grainy kallitype prints problem

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by chrobry, May 22, 2007.

  1. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    I have a problem with grain on kallitype prints. After searchin this forum I suspected the low humidity to be the cause as I live in Tucson, AZ where the humidity is rather low:smile: . I humidified the paper by placing it overnight in a humid box (a tray filled with water whre I put a smaller tray as a stand to place the paper on, the larger tray was then covered with a glass sheet) but the prints were even worst. It seems that the grain appears mostly in midtones, deeper shadows and highlights are smooth. Interestingly, it also seem that some negatives give me almost grainless prints and some do not, I am trying to compare here the areas of almost identical density but this might be deceiving as I did not measure the densities and the tones might be slightly different. If so, the grain depends very much on the subtle variation in the actual tone or print density.
    As to the chemistry and process: I double coat with Richeson 9010 brush, I wait 5 minutes after first coating to put the second coat. After the second coating I wait 20 minutes and start printing, the remaining paper waits in a plastic bag (sometimes in the fridge, sometimes in the room temperature). Humidity is very low and the room temperature about 80-90F. I process the prints according to Sandy King's procedure published on alternativephotography.com (20% sodium citrate developer). I am adding 12 drops of 2% potassium dichromate per liter to the developer as a contrast agent, but I observed the same grain effect using the developer without dichromate. The paper I am using is Arches Platine.
    Any suggestions greatly appreciated,

    Jan
     
  2. tom_micklin

    tom_micklin Member

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    Well, I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I just switched from Arches Platine to Weston Parchment because I had a run of problems with Platine that I hadn't observed in the years I've used it.
    It wouldn't clear well at all and I constantly ended up with muddy mid-tones.

    With the Weston paper, I get very clear prints and great tonality throughout - with the same negatives and process (Sandy's also) that looked so bad on Platine.

    Good Luck,
    Tom
     
  3. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    Tom, thanks for a suggestion. Do you know where to order Weston paper in small quantities to give it a try?

    Actually I do not experience any clearing problems with Platine, this is quite recent batch I bought some three months ago from Daniel Smith.

    best regards,

    Jan
     
  4. tom_micklin

    tom_micklin Member

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    I got the Weston from Bostick & Sullivan. It's pretty inexpensive and I think they are doing a special where you can get some to try out. Check the recent threads for that.
    I live in Seattle so I just go over to Daniel Smith and buy the Platine. I only had the problems with the last few batches I got there, but I'm really loving the Weston.
    Regards,
    Tom
     
  5. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    Thank you, Tom. I just placed the order with B&S, it is quite inexpensive indeed.
    BTW: I went to your web site. Some of the images are quite wonderful.
    regards,
    Jan
     
  6. tom_micklin

    tom_micklin Member

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    Thanks very much.
     
  7. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Jan

    It sounds like to me that you are applying too much sensitizer and it is bleeding into the paper instead of sitting on the sizing. This gives a blotchy effect which looks like grain. This would be caused by double coating especially if the first coat is still damp when you apply the second coat.
    In my experience Arches Platine does not need a second coat especially with brush application. I would try single coating and reducing your volume of sensitizer.
    Out of interest, why are you double coating?

    Cheers

    Phill
     
  8. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    Phill,
    thanks for suggesting that. Of course it is possible that I apply to much sensitizer but I do not think it is very likely. I use 2 mls for a single coating for 8x10 print or 0.5 ml per 4x5 print. Even though I am adding "half a drop" of Tween 20 to help sensitizer spreading I could hardly coat larger surface with this amount of sensitzer. I belive the exact amount if the sensitizer would depend a little on the humidity as this would affect how fast the paper is soaking the sensitizer, but I may be wrong. May be I could wait longer between the coatings? Also, I will try single coating as if what you suggest was the reason I should get smooth midtones.
    Why do I double-coat? Well, for Dmax. I come from "Azo church", so I like blacks to be black :smile:. I am getting Dmax of 1.4 - 1.45 what is not that bad I guess and I like it. I can see clear difference between single and double coating, however I did not try single coating on Arches Platine. It was on different papers, when I was searching for a paper I would like.

    regards,

    Jan
     
  9. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Jan

    As a second option I would drop the tween20 to see if that is not causing too much ingress in to the paper grain.

    Do you have a scan of a print with the problem?

    Phill
     
  10. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    Phill,
    I started adding Tween recently and it improves coating a lot. I did not see any change reagrding the grain comparing to the older prints. Most of my prints just did not have to much of "empty" area so the grain did not cause problems as was masked by the detailes.


    I put the scans of problematic prints here: http://www.janbrzeski.net/Site_11/
    One has more issues the other one less. These prints are 4x5s made from in camera negatives.

    regards,

    Jan
     
  11. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Having seen the images its not as pronounced as I imagined and therefore not what I thought it was. Looking at the colour you are obviously toning with PT. Is the graininess apparent before toning?

    Phill
     
  12. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    Phill,
    the grain is visible before toning (it is Palladium), right after the image develops. It does not appear to change during the processing.
    I do not see this grain when I look on my old prints made on other papers. This makes me thinking it has to do with Arches paper. I recall, but I may be wrong, that first time I saw the grain was when I developed the first Arches print. On the other hand all the papers I was trying before Arches did not clear well. But, like I said, my old prints just do not give too much material to compare with Arches. I think I will try to use them again with newer negatives.

    regards,

    Jan
     
  13. Dana Sullivan

    Dana Sullivan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Jan,
    Arches Platine is notoriously picky when it comes to coating. It always seems to need a second coating, but I would actually suggest using a plain distilled water coat first, instead of two coats of sensitizer. Wait atleast 45 min to an hour for it to dry completely. Coat the sensitizer, then wait atleast another hour, allowing the paper to dry in a drawer or cabinet.

