Unblinking Eye


Working Procedures

To avoid spreading trays all over my darkroom, I recommend carrying out all processing in just one tray, with a good water rinse between steps.

1) Mix the sensitizer

Prepare the sensitizer by mixing equal parts of Solution A (10% silver nitrate) and Solution B (20% ferric oxalate). About 2ml of combined solution is adequate for an 8X10 print, or the equivalent.

2) Coat the Paper

Begin the coating operation by placing several sheets of newspaper on a flat, level surface, and then tape the paper you will be printing on to the newspaper. This will prevent it from moving around when you brush on the sensitizer. Measure out the required amount of sensitizer and gently pour it over the center of the paper. Using a good-quality hake brush or a good quality artists' brush like the Richeson, quickly spread the sensitizer over the printing area of the paper, stroking lightly across the paper from left to right, then from bottom to top, and finally on the diagonal. Continue with light brushing until there is no more pooling of the sensitizer, at which point stop.

Coating the Paper
Coated Paper & Richeson Brush

3) Dry the Sensitized Paper

Leave the paper taped to the paper for about five minutes after completion of coating, then hang to dry. Drying will take about 15-30 minutes, depending on temperature and humidity. A fan may be used to accelerate drying, but DO NOT force dry with heat, which may cause fogging.

4) Expose the Sensitized Paper

Place the emulsion side of the negative in contact with the sensitized paper, with the base of the negative facing the light , and place the sandwich in a contact printing frame, vacuum frame, or between two heavy sheets of glass, and expose to UV light.

4) Development

Chatooga River from the Old Iron Bridge

The Chatooga River
from the Old Iron Bridge

After exposure, place the print in the tray face up; pour the developer (20% sodium citrate) over it as quickly as possible, and develop 5-10 minutes. Development is visually complete in about 15-30 seconds, but a development time of 5-10 minutes is important for archival purposes: much of the residual ferric iron, which if left in the print could cause loss of permanence, is removed at this stage.  Development can be ended when most of the stain on the sensitized but unexposed areas of the print, i.e. those areas that were masked during exposure, has been removed.

Contrast can be controlled by the addition to the developer of a few ml of a 5% potassium  dichromate solution. The practical limit ranges from as little as 1 ml per liter of developer up to about 16 ml per liter. This allows the use of negatives from a DR as low as about 1.2 to a maximum of about 2.2. If too much dichromate is added, printing times will increase considerably and the image will take on a granular look.

The developer can be reused, but should be replenished. I recommend replenishment at the rate of about 200 ml of developer per every 500 square inches of print surface developed. To replenish, decant the developer from the top of the bottle and discard the solution on the bottom: if the developer is not replenished, the accumulation of ferrous iron will make it increasingly difficult to clear the print during processing. This will not only result in an unpleasant stain in the masked areas of the print, but may also decrease permanence, because the stain consists in large part of residual ferrous iron.

After development in sodium citrate, the print will have a rather unpleasant brown color, but do not despair. Subsequent processing will change final image color quite dramatically.

5) First Rinse

After development, rinse the print for 1-2 minutes in running water.  It is very important that this first rinse be done in water that is either neutral or slightly acidic. If the first rinse is alkaline, ferrous hydroxide compounds may be formed in the paper, making complete clearing difficult or impossible.

6) Clearing

Clear the print until there is absolutely no stain left in the sensitized but unexposed areas of the print. The time for the paper to  completely clear will vary with different papers, and sometimes even with the same paper manufactured at different times. However, if the paper takes more than about four minutes to clear, I would consider it unsuitable for kallitype and look for a better one. Renew citric acid bath frequently, as this chemical is very inexpensive and proper clearing is absolutely vital to print stability. The image will lighten considerably during clearing, but don't worry because all the lost density will return during toning and fixing.

7) Second Rinse

After clearing, rinse the print for 30-60 seconds in running water.

8) Toning

Tone for the time necessary, which can vary from 5-20 minutes depending on the strength and amount of toner. With most toners, toning begins first in the highlights, proceeds to the midtones, and ends with the shadows. The print is fully toned when the shadows have taken on the color that is characteristic of the toning metal. With the toner used full strength, the print should be fully toned in about six to eight minutes.

