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Tirage au charbon

If Poitevin's invention offers a large amount of stability, it does not allow the accurate reproduction of mid tones, nor the production of images with good contrast. Essentially, the thickness of the sensitized layer applied to the paper prevents light from penetrating deeply: the lower layers of the gelatin therefore remain soluble and are carried with their pigments into the water bath. Various improvements to the process were therefore made over time, including the carbon transfer print invented in 1860: in this process, the image layer is removed from its original support before being transferred to a second support. To tackle the problem of the image being reversed during a single transfer, photographers then developed the double transfer technique, which allowed them to reproduce the natural sense of the subject. During this same period, commercialization of pigmented paper began and the choice of pigments grew, as for example, sienna, indigo, Prussian blue and sepia.

By the end of the 19th century, high-quality non-transfer carbon prints were also available on the market, such as Artigue Charbon-Velor and Fresson Charbon-Satin.

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