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Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Aggie, Jul 10, 2003.
no gloves here... don't poke me fingers in either! tongs for me!
Even using tongs I rinse my hands regularly as I wouldn't want to waste a piece of paper from chemical residue.
I have to wear gloves from the time I start the prep work to the end of developing because for some reason the papers and films respond to my skin chemistry as though it has been exposed, even if it hasn't been. Little black finger/thumb prints on the edges. Took me a dickens of a time to find gloves that worked well and were easy to tell if they were clean and dry, didn't stick to the media, etc.
Hi Aggie. Frank here from the Volquartz LF workshops. I use tongs and I limit myself to as little exposure to the photo chemistry as possible. I recommend this to you as well because you are a wonderful darkroom worker. I have a friend who, like yourself, was excellent in the darkroom. She also was 'hands on.' She now has contact dermatitis. Simply waving her hands over a tray of developer will cause her skin to open with oozing sores that last for weeks. It has forced her completely out of the darkroom. Such a loss! It would be a shame that anyone who persues our craft should be forced to stop for lack of such a simple precaution.
Good light to you!
Frank (the other french prostitute)
Tongs for me, though I think I might wear gloves for the selenium toning.
I do use tongs for "simpler" work - like RC prints. But fiber, or film development, I want to feel what I'm doing. So it's a box of latex examination gloves a month...
I make efforts not to get chemicals on bare skin so that means tongs and/or a glove. On the occasions where I touch materials damp with chemical liquids, I dip my fingers in water (as a token wash) and dry.
Aggie, like Frank I have heard of a similar story. A (female) photographer who had to stop all activity in the darkroom because of bad hand sores due to the chemicals. She never had any trouble before, the sores suddenly developed. She was told that such an allergy can "build up" in the body, and suddenly become a nuisance. So the fact that you don't have any skin problems at the moment, may not mean that you are safe for the future.
I only use gloves with aggressive chemicals like selenium toner, and when I am warned that the chemicals will stain my fingers. Mostly I just work bare handed and use tongs on RC paper, bare hands on fiber. I _do_ very frequently rinse my hands, even in between touching the developer, stopbath and fixer, and like you I wash them thouroughly after a darkroom session, and use a _good_ hand cream.
The worst I ever suffered from are chapped hands.
Well I've got a package of latex gloves and I've got a nice pair of green chemical gloves. I don't use either unless I'm mixing something up. The reason for using tongs with the trays is to stop all the chemicals mixing together. With tongs I know the prints go from developer to stop to fix. If you use gloves do you use a new pair for every single print?
Oh and I know people allergic to gloves-((
With Pyro I glove, tongs for prints. It is the way I learned and with double weight paper no marks to be found.
No, I mostly use one pair per session - as long as they don't fill up with sweat...
I wipe my hands (with gloves) frequently, wash them occasionally, and generally keep my right hand in the developer, left hand in wash/fix/wash. Any toning is done afterwards, so that's another pair of gloves.
Getting a drop of fixer in the developer isn't the disaster it's made out to be. Unless your fix (or stop) is really horrendously acidic (mine's alkaline) and you use a very dilute unbuffered developer (Pyrocat-HD?), you will not notice any difference before you've put substantial amounts of fixer in the developer.
The first noticable effect of contamination is a drastic increase in grain size, as you get when using monobath processes. The developer will still work until you either have enough fixer in it to actually complete fixing before development gets under way, or the pH has dropped enough for the developer to be inactive.
I'm not encouraging sloppiness, I'm just saying that you don't necessarily have to dump the developer if you think you may[/] have put a hand on tong in it direct from the fixer.
Currently I use RC paper and as such can get away with tongs. I'm looking to move to FB and start toning and understand that tongs will probably mark the print surface. I'll then have to use gloves.
I have mild contact dermatitis since long before I started in the darkroom. Even washing-up liquid sets my hands off (no gags, please! ). Paddling around in the various chems is definitely not a good idea for me (and, Robert, my hands don't care for gloves much either! Lesser of two evils...).
Aggie, if there's even the slightest chance you may develop dermatitis in the future then I would urge you to try and get used to gloves. It isn't an affliction I'd recommend to a friend!
...A Nobel Peace Prize? I would KILL for one of those!
