A couple more beginner's questions from the darkroom

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by mrtoml, Oct 27, 2007.

  1. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hello again. I feel I have made some progress in the darkroom now with my new enlarger setup and I am solving problems slowly one by one. I am getting a few nice prints inbetween the disasters and beginning to get the hang of dodging and burning. It feels good:smile: . However, I have a few queries that I have not seen answers to by searching.

    1. I bought a box of Ilford MG RC and a box of WT RC (8x10). The normal RC is fine, but the WT is very curled. There is no way that I can get an even focus on this paper with my LPL easel. Do I have a bad batch or something; or is there a way to flatten it out (eg keep it under heavy books I suppose for a few days)? Is this a common problem?

    2. I picked up some old gear (trays, funnels, measuring cylinders) but it is all pretty dirty. Is there any easy way of cleaning stuff like this up? There seem to be chemical residues dried hard onto some of the plastic. It is not easy to get off. Should I just ditch this stuff and buy new?

    3. I am thinking that eventually I will get into fibre paper when I have cut my teeth on the RC a bit more. The price of print washers seems astronomical. Is there a cheaper alternative (or is skimping here a false economy)?

    Thanks again in advance.
     
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,709
    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2003
    Good Afternoon Mark,

    Re #1--Are you using a borderless easel? I'm unfamiliar with WT paper, but I've never encountered an RC paper which had a particularly pronounced curl. It's hard to imagine that a standard bladed easel would not keep it flat enough. By the way, just use a fixed and washed sheet of the Ilford as your focusing sheet. I'm all for saving money, but sometimes "bargain" materials just aren't worth the bother; I'd stick with the Ilford.

    Re #2--Standard household bleach and other cleaners can often work; sometimes it just takes long soak. There are photographic tray cleaners which may be effective. Whether the cost, time, and effort are worth the bother is something only you can decide.

    Re #3--Using a number of water changes in a tray can work. A Kodak tray siphon is effective, but requires attention to keep prints separated. If you intend to get serious about FB, a good print washer makes things enormously easier.

    Konical
     
  3. bill spears

    bill spears Member

    Messages:
    565
    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Location:
    Cornwall Eng
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I think warmtone RC can sometimes have a bit more curl to it but there shouldn't be any focusing problems if all the edges are tucked under the easel blades. I very rarely print with less than inch and a half (sometimes 3 inch borders) This helps to keep the paper flatter.

    There are various stain removing products on the market although I've never used any. Prefer to start with clean equipment in the first place and keep it that way !! I'm shocked when I go into some peoples darkrooms and see the state of their trays, jugs etc !!


    Continuously changing trays of fresh water as mentioned above is quite good for washing FB paper but use a hypo clear bath after the first couple of changes then go for as many clean water changes as possible. Slightly warm water is better too

    Bill
     
  4. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Some paper does have a curl to it, I'm not sure why, maybe it is cut from close to the centre of the roll. You can buy small magnets, use these on the easel to help pull the blades down. The LPL easels are rather light so sometimes need a little help. This is usually more of a problem with fibre paper than R/C.
    Providing the dirt on your trays is not loose it should not effect the process. Nova market a cleaner, although I can't recall it's name. Normally a good scrub with soap and hot water does the trick. Do a search on print washing, there have been a number of discussions on print washing recently.
     
  5. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,453
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Household bleach can interact with photo chemicals soaked into some trays to produce a quite noxious and perhaps toxic gas.
     
  6. Kilgallb

    Kilgallb Subscriber

    Messages:
    344
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    Location:
    Calgary AB C
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Good tip. the best magnets for this are the ones from an old hard drive motor. They are rare earth magnets and really have a lot of power. Be careful to pull them off before lifting the easel or you could bend the blades.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 27, 2007
  7. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,386
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Automatic dishwasher.
     
  8. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks for all your advice. Useful as always.

    The magnet idea seems like the way to go with the paper curl. I have a 2 bladed easel, but the curl on this box is so pronounced that the blades do very little to alleviate it even when I reduce the borders by an inch. In the end I was holding down one of the blades with my hand during exposure, which is obviously bad practice. I now wish I had not bought 100 sheets.

    I'll check some of the washing products (I don't have a dishwasher). I suspected that there may be potential chemical reactions. The trays are not so hard to clean, it's more the measuring cylinders where there is stuff precipitated at the bottom that is hard to reach. I didn't want to use boiling water or anything like that as it might crack the plastic.

    I'll have another search on print washing and check these alternative methods. Most people seem to prefer expensive washers. I guess I am just shocked at how expensive they are when they just look like modified fish tanks.
     
  9. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    For washing r/c prints I use a Paterson washer. The larger unit does two 10x8 sheets at a time, and will also do fibre. http://www.patersonphotographic.com/patersondarkroom-details2.htm#bottom

    For a quantity of fibre prints I use http://www.novadarkroom.com/cat/32/Archival_Washers.html a Nova upright print washer. You are correct that these are expensive, but they do appear on eBay.

    As for washing graduates if these are half filled with hot water and given a good shaking with your hand over the end I find the crud comes off - eventially.:smile:

    Why don't you contact Ilford about the paper curl, they may be able to help, and they are always interested to hear about problems with their products. Simon Galley is the person to contact, you can send him a PM from this site.
     