    Graininess is often caused by too much humidity left in the paper (as you found out when you over humidified it), so I'm suspecting the 20 minutes of drying time isn't nearly long enough. I wouldn't recommend using a hair dryer to speed up the process, either.

    My brother has had his Alt-Process classes at the SF Community College test air-drying versus hair dryers and found that the air-dryed images always have deeper blacks, less bleeding of the image during development, and less grain.

    The other thing I would do is mix up a fresh batch of developer without the Dichromate. I stopped adding the dichromate to our Kallitype developers 8 or 9 years ago, because I got a lot of calls about it causing similar problems to yours. I had forgotten about that until I started writing this, but it's a good place to start, along with the coating suggestions.

    Good luck!

    -Dana

    PS - If you're still banging your head against the wall, give us a call at B&S and we'll try to solve your problems.
     
  14. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    As an aside, I do not recommend using a hair drier either from a health point of view...it kicks a lot of chemicals into the air. It took me 5 years of pt/pd printing, but I developed a strong reaction to pt and/or pd dust using a hair drier without a mask. Pt causes an nasty type of asthma, and with me, also a sore throat. Both me and my prints have improved since air-drying!

    Vaughn
     
  15. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    I have to agree with Dana about the dichromate. It always caused me a grainy problem.
    As for drying, I found a dryer meant for RC paper which can be set to no heat, or any temp up to about 150 F. I dry all of my coated papers regardless of process in this dryer with no heat, They dry within 5-10 minutes and print better than any other method I have ever used. I gave the hair dryer back to my wife.
    I also recently added a humidifier to the darkroom because the humidity was often below 25%. It is now a constant 50-55% which I believe also helps make smoother, more consistent prnts.
     
  16. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    Thank you very much for help.

    Dana - I will call in case I can not solve this problem. I am going to do some experiments with water coating and extended drying time tonight and on the weekend so I would call some time next week. I also think of using something to substitute Tween 20 as I found some notes from Keith Shreiber that Tween caused spots on Arches Platine. It might be that in my case I did not see any effect of Tween as I had some other factor that was causing spots anyway. I think of using 10% glycerol, Tween at much lower concentration, NP40 and gum arabic. I really would like to get Arches Platine to work as it clears very well and I recently bought a pile of this paper...

    My understanding is that the paper should have correct humidity which would be 50-60%. Less and more is bad - is that correct? And some papers are more some less sensitive to that. We have really low humidity here in Tucson, for instance now it is 18%. Using humidifier is out of question. I do not have my own real darkroom.

    As to dichromate, my limited experience is that it is really impossible to get paper white without minute amout of dichromate. Even with Arches Platine which was the best paper I tried so far regarding clearing. I did see some heavy grain when I used too much dichromate (about 1 ml 5% sol per liter) but I am using now much less. I do not see any effect but like I said refering to Tween, it might be that other factor gives the grain anyway and I woudl see this effect only after I eliminate this factor X.

    one again - thanks a lot. I will report the results in few days.

    regards,

    Jan
     
  17. chrobry

    chrobry Member

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    I did some experiments during last few days and I think I solved this problem. I guess this might be interesting to some other beginners therefore I report here the results. Here is what I did: double coating - first coating which water, sensitizer, sensitizer plus a drop of 1% Tween, sensitizer plus a drop of gum arabic (standard gum printing solution). One hour latter I applied the second coating with sensitizer or sensitizer plus respective surfactant.
    I also tried single coating with or without Tween20. I omitted dichromate in the developer.
    All prints came out better then the previous ones. This might be due to either prorogated drying time or omitted dichromate or lower Tween concentration. The smoothest print resulted from double coating with gum arabic. It is really smooth print, no trace of grain. It seems that gum arabic gives reddish cast to the print but after toning with palladium the print has very pleasing color. All the above applies only to Arches Platine paper. Cranes Kid Finish behaves in a very different way. I print in quite specific conditions: humidity about 15% and about 90F.
    Thanks a lot to all who helped,
    regards,
    Jan
     
  18. sanking

    sanking Member

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    My results, working at a RH of 55%-65% are very different.

    When double coating I always put on the second coat when the first coat is dry to the touch, within two minutes of finishing the first coat, drying aided by a fan.

    Then, I expose the sensitzed paper within 15-20 minutes of applying the final coat.

    I also mix a small amount of dichroamte in the developer, since the ES of the process is about log 2.2 and my negatives are calibrated at about log 2.0. Too much dichromate will definitely cause grain in kallitype prints, but for that to happen you must add upwards of 8-10 ml of a 5% solution of dichromate per liter of developer.

    I air dry the paper, with a fan, but after each coating give a short blast of hot air with a hair dryer to set the sensitizer on the surface and keep it from seeping too deep into the paper.

    None of these procedures result in extra grain for me with papers such as Weston, Stonhenge, Cot 320 and various vellums.

    Sandy King
     
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