The photographic print

The following print types are ones that we do at Battle Born Historical Photography, each subsection explains the process and history behind the type of prints, it’s important to note that with the exception of the digital pigment print, our prints are hand done one at a time.

  • Salted print 
  • Albumen Print
  • Silver Gelatin Print
  • Digital Pigment Print. 


Salted print:

The salt print was the dominant paper-based photographic process for producing positive prints during the period from 1839 through approximately 1860.

The salted paper technique was created in 1833 by English scientist and inventor Henry Fox Talbot. He made what he called “sensitive paper” for “photogenic drawing” by wetting a sheet of writing paper with a weak solution of ordinary table salt (sodium chloride), blotting and drying it, then brushing one side with a strong solution of silver nitrate. This produced a tenacious coating of silver chloride in an especially light-sensitive chemical condition. The paper darkened where it was exposed to light. When the darkening was judged to be sufficient, the exposure was ended and the result was stabilized by applying a strong solution of salt, which altered the chemical balance and made the paper only slightly sensitive to additional exposure. In 1839, washing with a solution of sodium thiosulfate (“hypo”) was found to be the most effective way to make the results truly light-fast, thus permanently fixing the image

The salt print process is often confused with Talbot’s slightly later calotype or “talbotype” process, in part because it was normally used when making prints from calotype paper negatives. Calotype paper employed silver iodide instead of silver chloride, but the most important difference is that it was a developing-out process(DOP), not a printing out process(POP) like the salt print, meaning that a much shorter exposure was used to produce an invisible latent image which was then chemically developed to visibility. This made calotype paper far more practical for use in a camera. Salted paper typically required at least an hour of exposure in the camera to yield a negative showing much more than objects silhouetted against the sky.

Albumen Print:

The albumen print, also called albumen silver print, was published in January 1847 by Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, and was the first commercially exploitable method of producing a photographic print on a paper base from a negative. It used the albumen found in egg whites to bind the photographic chemicals to the paper and became the dominant form of photographic positives from 1855 to the turn of the 20th century, with a peak in the 1860-90 period. During the mid-19th century, the carte de visite became one of the most popular uses of the albumen method. In the 19th century, E. & H. T. Anthony & Company were the largest makers and distributors of the Albumen photographic prints and paper in the United States.

The process of making an albumen print

  1. A piece of paper, usually 100% cotton, is coated with an emulsion of egg white (albumen) and salt (sodium chloride or ammonium chloride), then dried. The albumen seals the paper and creates a slightly glossy surface for the sensitizer to rest on.
  2. The paper is then floated on a solution of silver nitrate and water which renders the surface sensitive to UV light.
  3. The paper is then dried in the absence of UV light.
  4. The dried, prepared paper is placed in a frame in direct contact under a negative. The negative is traditionally a glass negative with collodion emulsion, but this step can be performed with a modern silver halide negative, too. The paper with negative is then exposed to light until the image achieves the desired level of darkness, which is typically a little lighter than the end product. Though direct sunlight was used long ago, a UV exposure unit is often used contemporarily because it is more predictable, as the paper is most sensitive to ultraviolet light.
  5. A bath of sodium thiosulfate fixes the print’s exposure, preventing further darkening.
  6. Optional gold or selenium toning improves the photograph’s tone and stabilizes against fading. Depending on the toner, toning may be performed before or after fixing the print.

Because the image emerges as a direct result of exposure to light, without the aid of a developing solution, an albumen print may be said to be a printed rather than a developed photograph.

The table salt (sodium chloride) in the albumen emulsion forms silver chloride when in contact with silver nitrate. Silver chloride is unstable when exposed to light, which makes it decompose into silver and chlorine. The silver ion (Ag+) is reduced to silver (Ag) by the addition of an electron during the development/printing process, and the remaining silver chloride is washed out during fixing. The black parts of the image are formed by metallic silver

Silver Gelatin Print:

download.jpgGelatin silver print paper was made as early as 1874 on a commercial basis, but it was poor quality because the dry-plate emulsion was coated onto the paper only as an afterthought. Coating machines for the production of continuous rolls of sensitized paper were in use by the mid-1880s, though widespread adoption of gelatin silver print materials did not occur until the 1890s. The earliest papers had no baryta layer, and it was not until the 1890s that baryta coating became a commercial operation, first in Germany, in 1894, and then taken up by Kodak by 1900.

