Kallitypes = Rom/Com plotline / by Ron Cowie

I love Kallitypes and I always forget that I love Kallitypes. This process is similar to platinum in tone curves but, the variety of colors and tones you can achieve at far less expense is pretty breathtaking.

If we were to reduce alternative processes to characters in a Romantic comedy, Platinum/Palladium is your uptight fiancee while Kallitype is his/her free spirited sibling you fool around with in the boathouse during the engagement party. Hilarity ensues.

Here is a link to Sandy King's article about the Kallitype. It has a process overview and everything. I'm not going to pretend that I'm an authority on this when there are such things as the internet.

Here is the M&P of the process that we'll be doing. This was written by Sandy King

Necessary Materials

The Basic Chemicals

Silver nitrate
Ferric oxalate powder
Sodium thiosulfate crystals
Sodium carbonate
Sodium sulfite
Citric acid
Potassium Chloroplatinite 20% solution
Sodium Chloropalladite 20% solution
Gold chloride 5% Solution

Kallitype requires six different solutions: 1) sensitizer, 2) developer, 3) clearing agent,  4) toner, 5) fixer, and6) hypo-clear.

1) Sensitizer

The sensitizer is prepared as two separate stock solutions, solution A and solution B, which are mixed in equal parts just before use.

Solution A10% silver nitrate
Mix 10g silver nitrate in 70 ml distilled water. Allow to dissolve and then add water to make a total of 100ml of solution.

Solution B20% ferric oxalate
Mix 20g ferric oxalate powder in 75ml distilled water. Allow to dissolve and then add water to make a total of 100 ml of solution. Ferric oxalate takes a long time to go into solution and should be mixed about 24 hours before use. In powder form it lasts indefinitely, but once mixed with water will slowly degrade, with a resulting increase in print fog. To avoid this fogging, mix no more solution than you expect to use in two to three months.

2) Developer

My preferred developer is a 20% solution of sodium citrate. Add 200g of sodium citrate to 750ml distilled water, stir until completely dissolved, then add water to 1000ml.

3) Clearing Agent

The recommended clearing agent for my method of kallitype is a 3% solution of citric acid. To prepare, add 30g citric acid to 750ml water, stir until completely dissolved, then add water to 1000ml.

4) Toner

See the section at the end of this article for various toner formulas.

5) Fixer

Add 50g sodium thiosulfate, 10g sodium carbonate and 2g sodium sulfite to 750ml water. Stir. When dissolved, add water to 1000ml. You can also prepare the fixer as a concentrated solution at 4X the strength above and dilute 1:3 for a working solution.

6) Hypo Clear

The hypo clear is a simple 1% sodium sulfite solution. To prepare, add 10g sodium sulfite to 1000ml water and stir until completely dissolved.  This solution should be mixed just before use and discarded after about an hour or so, or after use.


Choosing a suitable paper is one of the most important factors in making kallitypes. Papers that will not clear completely in about 4-5 minutes should not be used. Most of the papers that work well with pt/pd printing also work well for kallitype. I have had good success in kallitype with Crane's stationery AS 8111, Platine, Bristol 2-ply Rising, Stonehenge Rising and Fabriano Artistico. Of these, my personal preference is Stonehenge Rising. It has a nice pebbly surface, gives good image detail, and clears easily.

Light Source

Printing requires a light source high in ultraviolet light, of which there are a variety: the sun, a bank of black-light fluorescent tubes, mercury vapor and metal halide HID lamps, as well as commercial plateburners such as the Nuarc 26-1K. More information on light systems can be found in my article Ultraviolet Light Sources for Printing with the Alternative Processes.

The Negative

Although considerable contrast control is available in kallitype, it's advisable to start with a good negative and then apply corrective controls later.  The best negative for kallitype has a density range of about log 1.8. This is a very contrasty negative that will not print well even on a grade #0 or #1 paper. If you are making in-camera negatives with sheet film, this density range can be achieved by developing the film about 50% longer than normal for silver gelatin #2 paper.

Excellent enlarged negatives for kallitype can also be made digitally from 35mm roll film and sheet film originals. The original negative or transparency is scanned, worked on in Photoshop to give the best possible print on screen, and then printed on overhead transparency film on one of the modern inkjet printers. I make my digital negatives with an Epson 2000P, but numerous other printers can be used. The one great advantage to digital negatives over original camera negatives is that they all have close to the same density and contrast range, so that exposure time and contrast will be virtually identical. A detailed account of making negatives digitally is beyond the
scope of this article, but for working details, consult Dan Burkholder's excellent book, Making Digital Negatives for Contact Printing. There is also a good paper on making digital negatives by David Fokos on the Bostick and Sullivan website.  Unfortunately, Fokos' paper is now several years old and has not been updated to reflect the current generation of inkjet printers. For a really recent study on making negatives with inkjet printers see Judy Seigel's article on making digital negatives in Post-Factory Photography Issue #8.

It is certainly possible to make good enlarged negatives for contact printing with traditional film, but frankly I have found the advantages of working with digital negatives so great that I cannot recommend going back to wet processing.

You will probably want to mask your negatives to eliminate brush strokes on the final print. My preferred method, especially with digital negatives, is to tape around the image area with red lithographer's tape. Another method of masking is to just cut a frame in construction paper or Goldenrod paper slightly smaller than the printing area of the negative and tape the negative to the paper.