Highlight detail in Ziatype

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by timbo10ca, Oct 5, 2008.

  1. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Hi-

    I'm new to Ziatype and am having trouble getting detail in my zone 8-ish highlights and am not sure what to do about it. I am using FP4+ in Pyrocat HD and have tried a test neg developed to N-1, N, N+1 and N+2. None seem to work. Although the shadows are supposed to self mask, I am getting exposure times of 30 minutes and still no highlight detail when the shadows are correct, and about to go too dark.

    I am using the sun for my exposures (I know- too much variation, but it worked before UV boxes were invented....) and have a system worked out that gives me a reliable neutral black-grey-white tonal range. I found that exposing in full sun in the heat of summer caused uneveness and bronzing due to the paper drying out. I therefore moved into open shade, and could reliably get neutral tones (but no highlight detail). So I tried again today in open shade and got similar results, even with a dramatically lower ambient RH. I figured I'd try open (hazed) sun, as the temp was quite cooler than my last attempts in the heat of summer. My shadows set up faster, but the highlights just never came in, even after 30 minutes (this was using an N+1 neg). I'm not sure if it's my coating area humidity (54%), my paper humidity (5 passes per side through a cool mist humidifier), or ambient temp or humidity that's my problem. I seem to have equal non-success regardless of the contrast of the neg. Do I need a stronger UV source to cut through the dense regions of the neg, but not too hot to dry out the paper? Do I need more humidity in my paper to keep the reaction going forward (it seems to stall out before the highlights develop). I've tried all different degrees of hmidity in the paper from no additional to sopping wet and no improvement was see, just splotching, bronzing, and uneven development.

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  2. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Hmmm, Well you got me up and checking my prints for contrast in the highlights and to tell the truth I usually fill the frame to the point where there isn't much sky to tell of. Since you state that the contrast of the negative, (flat or contrasty?) seems to have no effect on the out come, then your going to have to start looking at the chemicals and the humidity. Your target range for ambient coating humidity is 50% to 65%. Down here in Fla. I simply leave my paper out and let it absorb the RH of the house which seems to run 50% to 55% with the A/C on. Of course when you coat the paper it rises till it drys back for printing, but in a dry or cold climate exposure I've read that it's suggested to sandwich the paper with mylar. If your shadows come up reasonably, say 7-8 minutes from say 10am to 2pm your AFO should be good, and I would think that you might want to start looking at too much contrast in the negative. I've never found alot of contrast in the neg very good. Another thing which I have found and which does not necessarily apply to your problems is that late day exposures are really long and fall/winter exposures just as bad.
     
  3. nze

    nze Member

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    I've never have such problem with ziatype. I can even print negative with 2.6 DR . It may come from the sun exposure, if you contact in direct sun the emulsion dry during the exposure. It may be better to put the printing frame in shadow so the paper do get warm and do not dry. Anotehr solution is to buy the low cost UV lamp at bostick. it will solve the drying problem .
     
  4. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Thanks. Wayne-I think you are correct in the exposure. Up at this latitude, it just may not be a strong enough sun at this time of year. There was light cloud to boot. I am using mylar, and coating (this time) at 54%, but ambient RH during exposure was mid- 30%'s. I can't see this making a difference, considering the use of the mylar though. Must be the UV strength. Glad to hear you have not seen better results with contrasty negs- hopefully I will be able to continue using negs for silver printing with success, once I get a more pwerful UV source. Problem in summer is that it's so darned hot in open sun, the print dries out too quick (as Chris has said)- so I moved to open shade. Just haven't found the right combo yet, but it sounds like I'm on the right track- open shade for summer, bright sun in spring/fall. Or get a UV box.... :tongue:

    Tim
     
  5. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    The mylar may be causing some UV blocking which would affect the highlights more than the shadows. If you have a Home Depot near you, you can pick up blacklight fixtures quite inexpensively (under $20 US per unit, which includes an 18" (I think, might be a 20") bulb, ballast, and fixture). If you're doing 8x10s, then three of the fixtures will do nicely. You can just screw them to the underside of a shelf, and have another shelf about 3" below the bulbs, and be good to go. If you are working with bigger negs, get six of the fixtures and you can do up to 12x20 or 14x17 with comfort.

