After making a few prints from digital negatives made using the Mike Ware process I felt that i wasn’t getting any real consistency. Not only were the digital negatives producing inconsistent results but also my coating skills were producing a lot of trash results. More prints going in the bin than anything except the odd stroke of luck…
I was then introduced, by a fellow, alt-process chap to the EDN system by Peter Mrhar - easydigitalnegatives.com. With not a lot to lose at this stage, and only my stock of Silver Nitrate to deplete along with another sheet or two of Transparency Film, I felt it was important to have a try with this system for comparison purposes.
I began to get better results, enough so that I made a real effort to tinker with them in order to get a handle on the process. Still a fair few images going in the trash, but more so down to my ability to get a consistent coating on the paper. The images themselves were getting better highlights, better tonality and deeper brown/blacks.
I have since stayed with this system of making digital negatives. Probably not finally, but close to something that makes fairly consistent results. I’ve found that the application of a custom curve doesn’t do a lot for the final output. This is most likely down to that my original negatives I’m scanning from already have the density and contrast required (maybe..!) I am however applying a EDN Colourblocker before printing the digital negative (DN). This is basically a gradient overlay that blocks some of the UV light from reaching the salted paper. It helps to produce better tonality and helps the highlights reach closer to true white.
I still need a lot of practice in coating. The initial Salt coating is pretty straightforward and easy to get correct, the 2nd coat though less so. The Silver Nitrate coating by brush as I am doing tends not to be very even or economical compared to coating using a specialised glass rod. Whilst the brush strokes can be in themselves an attractive part of the final print, it can also leave the print uncoated sufficiently that it leaves parts of the image out. I guess with time and LOTS of practice it may improve. I also guess that if I continue this route I will invest in some glass coating rods, especially if I start to make larger prints.
To be cont’d