I always have been fascinated by photography.
But with the introduction of the digital camera it all became too easy, too predictable …to me.
So I forced myself to go back to the roots of real analog photography.
Not just by making the photograph itself, but by controlling the entire photographic process.

This brought me back to the middle of the 19th century, to the amazing Collodion wet plate process.
And every single day I feel challenged to refine and improve myself.

For my website please visit : www.alextimmermans.com

Alex Timmermans

"You don't take a picture, it's given to you"

donderdag 14 juli 2011

Silver bath maintenance

Recently I noticed some problems with one of my silver bath solution.
While developing plates it was more difficult to spread the developer over the plates.
Of course you can solve it by adding a little alcohol to your developer but on a certain point that won't help anymore

So it was time to start maintenance of my silver bath.
I didn't had any other problems so  I decided just to boil the solution back to a volume of about 90%. As a matter of fact, just heating up the Silver Nitrate is even more than enough. You only need to get rid of the Alcohol and Ether which came in with the Collodion.
Alcohol already boils at 79 degrees Celcius and Ether already at 35 degrees Celsius.
make sure you boil the silver solution in a stainless steel pot and in a very well ventilated room or outside.
After doing this I add the needed volume demineralised water and the bath CAN turn VERY cloudy.
Don't worry about that. It's absolutely normal and has nothing to do with maybe a bad quality of Demi water.
Just shake the bottle and leave it that way for a few hours it will clear and you will see a lot of dirt at the bottom of the bottle.

After that I sunned the bath under a face tanner. filtered it twice, checked gravity, added the needed silver nitrate and it was ready for use again.

Result : a perfectly clear and good working silver bath again.
So it takes a few hours but the result is worth it.
There is NO need to iodise your Silber nitrate again. It's ready for use

NOTE: I have been working with the "same" silver nitrate bath from the start in 2009. I NEVER added anything except silver nitrate and water. So No acid, no Clay no NOTHING.
If you treat your Silver nitrate with care you can work with it for many years!

After adding Demi water the solution can turn cloudy. Don't panic.
This is absolutely normal

 Lot's of dirt after the first filtering
 Gravity is too low. Should be around 1.08
Added extra Silver nitrate untill it reached the exact gravity and it's ready for use again

19 opmerkingen:

  1. This sounds quite radical.

    You evaporated off 80% of the water presumably to make sure you drove off all ether/alcohol that was there - then replaced the water with impure water that precipitated out silver chloride. So you lost some silver and returned to the original strength by adding more silver nitrate.

    Could you not have achieved the same by just sunning it for several hours, filtering it (adding more silver nitrate if that were required)? It seems to me you will have lost silver unnecessarily and made some labour-intensive tasks that were unnecessary. Maybe I am missing something?

    1. By bouling you don't loose any silver.
      I always use demi water, which clean.
      And by sunning you won't get rid of the ether abd alcohol in your silver nitrate

  2. Alex Timmermans15 juli 2011 om 01:55

    I wasn't using impure water. I have been using pure Demi water which i always use for making a silver nitrate solution.
    You can not reach this stage of cleaning only by sunning the bath.
    Just give it a try. You will be surprised.


  3. Hi Alex,

    A question slightly out of the main theme: I've always thought the gravity should be around 1.07. Do you think this makes a big difference? Cheers, Janne

  4. Hello Janne,

    There are many different formula's Soem are using 1.06 some (as me) are using aprox !! 1.08.
    I don't believe it will give huge differences.
    But i have used this from the start and it works fine for me, so i don't want to change it


  5. Goog day, Alex
    How long this bath worked before, that procedure?
    I'm using one silver bath already about a year, and only things that i did were sunning, filtering and adding silver to the needed volume. So may be it is time to try this?
    Best wishes, Eugene

  6. Hello Eugene,

    i use several baths. This bath i have not so much but used it several times to determine a problem some students of mine had.
    It occured that they had chemical problems.
    So it just wanted to be sure it was clean before i would use it again.


  7. I found adding a little dash alcohol to the developer solves the problem of it not pouring over the plate smoothly.

  8. Mark, you are right. That solves the problem.
    But, it doesn't solves the cause of that problem.
    After some plates that amount doesn't help anymore and you will have to add extra extra alcohol.


  9. I don't understand why did the solution fog, if it was a distilled water? Great tip, I think I'll do that! THX!!!

  10. Borut. it was deminelarised water. The same as i always use. And was surprised also that it turned that dirty. But it solved all my problems.

  11. It fogged because the solution has lots of iodine, and when you add water to the solution the iodine combines with the silver nitrate and makes silver iodide.

  12. Thanks Filipe, but does that also happens when using demenelarised water ?
    Strange thing is that i had it only once. This didn't showed up with a few other bottles. At least not that worse.

  13. Ive had the same problem with an already opened distilled water batch.
    Today after sunning the bath yesterday i was getting the level back to 250ml (it was at 215 because of evaporation), and used medical distilled water (got it from the pharmacy). The exactly same water i used sucesfully when mixing a new bath 2 weeks ago, now seems to be contaminated, and the result was getting again a milky silver bath, just after filtering!!! Damn... It seems that when opening a bottle of distilled water, it contaminates someway... From now on when working with Silverbaths ill try to use small 500ml new fresh bottles.

  14. Augustin,

    i have had it several times.
    Even with adding Demi water to a clean silver solution.
    Just leave it for a few days and it will turn as clear as water.
    you will have a bit black sediment though at the bottem of the bottle.


  15. Good afternoon, Alex!

    I have a big problem. I make a plate, after drying on a plate there are black points.
    I made a new silver bathtub and updated salts, the result didn't change.

    What it is necessary to make to solve a problem?

  16. Hallo Nadejda,

    Black spots are not always caused by the silverbath. Also dust from your plate holder can cause such a problem.

  17. Good afternoon,Alex!
    my name is yiannis and i'm from greece.
    i have a big problem..i make plate and after drying and finishing the plate, the next day i notice that there are some bubbles in my plates.i change my degrease(ilektrolitikal degrease) and still i have bubbles..for example in 10 pieces i make only 3 will be without bubbles.
    do u have any suggestion about how to solve it?

  18. Hallo Yiannes, just drop me a message at collodion-art at onsmail dot nl