    If your highlights are blowing out, try cutting the development back even a bit more. Just fine tune the process until you get a happy result.
     
  6. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Tim all my negs are developed for silver printing and I've never had a problem with them for Zia's.

    Once the sun heads south the printing changes. At least that's what I notice here. I always place my printing frame at an angle in a chair that sits in the shade and is pointed north. Clear days are better, sometimes much better then cloudy ones. Overall being in a northern latitude you'd probably be better with a UV unit. Plus it's always a constant UV strength.
     
  7. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Thanks guys. I may go the route of a UV box if I can figure out how to make a cheap one. I was speaking with one person who tried the UV lights from Home Depot, and it did not seem to work for him. I'm not much of a handyman either, so if anybody has some simple plans for a cheap box, I'd appreciate them.. I don't have the space to attatch them to the bottom of a shelf, so I'd need to construct a box. The ones from B&S look great, but are very $$$$ and can't see the need for the stand, which increases costs.

    Wayne- I tried open sun this summer and the paper dried out waaaaay too fast, giving a terrible result. I can't seem to find a happy combination in my climate- oh well. Pointing directly at the sun from within the shade may help- I'll give it a try (I'd just been laying the frame on the ground. The unpredictability of the sun is frustrating and makes learning more difficult but at least it's free. I have plenty to keep me busy over the winter and made very good notes for when I pick up again wiht the zias next year.

    Tim
     
  8. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    I was wondering if I were to make a box using these lights, how I would keep things cool enough so I don't run into the same problem as direct sun. Maybe I'd build a stand to put on my workbench with open sides and back, so it doesn't turn into a hotbox. Would a fan be a problem on one end, considering the need for maintaining a good level of humidity for this process? Or would this even be an issue when using the mylar? I'd be maxing out at 11x14 prints I think, so how many bulbs would you recommend, and at what height from the printing frame? I'm thinking I'd make it a certain height- maybe a foot or 18" and then adjust distance by puting the frame on something- or is this an unneccesarry variable- should I keep the frame always at a set distance and vary only time? Another thing I wonder about is the need for "UV protection" so as not to get sunburned while using one of these boxes, especially if dodging and burning are required. How would you even do dodging and burning if the frame was in a box, only a couple inches from the bulbs? Would the need for D/B mean that I shouldn't even be using that neg in the first place?

    Thanks,
    Tim
     
  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I have my bulbs about 2" from the surface of the glass on the contact printing frames. I have no problems with drying out from heat at that distance. My "box" is open on four sides (an open-sided shelving unit with adjustable height shelves), so that provides all the air cooling I need. If you are maxing out at 11x14, I'd say get four of the UV light units to be on the safe side, but you could probably get away with three.

    One thing you'll find is that with pt/pd/zia, the need for dodging and burning is minimal to none. If you have a neg that still needs d/b, your best bet is to make a contrast mask (on the mylar is not a bad place for it), and then do multiple exposures under the UV light. You don't want to try and dodge/ burn by hand or with cut-out cards with a UV source. If you find you have a lot of negs that you want to print but need dodging and burning, you should invest in some kind of registration system so you can keep your negs and masks lined up. I think you'll find once you get your process down that you won't need to do much, as the zias are self-masking in the shadows.
     
  10. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Cool- thanks Scott.

     
  11. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    I can't find UV fixtures and lights, but I can find blacklight ones. They're fluorescent- is that OK or do I need actual UV bulbs?

    Tim
     
  12. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    That's exactly what you want- the blacklight fixtures. They're quite rich in UV.
     
  13. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    cool- thanks
     
  14. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Success!!!! I made a nice little stand with 4 fixtures high enough to allow plenty of airflow. I can set the frame at the desired height, and it works like a charm. Normal negs are printing beautifully at around 5 minutes, give or take depending on the paper.

    Thanks again,
    Tim
     
  15. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    I am getting some stipplation in random areas, and it doesn't seem to matter if I'm using a brush or rod. Any idea what may be causing this?
     

