We can now pass to the last technical stages of the process. They are simple enough. The oil print when finished will have to be pinned securely on to a drawing board by its four corners, and placed near a stove or hot air furnace. The gelatine film will be dry in half an hour, and the ink in several hours or several days according to the way it has been laid on, and to the nature of the paper. On matt-surfaced papers, the coating of which is very thin, desiccation is far more rapid than with smooth or shiny surfaces.
A perfectly dry print will, of course, show a certain change in its values. Both blacks and whites will appear duller than when the print is wet. In most cases the highest lights will have to be quickened with the point of a sharp scalpel or with a pointed indiarubber eraser. In fact, at this stage, any passage from black to pure white may be effected in the same manner, but it must be borne in mind that over-indulgence in after-retouching will tend to unduly soften the outlines of the picture. I have seen many fairly good pictures spoilt in that way.
On the other hand, if there is any need of raising a value, the only practical way will be to soak the print anew in tepid water and ink locally over the freshly swollen gelatine. Soft ink should not be added to a dry print for it will take anywhere and everywhere, no underlying relief will be there to guide the brush and the lens drawing will be lost.
FROM THE BROMIDE PRINT.
FROM THE OIL PRINT.
VARNISHING. Prints on matt paper may be varnished when quite dry with Soehnee's varnish for water colours, or ordinary wood varnish, or a mixture of both, to which equal parts of spirits of wine will have to be added. It will brighten the inked portions of the print and sink through the unprotected portions. Smooth and heavily coated papers will retain the varnish on their whole surface, and a disagreeable glossy effect will ensue.
I should not recommend close framing for oil prints unless they be particularly strong - stronger indeed in tone and contrast than the frame itself. The style of framing adopted for engravings, with a narrow vignette of pale natural wood and a rather wide margin of Japan tinted paper, seems the most suitable for this kind of work.
A half-tone reproduction of a straight bromide and one of an oil print from the same negative are shown on pages 129 & 130. I know from previous experience that most people will prefer the bromide, but this is a matter of taste. Still the comparison may be interesting to the few, from the point of view of values and their effect. It will be noticed, if the half-tone process has not played false with the originals, that : Firstly, the relative values of the sky and snow have been altered, the sky value having been lowered and the snow highlights in the foreground brought to nearly pure white. This lightening of the snow has darkened the value of the trees - by contrast only - and brought the effect nearer to that of nature. Secondly, the patchy foreground on the right side of the bromide picture has been more broadly modelled by local inking and most of the complicated branches and brambles have been sacrificed for the sake of simplicity. Thirdly, the second plane on the left side has been still more simplified, and the background on the same side has been allowed to melt in a sort of distant haze. Also the two irritating stumps in the central distance have been entirely suppressed.
The key-note of the picture is meant to be found in the close contrast between the deepest black and the highest white which is produced by the upper snow-laden boughs, and the trunks of the tall trees on the right.