Although the baryta layer plays an important part in the manufacture of smooth and glossy prints, the baryta paper of the 1890s did not produce the lustrous or glossy print surface that became the standard for fine art photography in the twentieth century. Matting agents textured papers and thin baryta layers that were not heavily calendered produced a low-gloss and textured appearance. The higher gloss papers first became popular in the 1920s and 30s as photography transitioned from pictorialism into modernism, photojournalism, and “straight” photography

We use commercially available POP silver gelatin papers, printing from wet plate negatives to various sizes of conventional film, in our own darkroom.

Digital Pigment Print:

download (1).jpg

Digital Pigment print refers to methods of printing from a digital based image directly to a variety of media. It usually refers to professional printing where small-run jobs from desktop publishing and other digital sources are printed using large-format and/or high-volume laser or inkjet printers. Digital printing has a higher cost per page than more traditional offset printing methods, but this price is usually offset by avoiding the cost of all the technical steps required to make printing plates. It also allows for on-demand printing, short turnaround time, and even a modification of the image (variable data) used for each impression. The savings in labor and the ever-increasing capability of digital presses means that digital printing is reaching the point where it can match or supersede offset printing technology’s ability to produce larger print runs of several thousand sheets at a low price. Occasionally or upon special request, we’ll scan a tintype then have it professionally printed to replicate the original tintype as close as possible.


Archival project

Recently, I was contacted with an interesting project, being that I still possess and print using my darkroom.  I was also given a list of several books of photographs of nudes. – as I work through that list, I’ll be offering the books for sale, which will help offset the cost of printing the negatives. 20170115-_dsc6604

The interesting aspect of the project is the shoe box full of negatives, dating from the early 30’s to 40’s the majority of them are 128mm film negatives, with some 3.25. x 4.25 and several roles of 35mm. The negatives include Northern Nevada, Northern & Southern California, Arizona(The Grand Canyon) the 1932

scanned from a negative Virginia City, C Street Summer 1933

LA Olympics. many of these photos have some very interesting historical value.  Unfortunately,  I will not be posting many of them online, at least until I obtain permission.  As part of that due to the enormity of the project and the cost involved, I’ll also ask the owner if the negatives if we can start a crowdfunding campaign or obtain a sponsor to help pay for a dedicated negative scanner along with materials needed to print and process the negatives in the darkroom.



here’s a couple of photo’s that were printed


unlabeled, looks like Washoe Valley 






440 yd Dash, Ben Eastman leading Carr (Penn) in Second place; Carr passed Eastman to win  July 2nd, 1932






Some of our Followers, know that based upon a few events in 2016 with people stating things such as they didn’t know how to fold a Canvas tent, or with one person insulting me, by stating “nice props” while referring  to my camera’s , I’ve been working on a folder, that explains in details while providing provenance on everything that we use within our camp.

with the information that I’ve been writing, I’ll be adding that info to our website, while allowing me to expanded the information about some of our antiques, that due to their nature, are typically not carried with us to a civil war event.

this is the page  used in the finishing/studio portion of the binder and is specifically about printing.


top frame is an 1880’s Anthony printing out frame

The concept of forming images on paper using silver halides and the sun lead to some of earliest developments towards taking successful photos. And bringing with it idea of using negative images to effectively reproduce a print. This allowed grater flexibility over the daguerreotype process, which is considered a developed out positive image, which could not be easily reproduced.  In 1841 Henry Fox Talbot introduced the Calotype or talbotype a Developed Out Paper negative and, as we call it fixing which prevents the silver from continually blackening, an issue that Thomas Wedgwood and Nicéphore (Felix) Niépce had encounter in earlier experiments. Henry Fox Talbot was then able to print his negative on paper that had been coated with table salt and silver nitrate, creating what’s simply called Salted Paper, a printing out paper. This printing process was commonly done through the use of a contact printing frame, similar to the two pictured above.  Shorty after, Henry Fox Talbot introduced the Carbon print, while in 1847 Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard introduced the Albumen print, which became the most popular form of prints thought the 19th century, as exemplified through stereoviews, cabinet cards and CDV’s.

