Replicate traditional photographic techniques using step-by-step walkthroughs. Part 2: Calotypes and salted paper prints.

While Louis Daguerre was the first to announce his technique, in the 1830s, the English scientist Henry Fox Talbot had also been working on a photographic process. The Calotype was a negative-positive method that permitted multiple prints of the same image.

The negative was prepared by impregnating paper with light-sensitive chemicals, and then drying, exposing, and developing it to create a “paper negative”.

The print was usually made by contact printing – the negative and a sheet of similarly sensitized “salted paper” were sandwiched together under a piece of glass and exposed to bright sunlight.

In France, the process was developed further with Gustave Le Gray’s “waxed paper” process, which produced much finer detail, but Fox Talbot’s patents and licensing fees limited its commercial appeal.

Calotype negatives were rapidly superseded in the 1850s by the wet-plate collodion process. Before coining the word “Calotype”, Fox Talbot’s early works involved placing leaves, lace, and other objects directly onto salted paper.

No camera was involved in these “photogenic drawings”. So, taking the idea of scanning real material one step further, you can do something similar using a flatbed scanner to capture objects such as the kiwi fruit in this recipe.

You will probably need to extract the objects from their background. Find some paper that has gentle fibers and scan that, too – this can be combined with the subject to imitate the paper negative’s typical softness. A third quality, the sepia tone, is easy enough to create in Photoshop.

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