Jerry Lee

Jerry Lee

Posted on 12/31/2007

Photo taken on December 18, 2007

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Jerry Lee
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The Albumen Print

The Albumen Print
The albumen photographic print was invented in 1850 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, and was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper and became the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the turn of the century, with a peak in the 1860-90 period.

The process of making an albumen print - A piece of paper is coated with an emulsion of egg white (albumen) and table salt (sodium chloride), then dried. The albumen seals the paper and creates a slightly glossy surface.
The paper is then dipped in a solution of silver nitrate and water which renders the surface light-sensitive. The paper is then dried in total darkness.
The dried, prepared paper is placed in a frame in direct contact under a negative, often a glass negative with collodion emulsion, and exposed to light until the image achieves the desired level of darkness. Direct sunlight is preferable, as the paper is most sensitive to ultraviolet light.
A bath of sodium thiosulfate fixes the print’s exposure, preventing further darkening.
Optional gold or selenium toning improves the photograph’s tone and stabilises against fading.
Since the image emerges as a direct result of exposure to light, without the aid of a developing solution, an albumen print may be said to be a printed rather than a developed photograph.
The table salt (sodium chloride) in the albumen emulsion forms silver chloride when in contact with silver nitrate. Silver chloride is unstable when exposed to light, which makes it decompose into silver and chlorine. The silver is oxidized into silver oxide during the development process and the remaining silver chloride is washed out during fixing. The black parts of the image are formed by silver oxide.

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above picture is a digital capture of a section of an albumen print, from a volume by Felix Beato, this was a salvaged cut-off of a damaged print, the mount backing had been removed and the surface krinkling is natural, it's reacting to the atmosphere in Thailand, for the first time, having been stored away for 15 years. has particularly liked this photo