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  16. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    Which paper are you using?
     
  17. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    This is on Arches Platine. I'm pretty sure it's over-aggresive brushing, and maybe some not-quite-dry emulsion to complicate matters. I tried another one today and was very careful to use very minimal brushing and to make sure the surface had absolutely no hint of moisture before exposing, and I did not get any of these marks. Would you think it's more the brushing or the moisture that caused it?
     
  18. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    I have not carefully read the whole thread, so there may be some redundance here.
    Generally: print-out palladium is not a very difficult process, and brushing is not difficult. If you use one of those "magic brushes" or a similar one, there should be no problem. Hake brushes may shed hair and consume more sensitizer, but those also should work, as should glass rods. I once forgot to add my FAO to the pd, brushed it then on separately, and the paper exposed absolutely normally.
    The paper should have a certain moisture when coated, best for coating is around 60% ambient humdity, but it may be steamed before coating. It should also contain considerable moisture when exposed.
    Arches Platine looks very good, works well if it works, but has often been plagued in the past by sudden changes in the manufacture, "bad batches", and has other idiosyncrasies (Tween 20 is a problem). I would not recommend it. Try Fabriano Artistico with a pre-coat of 2% oxalic acid.
    The sun should not be a problem if you have the opportunity to step inside and check exposures.
    Negatives should be dense enough, and quite contrasty. The same negs used for salt prints may be used also with pd print-out!
    If you used too much of a contrast agent, you may get difficulties printing down the highlights.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Tim-

    This COULD be a paper problem, or a brush technique problem. IIRC, the notorious problem with Platine was not white spots so much as black spots showing up throughout the image. My favorite paper for Pt/Pd is Bergger COT320. It was specially developed for platinum printing, and have a very bright white surface, giving you a bit more contrast in your final images naturally. I have never had emulsion flaws as a result of using this paper.

    When brushing, what are you doing? As a general technique, try to keep the brush perpendicular to the paper, using the minimum pressure required to move the emulsion across the paper. Use a series of horizontal strokes followed by a series of verticals to distribute your emulsion across the image area. Before brushing, have the brush thoroughly wet with distilled water, then squeegee the brush free of excess moisture, so it forms a blade-like edge. The very best brush bar none is the Richeson 9010 "Magic Brush". They're expensive, but nothing else produces the same result with as much ease. Jerry's Artarama and Cheap Joe's both have excellent prices on them (about 30% less than in-store retail).
     
  20. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Great- thanks. Good to know about the platine. I love the look and feel of it, but have not been happy so far with the images on it. I may just need to adjust my exposure a bit, but it seems not to give nearly as nice vivid highlights like I can get from a much cheaper Weston Diploma. That'll be gone soon, and I don't really like the light weight of it any way. When my Arches is done, I'm definitely going to give the COT320 a try. I was under the impression it was tough to coat and not for "beginners", but the same thing can be said of the platine. I'm still waiting for my "sample pack" from B&S- I should give them a call.

    I'm definitely going to invest in one of the magic brushes when I start doing larger prints, but I can't really afford to buy two- I'll use the Hake brush I bought for 5x7 for the time being, as that's the only size I'm currently doing. My technique is definitely not perpendicular, and I'm sure that's the problem- the brush bends over and and become more of a "wipe"- I'm going to try trimming the bristles down so it maintains it's form better- hopefully that'll work.

    Tim
     
  21. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    Although I'm not a big fan of the Weston Diploma I do use it to proof on. I received a phone call a couple of days ago from John Zokowski-(sp?) that this paper is now being made again. It is called Weston Parchment Plat-Pal now. Robert
     
  22. timbo10ca

    timbo10ca Member

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    Interesting- I was under the impression that the replacement was not the same, and didn't work well at all.
     
  23. RobertP

    RobertP Subscriber

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    I couldn't tell you about the new Weston Parchment Plat-Pal because I have not yet tried it. I'm not sure others have tried this new run either as I was just made aware of it by the distributor a couple of days ago. My only hope is that it is a whiter version compared to the older stuff.