An Idiot's Guide to Lith....

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Paul Jenkin, Jan 2, 2009.

  1. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    Apologies if this has been covered elsewhere, however......

    Despite having been a keen photographer for the past 30-odd years and also having had my own darkroom, I've never really delved into the world of lith printing. Conversely, I have seen some examples of lith prints which I think look stunning.

    As a total novice to this particular facet of the photographic arts, could someone please explain:
    1. Do any subjects lend themselves to this style of photography?
    2. Is contrast an issue - i.e. is it better to shoot on a sunny or overcast day?
    3. Are any films particularly suited to this style of printing?
    I might (only might) start to develop my own film soon. If so, which (if any) chemicals give the best negatives from which to produce lith prints? Also, are there any good labs in London, Essex or Hertfordshire that you would trust to produce lith prints?

    Apologies if these seem naive questions but I'm really starting from scratch on this subject. If possible, please don't bombard me with the technical complexities as it's highly unlikely I'll ever do any lith printing myself. All I want to do is give myself a better than evens chance of producing a negative from which a good lab could produce one for me.

    Thanks in advance....
     
  2. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Paul,

    you'll find that lith printing is particularly well suited to contrast control. Any film that will do well for standard printing will do, but usually you get the most interesting results with lith if you develop your film to higher contrast than normal. You can do that with any film by just developing longer.

    The range of your results can vary so much. Look at what Marianne Priest is doing (Mayfair710 on APUG) with very grainy and beautifully subtle prints. Then study what Guillaume Zuili (as himself on APUG) does. His lith prints are full of sparkle and highlight information. Then look at Wolfgang Moersch who accomplishes a very clean and colorful results, partly through toning. Tim Rudman is another extremely able lith printer, and from what I hear, getting one of his books is a very sound investment of your money.

    Basically, you can achieve almost any look you want, therefore it can suit just about any subject matter.

    I've attached a couple of results here that illustrates the range of results obtainable.
    All are with the same chemistry, but different papers (from left to right):
    Fotokemika Emaks Grade 3 (glossy)
    Foma Fomatone Classic 132 (matte)
    Agfa Portriga Rapid 118 (matte)
    Fotokemika Varycon (glossy)

    I hope that helps.

    - Thomas
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 2, 2009
  3. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    First, get Tim Rudman's book on lith printing and look at his website for material updates. That will get you started. There is also an article by Tim on unblinkingeye.com, I believe. Film and contrast make little difference. The process is very flexible...more so than VC printing. The subject question depends alot on the paper you start off with. Personally, I find images that don't depend on subtle detail seem to work best.
     
  4. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    Thank you Thomas and Mark.
    I will make a point of buying Tim Rudman's book for information and inspiration. Thanks also for the pointers on APUG members who are exponents of this technique / process. Finally, thanks for the sample photos. It really does seem to suit a broad spectrum of styles and subjects - moreso than I initially imagined. As my main interest is landscape and, recently, natural abstracts in the landscape, I'm sure some of my stuff should fit the bill.
    All the best. Paul.
     
  5. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Dang...I read the title quickly and thought it was "An Idiot's Guide to Utah".

    Vaughn
     
  6. Paul Cocklin

    Paul Cocklin Member

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    While I'm a long way from England, I don't believe there are any labs anywhere which produce lith prints on a regular basis. While I'm certain that a lab 'could' produce one for you, the whole purpose of lith printing (imo) is the control of the 'snatch point' by the printer, and the subsequent creative control which ensues from printing them yourself.

    Because of the creative nature of lith printing, if you have a lab try and print a neg for you, you're likely to get the lab's interpretation of your neg, not your own interpretation.

    Lith printing is an amazing process, and one with which I quickly fell in love. I think you should seriously consider printing yourself, as minimal equipment is necessary. Enlarger, trays and chemicals are all that's necessary. If you're shooting large format, you don't even need the enlarger, just a light bulb and a piece of glass to contact print with.

    Best of luck, I hope you do explore lith printing. It truly is an enjoyable process!

    Paul
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That would be me... in so many ways...:wink:
     
  8. Bosaiya

    Bosaiya Member

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    Depending on what you use you can get some pretty detailed prints, I think. I've been fairly successful in getting a lot of detail in there:


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    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Sadly the paper I used for these (Maco/Cachet) is no longer produced and I have yet to find an acceptable substitute.
     
  9. bobwysiwyg

    bobwysiwyg Subscriber

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  10. Paul Jenkin

    Paul Jenkin Member

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    Thanks guys! Ironically, now I've checked, I see one of our sponsors (Silverprint) offers a lith printing service. I went to their shop recently (awesome place, by the way) and got a price list. It's not cheap to do - about twice their standard B&W printing cost - but some of their test prints look beautiful.

    I'm going to run a few more rolls through the Bronnie until I get a few shots that I think I'd like to spend some money on and then see what happens.

    All the best...
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Paul, another sponsor here, Elevator Digital, in Toronto, offers lith prints.

    - Thomas
     
  12. jfish

    jfish Member

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