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Kallitype Notes

From: Judy Seigel.

I have some useful comments.

As for kallitype - in my moderately informed, but no doubt insufficiently humble, opinion, a lot of trouble, comes from too much faith in a certain UNdefinitive book. Aside from the maddening and confusing repetitions and contradictions, it leaves out a lot that's pertinent, barks up a lot of wrong trees, and says much that just isn't true.

The BEST single kallitype developer I found was Bostick and Sullivan's Ammonium Citrate liquid developer, which, last time I bought it, cost about $8 a litre plus shipping. And it comes ready mixed. Don't know if it gives the "chocolate" color Adam is looking for (is that bakers chocolate, milk chocolate, or sweet German chocolate, Adam?), but it is a very pleasant, often rosy, brown, which, as always, varies with the paper and other processing details. It is, however, just about glitch-proof, gives smooth, fine grain, tends not to need further clearing on hard papers, and, just like the old (platinum) manuals promise, lasts forever. That is, when it gets dark, let it settle, decant the clear part, and dispose (properly) of the sludge.
It won't go bad, just add more when volume is low.

As for those Rochelle salts developers, I, too, found it nearly impossible to get all the chemicals into solution -- but we're willing to suffer for our art, right? Trouble was that, even after all the weighing and stirring, I never got the promised variations of color. Also, though I didn't test EACH variation, the ones I did try didn't last well. If you re-use them (sometimes, as I recall, just the 2nd time, and that's a fair amount of money and stirring for one printing session), they ruin the print (grainy and faded) and you're right back at the mixing table.

HOWEVER, ammonium citrate developer's bright brown was too bright on my paper (an old Strathmore Drawing). Sodium acetate, easy to mix and reusable , was excellent. That's 75 g sodium acetate & 3 g tartaric acid per litre.
I'd mix a gallon at double strength, then add an equal amount of water and the tartaric acid (3 grams is about
1/2 tsp) at time of use.

For contrast controls, one drop of 7% potassium dichromate per 50 drops emulsion was about the limit before highlights got grainy, but it brought the CR down to 8 steps (from 12 or so) on the 21-step. OR, add 1/2 cc (10 drops) 7% potassium dichromate per litre to the developer. Either way, no further clearing was necessary. (Of course both formulas lighten the image; expose accordingly.)

For ferric oxalate, I found Bostick & Sullivan's dry powder the best "solution," cheaper than buying and shipping liquid and seems (so far) to keep indefinitely; I made it up over time in 4 batches. For 25% solution, stir 12 1/2 grams into 40 cc distilled water in a beaker, stirring at intervals for ca. 1/2 hour, then pour into brown dropper bottle, using a final 10 cc of distilled to slosh out the residue in the beaker. (If all won't fit, store part in tightly sealed bottle in fridge.) Agitate the bottle occasionally over the next 12 hours or so. The powder WILL go into solution -- the cloudy greenish liquid WILL become clear and brownish -- though it looks like it won't. You can heat the liquid to speed things up (microwave OK), but don't boil.

Note that the classic potassium ferricyanide test for freshness of FO doesn't work with the B&S powder, which I learned after throwing out a bunch. Marilyn Bostick said the only risk with old FO is it won't clear, but what IS the risk of non-clearing? They say iron residue in paper degrades the silver, but they say lots of things. Depending on the negative and the paper, the "stain" can give a rather charming "antique" look. Is it risky? Also, is iron residue always visible right off (unlike fixer residue)? Anybody?

For clearing bath when needed, either EDTA or 10% citric acid was OK, others degraded the image.

For fixer, 55 grams of sodium thiosulfate (2 heaping tablespoons) per litre of water with 10 cc non-sudsy household ammonia lightened the print least. But fix for how long? I fix for no more than 2 agitating minutes and in 8 years have seen no fading. (But the 9th year?) In my heart I think all VDB and kallitype formulas tell you to overfix (they say 5 to 10 minutes), with a real loss of richness, but my attempts to test for residual silver have been ignominious. The only formula I found was: 1 part Kodak Rapid Selenium to 9 parts water. Squeegee print. Put drop on highlight area; blot after 2-3 minutes. If color is other than creamy (it says), unfixed silver remains. So my tests all turned bright selenium-red -- even in borders with no emulsion. Any suggestions, formulae, out there?

