After having some Moersch Kallitype chemicals lying around for a while I finally tried my hand at some Kallitype printing. It's a contact printing process similar to Platinum/Palladium but with some differences. You control the contrast in the developer rather than in the emulsion, and you also need to tone the final image for permanence and too tame the frankly quite ridiculous colours. 😮
* A better place to control the contrast is in the negative but that's another story.
I've been using Ilford ID-11 developer recently for cost and ease of use, and whilst a great general purpose developer it's not very good for alternate process printing without changes to development times. I wanted to print some of my recent negatives so I had to make do with insufficient contrast (and exposure as it turns out).
I did some quick and rough tests to find out an exposure time to get decent blacks which turned out to be 2'30" with my 4 tube tanning unit. To increase contrast in the Kallitype print you can add a Contrast Booster to the developer. I had to do this and use the maximum amount recommended to get anything where near something usable (but still not enough from some prints).
The two toners I wanted to try were Palladium and Selenium. I have plenty of Sodium Chloropalladite from my Pt/Pd printing chems and I ordered some Selenium to try. The two toners are used at different stages in the process due to their properties and it was partly this added complexity and steps in the Kallitype process that had given me pause.
The first image I wanted to try was the wide angle view of the rusting car in a local woods. I love this image, the fog in the distance adds to the isolation and I'm really pleased how well this has turned out as a Kallitype.
From a study of a fabulous decaying tree stump I had a well exposed and contrasty negative that I thought I would try to see how a "normal" negative would work and see how much detail was present in a Kallitype print. This again was with the maximum recommended Contrast Booster and is probably the best of these prints in terms of range of tones in the print. There are emulsion issues due to my dodgy technique and old dirty stained paper but it definitely shows potential. 👌
The last example was another pinhole negative, a little thin in the shadows and also lacking in density overall. Although a favourite image which scans quite reasonably, this was going to be a real challenge to print as a Kallitype. As you can see in the resulting images, Selenium toning for Kallitype can cause bleaching. You can see the Selenium toned version has brighter higher tones than the Palladium toned version due to this. In this case it has helped the image as the dark tones are unaffected but the higher tones have been raised. As a note, both these versions are considerably darker than my negative scan version.
I've really enjoyed the process. It's more involved than Pt/Pd printing, but on the flip side it is considerably less expensive allowing more experimentation and also you can tone the final images to suit the mood required. I'm pretty sure I will continue with this process and am currently researching digital negative processes so I can have some control of contrast, editing and cropping of scanned negatives and also enlarge 4x5 without having to resort to a 5x7 or 8x10 camera... 🤦♂️
I will also probably also go back to Moersh Finol/Tanol as a developer as the tanning attribute is a boon for alt printing.