to the image to preserve it, but this is optional.
Still, the process is fairly straightforward and easy to do at home and is not that time-consuming. Exposing the paper to UV light only takes a few minutes, to the most time will be spent applying the salt and silver nitrate to the paper and drying it.
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