prints are more accurately described as gelatin silver prints.
i.e. prints made on paper coated with a
gelatin emulsion containing silver salts.
silver prints began to replace albumen prints in the 1880s , using both
the printing-out process and the developing-out processes.
the printing-out process was popular. This involved a long exposure
then fixing the paper.
1905 onwards, the developing-out process became the norm. This
involved a shorter exposure, then developing and fixing the paper.
Almost all prints produced in the 20th century, until
the recent introduction of digital printing, are silver prints.
The print may be made in a
darkroom under a red or orange safelight:
- directly from a glass plate or negative,
to produce a print the same size as the negative, by shining white light
through the negative.
In earlier days, when glass plates could be quite large,
it was common to print directly from the negatives. This is
still sometimes done, but more commonly contact printing is done to
produce a 'contact-sheet' of negative-size images to reproduce a whole
film on a single sheet of paper.
- or using an enlarger. i.e. by
placing the glass plate or negative in an enlarger and exposing the image
from the enlarger onto the paper resting some distance away,
Process the Paper
- place the paper in a solution of developer,
normally for about 1 to 2 minutes, until the image has appeared.
Further treatment can be given to the print, including
toning, glazing, mounting and framing.
The tones of the image will
depend on the make and type of paper, in particular whether it has been
manufactured using silver bromide, silver chloride or silver iodide.
It will also depend on the developer used to process it and on the
contrast characteristics of the paper.
Papers used ot be fibre based, involving long and
washing times to ensure that all chemicals were removed from the fibres
of the paper.
Fibre papers are still used in Fine Art photography,
but most silver prints are now produced on resin coated paper.
Whether fibre based or resin coated, papers are
available in a variety of surfaces, matte, glossy, pearl.
When I started printing about 1960, the range of
surfaces and manufacturers was far wider, but many, including chemicals
that were harmful to the environment, have been taken off the market.
However, Kentmere still produce papers in an
interesting variety of surface textures and weights.
New methods, including the introduction of gelatin
silver prints, were frequently discussed at Meetings of Edinburgh
It will take some time to review the discussions at
these meetings and to discover to what extent Edinburgh photographers were
instrumental in discovering and promoting the use of gelatin silver
Silver prints have been popular for over a hundred years
and there are still enthusiasts of silver printing.
However, many workers, both
professional and amateur, are now turning to digital printing. As a
result, some of the materials are becoming less readily available.
Kodak's placed the following announcement on their web
site in 2005:
Due to the ongoing transition to
digital output technologies in both professional and educational
markets, Kodak has announced manufacturing discontinuance of Black &
White Photographic Papers. Sales will cease by the end of 2005.
KODAK Black & White Films and Black &
White Processing Chemicals will continue to be produced. The
final availability of specific Black & White papers will vary based
on type, size, configuration and surface.
Please contact your normal supplier
of KODAK PROFESSIONAL Products for the latest information.