Posted on 07/01/2018

Photo taken on July  1, 2018

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'The Black & White' 'The Black & White'


paper negative
salt print
rice starch

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Photos with the keyword: pinhole

Salted Paper Test Prints

Salted Paper Test Prints 

Printed 29 and 30 June, 2018

Quick digi-snaps of some test prints. The top is a plain salt print and the bottom is similar but toned with gold thiocyanate. For whatever reason, this old pinhole paper negative has become my "test" negative... I've probably printed it 200 times. It has bright highlights, a dark foreground, the sky is good for evaluating what highlights will do, and the water is good to see if the "glow" that can happen when using starch is there.

It's a long story why, but lately I've decided to really make an effort to print with starch as the binder ( instead of gelatin or plain paper ). I've been working with rice starch and these represent a kind of breakthrough: even coating, enough silver without having to double coat or use too strong silver nitrate solution, and lack of fog. The margins on the right are masked during printing, and only coated 1/2 way across with silver nitrate, so you can compare the brightest white on the print with uncoated paper. On the top print, it is nearly perfect. On the bottom, there is just a hint of a "shadow" but it is very good. More importantly, there are no areas on the prints that are weak because they did not get enough silver nitrate, and there are no streaks or lines from uneven starch coating.

Turns out that the kind of rice you get the starch from is very important! By luck I tried basmati rice and it works much better than other kinds of rice or arrowroot.

I have a stack of prints of this negative..about 2 or 3 inches high..made in the past couple years. Most were made with various papers + applying arrowroot in different ways, and some with rice starch. Some of them have beautiful tones, but all of them have flaws and problems that make the process unusable. These are the first two that really worked! Because our cupboard only had basmati rice in it.

These were made by floating the paper on dilute rice water with 2% kosher salt, drying, and then brush coating with silver nitrate, drying and exposing. Since it worked so well, yesterday I prepared a batch of larger paper to make more prints with. I've got one going right now as I type this... :)

Marta Wojtkowska has particularly liked this photo

Cedric Muscat
Cedric Muscat
Ned, pretty good result!
Have you tried "gluten free" wheat starch? It was available here in a pharmacy and so more expensive too. Love to see the larger format that you say you are working on.
11 months ago. Edited 11 months ago.
Ned has replied to Cedric Muscat
Hi Cedric, thanks! I've only tried wheat starch one time, but will look into it more! Basmati rice, so far, is the easiest starch I've found to work with... I'm going to prepare some more paper today.
10 months ago.
Marta Wojtkowska
Marta Wojtkowska
It is fantastic, Ned!
Your explanations are real fountain of knowledge.
Thank you for sharing!
10 months ago.