The Silver Gelatin Process

Silver Gelatin Process: What is a Silver Gelatin Print?

What is a silver gelatin print?

A silver gelatin photograph or print is a black-and-white image exposed from an analogue film negative using only optical and chemical processes. The process yields an image with deep blacks, organic texture and a timeless look.

My process involves 8 general stages.

Silver Gelatin Process: 1. Film Development

1. Film Development

After shooting the exposed film is developed using a careful 3-step chemical process. The resulting negative is then washed and dried. Details of the process will irreversibly determine qualities of the final image such as graininess and contrast.

Silver Gelatin Process: 2. Enlarging

2. Enlarging

Next the negative is optically projected onto photographic paper using a mix of blue and green light. Creative adjustments to the image are made by manipulating light during enlargement. This and subsequent steps are performed in a darkroom illuminated with red lights to protect light-sensitive materials.

Silver Gelatin Process: 3. Processing

3. Processing

The exposed photographic paper is treated in 3 consecutive chemical baths. The exposed image is revealed and remaining photosensitive substances are removed. Handling is done carefully to avoid damage to the wet paper.

Silver Gelatin Process: 4. Washing

4. Washing

The print is washed and soaked in 3 different stages for an hour. Removing residual chemicals from paper fibres is critical for the longevity of the final photograph.

Silver Gelatin Process: 5. Drying

5. Drying

Fibre-based photographs need a generous 1-2 days to slowly air-dry on drying racks. Slow drying allows the paper to retain a naturally textured semi-glossy surface.

Silver Gelatin Process: 6. Flattening

6. Flattening

Photographs typically curl during the drying process and need to be flattened. Several minutes in heat and high pressure will force the paper fibres flat.

Silver Gelatin Process: 7. Toning

7. Toning

Some of my images are treated with tea to create a warm golden-ivory colour. After this process the photograph is once again washed, dried and heat pressed flat during 1-2 days.

Silver Gelatin Process: 8. Final touches

8. Final touches

Sometimes a photograph will need finishing touches with a fine brush. Each print is checked for imperfections, stamped with permanent archival ink, numbered and signed.

Silver Gelatin Process: Why Silver Gelatin?

Why Silver Gelatin?

A silver gelatin photograph has no inks or pigments. It consists of microscopic silver particles bound in a layer of gelatin. This makes for a lasting image proven by the 150-year history of the process.

Visually silver gelatin yields uniquely neutral black-and-white images with deep blacks and subtle nuances.

Welcome to my Print Shop

Welcome to my Print Shop

I sell silver gelatin photographs to cover the costs of the artistic practice. Prints are available for direct purchase in the shop.

Thank you for your support!