Photos © 2003, Frances E. Schultz, All Rights Reserved
Several years ago Luminos
Photo had to cease production of their silver paper: the paper stock
they had been coating became unavailable. Since then they have been
searching for a replacement. Now they have it, and it is very nice.
The new paper is called Subtle
Silver. It is a resin-coated base, silver on one side and white on the
other. The variable contrast emulsion runs from Grade 0 to Grade 5.
It is not as shiny as its predecessor. The texture is hard to describe.
More than anything else, it is the texture (though not the color) of
slightly rough human skin--"dishpan hands," if you
remember the advertising.
Sequential toning, sepia then gold (Tetenal Gold).
The paper handles much like
any other resin-coated paper, easy to process and quick to wash. The emulsion
seems fairly slow: it takes something like 25 seconds for the image to
come up. With Ilford Bromophen paper developer at 24ÞC (75ÞF)
it developed to finality in 90 seconds.
I followed my regular developing regime of a stop bath after developing
and two fix baths. I then washed the prints for 5 minutes in running water.
Graphic Subjects Best
For the test I decided to use a single image: a metal jug against a stone
wall. My reasoning was that the silver paper demands a very graphic and
fairly simple subject. You may have other ideas. I also thought it would
be easier to see the differences in image tones if I used the same image
and exposure throughout the test.
Sepia toned, then handcolored with Marshall's oils.
After you have processed your first test strip it is essential to wash
and dry the paper. I found it impossible to make any meaningful judgments
about exposure and contrast with a wet strip. This paper has a reverse
dry-down effect. Before it is dry, it is a gunmetal gray and it looks
pretty dull. The metallic look comes through when the print is dried and
the reflectivity makes the image appear both lighter and contrastier.
The new paper is also interesting when toned. At first I couldn't
make it take up the old selenium toner I had been using (and using, and
using...). I tried again with a freshly opened bottle of Paterson
Acutone selenium and it took it quite happily. The image tone went very
cold, and the maximum density increased markedly.
Sepia works very well, too. I used a thiourea toner by Tetenal. I had
a problem with the Tetenal Triponaltoner at first. It is made up from
a powder, and until I strained it through a filter, I was getting splotches
and stains. Once the toner was filtered everything was fine.
My favorite effect came from sepia and gold used sequentially. This gives
a reddish tone. The longer you leave it in the gold toner, the redder
When toning the paper, wear rubber gloves and fish the print out with
your fingers. This is because the emulsion is quite delicate and tongs
can leave marks.
The paper can also be handcolored. I tried a number of different techniques.
Marshall's Handcoloring Wands worked very well. The color went into
the surface and when dry left no change in the surface texture. Unfortunately,
Spotpens (which are normally used on a damp print) tended to scrape off
the emulsion no matter how light a touch I used. You could use them on
a dry print to color in small areas, but the damp emulsion is just too
Transparent oils work even better than dyes on this paper. It has plenty
of "tooth" to receive the oil colors and even colored pencils,
provided you have good quality pencils and a light touch. Beware of using
cleaning solutions with oils or pencils. Because the emulsion is so tender
it is advisable to use a cotton swab and Marshall's transparent
medium for cleanup.
Curiosity is a wonderful thing, but not all experiments work very well.
The surface is so nice that I tried fixing a sheet out and then printing
on it with an Epson Stylus Photo 1270. It didn't work very well.
I got an image, but it broke up badly. Continuous tone it was not.
Choosing subjects to print on silver paper is much more difficult than
printing them. As I said in the
beginning, I prefer very simple graphic shapes, but then, someone else
may be able to make it work for landscapes or even portraits.
It is a better paper for exhibition than for reproduction because (almost
by definition) reproduction cannot hold the reflective quality which makes
it so distinctive. The images here will not show the wonderful soft sheen
of the paper, but I hope that enough of its character will show through
that you will want to try it.
For more information, contact Luminos Photo by calling (800) 586-4667
or visiting their website at www.luminos.com.