9) Third Rinse

After toning, rinse the print in running water for 60 seconds.

10) Fix

Fix for four minutes. For maximum archival quality, use two separate fixing baths and fix for two minutes in each, with a 30-second rinse in running water between. The second bath should always  be fresh fixer.

11) Fourth Rinse

After fixing, rinse in running water for one minute.

12) Hypo Clear

After the fourth rinse, place the print in a 1% solution of sodium sulfite for two minutes. Or Kodak Hypo-Clear can be used.

13. Final rinse

Rinse the print in running water for 20-30  minutes. If you omit the hypo clear bath, final wash time should be an hour.

14. Dry

Hang the print to dry, or place on a drying rack.
Hanging the Paper to Dry

Refinements to the Process

As you begin to work with kallitype you will learn that there are literally dozens and dozens of variations of the process , ranging from developer formulations capable of rendering a wide range of colors and tone, to sensitizer additives which can alter color and tonal range. For the most part, I would recommend sticking with the sodium citrate developer until you become very familiar with the process. In fact, there is really no reason to use any other developer unless you want an unusual color that cannot be rendered through toning with gold, platinum or palladium. However, as noted earlier, the permanence of kallitype prints in which silver has not been replaced by toning with one of the more noble metals is highly suspect and I recommend that for maximum permanence you always tone.






Metal Additives

The addition of small amounts of certain metallic salts to the working sensitizer can modify the color and tonal range of the final image and also, in combination with double toning, produce interesting split tones in the image. The metals most commonly used are gold, platinum, palladium, and mercury. The effects obtained by adding the metallic salt directly to the sensitizer are different from toning.

Gold Additive — Prepare a gold chloride working solution by mixing 5ml of a 1% gold chloride solution with 20ml distilled water. Add the working solution to the sensitizer at about 1 part gold working solution to 9 parts sensitizer. The addition of gold will give a warm brown-olive tone to the final print.

Platinum or Palladium Additive — Prepare a platinum or palladium working solution by mixing 5ml of potassium chloroplatinite 20% solution or sodium chloropalladite 20% solution with 20ml of distilled water. Add the working solution at the same ratio as gold, one part working palladium or platinum solution to 9 parts sensitizer. The addition of platinum or palladium will give a neutral black  or a warm black, depending on which metal is used.

Mercury Additive- — Prepare a concentrated mercury solution by mixing 1g of mercuric chloride with 30ml distilled water. Add the working solution to the sensitizer at the ratio of about 1 part working solution to 20 parts sensitizer. Expect a warm olive tone, but results can be somewhat unpredictable. Handle this solution with maximum care because mercuric chloride is a hazardous substance.

Unfortunately the employment of metal has one important negative effect. The image is more likely to stain and the print will be much more difficult to clear. Stevens suggests that use of nitrates of gold, palladium and platinum instead of the chlorides will eliminate staining, but those compounds are not readily available.

Should you become seriously interested in the use of metal additives, I would recommend further reading in Dick Steven's book, Making Kallitypes: A Definitive Guide, pp. 92-95 .

The Keepers of LightToning

Many people like the native color of kallitype prints and do not tone them. In my opinion, this is a mistake, because toning provides much greater image permanence. In fact, I am convinced that all untoned kallitype images will eventually fade, as it is impossible to remove all residual ferrous iron from the paper, and if any at all remains it will eventually cause the silver to oxidize, ultimately leading to fading. This may take several decades but is, I believe, almost certain to happen.

Although the major reason we tone kallitypes is for permanence, toning has other benefits. One of the primary benefits is that images toned before fixing with gold, platinum or palladium will not fade in the fixing bath.  The major reason for fading, or image recession during fixing, is bleaching of the silver. An image toned with one of the more noble metals will not fade or recede in fixing because the silver has been replaced with metals that do not bleach.

Still another reason to tone is that it eliminates the effects of solarization. In heavily exposed areas we frequently see tone reversal in untoned kallitypes, that is, with increasing exposure the shadow areas actually get lighter. This look can be very unpleasant. Toning with gold, platinum or palladium counteracts tone reversal and restores normal tonal values to the heavily exposed shadow areas.