As techniques of printing advanced, the presentation of the complete photo advanced. And with it creating an almost separate set of professions within the photographic industry. Such as colorist and touchup artist, print artist, artist making frames and cases, separating the photographer, by the Civil War. Studios and producers of photographic supplies, such as E. & H. T. Anthony, hired any number of people who specialized in those aforementioned aspects.

Today, within the photographic industry, there are still specific artist who specialize, in taking the photo, touching it up, printing it, then presenting it. Battle Born Historical Photography, attempts to create the element of a 19th and early 20th century photographic artisans and studio, thus we will often print and mount our own photo’s utilizing different types of paper and techniques forgotten by the digital age.

Silver Gelatin Process


The Silver Gelatin process, is an evolution from whats historically called the dry Collodion process, or simply the dry plate. I haven’t made or used any dry-plates, instead I tend to use film with some of my dry plate cameras. The Silver Gelatin process is used to create modern film and Develop Out Paper or simply DOP as compared Printing Out Paper, or POP. The most Common forms of POP  are identified by the binding agent used, such as Albumen or Salt.

It’s important to note, That when I state that when I’ve identified a print as an Albumen, Salt or Silver Gelatin Paper, That these, are hand done prints that have been manipulated via hand process appropriate to the specific process, Then scanned they are not digitally manipulated.  to obtain a print, I use film or glass negatives created through the wet collodion process. The featured image of the Golden Gate Bridge was taken on film using an Kodak Ektar 127mm lens, with our 4×5 Ansco Universal, and has been printed on Silver Gelatin Paper.  I’m stating this information to hopefully prevent confusion between, can be considered as a Digital Pigment Print or DPP. This is also why historical type prints cost more, than a digital print from my Zenfolio page


Silver Gelatin Print from a Wet Collodion Negative 

History of the Silver Gelatin Process:


Dry Plates and Silver Gelatin paper from the turn of the Century

The Silver gelatin process is the photographic process used with currently available black-and-white films and printing papers.

The silver gelatin process was introduced by Richard Leach Maddox in 1871 with subsequent considerable improvements in sensitivity obtained by Charles Harper Bennett in 1878.

Silver gelatin print paper was made as early as 1874 on a commercial basis, but it was poor quality because the dry-plate emulsion was coated onto the paper only as an afterthought. Coating machines for the production of continuous rolls of sensitized paper were in use by the mid-1880s, though widespread adoption of silver gelatin print materials did not occur until the 1890s. The earliest papers had no baryta layer, and it was not until the 1890s that baryta coating became a commercial operation, first in Germany, in 1894, and then taken up by Kodak by 1900.

Although the baryta layer plays an important part in the manufacture of smooth and glossy prints, the baryta paper of the 1890s did not produce the lustrous or glossy print surface that became the standard for fine art photography in the twentieth century. Matting agents, textured papers, and thin baryta layers that were not heavily calendered produced a low-gloss and textured appearance. The higher gloss papers first became popular in the 1920s and 30s as photography transitioned from pictorialism into modernism, photojournalism, and “straight” photography.



for many of my prints, I like High Contrast – thus I tend to focus on that effect, this image 35mm-virginia-citywas captured used 35mm film, my preference is medium to large format film, but I do use a 35mm camera as well, and much the same with any film I use, I develop it myself, it was then printed on Silver Gelatin paper.



Unusual cases


We have a affinity for unusual types of cases, with the most common case being made from paper wrapped wood or from a thermal set plastic, commonly and incorrectly called Gutta-percha.  The cases that we like to collect and add our personal collection, are often cases that represent a unique shape, size or details that catch our fancy.

