hard lesson - don't oversoak your prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by pstake, May 30, 2012.

  1. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Learned the hard way last night.

    Left two prints in my intermediary water bath (straight out of the fix) for a couple hours ... one print was on Arista EDU RC and the other was Varycon 8x10 fiber.

    Emulsion on the RC literally sloughed off when I went to grab the print with my tongs.

    The Fiber print had only softened emulsion, which was merely marred by the tongs ... it didn't slide off the page the same way.

    I've never seen this before. Fortunately, neither print was terribly important.

    But it still felt akin to a kick in the pants.
     
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  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I can't comment on RC, but Fiber paper should be able to sit in water for many hours with no problems. Something is not right here.

    When you say "straight out of the fix", you mean they were not washed or even rinsed before sitting in the water? I'm assuming the water bath is just a tray of water (ie no running water)?
     
  3. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Yes ... sitting water. And It probably had been somewhat saturated by fix. Could that have been what made the emulsion ruin so quickly? I had run maybe seven or eight 8x10 fiber prints through the water already (again, straight out of the fix.)

    And this was an 11x14 tray filled 3/4 to the top, with water.

    My process is usually to put prints in this tray, and then take them upstairs and rinse in the bathtub. I don't have running water in my darkroom.
     
  4. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    never had that issue with fiber paper, even overnight.
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Some emulsions are softer than others, Foma papers have a much softer emulsion than Ilford (or Agfa, Kodak etc) and with an RC paper prolonged washing is not recommended. I'd expect possible issues with any RC paper with more than half an hours washing, usually it's water getting into the base paper at the edges but with a soft emulsion then it might begin to frill and come off left even longer.

    Ian
     
  6. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Thanks, Ian.

    I love this RC paper so I don't intend to give it up, but I could have sworn I had left RC papers in water for longer, in the past ... and those were always either Kodak or Ilford RC papers, so what you said kind of resolves it for me.



     
  7. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    About twenty-five years ago I printed quasi-archival fiber prints M-F for two years. I wrote "quasi" because the lab owner didn't allow me to tone the prints (time is money). My wash time was a minimum of two hours in a very large large rotating stainless steel drum in a 2x2x3 foot (approx.) vat. I never had a problem with emulsion damage. For years before that I had no problems in my little home darkroom with fiber base. Years earlier I did experience issues with RC papers but that was about thirty-seven years ago and I'm sure they're much improved. FWIW, I quickly learned to hate "resin" papers and quit using them by age fourteen.

    My OUTDATED opinion is that something's awry in your situation. Could your water be highly alkaline?
     
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  8. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Don't over-wash or soak RC paper. Even if the emulsion stays on, moisture works it way into the paper base (resin coated on both sides) via the cut edges. This moisture (with or without chemicals) gets trapped between the resin layers and stays a long time -- rippling the edges of the print. And if over-fixed, the fixer is what gets trapped in there.

    That is how I understand it -- YMMD.

    Vaughn
     
  9. pstake

    pstake Member

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    Would fix-saturated water have caused the emulsion to soften on the fiber print?

    I have used this paper many times and always run it through a clean, fresh water bath for several hours ... and have never seen this before.
     
  10. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I've had this happen to paper, but only after much longer soaking than a couple of hours. I work on call, and sometimes I am called away urgently and unexpectedly. Paper left to soak for a couple of days will definitely be found with the emulsion floating off the paper. I don't know why it would after such a short period. I use RC paper just for contact sheets, and usually wash them off quickly, hang to dry, then get to work on fiber prints. I have always printed the way you do - from the fix into a large holding bath of water. Rinse, refix, rinse, HCA and wash at the end of a session. Some sessions are 6-8 hours, so the oldest prints would have been wet for many hours. I draw from 2 different wells (one in the summer, one in the winter). Neither are potable, both tend to alkalinity. I've not noticed a difference in emulsion softening from a few years ago when I was on city water.
     
  11. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    No, I don't think so. With the FB I think you risk staining more than anything else. Like others stated, don't keep RC prints wet for very long. Properly processed FB should be pretty tough.
     
  12. Vincent Brady

    Vincent Brady Subscriber

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    Like yourself I don't have running water in my darkroom, so my usual practice is to lift the print from the fixer with 15 seconds to go and drain back into the fixer until the timer goes. I then drop it into a tray of water and leave it rest there until the end of my session or the tray fills up. This can be a matter of hours, but I have not encountered the problems that you have had. I print both RC and FB paper. If I'm printing 12 x16 prints I am inclined to bring those down to my washer when I have 2 copies printed.
    I just wonder was your holding tray filled with hot water?
     
  13. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    When I was on a B&W nightschool course, all the students would leave prints in the wash for up to 2 and a half hours while they produced others as there was limited time to produce enough prints.

