Oscar Rejlander Limited Edition Print
Portfolio dimensions: 28cm x 35cm
Print paper dimensions: 25cm x 33cm
The process of making an albumen print
A piece of paper, usually 100% cotton, is coated with an emulsion of egg white (albumen) and salt, and then dried. The albumen seals the paper and creates a slightly glossy surface for the sensitizer to rest on. The paper is then dipped in a solution of silver nitrate and water, which renders the surface sensitive to UV light. The paper is then dried in the absence of UV light.
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. A bath of sodium thiosulfate fixes the print’s exposure, preventing further darkening.