Name Amon First

After development, the image is neutralized into an acid stop bath, then fixed in a sodium thiosulphate solution which removes the undeveloped silver bromides that are still present in the emulsion. The print is finally washed in order to dissolve any traces of fixative, as its sulphur content can attack the silver grain over time. Although their natural tone is a neutral black, chemically developed prints can have several different tones and contrasts due to the use of toning baths. Sulphur toning, which appeared in the 1910s and is often called sepia toning due to the chocolate brown shades it produces, remained one of the most popular toning methods until the 1930s. Other, rarer toning methods, such as platinum or selenium, were also used.

Although gelatin silver bromide prints are quite light-stable, the effect of humidity and pollutants can create areas of metallisation or oxidisation of the silver in the image. Defective image processing, particularly the use of old fixative or insufficient washing time, alters the images, producing yellow or brown marks on the image or paper side.

Silver bromide printing was the most commonly used process in the 20th century, and although still marketed it is gradually becoming obsolete since the emergence of digital monochrome prints in the early 21st century.

Images from the top:
Renger-Patzsch Albert, Nature morte aux cerises, Collection Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris
Détail agrandi © ARCP / Mairie de Paris, Jean-Philippe Boiteux

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