Female portrait made from an iPhone image- An Alternative Process Salt Print

An Alternative Process Salt Print of a female

Challenging yourself for learning and growth

So here we have a salt print that I made recently of a friend of mine from a small phone shot that she took of herself. I have been trying for awhile to get her to do a portrait session with me but this was the closest that I could get to that so far. People can be reluctant at times to have photos made of them and in this case I wanted her to see how good that she looks in a print.

I also like to make prints from phone images wether they are big or on the small side. Beautiful prints like this prove that it isn’t the gear you have that makes for excellent images but the creative potential that is put into the image. The image itself was one of her more popular ones and it really resonated with her friends and family that saw it. I thought that it would be an excellent candidate for a salt print.

The original image

Phone image of a red haired female in winter with a fur hooded winter coat

You can see here in this original capture that I took from her Facebook page there are some interesting things going on. The eyes here are compelling and what I thought would really make an interesting salt print but the image has a few flaws which for sure made making a print of it a challenge. The eyes tell the whole story and for me thats the best part about working with alternative process photography.

Now the hard part was that this was a compressed Facebook image so already we are challenged because it’s impossible to edit a jpeg really without degrading the file but what saves this image is that I print all of my salt prints at 5×7. Because it wasn’t a large print it’s harder to detect any flaws in the image due to viewing distance. Even up close you really cannot tell where the image came from.

First I did a basic crop of the image. While I did like the hand placement on her hood it didn’t add much to the face which was really where I wanted the focus. This side of the image was cropped out as well as the left side with the blown out highlights in the too corner, Highlights like that really do not show up well at all in a salt print so I made the crop in a 5×7 size and came up with a pleasing image to make s digital negative on transparency sheets with.

I did not do much editing, Just some very basic tweaks of exposure, clarity, contrast and dehazing. The file didn’t need much pushing as there was nice contrast between the lights and darks. The dehazing brought out some of her natural freckles which otherwise were lost in the face highlights. The tight crop and light edits made for a really beautiful salt print which is an excellent way to present portraits.

The salt print

The print itself really didn’t pose any problems for me as I have really perfected my process over the past year with it. The only issue I had with the print was the exposure time. The darks in a salt print get washed out a bit in the developing process so you have to overdevelop just a bit and make the darks really dark so the final print isn’t too light.

Here I thought while the end print was fantastic it needed maybe two more minutes under the lamp to darken the blacks more. The final print was a bit light but still perfectly acceptable. The final exposure time was ten minutes which in the end wasn’t quite enough time. These vintage image processes for me are all about embracing their flaws along with a more personal connection to the work.

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