    Everyone was using RC and everyone was using Ilford paper. No-one reported any problems in the whole 10 sessions. Ilford is well made, tough paper.

    pentaxuser
     
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  15. pstake

    pstake Member

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    The tray was not filled with hot water. I make the water and the rest of the chemistry at around 68-70 F ... and that's about the temperature of the room, too. That said, I had mixed my developer just a few hours before my print session, and I didn't check the temperature of the developer when I put it in the tray ... the developer was LPD and I used it undiluted, so I didn't control the temperature with water dilution, as I would have with, say, Dektol ... I failed to make sure that the devleoper had cooled off before I put it in the tray. Maybe the developer was still warm from mixing?

    In any case, I must have done some combination of things that softened the emulsion on the fiber print. I was working too late, anyway, and was tired, but had to get that last print just perfect ... just a a couple more seconds with the 3 1/2 filter, the tiniest flash to bring out the midtones, another squirt of canned air to be sure all the dust is off the negative, etc.

    I'm not sure why this happened ... maybe it was the developer? But it's never happened before, so I'm just going to mix new chemistry next time and proceed as usual. Warm developer, at least, will not be an issue, as it is now mixed.

    I def. will treat my Arista RC prints with more care, and not leave them in water for long. I realize Ilford RC might be more durable and easier to work with, but the Foma / Arista stuff has a look to it that I really like.
     
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  16. Ken N

    Ken N Member

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    The total wet time for an RC print should not exceed 15 minutes. That's everything including the development time. If you are not using an alkaline fixer, you might have additional issues if you are using an acid stopbath.

    I have gotten emulsions to float if I have varying temperatures between my trays and the wash. It doesn't matter much (other than processing times) what the tempertures are as long as they are all identical.
     
  17. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    I've never had this happen with either RC or FB paper. I have had prints wash for two hours a few times. (I got busy.) But I haven't let them soak that long either. I have left them wet, but not soaking, for several hours without harm. I have heard of tongs marring prints with softened emulsions, but I haven't had that misfortune. I usually use fingers at the washing stage.
     
  18. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Member

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    I never used tongs. In retrospect I know I should have but it's too late now.
     
  19. kevs

    kevs Member

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    That happened to me when I was at university; sometimes I'd leave FB prints overnight in the print washer. It was always Kentmere papers that suffered lifted emulsions - the Ilford papers never did this. That was before Harman took over Kentmere.

    The lesson - always finish washing prints before being chucked out of the darkrooms!

    Cheers,
    kevs
     
  20. winger

    winger Subscriber

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    I've tried to get the emulsion to slide off by leaving RC prints in water for days even and it never happens. Sorry it did when you didn't want it to, though.
     
  21. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    WOW, I leave my fb prints in very dilute wash aid for several days with no issues..
     
  22. Arkasha

    Arkasha Member

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    I used to leave my Ilford RC paper for days in a tray. At a certain point the emulsion would lift into tiny little pieces. It looked like a B&W pointillist painting. It was wonderful, but very delicate. Even dry the emulsion would just slough off. I always planned on using a fixing spray, but never got around to it.

    IIRC, the paper was left for at least 3-4 days. Have you tried it for that long?
     
  23. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Humm, oddly enough this has induced me to try leaving prints in the soak longer. I long ago (when the papers may have been worse about this) learned that too long wet times for RC paper resulted in a minor but odd curl, and on RC glossy (which I only use for contact sheets anyway) a loss of gloss and odd surface look. I've never had a problem with FB prints soaking even overnight. The only time the emulsion ever came off was when I forgot a couple of prints (years ago, mea culpa etc.) and left them for a week.

    I too have no running water and use the holding bath. FB I just leave in it, but I always take finished RC prints out after a few minutes and sponge off and lay aside, to be fully washed when I'm done. I may try leaving them - I'm aware of the "soaking into the edges" thing but not terribly concerned about it considering I don't really use RC for permanent to-be-mounted display prints anyway.
     
  24. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    How fast the prints deteriorate depends on the water and also what bacteria and mold spores are around :D I've seen emulsions degenerate in less tha 24 hours.

    Ian
     
  25. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    The longest I have tried to soak an RC print was for testing with staining is about 3 days. They were with smaller 5x7 Ilford Multigrade IV. I did really strongly brewed dark coffee, black tea, and red wine. After a number of hours there was no real toning after rinsing, so i trimmed the edges of the print with scissors to try to allows an open edge for the liquids to penetrate. The results were pretty bad after those three days, mainly uneven absorption around the edges of prints (splotches). The fiber prints on the other hand stained quickly, abeit too well as my concentrations were probably a bit too dark, yellowing a bit (coffee esp) after drying as well. Upside is that they smell good haha. but no emulsion slipping off at all.
     
  26. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Likewise. My prints (normally Ilford RC) stay in the water bath after fixing until I've finished the session, which could be 3 - 4 hours before being washed in running water then dried. I've never had a problem.
    Strange.

    Steve