  10. Sparky

    Sparky Member

    Messages:
    2,099
    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd always rationalized it as purely due to humidity level. Paper is always coated under a specific humidity level - so any environment with close to 100% humidity expands the gelatin - and pushes the paper flat or curls it 'outwards'. Dry environments correspondingly shrink the gelatin - and curl the paper 'inwards'. Maybe Simon Galley or one of the other manufacturing reps have a comment on this...?
     
  11. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I am bidding on a Paterson RC washer as we speak:wink: . I didn't know they could be used for Fibre. I will look more into this. It might be a good intermediate step to FB papers without shelling out the extra on a dedicated washing system. I had looked at the Nova upright models which look like the way I would probably go.

    I will try the magnet idea and if this doesn't solve the problem of the paper curl I will contact Ilford about it. I can always use the curly paper for contact sheets :smile:
     
  12. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    You are correct for fibre, but I thought we were discussing R/C paper here. Since the paper is encapsulated it shouldn't absorb much mosture.
     
  13. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Mark, considering Sparky's comment again, are you sure that the warm tone is R/C, and that you haven't got hold of W/T fibre paper. As Sparky says, I would expect fibre paper to have a curl, it normally does for the reason he gives.
     
  14. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hi Dave. No it's definitely RC. I bought 2 100 sheet boxes at the same time last week (one normal and one WT). They both look and feel exactly the same apart from the curl on the WT. I am thinking I might be able to flatten the WT by taping up the black bag it is in and putting something heavy on top for a few days, but I don't want to accidentally fog the paper.
     
  15. bill spears

    bill spears Member

    Messages:
    565
    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Location:
    Cornwall Eng
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just a point about the archival washing systems ie: Nova etc.
    I was curious about their efficiency (always trying to find fault with everything me !) so I did a (very unscientific) test whereby I filled one of the washing slots with a dilute solution of coloured water. The washer was then set running so I could observe how long before the water ran clear. It seemed to take quite a long time which indicates that in the initial stages of the wash a FB print is 'stewing' in its own fixer laden water ?
    I think the newer models (Silverprint also make one) now have a complete dumping facility whereby this fixer rich water can be released by lifting an end gate.
    I often use the Paterson RC washing tray to wash FB prints if I only have a few to do. Its quite easy to tilt the tray on end to dump all the water if you need.
     
  16. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Good point Bill, but the water isn't "fixer laden" the print is. Washing is a misleading term, because fixer is removed by diffusion, or dilution rather than what we think of as washing in the conventional sense.
     
  17. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Provided the bag doesn't have any holes in it the method you propose may work. I would recommend you double bag for safety. It's a puzzle.
     
  18. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,256
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    The very fact that no-one has said he has the same problems with RC WTpaper and I have never seen another thread on this curl problem, suggests that there may be an issue with your batch rather than a characteristic of RCWT and if so, Ilford would probably want to hear about it.

    I'd endorse Dave Miller's suggestion to contact Simon Galley. You might be doing both yourself and Ilford a favour.

    pentaxuser
     
  19. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks. In that case I think I will contact SG.

    I have uploaded my first enlarging and toning efforts to the gallery.

    http://www.apug.org/gallery/showgallery.php?cat=500&ppuser=8180

    If anyone has a chance to comment or give advice I would be grateful. I am quite pleased with them, but I know they could of course be better.
     
  20. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Mark, If you transfer your pictures to the Critique Gallery you will get far more comments than you will from your subscribers gallery. "Ruth" looks to be a fine character study by the way.
     
  21. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Thanks, Dave, and to everyone who commented. I think I am on the right track.

    Next time I will upload some scans into the critique gallery.

    BTW I PM'd Simon Galley yesterday.
     
  22. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Regarding the curl, depending on your easel design, you might also try heavy-duty paperclips (the sort that can clip dozens of sheets of paper, not the wimpy sort that are just thin bent metal rods) to hold down the easel blades. This obviously won't work if the blades are positioned very far from the edge of the easel, though.

    Another option is to curl the paper into a tube shape in the opposite direction of the curl. I do this sometimes when my RC paper acquires a curl (usually in the winter) when I'm printing on a borderless easel. It's pretty effective for the minor curl I encounter, but it sounds like your curling problem may be more severe than anything I've seen.
     
  23. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Simon Galley has kindly asked for me to send him some of the sheets. So I will see what he says before using the rest of the box.
     
  24. Simon R Galley

    Simon R Galley Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,048
    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Location:
    Cheshire UK
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Dear All,

    Mark kindly sent me a sample of the RC WT paper, and whilst it is within manufacturing and QC guidelines at rest it has a 4mm central curl
    so I have replaced it as an act of goodwill.

    Simon ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited :
     
  25. mrtoml

    mrtoml Member

    Messages:
    548
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2005
    Location:
    Sheffield, U
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would just like to thank Simon for his swift attention to this issue (I only posted the samples yesterday). With customer support like this Ilford is certainly worthy of support. I certainly wasn't expecting the product to be automatically replaced as I pointed out in private correspondance with him.

    Regards