Finally, through double toning, in which more than one metal is used to tone the print, it is possible to produce a variety of tones and colors in the Print, an effect which can be both intriguing and aesthetically pleasing.

Note that the toning formula in this article are based on mixing 1-liter amounts. However, for maximum consistency I suggest that you tone as a one-shot solution, using the minimum amount of fresh solution possible, and then discard after use. You will need approximately 20ml of solution to fully tone a 5X7” image, or the equivalent for larger images. However, using such small quantities of toning solution requires a flat tray with no ribs or grooves.

Gold Toners

Both of the gold toners following give a very attractive purple/brown/blue tone. Image contrast is increased by about a step through loss of density in the high values, but Dmax values (shadows) are changed little if at all.

Gold Toner #1

Citric acid                               5g
5% gold chloride sol.             5ml
distilled water to make     1000ml

This toner does not keep particularly well so it is best to mix it in small quantities just before it is needed, and of course discard after use.

Gold Toner #2

1% gold chloride                 50ml
1% thiourea                         50ml
tartaric acid                          0.5g
distilled water to make     1000ml

This toner keeps well and retains its working characteristics even after moderate use. However, I strongly recommend that you use as little solution as possible to tone and then store the used solution in a separate bottle so that the fresh solution does not become contaminated.

Ruins at Montauck

One of the interesting qualities of Gold Toner #2 is that it works on all areas of the print — shadows, midtones and highlights — at about the same time, unlike Gold Toner #1, which works first on the highlights, then progressively on the midtones and shadows.

              Platinum and Palladium Toner

              Citric acid                                                 5g
              potassium chloroplatinite 20% solution     5ml
              sodium chloropalladite 20% solution        5ml
              Water                                               1000ml

Whitewater Fall in Spring

Whitewater Fall in the Spring

The platinum and palladium toners keeps well and can be stored fresh in one-liter amounts for up to several months. Even so, for consistent results I recommend that they be used as one-shot solution and discarded after use. Prints toned with platinum will have a very neutral black tone, while those toned with palladium have a brownish/black color. Intermediate tones can be obtained by mixing the two toners. With the Pt/Pd toners, the final density of the print will be somewhat greater than untoned, but contrast will be identical.

Selenium Toners

In selenium toning, metallic silver is converted to a silver selenide, which is highly resistant to the effects of oxidizing agents. In practice it is extremely difficult to get satisfactory results with selenium when toning is done before fixing, because it reacts with residual silver nitrate in the paper and causes staining. For this reason, I recommend that toning with selenium be done after fixing. This will require an adjustment in exposure time because there is more recession, or bleaching, during fixing of an untoned image.

Selenium Toner #1

              To prepare a stock solution,
              add 100g sodium sulfite to 100ml hot water
              and allow to dissolve completely.
              Then add 10g selenium powder.

A working toner is mixed by adding 100ml stock solution to water to make a total of 1000ml, or the equivalent. Stronger solutions give browner prints, weaker solutions, cooler tones.

                 Selenium Toner #2

                Kodak Rapid-Selenium     10ml
                Distilled water to            1000ml

Dolmen Pedra da Arca

Double toning is used to produce what is known as split toning, i.e. parts of the image are toned with one metal, with its characteristic color, and other parts are toned with another metal. This kind of toning must begin with the most noble metal, either platinum or palladium, and be completed with the least noble, gold. This is because the most noble metal will always replace the least noble and if toning is done first with gold, and followed to completion with platinum or palladium, the image will look as if it has been toned in just platinum or palladium..

One way to achieve split tones is to begin toning with platinum or palladium and allow the toning process to continue just until the platinum or palladium has replaced the silver in the highlights and mid-tones. Then, discard the toner, wash the print, and pour in the gold stoning solution. The gold toner cannot replace the palladium or platinum in the highlights and mid-tones, since it is less noble, but it will replace the silver in the shadow areas. The result will be a print with neutral black or warm black highlights but cool purple/black shadows. This can be a very pleasing look.

