This section is from the book "Modern Photography In Theory And Practice", by By Henry G. Abbott. Also available from Amazon: Modern photography in theory and practice: A hand book for the amateur.
Having passed through the various stages and exposed, developed, fixed and washed our negative and remedied any slight imperfections in it, we are now ready to consider one of the most important stages of picture making, that of printing and toning. It is one of the most important because, although we may have succeeded in securing a most admirable negative, that is no guarantee that we shall have a beautiful picture, as much depends on the paper used, the quality of the printing and the success in toning.
Before starting our printing, we must have a suitable device for holding the paper and plate in close contact. Such a device is known as a printing frame and is illustrated in Fig. 34. These frames are comparatively cheap and the amateur should have at least four of them, for it is not every day that you can print and as the average amateur will have to do his printing on holidays or outside of business hours, it will be found advantageous to keep four frames going at one time. If your plates are 4 x 5 we should advise the purchase of three frames of this size and the fourth one say 8 x 10. Our reason for so advising is that you may desire to put a 4 x 5 view in the middle of an 8 x 10 sheet and to do this you must have an 8 x 10 frame.
The negative is laid in the printing frame film side up, the printing paper is laid upon it film or sensitive side down, so that the sensitive side of the paper shall come in contact with the film side of the plate. There will be no difficulty in determining which is the sensitive side of the paper. The cover of the printing frame is then laid upon the paper, the springs depressed and moved from right to left as the case may be, until they come under the metal catches on the edge of the frame, thus holding the paper in perfect contact with the negative. Before placing the paper in position however, it is absolutely necessary that all dust be removed from the face of the negative. This may be done by means of a camel's hair brush, as we did when we loaded our plate holders, but as in that instance, we must also here be careful not to brush the film too vigorously, or we will electrofy the plate and thus cause the small particles of dust which are ever floating in the atmosphere to be attracted to it. In order to overcome this obstacle, some photographers undertake to free the plate from dust by blowing upon it with their mouth. This is a dangerous practice, either when loading plate holders or when preparing to print, for small particles of saliva are very apt to accompany the breath and bespatter the face of the negative, which will cause the film on the paper to be cemented to the face of the plate. A far better practice in dusting plates is to use a bulb similar to those which operate the shutter in hand cameras, though those a little larger in size will be found preferable.
Fig. 35 illustrates such a bulb fitted with a short pipe made of lead. This pipe being heavy, prevents the bulb from rolling around when laid down. By compressing the bulb a strong current of air can be directed all over the plate, effectually removing all particles which may be resting upon it. This bulb will also be found useful for cleaning the plate holders and the camera, for the current of air can be directed into corners and out of the way places which cannot be reached by the brush.
Having placed the paper in the frame we now turn the latter upside down and by means of a handkerchief or a piece of clean cloth, we proceed to clean the glass side of the negative. This is done most effectively by breathing upon the glass and then rubbing it vigorously. Sometimes the emulsion gets spattered on the glass side of the negatixe and this will have to be removed with a knife, as it adheres very firmly.
Printing, as a rule, should always be done in the shade, although it is often done in the bright sunlight. Prints made in the shade have more vigor and contrast than those made in the sun and the film on the paper is less liable to become brittle and crack when handled in the subsequent operations of washing, toning and fixing. As a rule printing should be done in the open air and a small platform on the window sill can very easily be fitted for this purpose. During bright weather a north window should be used but if the day be cloudy a south exposure is preferable. The frame should be placed with the negative turned towards the sky and care must be exercised that no shadow from the roof or trees fall upon the glass. The print may be examined from time to time by releasing one spring and half of the cover and raising the print from the negative. The depth to which we shall print must be governed entirely by the paper we are using. Printing papers are divided into two separate and distinct kinds, known as "printing out" and "developing papers." In the former the image is visible on the paper in a very short time after it has been exposed to the light but in the latter the image is either very faint indeed, or is not visible at all until after development. Plain silver papers, blue prints, albumen, gelatine and collodion papers belong to the first type and they are are printed until the image is fully as strong or stronger than required in the finished print. Bromide, Velox, and other-papers of this type belong to the second class and no image appears on them until after development, Bromide papers must only be handled in the red light of the dark room as they are very sensitive. They are usually printed by artificial light, although printing may be affected by a very short exposure to subdued natural light. Even printing out papers should not be exposed except in subdued light until after they have been placed in the printing frame.
Printing frames should never be placed inside a window until after the glass, both inside and outside has been thoroughly cleaned, for any splashes of dirt upon the window glass will shade the light from that portion of the print and the result will be a light patch on the print.
There is an old adage which says, "Cleanliness is next to godliness" and equally true is it in photography that cleanliness is next to success. One of the most important things to be clean with in photography is the trays used in the toning room. Trays can be bought of any size and of all kinds, from your dealer, at reasonable prices and there is no excuse for having bad trays. Bad trays are very expensive things and cause the loss of many dollars worth of time and stock. Trays should always be large enough to enable one to wash prints without tearing. All trays should be thoroughly cleaned before using, by scouring with bicarbonate of soda and rinsing well with clear water.
Aristo Papers. The various printing out papers manufactured by the American Aristotype Company, Jamestown, N. Y. and generally known as Aristo, are pure collodion papers. Papers of this class have a tendency to curl as soon as they are placed in water and a hint as to how to prevent this may be timely at this juncture.
A large, smooth-bottomed tray is used and about one-half inch of water placed in it. The prints are now taken and placed in this water one at a time by sliding them in, one on top of the other and keeping them flat on the bottom. Be sure a print is thoroughly wet before another is placed on top of it. The prints should not be placed in the tray in a regular pile, as this allows the edges to curl over each other but should be piled irregularly well over the bottom of tray, partially covering one another. After all prints are in, pour off water and put on fresh water; keep prints flat and rock the tray for five minutes (this will prevent red streaks). Pour off water and press them down with the flat of the hand, allowing all the water to drain out. Now, stand the tray on edge and allow the prints to drain for five minutes. Then pour plenty of water over them and proceed to wash by separating the prints and handling them over and over.
The reason why collodion paper curls toward the film in the water is because the paper which is coated swells as soon as it is wet and the film does not. If the print, when first placed in the water, is held flat, then the paper swells in thickness only and if the print is kept flat until the paper is thoroughly soaked in this position, it will remain flat during the entire manipulation. Therefore it is important to keep the prints flat in the first water. In summer use tap water and in winter temper water, so it will be pleasant for the hands to work in, say, 65 to 70 degrees.