I never used gloves until I started using Pyro & Amidol. Two gloves for developing film. One glove, on the left hand for developing prints (learned that trick from Michael A. Smith). I try to keep my right hand dry. I use nitrile gloves which are easier to dry than bare hands. I try to handle the negatives and the paper with my right hand. I use tongs to move the prints from the fixer to the holding tray if I am making another exposure. I have small hands and wear a small size nitrile glove which fits very tightly. With these gloves on I am able to load and unload holders if I have to.
The allergic reactions some have experienced may be due to a reaction to metol. Phenidone based developers may solve the problem. Apparently this metol allergy can just show up after many years with no problems.
I use a glove on the right hand for working with pyro in trays, amidol, or selenium with single weight paper. Otherwise I use tongs or bare hands.
Its good to keep contact with any chemical to a minimum. As a graduate chemical engineer, I have worked with very dangerous materials with proper precautions and have found that some of the cleaners under your sink can be much more hazardous than the usual b&w processing chemicals. Continuous washing helps as does the application of good ol' J*** baby oil, Use this to prevent chapping.
I don't have a "degree in molecular bio chem", but I know that substances like Paraminophenol (Rodinal) or Dichomate (some bleachs) are not only cancerogene, but will also pass a latex glove seamlessly. Not getting in contact at all might be better than erroneously thinking oneself safe with gloves. I prefer roller transport machines for RC and tongs for FB. I use chemistry proof gloves when doing larger FB or mixing solutions.
It's not so much about fouling the chemicals. In the overall scheme of things chemicals are cheap. But it seems the reasoning for avoiding tongs is they damage the print. Wouldn't touching a print with a gloved hand covered in fixer do more damage? I know myself. With tongs I can easily keep the chemicals separte. But if I used gloves like that I know I'd use the wrong hand sooner or later. Likely sooner.
I use the two gloves while developing film (pyro)- one glove for prints (amidol) method, too. And on a similar point, what about wearing a mask?
At about age 30, I developed symptoms of asthma - coughing and wheezing. I had never been diagnosed with any problem other than hay fever before.
At the time the symptoms began, I had been developing film in D-76, paper in Dektol, and fixing with Kodak fixers for about a decade. I had just begun experimenting with Pyro Triethanolamine film developer. With all of those chemicals, I had mixed them without a mask and used them without gloves.
That was years ago - before my photo hiatus. Now that I look back on it, I wonder if the photo chemicals played a hand in my asthma. I have no way to know, but I do know that allergies can develop from prolonged exposure to many things. Allergies do build up over a period.
So now, I use a mask when mixing powdered chemicals, and I mix them outside. I wear gloves while mixing and while using the chemicals. Despite the inconvenience, I think it's probably best to do so. I would use the gloves and mask even if I were using the more common chemicals.
I only use gloves when toning , developing with PMK or Amidol.
I have been doing darkroom work for over 50 years and the only thing that has happen to me is the lost of finger prints. It is hard to get a decent set of fingerprints. However, since those days are gone I don't worry about that loss.
I also keep one hand dry and rinse after fixing and before moving on to another exposure.
With students, I discuss the options and let them decide. In 30 years I have only had one or two who opt for gloves as they knew they had a skin problem and their Doctor recommended gloves.
I use tongs while printing and latex gloves for toning, bleaching, etc. and I also have a horror story of a friend that ended up not being able to continue working in the darkroom because of developing an allergic reaction to developers. Its commonly known as Metol poisoning and can be quite painful. I have been told that some people react the first time they come in contact with the developer and others develop the condition after continued exposure over the yearss and of course there are those that never do. This and the other warnings you have received I'm sure are not to scare you off using your bare hands in processing. But why take the chance?
Personally, I use Trojan Magnums, and when I want my prints to have a little more sensitivity I use the ribbed Trojans. As an added benefit the ribbed ones allow me to stay in the darkroom a lot longer and increase the pleasure of the experience.
Of course when using a something new or especially something that has been used a lot by others, I tend to be a "double bagger".
I go bare back young lady. Anything more is unmanly. But seriously, for prints I usually just use my hands. I develop my pyro negs in a tank and don't use gloves there either. If by chance I get some pyro stuff on me I just rinse it off. I hate the feel of gloves. Same reason I take my glasses off before I eat. Just can't stand to have anything between me and the food I guess. And no I don't eat with my fingers.
Once the darkroom session is over a nice skin cream insures I maintain my silky smooth hands.
Sensitization is a real possiblity. I didnt' use gloves for some time, but then started getting poision ivy-like blisters around my nails. I use gloves now. Some people can have much more worse reactions.