The Kodak H-2 formula test for residual hypo, OTH, was very clear and distinct and quite at odds with the "info" in
---- oops, said I wouldn't!

To lighten a too-dark print, bathe it in (or swab with) HCL in from 1/2% to 2% solution. Muriatic acid (construction grade HCL) is $6 a gallon at the hardware store. (It's going to be 99% tap water anyway.)

Other papers that looked good with Kallitype were Saunders #72, softer, but a beautiful purply brown with the B&S. developer; Stonehenge was also a great color; Fabriano Artistico was black and beautiful with the sodium acetate developer; the old Strathmore Artists 500 series was excellent, but I don't know about the new.

Adam Kimball, currently working in kallitype in California, says his experience overall largely agrees with mine -- except for the sodium acetate developer. He writes,

I have tried 100 grams and 75 grams of sodium acetate per litre and had tons of problems. The paper clears alright, but the image decomposes! Small "circles" begin to form all over the prints in a week or so, as if all the silver in tiny little patches had fallen off. This has happened with MANY different mixes of the developer, and I have just quit using it. If I REALLY want blacks, I'll tone for them.

As for the Rochelle Salts developer, I agree it doesn't last long. But I have been getting great results with 50 grams of sodium borate to 30 grams of Rochelle Salts in 1 litre of water. Plus lots of tartaric acid -- 10 grams at the beginning, then replenishing with a couple of ml's of 20% tartaric. I begin by printing my higher contrast negatives, adding sodium dichromate (2% solution) to the developer as I proceed on to lower contrast negs.

I find at least 1/2 ml per liter S.D. in the developer necessary for clean higlights. Also, I do not add dichromate to the sensitizer, as is sometimes ad vised, since since my prints never clear when I do. The "batch" is anywhere from
10 prints to 30. I do discard the developer often but I buy Rochelle Salts cheaply. I've been using sodium borate instead of borax -- no special reason, I just do. Anyway, I haven't seen a yellow stain in quite a while.

I also use a "super-saturated" Borax-Rochelle Salts developer for a more neutral tone: 75 grams sodium borate to
40 grams Rochelle Salts. This does require a fair amount of tartaric, 10 grams to start with. I leave it on the magnetic stirrer for 20 minutes, then let the developer sit overnight. Typically there will be free-floating crystals (miniscule, but present) in the developer at this point. If I slide in a print, the paper becomes covered with these crystals, making a really 'gritty' or grainy print that doesn't clear very well. So I add 15g of Tartaric ( of the "+(-)+" variety), which usually takes care of the problem; the free-floating developer crystals totally dissolve. Another 5 to 10 grams of tartaric and the developer works fine.

Adam and I e-mailed about the possibility that our differences were due to the sodium acetate. (I'm sending him some of mine to try.) Or the paper -- I never tried kallitype on Platina. Or the water .... Adam also suggests including some information about papers which do NOT work, "so people won't have to waste time and money dealing with Arches, Winsor&Newton, etc. I thoroughly recommend Arches Platine, a brilliant paper, though it is really expensive. It gives much more density than Cranes or Strathmore."

He doesn't say which Arches he tried, but any unfamiliar paper/emulsion combo needs testing. Not only are papers different, different batches of the "same" paper can be very different. Burnt printers buy just enough paper from a friendly store to test, getting the batch number, then buy working supply from same batch.

Adam also gave the following "contrast ratings" for his Borax-Rochelle 50:30- developer with additions of
2% Sodium Dichromate:

ml S.D/Liter.........ES (SI) - contrast rating 0ml 1.80 2ml 1.62 4ml 1.45 6ml 1.35 8ml 1.21 10ml 1.05

Cheers, Judy Seigel, NYC

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