Within the main photograph, are some of our rarer and unique case, some are made from metal, wood and velvet, or leather that closes like like wallet.  while there’s a few that are made from paper-mache. with the mix of them being different shapes, such as the oreo shaped ones, which are named that simply because their shape looks like an oreo cookie

one of our more favored styles is crafted from paper-mache, theses cases are often crafted to look like a small book, with some being covered with velvet, and other fancy filigree. while the others are often lacquered, and inset with bit’s of mother of pearl, gold wire to create an intricate pattern on what could be considered the cover, while the back remains a plain, the cover pattern is more often  represents a  flower. the cases are then finished with gold leaf for the pages, and fine details in the inside of the case.

there is little to no information on who crafted theses cases, and due to their nature, each is basically a unique piece of art.

With that, our latest mother of pearl case is a  9th plate sized case.

Complete with it’s latch, and is without a broken spine, it contained a broken ambrotype of a woman wearing an unusually large lace collar dating the image to the early 1850’s. The ambrotype was backed with a separate piece of glass that had been blackened with using asphaltum.  The image, typically also gives a good idea on the age of the case as well.



Kearney Park Civil War Revisited 2016


Two Days of School days with 33 different stations total, and nearly 4,000 students – Then on Saturday and Sunday I was either taking pictures or we answering questions. On everything from how long it would have taken to make a camera to detailed information about the chemical process. As a result we where basically chained to our camp, and where not able to really capture a selection of digital photo’s as I did the previous time we attended the Kearney Park event.


Doing a school day presentations is strictly volunteer, This year each presenter is given a lunch as well as provided a little leeway to do things, like ask for donations or sell products that we’ve made – these monies are used to pay for things like transportation, chemicals and powder – We do school days presentations because we like too and are only really rewarded based upon seeing the spark of imagine that’s been created from what students have heard or seen, and hopefully learned, with questions to actually research the information further. We are often asked if we’ll travel to a school or museum to give a presentation. Unless, I can obtain grants and crowd funding, this is financially not feasible, as often times there’s a healthy Per Diem involved that schools and musuems often can not afford, I sometimes do not think, That powder burners comprehend the cost and art involved with taking a photograph, let alone a wet-plate photo -I know I didn’t when I demonstrated at schools and was paid a nominal fee for burning powder myself, with the schools only being a short drive.


Then, as a creative person I strive to create and prefect I have to, it’s part of who I am. if I do not create I end up dealing with depression. It’s my own therapy. Please note, that I do not charge very much for a tintype image, and have created a price list based upon the product, we do give discounts to reenactors, people who purchase bulk images and or images that we’ve taken simply because we’ve wanted to.. Please do not complain about those prices – We did have a couple of people walk away because they felt the prices were too high, It also created a couple of awkward situations for those involved, effectively forcing me to give extremely deep discounts, simply to pay for the chemicals.

To help offset our cost, I’ve created a gofundme crowdfunding campaign, you may also directly donate to our paypal on our main page.

As each day at the event flew by keeping me focused on the moment. It was still a long weekend that was dominated a by a dark cloud. The weekend didn’t start or even end on the best note, with me having spent several days trying to repair, organize and pack everything, I invariably completely forgot a couple of things. This only created tension between Sharon and I while creating a downward spiral into depression. Leaving dark feelings as if I had completely failed throughout the weekend. Some of that also shown in my work, causing me to offer some retakes on photo’s for free as I wasn’t happy with original photo’s, or effectively settling on giving a deep discount on photo, through buying an incorrect confederate battle flag to be used in one photo. I wasn’t clearly thinking on how to resolve some of the issues such as using a different lens, or putting my foot down about the flag. Those issues combined with being inundated by answering questions about the process or history  also made it difficult for us to leave the camp and to force myself to focus on capturing more images using any format.  The final result is that we are reevaluating how we will work in the future along with either eliminating our discounts and or increasing our prices.

leading into the weekend, Friday afternoon, the Confederate commander asked if I would be willing to take photo at/of the flag raising ceremony.. so, Saturday morning, at about 9:30 am I carried my camera over to where they would be raising the flag, moved my camera around until at a location that I felt would be best situated, focused, then flowed a plate, and captured the image

Kristine McNary Photography: Collodion &emdash;

It wasn’t the best flow, and in my opinion, it was actually also a little under exposed, this was judged based upon how long it took to develop. however the image served it’s purpose, allowing me to understand how much of area I could capture, as well allowing me to choose the best plate size, being a whole plate, or rather 6.5 x 8.5 and exposure time.

