Making Silver Gelatin Emulsion is an Art Within at Art

December 14, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

As I continue my journey of making my own silver gelatin emulsion from raw materials, I am quickly realizing that making emulsion is an art within an art.  I continue to fall deeper in love with my craft and explore new areas after three decades of work.  

My goal is to coat my own negatives (paper and glass plates) with an emulsion that I created in my laboratory and then continue that theme into hand selecting time-tested papers like Arches and others for my printing substrate and coat them with emulsion recipes that date back to the origins of modern photography. All of my work will be large format contact prints using a very simple lamp that hangs above my work bench.  I want to take my art and craft to the simplest possible form so that I can more deeply explore my subjects.  

If you enjoy articles like this, you can support this blog and new articles for only $2 per month.  Subscribe to my Darkroom Newsletter, and never miss an update again. Explore my learning materials that include video workshops, eBooks, and quick reference cards. 

Having control at a chemical level of my negative and print emulsions is the ultimate triumph for me creatively.  I hope to master each process as time passes and create impactful and meaningful photographs that tell important stories of my time.  

The research of Dr. Burt H. Carroll and Dr. Donald Hubbard between 1928 and 1934 which was published by the National Bureau of Standards is the seminal research work in silver gelatin emulsion theory as far as I know.  Dr. Carroll went to work for Kodak in 1933 and retired 1962. Dr. Donald Hubbard joined Dr. Carroll in 1925 at the National Bureau of Standards and he was a Fellow of the Washington Academy of Science, member of the American Chemical and Optical Societies, and of the Association for the Advancement of Science. He was honored by the American Department of Commerce with a Silver Medal for Scientific Attainment, and by the Societe Fran~aisede Photographie with the Niepce·Daguerre Medal.  

I wonder what it would have been like to live and work with men like this?  Luckily for us, their work lives on through their research and through photographers like me.  This is one reason why I am an advocate for traditional silver-based photographic processes because I want to keep the art and science of silver-gelatin chemical photography alive and not be forgotten in our digital world.  

My new photographic research and work runs in parallel with my life's pursuit as I begin to work off the grid in my simple cabin and darkroom.  I create my own energy from solar and wind, source my water supply, stay warm with trees that I harvest from my land, and I only use the resources that I need to live.  I plan to plant a prairie on part of my land in the near term which is a commitment to nature but also provides me with endless opportunities to photograph the flora and fauna at will.  

It seems that every area of my life and work is being distilled down to the basics and fundamentals.  While this was not the plan, the two have come together and I am now aware of their relationship as I move forward.  

I will continue to write about my experiences as I continue with failures and successes in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.  

You can support my writing for only $2 per month or $24 per year.  I have been writing and sharing articles on all things darkroom photography and large format for nearly a decade now.  Feel free to search my blog for topics of interest by entering your search phrase in the upper right corner.  I send exclusive updates to my supporters.  

Join thousands of photographers and fine art collectors from around the world and receive my exclusive Newsletter and never worry about missing a new article or update again. 

You can view and purchase my limited edition Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine ArtTM gallery prints or my Platinum Histograph Heirloom MiniaturesTM from my online gallery. You can visit my Platinum Printmaking page to learn more about how I create my Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine Art Prints. 

Follow me on my St. Francois Mountain Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine Art Print Project where I am photographing the St. Francois Mountains that were formed by volcanic and intrusive activity 1.5 billion years ago.  By comparison, the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago, and the Rockies a mere 140 million years ago.

-Tim Layton 

Check out my darkroom and large format training materials (Video Workshops, Quick Reference Cards, eBooks, Guides)

Tim Layton
Darkroom & Large Format Photography
Platinum Histograph Heirloom Prints & MiniaturesTM
Video Workshops/eBooks/Guides:
© Tim Layton Sr. | All Rights Reserved


No comments posted.

Darkroom Newsletter with Tim Layton



BUY ART - Silver Gelatin Darkroom Prints

BUY ART - Platinum Fine Art Histographs


Media & News Updates


Support This Blog

Subscription Options


Popular Articles