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The Albumen Print – Photographic Processes Series – Chapter 6 of 12

The Albumen Print – Photographic Processes Series – Chapter 6 of 12


When the albumen print was invented in 1850 they then called salted paper prints, ‘plain prints’. The only difference is, one has egg white and one doesn’t. it’s the same process. So these are examples of albumen prints. The albumen print was invented in 1850
by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard and was the most popular photographic
process of the 19th century. This is an example of a pristine albumen print how it would have looked when it was first
produced. This is an example of a faded, yellow albumen
print characteristic of albumen deterioration. The albumen print is a silver chloride process. It uses table salt as part of its process. All it is, is paper that’s been floated on a solution
of albumen egg white. The earliest albumen printing operations
literally kept a lot of chickens because it took a lot of eggs to make a lot of
albumen prints. You take eggs and you separate the white from the yolk. You beat the white, and when it settles back down again you have this beautiful yellow liquid. In the liquid there’s sodium chloride, or salt. You float the paper on that, and when the paper’s
dry it’s a nice shinny surface. The paper is then floated, after it’s dry, on silver nitrate, and when the silver nitrate and
the chloride combine you get photographic paper. What you finally have is a cheap and
comparatively easy way of preparing a paper for making a
photograph using a negative that may have been produced by
any number of processes. So a collodion negative could be printed as an
albumen print. You would have your negative and you would place it in contact with the
sensitized paper and expose with sunlight. The thing that distinguishes an albumen print
from a salted paper print or a platinum print is the image is suspended on a
layer above the paper rather than being embedded in the paper fibers. Creating a much more precise, and crisp image. This is when we see the rise of the great industrial photographic houses. Producing popular photographs of tourist sites. Even then, we’re beginning to think, if you don’t
have a photograph of it you didn’t really experience it. it was the beginning of really aggressive mass marketing, and mass production of photographs for general consumption. This was the predominant printing paper from
1850 to about 1890. People like Frith produced photographically
illustrated bibles where he photographed sites in the 19th Century where things that were told about in the bible were said to have happened. We begin to see how really as early as the 1870’s
and 80’s the photograph becomes a really important not just a conveyer of knowledge and information but a shaper of knowledge and information. And it was the albumen print that made that
possible because it was precise, it was detailed, it was cheap and it could be mass produced and distributed
easily.

Comments (3)

  1. So with all these processes, photography was basically invented eleven times!!!

  2. No more that 15 years were necessary for the early types of photography, Daguerreotype, Calotype, Salt print, Cyanotype, Collodion (Ambrotype, Tintype), Albumen. Photography was in its infancy and nobody knew which method will prevail.

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