Here are a couple of new salt prints from my Essex salt print project. I’m really enjoying my photo’ trips to essex. Particularly when I’m out on the salt marshes. This first salt print was photographed at low tide and there wasn’t another person around. Just me and few thousand wading birds. Oystercatchers, Curlews and Godwits sifting through the mud for their dinner.
The Tollesbury salt marshes are a unique landscape. A maze of interconnecting creeks that make a snug mooring for the local sailor’s boats. I’m sure it would make a great picture shot from a helicopter.
There are two activities that I find totally absorbing and give me great pleasure and satisfaction. One is the printing of my photographs using the 19th Century process of Salt printing. The other is sailing classic wooden boats around our wonderful coastline. Particularly the Blackwater estuary where it is possible to see Thames Barges, Smacks and Bawleys, some still fishing or dredging for oysters. Click on printing information for more about Salt Print making.
When I make a salt print I first need to coat my paper with a salt solution. The purity of the salt used is all important. Ordinary table salt won’t do. Pure sea salt is ideal and the sea salt I use is made in the Essex coastal town of Maldon in the Blackwater estuary.
To celebrate this coincidence I am producing a collection of photographs, that document the Essex coast around the Blackwater estuary. These photographs will be made into hand coated, gold toned Salt Prints. Each print of Essex will therefore have a little bit of Essex embedded in it.
Unlike contemporary printing methods, with a Salt Print, the photographic image is embedded in the papers fibres rather than in a coating on the surface. This gives the print a beautiful, warm toned velvety appearance. The process is virtually unchanged since William Henry Fox-Talbot invented it in the 1830s.
Here is a Salt Print to start the Project. It was taken at West Mersea
L’Esperance. Built in the 19th Century for the Earl of Dunraven, L’Esperance is now a houseboat at West Mersea in Essex.
I shall be posting new Salt Prints on a regular basis so why not keep up to date with the Essex Salt Print Project by following my blog. Just fill in the box on the right.
I’ve been working hard at perfecting my Salt Printing technique recently. It’s a tricky process to get right. The prints need to be toned to protect the silver and help with archival longevity. I’ve been using Gold and Platinum.
Boadicea CK213 and Mary CK252 Essex Smacks dredging for oysters off West Mersea, Essex. A Platinum toned Salt Print.
I’ve always enjoyed the craft element to photography. No matter how the image was captured, on film or digitally, it is in the darkroom, crafting the print that I’m happiest.
The printing method that I use almost exclusively for my monochrome prints nowadays is the Platinum/Palladium process. If you would like to know more about this 19th Century process, please have a look at my website and blog that deal exclusively with Platinum/Palladium printing.
Although they are quite expensive to make, they have a number of advantages over other printing methods. Primarily they are so stable they will outlast the paper they are printed on. Secondly they display more information than any other monochrome printing method. They are quite simply the most beautiful prints you will ever see.
Here are a few of my own Platinum/Palladium prints and yes they do come from my garden. A place where you might gather I get a lot of inspiration.
Dried Acer Seeds
Dried Sunflower Heads
Japanese Anemone Seed Pods
And here is a print we made recently for Magnum Photos. It is an early (1966) photograph of Muhammad Ali by Thomas Hoepker.