After watching several workshops make calotypes – one of the earliest forms of photography – I finally got a chance to make that step back in time myself.
The process is a little slower and more tedious than some, and with vellum dripping wet with silver nitrate, a whole lot sloppier than most. First you have to iodize the vellum and let it dry. Then sensitize with silver nitrate and load into a (very silvery) plate holder.
My exposures at 4pm on a sunny day were around 2 to 2.5 minutes at f/6.8 (wide open on that particular lens), so it’s not really geared toward sports photography. I did manage to sit remarkably still, though, especially considering I was sitting upright without any back or neck support, right?
Then the sheet gets to sit in what turned out to be very murky developer for 15 minutes or so, some fixer, and finally a good long water wash.
The second one was a little less successful – the contamination in the developing tray that turned an inky black almost instantly at least masks the guesswork compositional issues.
So now I have some paper negatives ready to print in some other historically-accurate process like salted paper! Just like Mr. William Henry Fox Talbot himself…sorta…with some French and B. Hamilton influence.
Next on the photographic bucket list: daguerreotypes!