Does oxidized RA-4 chemistry grey-down whites?

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by Poco, May 2, 2005.

  1. Poco

    Poco Member

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    The subject line sums up the question.

    I mixed up a gallon Kodak Ektacolor RA kit about a week ago and when I used the last bit of it yesterday, the developer was quite a bit darker out of the bottle and the white borders of the prints were definitely "dingy." I assume this is an oxidation effect? If so, is it primarily oxidation of the developer or the bleach that's causing it?

    Other than the above problem, I have to say my first RA-4 printing experience has been pretty painless. It took a couple sessions to get a handle on filtration, but once I realized the one wheel was the "Christmas Wheel" (green/red) and the other the "Easter Wheel" (blue/yellow) I was in business. By yesterday's session I could pretty much settle on the right filter pack with 3 test strips.
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Bleach keeps a lot longer then developer. When I make up chemicals I make up a double batch of bleach. Even with the bleach hanging around 2x the time of the developer I don't think I've ever seen the bleach fail. Bleach actually needs oxygen for C-41 and I guess for RA-4 to.
     
  3. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Poco

    I did not forget about you, I made the ring around and when I can break loose to take some pics and organize the chart I will send it to this thread as an attachment, give me about a week .
    Now , your christmas wheel is actually green/magenta and if you move both wheels equally in either direction they are your red / green.
    Also if you move all three at the same time you will turn the lights brighter or darker .
    You will find very few occasions where you need the third wheel ( cross processed or poorly processed negatives or if you want to introduce nuetral density for some reason.)
    I agree with Nick, but we have found here that the bleach can suddenly go and it is a remix.
    Hope you are having fun.
    best regards
    Bob
     
  4. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Thanks for the replies, guys. Sounds like the developer is the problem.

    I was mostly joking about the christmas-easter thing and realize there are lots of subtleties in finding the right filter pack which I still haven't grasped. A few darkroom sessions has hardly made me a competent color printer, but I am pleased by the half-way rational color rendition I can now quite easily get.

    Bob, I've read that dialing in "C" only adds density as you say. Would the results be in any way different from just decreasing exposure time?
     
  5. Ed Sukach

    Ed Sukach Member

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    Oxidized Color developer usually will have the effect of not producing a decent "Black". The remaining colors will degrade as well, but the "graying" of that which should be black is most noticeable.

    That said, If the mixed color developer is decidedly "dark" it is most probably, shot.

    Be careful of Color Developer "carry-over" into the Bleach-Fix. That is why shortstop is necessary in RA-4 processing.
     
  6. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Hi Poco

    the c dial is actually for cyan / red. it rarley gets used in RA4 printing, What I meant was if you use all three filters at once all that will happen is the third filter value will be the amount of nuetral density you have added to the printing pack which will darken if you add and lighten if you take away

    30yellow, 50 magenta and 10 cyan

    this pack will give you 10 units of nuetral density or approx 1/3 stop
    take away the 10 cyan and you will lighten the print by 1/3 stop
    ( I cannot think of any practical situation where you would want to do this)
    in most ra4 printing you will only use the yellow and magenta filter

    When I print cibachrome I have found quite often I need to use the cyan filter

    0 yellow , 20 magenta and 10 cyan- cibachrome balance(new universal paper)

    When I print cross process negatives I also have found I have needed to use the cyan filter

    120 yellow, 0 magenta and 30 cyan - cross process RA4 balance

    Just so you are aware you should always be only using two of the filters at any given time for colour printing.
    I hope this helps
     
  7. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    RA 4 Developer should last more than a week.
     
  8. Poco

    Poco Member

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    To clarify, I don't believe the developer went bad within a week. My blacks were still fine and I noticed no real difference in color rendition with the last batch I used. But there was a definite shift in the white border of the prints. The whites had lost their snap compared to prints I made with the freshly mixed chemistry. I seriously doubt it's a contamination issue either, but who knows.

    Well, I'll keep fooling with the stuff and see how it goes.

    Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts.

    -Michael
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Poco

    Do you have a radio, humidifyer or any device with led lights, you may be getting a slight fog which is creating this density, If it is cyan looking a red Led can be the culprit. you will not see this shift in the midtones or blacks.
     
  10. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Yes, fogging is something I'm going to have to test for.

    Thanks, Bob.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    RA developer should last over a month with no degradation in the image. When it does start to go bad, contrast and dmax go down. You don't get off color white areas.

    There is sulfite in the developer to prevent oxidized color developer from having that effect.

    I would expect that your problem is from bad stop bath, no stop bath, bad blixing or fog.

    The stop should be mixed according to the manufacturers recommendation which I think is about 1% or 2% acetic acid.

    PE
     
  12. FilmIs4Ever

    FilmIs4Ever Member

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    This certainly sounds like fog to me. Make sure that your darkroom is totally light-tight. Then check for any stray light or bouncing light coming from the enlarger hear or reflecting anywhere around the baseboard.

    Regards.
    ~KArl Borowski
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Thinking aloud: If developer is the problem then surely you'd expect more than the white borders to be dingy. The borders are normally white because presumably the RA4 coating which is a turquoise colour dissolves and becausethe borders are not exposed it turns out white.The print itself should be poor if the developer is the problem. What happens if you make a borderless print? Does the colour on the borderless print at the edges show deterioration compared to the rest.

    I don't know a lot about RA4 and have never had this problem but could it be that the paper is slighty fogged either overall or at the edges. How old is the paper? Certainly old B/W paper can go slightly cream/brown and lack contrast but if low contrast is correct for the print then my experience was that the print appeared to be OK except for the white edges. It was only when I changed to fresh paper that I noticed the difference in sheer "punch." Mind you when I first started RA4 printing I used paper from the guy from whom I purchased the Jobo processor. The paper was several years old but was showing no signs of deterioration. I know this to be the case because I have since had to buy new paper and there was no improvement in quality.

    For what it is worth, I found that Tetenal Protectan which sprays a heavier-than-air gas(akin to lighter fuel) this expelling any air, was worth using after the printing session. Very little is needed so its quite economical.

    The great thing about RA4 printing is that once you have the colour analyser set up you are virtually guaranteed good prints every time. So instant success. I find B/W printing to be much more of a challenge.

    Pentaxuser
     
  14. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The white borders should show any problem much easier then the actual photo area. The bad Fuji paper I have shows bad borders. If you don't look hard at the print you might miss the problem in the photograph.

    It's like painting a wall white. Any off white spots will jump out at you.
     
  15. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Thanks for the additional thoughts, guys.

    The problem shows itself when using the same paper from one box, so it can't be the paper. The whites weren't grey or brown by any stretch -- just not as bright as when I printed with fresh chemistry ("non-fresh" meaning more than a few hours old). Blacks in the image were still coming up fine, so I don't think it's a matter of exhaustion.

    I haven't printed in a month or longer but will soon be doing so again and will try to hunt the problem down.