Thus, the key is to begin toning with the most noble metal and tone only until the desired values have been changed, then wash and tone to completion with the least noble metal.

Double toning can produce fascinating results and I encourage you to experiment with it.


In concluding this article I would like to express thanks to my friend and colleague Sam Wang for his inspiration and support in my work with kallitype and vandyke printing.  I  also thank Ed Buffaloe for final proofing of the text and for correction of certain factual errors.  And special appreciation is owed to Judy Seigel for her close reading of the text and for editorial suggestions which have greatly improved the article.  I would also like to express my appreciation to the many kind persons on the alt-photo-process list who have generously shared their extensive knowledge and expertise with alternative printing processes.

About the Images

1.  "The Chatooga River near Bull Sluice"
7X17 Platinum/Palladium toned Kallitype from a 7X17 in-camera negative. 2003, on the Chatooga River at the Georgia/South Carolina border.

2.  "The Beach at Kiawah Island"
7X17" Gold toned kallitype from a 7X17" in-camera negative. 2002, near Charleston, South Carolina.

3. "The Rooster Store"
7X17 Gold toned kallitype from a 7x17 in-camera negative. 2002, near Greenville, South Carolina.

4. "The Chatooga River from the Old Iron Bridge"
18X20" Platinum toned kallitype from a 20X24" in-camera original negative. 2002, near Highlands, North Carolina.

5. "Ruins at Montauck"
7X17 Gold toned Kallitype from a 7X17 in-camera negative. 2001, near Montauck, New York.

6. "Whitewater Fall in the Spring"
12X16" palladiuim toned Kallitype from a 5X7 original, digital negative on Pictorico OHP, printed on the Epson 2000P. 2003, North Carolina.

7. "Dolmen Pedra da Arca"
12X20 " Gold toned kallitype from a 12X20 in-camera negative. 2001, Province of La Coruņa, Spain.

Sources for Chemicals and Things

Artcraft, PO Box 583, Schenectady, NY 12301, 518.355.8700, order 800.682.1730, www.artcraftchemicals.com, (Good source for most photo chemicals.)

Bostick & Sullivan, Santa Fe, NM, 505.474.0890. 
www.bostick-sullivan.com. (Source for metallic salts and other photo chemicals and supplies, including contact printing frames.)

Daniel Smith, PO Box 84268, Seattle, WA 98124m 800.426.6740. 
www.danielsmith.com. (Wide selection of art papers.)

Photographers’ Formulary, PO Box 950, Condon, Montana 59826, 800.922.5255. 
www.photoformulary.com. (Source for metallic salts and other photo chemicals and supplies including contact printing frames.)

Stephen Kinsella Fine Art Papers, PO Box 32420, St. Louis, MO 63132, 800.445.8865. 
www.kinsellaartpapers.com. (Wide selection of art papers.)

Doug Kennedy, PO Box 3433, Lake City, CA 96115, 530.279.6228, email at
dbkennedy@ndo.net. (High quality contact printing frames.)


Barnier, John, ed. Coming Into Focus, San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2000. (See  Chapter 9, "kallitype," pp. 131-151, by W. Russell Young III)

Burkholder, Dan. Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing. San Antonio: Bladed Iris Press, 2002.

Crawford, William. The Keepers of Light, Dobbs Ferry, New York:  Morgan and Morgan, 1979. (See pp. 177-80)

The World Journal of Post-Factory Photography, ed. Judy Seigel. No. 8, 2003. (See article by Carmen Lizardo, and notes with Sandy King, pp. 18-25.

Farber, Richard. Historic Photographic Processes, New York: Allworth Press, 1998. (See Chapter Six, kallitype, pp. 73-85.

Dick Sullivan, "Traditional Kallitype Printing," at the Bostick and Sullivan website, at
http://www.bostick-sullivan.com/kalli.htm.  Also available as a .pdf file at the B&S website is a long article, "The kallitype Process", reproduced from No. 47 of the Photo-Miniature, February, 19093.

Stevens, Dick. Making Kallitypes: A Definitive Guide. Focal Press, Boston & London


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