Handling Lith/Litho Film

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by bvy, Feb 8, 2013.

  1. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Recently I bought some Arista Ortho Lith Film from Freestyle, the 4x5 sheets. I'm exposing these in camera -- either in my homemade large format camera, or cutting the sheets into 2.5 inch squares for medium format. What I'm finding (and confirming with my reading) is that it's very easy to scratch or otherwise damage this film during processing. I'm using trays and developing by inspection.

    The rubber tip tongs I have seem to be the worst possible thing; when I saw the imprint from the rubber on one of my negatives, I knew what was going on. I thought I could use tweezers and handle the medium format negatives at the edges (they have a border) but that didn't go so well either. I would try plastic or rubber gloves, but I worry about cross contamination.

    Any ideas? My workflow is a prewet/presoak, developer, water stop, fix, Photoflo. Is the film more easily damaged at one particular stage of the workflow?
     
  2. davido

    davido Subscriber

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    I would use the latex medical gloves as they are thin and it's easier to grip with them. Just wash them after you drop the neg into the water stop and developer won't contaminate the fix.
    I use these gloves for processing larger size FB prints and just keep washing them. Or use one hand for developer and one for the fix.
    I've often wondered if you could use the old "Hardener" in the fixer with lith film. That might protect it in the wash and later.

    david
     
  3. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    I've been a printer for 30 some-odd years, and shot my share of litho film, mostly Anitec or Polychrome film or similar. I'm SUPPOSING what you're using is basically the same thing. Yeah, it WAS slimy in the developer now that I recall. As far as pre-soaking it in water before development, nobody I knew of did that. We all just plopped it in the developer dry. Maybe your process calls for some sort of anti-halation backing removal or something. And I'm supposing you're using the standard a and b developer. What are you doing--some sort of line or high-contrast work? Can't you just use your fingers?--it's not going to kill you. fingers are the least-scratchy thing you could use, I think.
    I'm trying to think of what sort of use an ordinary photographer would want litho film for, but maybe you're doing some sort of bichromate or a dozen other creative processes. I use gloves when working with the chain saw and the ax, and doing chores of most kinds, and use heavy work gloves religiously. But never doing photography or running the press. I'd say there probably was never a man alive whose hands get as grubby as mine. You just can't do any of that kind of work with gloves on.
     
  4. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I have used the older Arista II 8x10 lith film as well as ultrafine's lith film offering. They both are fine in tray development, even with rubber tipped tongs. These were developed in smooth bottom 11x14 trays, does your tray have ridges in the bottom? that could be a source of scratches too.
     
  5. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I've used the purple nitrile gloves with Arista ortho lith (the older version, not the most recent) and handled by the corners carefully. You wouldn't get contamination from the gloves, but they could do the same as the tongs if you grab too hard. At least with gloves you can tell how hard you're grabbing - that's the tough part with tongs.
     
  6. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone. So with latex or nitrile gloves, a good rinse is enough to avoid cross contamination?
     
  7. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    The gloves are designed to be used with chemicals; just get unpowdered and you should be fine. If you mean after going through the chemicals once, I personally would ditch that glove and use a fresh one for each pass of dev-stop-fix.
     
  8. davido

    davido Subscriber

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    that's a lot of gloves!

    Wow. That's going through a lot of gloves! Seriously, I would use your left hand to put and take out the negative from the developer and then the right with the fixer. It's those two baths that you really have to worry about. And then just rinse your gloved hand in between.
    It seems to me the biggest issus is fix getting into the developer?
     
  9. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    Sorry, I worked in a lab - the only way to know a glove is clean is to use a fresh one. I've just never counted on a rinsed glove to be free of chemicals. Yes, having fix on the glove and then touching an undeveloped sheet would cause that spot to not develop. Also, I use a kitchen LCD timer to time the chemicals and need a clean hand for that (also a lab holdover - I don't touch non-chemical things with a gloved hand). I may go farther than necessary, but that's like "over-engineering" - no such thing. :smile:
     
  10. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You just get TEXTURED, NON-POWDERED disposable nitrile gloves of appropriate size. One time use. Dirt cheap, available almost anywehre. Anyone who doesn't use gloves in relation to chemicals in this day and age is a bit nuts as far as I'm concerned. Tongs are for removing tonsils.
     
  11. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    In "the old days", the only thing I ever had any reaction to was lith developer - minor dryness and itchiness. When that occurred (after multiple sessions) I started using gloves. At that time I didn't use a pre-wet and don't recall emulsion scratches. Nitrile, non-powdered, examination gloves are what you want. Available from any pharmacist, or online. By the time the sheet is in the fixer you can turn on the light and use self-grip tongs on the edge - no need for two gloves. Glove is for dev and water-stop, naked hand is for everything else.

    Since I first started with them I have used gloves any time I have needed to stick fingers in developers etc. It seems only prudent to avoid dry or cracked skin.
     
  12. bvy

    bvy Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone. I tried a two glove approach during my last session. It was cumbersome at best. I didn't scratch anything, but I was constantly rinsing as I was processing one frame at a time and fumbling with faucets, lights, timers, etc. in between. The gloves were vinyl.

    Here's an example of where the tongs damaged the emulsion (vertical squiggly mark, top center):
    [​IMG]
    I have more extreme examples.

    Am I hearing that once the film is in the fixer and starts to clear, that it's a bit more durable (i.e. less prone to scratching)?

    By the way, I'm using the pre-wet to avoid a problem I was having with uneven development. Also, I'm developing with a dilution of Ilford PQ Universal Paper Developer -- not lith developer.
     
  13. DPVisions

    DPVisions Member

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    I recently have been exploring the Arista Ortho 2 film in camera and doing tray development. I have not had an issue with scratches yet on the film and am handling the film with nitrile gloved hands only when moving the film from water stop bath to 4x5 hangers and dropping in fix. I am using Kodak Kodafix with hardner to help with the soft film and prevent scratching during washing and rinse in photoflo bath.

    I process 6 sheets at a time in a 11x14 tray using a film developing tray purchased thru the Photographers Formulary. Makes it real easy to pick up the tray and move from development, stop, etc..
    [​IMG]