A Portrait of a young Child- An Alternative Process Salt Print

An alternative process salt print of a young female

Alternative process Photography therapy

A little over a year ago I decided to take my Photography work in a slightly different direction. I love doing digital work but sometimes it becomes impersonal and more about moving sliders around during editing then about the work itself. Salt printing is a way for me to just slow down a little bit and really take a hands on approach with my work.

It’s like therapy in a way because it takes me out of my multi tasking mindset as a chef in my day job and puts me into a more creative one as a photographer. Embracing flaws is an important part of any alternative process photography where as digital work doesn’t have any where near the amount of flaws. It lets you go beyond the surface and see what’s below.

The print

The image above is from a digital one that I made of my daughter awhile back. While the original file is a little on the dark side it was easily fixed and the final print came out beautifully. I have been experimenting with exposure times trying to find something consistent with this process but they seem to be all over the place. Im working on doing a test strip exposure sheet in the next few weeks to better be able to find where true black is but that is a whole other post!

judging exposure times is difficult with this process but gets better with experience. Every image is slightly different and this one being on the darker side was a challenge. You really want to expose long enough that the darks are dark and do not wash out in the development process but not so long that the print goes over the edge into over exposed territory.

Knowing that most of my exposure times with my light setup are around ten minutes I settled on 13 minutes for this image. This one rode that fine line between too little and too much exposure….It’s close to being a bit too dark but during the washing procedure I knew the print would lighten a little. Overall I think maybe a minute less would have been sufficient but I was pleased regardless of how this print came out.

The take away

With salt printing I always so that you need to embrace all of it’s flaws. There are so many points along the way were you can screw up your image but it’s also satisfying to pull your print out of the wash when you get everything just right. This process is really a labor of love but like wet plate work it has such a unique look and feel. Being able to keep these vintage process’s alive and pass them on is immensely satisfying!