My daughter, Hannah, being helpful while I flowed the next plate, paraded the photo around to everyone  which helped getting them posed, showing them how much area I could capture using the wide angle lens. (she’s cross-dressed, in red as a confederate artillery man, I believe there’s also a star trek reference there too) She is also the only confederate in family. untitled-1  eventually, I would like to capture a modern military flag raising ceremony with a wet-plate photo, and yes I have permission, but I feel this was good practice. If you’ve never seen one, the ceremony instills a feeling of honor and reverence.

What I envisioned was capturing a photo with the flag being raised, however by the time I got back, with the fresh plate, it had been raised and people posed. unfortunately I believe that I shaded my lens too much due the movement of light, causing a section to be underexposed – as a result I’m offering copies of both a direct scanned image  with the under exposed edge, and a cropped and slightly digitally enhanced version.

Kristine McNary Photography: Collodion &emdash;

Kristine McNary Photography: Collodion &emdash;


This image is of me and my daughter  taking the group image, as I was getting ready to return the dark slide, the image(s) were stripped from Bruce Doan’s film

Aside from some of the doom and gloom and financial loss for operation cost alone, at least from a business prospective, we did manage to sell some images, and I believe inspire some people to learn more about photography and the history, based upon students coming back, having images taken or asking more about different aspects of photographic processes we were using as this included one art student, who may eventually look at alternative photographic processes.

What we learned from this event, is causing us to reevaluate how we function at events, driving us to build/purchase a cart that we can utilize, allowing us to be more mobile taking more photo’s of people at their camps or even of the battle field, then schedule  photo’s at our camp with our backdrop etc. on Sunday’s – we are also considering a different tent. The goal is to function more as a 19th century photographer, making the wet-plate camera my primary camera.

What this means is that on Saturday at an event we’ll have our main camp with educational board setup, possibly something for people to schedule, but will be out in the field shooting and working on what we want to do.

as far as school days, goes it’s our goal to increase and improve our presentation, as a professional presentation.

within a day or two I’ll be adding a link to the gallery of digital photo’s

Kristine McNary




Labor day weekend Virginia City Civil War Reenactment

20160902-img_1660For much of the weekend we where busy, talking to people about the history of 19th century photography or taking tintype photo’s. This for the most part confined to us to our of the habits that I’ve gotten into especially at event’s is taking at least one photo of the camp, typically a few digital ones, and maybe a wet-plate. The wet-plate photo is often often as a test of the light and my chemicals, however this time I completely forgot to do a digital photo lucky Sharon did. I however was able to manage a nice half plate tintype, using the Darlot wide angle on my 5 x 8

Virginia City - 9-3-16.jpg

we also were able to work our way up to the C-Street and redo a group portrait in-font of the Virginia City brewery, and made arrangements with Stinky and his mule to come down to our camp for a portrait, of him and his mule… the mule didn’t want to stand still.

At present, I use Zenfolio to manage my various photo’s – it gives me some wonderful options to protect my work, as well as allowing people to purchase prints – for a long time I refused to sell digital copies, I feel it dilutes the control over the images. however I finally gave in and added the option, that allows people to buy a single download. the current license I have set digital only no prints, this I hope will allow me to sell prints. here’s the gallery for  Virginia City



here’s some of the photo’s Sharon took



New Curtains

As part of our commitment to improve upon our presentation while inviting people to participate in the wonders of wet-plate collodion photography.  We are excited to be able create a new feeling of warmth through the addition of curtains to some of our mainstay backdrops.


