Fiber Washing Shortcut?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by hansformat, Jun 9, 2008.

  1. hansformat

    hansformat Member

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    After years of being only digital I am back in the darkroom for black and white and really enjoying it.

    My question is whether there are any ways to shorten the wash sequence for fiber printing.

    Here's what I am doing:
    Fix (I use rapid because it is very convient to fix for only 60 seconds)
    Water holding bath until I am done (typically printing session is 3 hours)
    Each print individually 10 minutes in washaid
    10 second rinse
    Archival wash 1 hour

    The prints test clear on the residual hypo test at 45 minutes so I let them stay for 1 hour to be sure. So the sequence is working fine in terms of getting the fixer out. I will tone them in another session later.

    The issue is this takes a lot of time. Moving prints from the holding bath into the washaid - at 10 minutes per print in washaid that's 2 hours alone given that I do about 12 prints per session. By the time the final print is out of the washer the entire washing sequence has taken about 3 hours. That's a lot of time.

    So I thought about the following possibilities:
    1. Instead of a water holding bath for all the prints, what if the holding bath was washaid. At the end of the session I would just take the prints out of the washaid and put straight into the archival washer. Would this work? Are there any problems with leaving prints in washaid for several hours?

    2. If they have to be treated individually in washaid can they be treated for less time? So maybe instead of 10 minutes in washaid how about 5 minutes or even 3 minutes. Would that do the job?

    3. Any other ideas?

    Thanks

    Jason.
     
  2. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Jason, most (if not all) of these questions have been addressed in previous APUG threads.

    If you use 2 fixing baths (see Ansel Adams and Grant Haist). You can improve fixing and shorten the time needed to wash out the residual fixer.

    2. If you use TF-4 Rapid Fix, you don't need a wash aid. I use 2 TF-4 fixing baths.
     
  3. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Jason,

    Welcome back to the dark side. Kodak suggests 3 minutes for Hypo Clearing Agent and a final wash of 20 minutes for double weight paper. You could try testing for residual fixer after that sequence.

    Neal Wydra
     
  4. Paul Verizzo

    Paul Verizzo Member

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    Or just use RC paper... Ouch, ouch, ouch, stop it!
     
  5. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Yes, this has been the subject of several recent forum posts. One very important issue that will be brought up again is the rapidity of the wash water exchange. A vigorous wash rate doesn't really help. The hypo has to diffuse out. Gentle is the key. Some people don't even use a running water bath. Just change the water in the tray several times in a hour.

    One step you might want to modify is your holding bath. Consider changing the water after the addition of a few prints. You say an average of 3 hours so maybe change it once per hour. And the more water you can manage in your holding bath, the more hypo can diffuse into it before equalibrium is reached.

    I do something similar to your method. Holding bath (with water is changed after I get 5 prints - on a busy session - or at least once during the session, no great thought process went into choosing 5, just happens that way) then into a very gentle wash for 10 minutes. I use a Kodak siphon in a 16x20 tray and the rate is just enough to make the siphon work. Then if fiber paper, into the HCA, each for 10 minutes. Then each back to the wash for 10 minutes. FYI, while waiting to queue into the HCA, I have removed all the prints from the siphon tray and they are resting again in a bath (fresh water).

    I've mentioned before that I've taken to adding a scrap of paper from the same batch, unexposed but run through the developer and fix at the end of the session. Least amount of soaking. Then this gets washed and I use it for residual hypo test. Initially I started testing every 5 minutes after the FIRST wash, before the HCA just for curiosity. Now I don't bother to test until after the 10-10-10 cycle. So far, so good. At least by the test solution.

    If there is toning to be done, it happens after the 10-10-10 cycle and then I wash the print again for another 10 minutes minimum.

    FYI, I'm using non-hardening rapid fix for prints. When just "playing" to find a print (99.9% of the time) I use a single bath. Once I like it enough to make 5 or 10 copies I switch to the two bath fix method. Just because of limited working space on the wet side.

    Eventually I'll switch to TF-4 (TF-3) for prints like I'm doing for film. But I have several more pounds of fixer powder to use up first...
     
  6. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    There is nothing wrong with RC paper. Since nearly all of my work is just for my own amusement I switch back and forth between RC and fiber based on what kind of look I want to achieve in the final print.

    And some day I hope to get that look right! :wink::rolleyes:

    In fact, I've been doing the "drugstore" prints for a few people lately that like the B&W look but just don't want to develop their own. Work out a trade for home-made cookies or something. One chocolate chip cookie per 3.5" x 5" RC print is the local exchange rate!
     
  7. Ira Rush

    Ira Rush Member

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    Jason,

    Agfa which of course is long gone, used to recommend the use of a "soda intermediate bath", for fibre based paper. The following clip is from one of the old data sheets.


    Soda intermediate bath
    A soda bath (1 % sodium carbonate solution) should be included
    for fibre-base paper, between fixer and final wash (time: 3
    minutes). This ensures that the fixer is washed off the paper
    surface faster and more thoroughly. This not only cuts down the
    final washing time by about 30 %, and in particular it increases
    the prints' durability.
    If a hardener-fixer is used, the soda intermediate bath is not
    recommended.
    Washing
    Thorough final washing determines the life of prints. Depending
    on the temperature, agitation, wash water in- and output, the
    following washing times are necessary:
    l without soda intermediate bath 20 – 40 minutes,
    l with soda intermediate bath 15 – 30 minutes.


