A long while ago when I learned you could do hopefully simple reversals with photo paper ( that is you make the exposure and instead of using developer stop and fix and getting a negative you develop, bleach+clear, fog with light (or chemicals) redevelop stop and fix ) I wanted to try it. For a long time I have wanted to make simple postives without enlarging, that could be looked at as unique prints. I’ve tried tintypes, but I haven’t done many of them, I have done silver gelatin ferrotypes ( modern tintypes ) with limited success and silver gelatin ambrotypes with limited success. On my bucket list is making a coffee based reversal developer to make silver gelatin and ambrotype reversals but I haven’t really followed through on those yet. So when I saw a video on you tube and friends on Photrio.com attempting, and succeeding at doing these reversals I had to try.
The process is pretty straight forward and not too difficult. You make a paper negative that is over exposed a few stops, you develop and stop the paper negative. I use vinegar for stop bath in this process ( usually I don’t use stop bath but water instead so I have fewer chemicals in my darkroom ). The next step is to bleach it with Hydrogen Peroxide ( the image vanishes before your eyes for the most part ), then you fog the white paper negative with bright light, and redevelop it in regular developer, then stop bath and then fixer. You will see the image appear as a positive.
When I first tried this process I used citric acid for my stop bath and I had a small bottle with 10% citric acid that I would squirt in regular old dollar store hydrogen peroxide. It takes a while for the image to clear if you have the right concentration of citric acid and hydrogen peroxide but sometimes it won’t clear and sometimes it takes 45 minutes to an hour or more. I had lousy luck and most of my images never cleared. When I recently started working with this process again I used 40 volume ( I think it is 13% ) hydrogen peroxide purchased at Sally Beauty Supply. I am careful with the hydrogen peroxide because it is really concentrated and can burn so I use rubber gloves and I am extra careful. With this concentrated hydrogen peroxide the image clears and I’m able to make a postive
I have made a handful of images using this process and find it to be a lot of fun, and hope to use a large format camera and make portraits this way with people that I meet.
Here are a couple of images I made using Sprint Print Developer, Vinegar Stop Bath, 40 Volume Hydrogen Peroxide and I fogged the paper using a 300 watt bulb.