Using the latest digital technology I had my daughter briefly pose to show how the curtains can be used to enhance a portrait



19th Century women photographers

When I was 1st thinking about the idea to do an impression as a photographer I held a commonly shared idea that there was a limited few women during the 19th century who were photographers and that most learned from their husband, brother or even father.  As I started developing my skills and researching the impression, I looked at my own family history to build from as well noting that a great number of early photographers within the states, learned in New York. As my grand parents on my fathers side being native New Yorker’s, and my Great, Great Grand Father on my mothers side, being the infamous New York Senator, who shot and killed Philip Barton Key II, and successfully plead temporary insanity.. Some of you may have heard about Major General Sickles – Thus my story developed of learning the trade from my late husband, and eventually taking over the gallery in New York.





Perfect idea for an impression, right?






This brings us to question from teachers and the general public at civil war reenactments “where there many women photographers during the Civil War?”  After all it seems everyone has heard about famous civil war photographers like Mathew Brady, and or even perhaps Alexander Gardner and Timothy O’Sullivan but these are only 3 people amongst the thousands people flocking to this new in vogue art utilizing common knowledge science to create perfect renditions, by drawing with light.  By the time the American Civil War official broke out in 1861 we have to remember that the idea of Photography was just 21 years old, with introduction of wet collodion photography having been just 9 years before hand.  I can often be heard exclaiming at civil war reenactments that we aspire to using the newest photographic processes and the latest in apparatus to capture the finest details – think about it, this was truly amazing,  within a very short time, you could have your likeness captured and reproduced on a card then send it to your relatives. It’s difficult to compare to anything in today’s world. We are so inundated with technology that we take for granted, such as smart phones and computers. But if you think back just a very short time, there were hundreds lining up to buy the latest Iphone..  So think about it this way, you can almost compare the common place of a photo during the civil war as how common it is for people today to have a cell phone.


What is photography? How do you classify it? Is it science, or is it art, the very word photography implies Art. Even today it seems there’s still confusion at times. The world at large didn’t know how to classify this new thing.. But everyone wanted it,  leading to thousands of men and women alike learning about and setting up studios and galleries with the idea being consider more of a hobby rather than a business that needed to be registered. But amazingly people like E. & H. T Antony helped create an industry that employed any number of women, who did everything from colorizing photos, making prints to making the small wooden boxes to carry one’s Daguerreotype photo in, they were even photographers themselves.


This made it very easy for any number of women to become photographers, starting smaller galleries and studios within their residence, after unless you happened to be making and sell camera’s cabinet cards of famous sites and locations you, you were not running a real business.


Looking at people like Julia Margaret Cameron – she was given a camera as a present in 1864, as a novelty item, she using the wet collodion process started take photo’s with the aim to recorded “the greatness of the inner as well as the features of the outer man.”   To do this she did things like using soft focus, black backgrounds or using lighting that broke the standards of reproducing a scientific copy of what seen.. Thanks to her, we have amazing striking photos of people like Sir Henry Taylor, and Charles Darwin.


I believe it’s safe to say, that women played a significant role in helping define photography more as an art, than a novel way to record images..


For now, I’ve just hinted about women photographers, mentioning only one woman in England, but what about women in the United States?


There are hundreds, and yes someone learned from their husbands, while others learned to do daguerreotypes in the 1840’s via studios in New York – then opened their own studios some becoming itinerant photographers, while others moved, though out the country. It’s difficult to say how many women photographers there where, as they were not registered as businesses. –


As I write more for this posting, we’ll explore some of those women.



reference links:

19th Century San Francisco 

MPR News


World Photography day

Today August 19 2016 is the official World Photography day,  the art of photography just a 177 years old. for the most part I worked on this website, purchasing the domain name and so on, however I did take a break to flow some collodion, and mix up some fresh developer and replenish of working stock of fixer.

here’s the final resultquarter plate 8-19-16 this is a quarter plate Tintype flowed with month old rapid clear collodion – curiously the raw collodion was old/expired collodion mixed with equally as old salts, which turned this ripe red color, that’s settled down to this, in my opinion perfect orange.