Calotype Workshop Booked!

A couple of days ago I finally registered for the Calotype workshop given at the Pieter Brueghel Center in Veghel by Martin Becka on April 20th-21st. I’m so looking forward!

A little info about the process as found on the University of Glasgow website (click the link for more extended information):

“The calotype negative process was sometimes called the Talbotype, after its inventor. It was not Talbot’s first photographic process (introduced in 1839), but it is the one for which he became most known. Henry Talbot devised the calotype in the autumn of 1840, perfected it by the time of its public introduction in mid-1841, and made it the subject of a patent (the patent did not extend to Scotland).

Mrs. Logan; Mrs. Seton; two unidentified men; Fishwives and Fishes. HA0767 calotype negative (waxed); follow link for more information about this photograph

Shown here is a calotype negative (HA0767).

The base of a calotype negative, rather than the glass or film to which we have become accustomed, was high quality writing paper. The sheet of paper was carefully selected to have a smooth and uniform texture and, wherever possible, to avoid the watermark. The first stage, conducted in candlelight, was to prepare what Talbot called his iodized paper. The paper was washed over with a solution of silver nitrate and dried by gentle heat. When nearly dry, it was soaked in a solution of potassium iodide for two or three minutes, rinsed and again dried. As long as this iodized paper was stored carefully, it could be kept for some time, so it was generally prepared in batches ahead of time.

Immediately before taking a photograph, a fresh solution of gallo-nitrate of silver was mixed up. This was made from equal quantities of a solution of silver nitrate and one of gallic acid; the solution was unstable and had to be used right away. Under weak candlelight, a sheet of iodized paper was coated with this solution, left to sit for about thirty seconds and then dipped in water. It was then partially dried in the dark, often using blotting paper. The calotype paper could be employed completely dry, but was more sensitive when moist, and in any case had to be exposed in the camera within a few hours of preparation (Talbot found that he could sometimes put it away for future use but its keeping qualities were never predictable).

Under near-total darkness, the sensitive calotype paper was loaded in the camera. It was exposed to the scene, sometimes for as little as ten seconds, usually for a time closer to a minute, and sometimes for tens of minutes. If one were to examine the sheet of paper after withdrawing it from the camera, no image would be seen (just as no image is visible on modern film when it is first removed from the camera). An invisible latent image was formed by the action of light. A fresh solution of gallo-nitrate of silver was brought into play. Washed over the sheet of paper in a darkened room, it developed a visible image, usually within a few seconds. When the operator judged that the development had proceeded far enough, the paper was then washed over with a fixing liquid. This was sometimes a solution of potassium bromide and sometimes a solution of hypo (similar to modern fixers). Washing and drying completed the process.” (Source: Glasgow University)

Not sure if I want to work with this process myself, I hope to find that out through the workshop, but I will have come in touch with the three oldest and most popular processes (there were more processes of course in between) in the history of photography; daguerreotypes, calotypes and wet plate collodion.
Also included in this workshop if there’s enough time is the making of salt prints. Never done those before so would be fantastic to learn as well!

Check out the website of Pieter Brueghel to learn more about this workshop  😉

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