    Hope this helps
    Ira
     
  8. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Kodak's HCA is a 2 percent solution of Sodium Sulfite with a bit of sequestrant added.

    Two bath fixation, followed by 1-2 minute rinse in water followed by a minimum of 2 minutes Immersion in a 2 percent solution of Sodium Sulfite, followed by a 10 minute wash (single weight prints) or 20 minute wash (double weight prints). Haist, Modern Photographic Processing, page 651.
     
  9. Lowell Huff

    Lowell Huff Inactive

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    Washing any emulsion for more than ten minutes is a waste of your life.
     
  10. hansformat

    hansformat Member

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    This is all good input. I have searched and while there are a lot of threads on washing I can say it does not all lead to definitive conclusions. That's ok...I am just trying to save some time...it isn't a life or death situation.

    To clarify:
    My entire washing time for 12 prints is 3 hours, but each print only spends one hour in the washer and before that spends 10 minutes in HCA. I tested at 45 minutes and no stain; but I leave it in just a bit longer for a total of an hour for each print.

    Follow on question:
    The hypo test itself doesn't have very good instructions. It says dry a spot on the print, put a drop on, and exactly two minutes later wipe dry and see if there is a stain. I do that and there is no stain at all. However, later on a stain develops. Is this ok? If the "time period" where there should be a stain if not washed thoroughly enough is only right at 2 minutes, then for sure I can test at 30 minutes or maybe even less and that may be one way to save time.

    Just occurred to me as well that I could have 2 HCA baths running and essentially cut that time in 1/2 vs. single file!

    And YES...I am REALLY enjoying coming back to darkroom printing!

    Jason.
     
  11. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    Personally, I don't use a print for the residual HYPO test. You could use part of the white border if you wish. But for me it is just easier to cut a strip from a sheet of paper from the same batch and process it without exposure.

    As I understand the residual test instructions, you remove the sheet from the wash, pat dry (it will be damp and emulsion thus soft) and place on the drop. Time for 2 minute then blot off. If the drop leaves a visible stain then wash some more. If you are testing on a finished print and the test says it passes, put the print back in the wash for 5 minutes or so to remove the test solution. It will over time leave a spot due to the silver nitrate in the test solution.

    FYI : http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Archival/archival.html is a good article to read.
     
  12. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I have a very nice print washer, but I have found that I don't need to run it the whole time. Once I put the prints in I run it for about ten minutes, and then let the prints soak. Every ten minutes or so I run the washer to turn the water over. At the end of an hour or so I run it again for about ten minutes. The prints test clear. I save a lot of water this way over running the washer for a solid hour, but it doesn't cut down time. I think that it just plain takes time to soak the fix out, and I don't know any short cut around that.
     
  13. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    My fiber prints at ten minutes still contain a measurable amount of fix. While RC clears readily in ten minutes or so (indeed far less with a wash aid), this is very poor advice for fiber.
     
  14. CBG

    CBG Member

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    I may be missing something right in front of my nose, but I don't see any benefit to the individualized trip through the wash aid. I'd batch the whole group.

    I might also put forward the thought of a two bath fix in alkaline papid fix. Alkaline fix is supposed to make the removal of silver by-products from the paper easier, faster and more efficient, as well as being less likely to overfix the print.

    C
     
  15. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    For those who STILL process in the usual manor
    I think at least one of A. Adams' work flows has
    much to recommend. That method took prints
    from a stop to an acid fix to a hold. Consider;
    developer - stop - fix - hold.

    Clear away the first three trays then, one or a few
    at a time, from the hold into a plain alkaline 2nd fix.
    A good follow through would be a rinse - hca - rinse
    sequence. Again one or a few at a time. Then off to
    the wash. So no more than two trays need be in
    use at any one time. Dan
     
  16. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I mention Agfa's carbonate hca now and then. It is easily
    an effective hypo clearing agent trailing sulfite only moderately.
    Importantly carbonate does not oxidize. I wonder it is not more
    universally used. Dan
     
  17. hansformat

    hansformat Member

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    "I may be missing something right in front of my nose, but I don't see any benefit to the individualized trip through the wash aid. I'd batch the whole group."

    Now this is interesting. The way I have interpreted the washing steps from several books are that each print goes into the washaid by itself.

    If I can batch them up for 10 or 15 minutes in one bath and just shuffle them around and agitate appropriately then I can dramatically cut down the amount of time this process takes.

    Do people put their prints in washaid in batches like this?

    Thanks

    Jason.
     
  18. rwyoung

    rwyoung Member

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    In my case it depends on the size of the print. Being cheap, I don't have a lot of extra trays so the one that has been dedicated to HCA happens to be a shallow 11x14. So for 11x14, one at a time and constant agitation. For 8x10, two at a time and constant agitation. For 5x7 and postcards 4+ and constant agitation. But I also track the capacity vs print ratio. HCA is inexpensive so better to err on the side of under-utilization of the working solution than to exhaust it and get no benefit.