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Archive 2012 · Opalotypes and Orotones
Kaden K.
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Opalotypes and Orotones


Carbon print Opalotypes and Orotones made from a glass plate negatives.

Oct 29, 2012 at 01:17 AM
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Opalotypes and Orotones


How did you like the carbon process?

Oct 29, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Kaden K.
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Opalotypes and Orotones

I loved it. I think it has a wider range of light to dark than platinum and it is more archival
as well and it also has better definition than many other processes. It really looks great
as a result and even in the old days carbon prints were more expensive than platinum

Needless to say it also has its potential difficulties that are process related. It is also a
very precise process when it comes to timing and portions, and how to, etc.

I learned to make my own carbon tissues from scratch giving me the advantage of not
being limited to what is available on the market (meager choices). I liked both the transfer
to fixed gelatin paper and glass. Both can work for different projects.

This is a great addition to making glass negatives (wet and dry). I ma also open in the
future to learn to make the old Kodak dry plate gelatin which is faster than the collodion
dry plates. Studying at GEH one can have access to an ex-Kodak engineer who knows
about the process well.

The glass plates obviously can be used to print in carbon. Including doing double printing
with different colors.

Orotones are extremely rare still nowadays and fetch high prices in the market.

I had the opportunity of seeing carbon originals from the 1800's and they were amazingly
good. My favorite photographer was by far Thomas Annan. I got to see may of his original
prints. I saw also some incredible carbro prints and some rare addictive and subtractive
color prints dating back to the very beginning of photography. Including a French 3 color
print that was the very first color print. Impressive when one has access to the originals.

My next adventure is learning pre-daguerrean processes such as physautotype. This is
the process that let to daguerreotypes and can be done in glass and silver plates and
looks pretty much like a daguerreotype even though it is done with resin and lavender
and developed with turpentine.

Edited on Oct 29, 2012 at 06:51 AM · View previous versions

Oct 29, 2012 at 05:31 AM
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Opalotypes and Orotones

I wasn't aware of orotones or physautotypes. You are delving into the arcane. Bet you're having fun, too!

Making your own carbon tissues ought to have tremendous potential.

Oct 29, 2012 at 05:37 AM
Kaden K.
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Opalotypes and Orotones

It does indeed. It can also be used for etching in photogravure or just selling them
in colors that no longer exist in the market. Carbon prints are also called Autotypes
because of the industrial company that made the tissues. They had specific colors
that no longer exist and no longer are made available to artists.

Some carbon prints have a level of relievo that is not found in any other process.


Check this out on the Carbro Process:

Orotones in collodion are a little rough compared to the ones made with carbon. They
are very smooth in carbon and reminds me of the work of Edward S. Curtis.


Here is an article on Wikipedia about it: (btw, whoever wrote this article is unaware that
no banana oil exists in conjunction with orotones - one of those myths that made it to


I can tell you that a digital image of an orotone does not even come close to do justice
to the original and I found it difficult to scan them, specially if they are in glass. I have
made more glass orotones but I am not going to bother posting them in digital because
I can't bear to look at them in digital anyway.

Oct 29, 2012 at 05:40 AM

Search in Used Dept. 

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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Opalotypes and Orotones

Cool! I'll have to explore these.

BTW, does anyone sub and use Plexiglass or other plastic sheet as a base rather than glass?

Oct 29, 2012 at 06:59 AM
Kaden K.
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Opalotypes and Orotones

One could use plexiglass as a substract for collodion or for carbon tissues or even
other unusual types of substracts. The thing about plexiglass with collodion is that
to reuse it (in case of a mistake) unlike glass it must be done with the swipe of the
hand to clean it off and while wet. Once dry using a razor blade would scratch the
plexi which seldom happens with glass.

In carbon prints the gelatine dries pretty strongly making the substract only usable

I have in the past used black plexi glass for ambrotypes because of its beautiful
shine. All in all glass is a better choice though and one with plenty of tradition.
As far as I can tell plexi is used in Europe more often because it is cheaper than
glass in certain countries.

As to subbing plates, no subbing is necessary for carbon printing with glass and the
developed out paper was fixed making it gelatin on gelatin. The negatives in collodion,
only the dry plates are subbed with albumen which is an interesting process requiring
a humidifier.

I know some folks that sub the edges of their ambrotypes whether it is glass or plexi,
basically to give it more traction but I never sub mine. Instead, I clean them very well
and haven't had issues thus far.

Oct 29, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Kaden K.
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Opalotypes and Orotones

Just in case you are wondering where you can go and learn 19th century photography
processes from real masters of the craft:


You are welcome.

P.S. That is really me ghosting the "Scully & Osterman Skylight Studio":


Oct 30, 2012 at 02:28 AM
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Opalotypes and Orotones

Oct 30, 2012 at 03:47 AM

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