How to tone Rc prints (and make them archival) without ruining the prints themselves?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Alessandro Serrao, Apr 12, 2005.

  1. Alessandro Serrao

    Alessandro Serrao Member

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    I need to tone some 200 prints to make them archival.
    They are on Rc papers and I have a bottle of KRST handy to mix.
    I'm concerned about the fact that Rc papers can be ruined because of a too long immersion in chemicals or in water.
    If the "accepted" standard is to tone to 6 min @ KRST 1+9, counting all steps of development, stop, fixing, toning, washing the total of 15 minutes can be exceeded thus letting water or chemicals penetrate in the paper base, peeling off the emulsion and ruining the print.
    What are your method of toning Rc prints without ruining them?
     
  2. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    I never had a problem with the emulsion peeling off from water immersion back when I was using RC. In fact, I was shocked when I read Ilford's caution of no more than 11 (?) or so minutes.

    I wouldn't try toning all 200 at the same time - break it up into lots of 10 or sone, tone and wash them, then start drying.
     
  3. Lee Shively

    Lee Shively Member

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    I've had Ilford RC papers in solutions a lot longer than 15 minutes. I've toned some Ilford RC papers for 20+ minutes. I've had Ilford RC papers in hot toning solutions for extended periods of time. It's never damaged them in any way.

    Commonly accepted attitude is that RC paper is not really archival. It certainly can't hurt it to tone it, though.
     
  4. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I don't think that toning with selenium is guaranteed to make anything archival any more unless you tone enough to actually change the color of the print. It used to be thought that a little bit of selenium (but not enough to change the color) gave you archival qualities. That was disproved in a study somewhere. Ah, here it is:
    http://silvergrain.org/Photo-Tech/toners.html Read the part about Selenium toning. The study in question was done in 1991/late 80s.

    Do a search on the Kodak web site. I believe they say "keep the toning times to a minimum" with resin coated paper. See:
    http://www.kodak.com/global/en/professional/support/techPubs/g23/g23.jhtml for example. So it looks like if you mix according to the bottle and use the minimum time you will be fine. But your print will turn reddish-brown or brown depending on the paper you are using.

    I think that David Vestal's darkroom book is a great source for info on toning and washing, even if it is a little older.

    Best,

    Will
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 13, 2005
  5. geraldatwork

    geraldatwork Member

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    Their number is probably conservative. I've had RC prints (Ilford RC) continuously wet for probably 25 minutes with no problems. Also I think the important term is continuously. The prints are now dry so with the pre-wetting before toning, about 3 minutes,6 minutes toning and probably another 5 minutes washing the 14 minutes or so you will be fine.
     
  6. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    If you use the 1:9 dilution, don't go more than 2 minutes or you may end up with purple prints. As the toner ages, you can go longer, but be careful and do a test first to get the image color you want. RC paper isn't long lasting to begin with, fiber is better in most respects, but it does take longer to clear.
     
  7. fschifano

    fschifano Member

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    The warnings against keeping RC prints immersed for proloned periods of time are extremely conservative. While I don't recommend that you hold them for hours in a bath of anything, there's no need to worry about the extra time it takes to tone and rewash them. The advice about not doing them all at once is very sound. At best, it will become a logistical nightmare.

    You can tell if you've had the prints wet for too long because the very tips of the corners are first to become a bit soft. It's not a big problem, just a small indicator to watch for.

    If you are really out to make archival prints, common wisdom indicates that you should be using fiber based instead of resin coated papers. I don't know. This might be yet another case of some conventional wisdom that at one time was valid. Today's RC papers are not anything like the very earliest versions and are likely to last quite a long time with proper storage. Then again, today's FB papers are not like the FB papers of old either. Who knows if it will last 100 years. Let me know what happens...
     
  8. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Alessandro,

    I'm pretty much in agreement with the general sentiments expressed above. I routinely run my contact sheets (Kodabrome RC) and any halfway-important prints (Ilford MG-IV RC or Polymax RC) through KRST 1:20 or so in my hypo-clear solution. I'm only hoping for a little extra permanence, not any color change. I don't think that the extra wet time is of any real consequence at all. I've overlooked faulty prints which were accidentally left for hours in the wash and have never noticed any damage; I'm sure there's a limit to this abuse of RC paper, but it must be well beyond the manufacturers' indications.

    Konical
     
  9. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    A lot of info on archival matters HERE. Despite the name of the book, there is a lot of info on B&W materials too and materials used for both B&W and colour. It's an 80MB download, but for dialup users it can be downloaded chapter by chapter. Chapters 13, 14 & 15 seem to contain info most relevant to B&W prints and the mounting of them.


    Cheers, Bob.
     
  10. Alessandro Serrao

    Alessandro Serrao Member

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    Konical,
    I've started this thread because, before even attempting to ruin these 200 photos I've tried to tone some crap unimportant one printed on Ilford and Agfa Rc paper.
    The sum time is as follows:
    1) a first cycle of normal development consisting of (2min dev., 10 sec stop, 1.5 min fix, water for 3-4 min, final rinse in photo-flo)
    2) a first attempt to tone with KRST @ 1+20 (first wash for 4 min, tone for 6 min, final wash for 4 min)
    3) then somewhere on the Net I've stumbled across the news that KRST @ 1+20 doesn't offer that much protection, so I've put these prints under another tone cycle with KRST @ 1+9 (first wash 2 min, tone 6 min, last wash 4 min).

    So, to sum up, these prints have undergone a total of 34 min total wet time, and I can assure you that the water and chemical solutions has begun to enter the paper base. The first sign of danger was soft edges.
    I've had to trim the prints in order to salvage them.
    So to me 34 min of wet time is too much for Rc paper.
    What are your real-life experiences?
     
  11. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I do not use RC paper myself. However, what I have heard as a means of preventing this problem is to leave a border for later trimming. It is my understanding that the extended wet times involves some penetration at the edges. Hope this is helpful to you.
     
  12. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    It is my understanding that RC paper is not capable of being archival. So why invest a lot of time toning something that isn't going to last anyway? It is for that reason that I don't use RC paper for anything and I haven't used RC for a great number of years. I am basing this statement on the experience of other photographers who have related that RC images do not maintain their integrity for anywhere near the time that would be considered archival.
     
  13. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

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    If the prints are already processed and dry, you should only need a few minutes soak followed by the KRST (Tim Rudman agrees with your 1+9 dilution BTW - says a minimum of 3 minutes) followed by a wash. Wash-aid not recommended for RC; apparently, it does too good a job....

    By splitting the wet time like this, it should reduce absorbtion into the paper base.

    Can't help much re' real world, I have toned RC in sepia (days after being processed and dried) but not often enough to give any kind of definitive answer... hang on..... Just had a look at some and can only see the very faintest of damage to the very tip of some (1 in 4) corners (under 1mm) - can't tell if that is separation or just mechanical damage. That's about 2-4 minutes soak, 1-3 minutes in bleach, another minute or two in the toner and at least 5 minutes wash but I can't say exactly as I tend to dump it in the washer and leave it there until I need it for the next print... I use fibre for "final" prints and I'm a lot more careful of those!

    Archival is a relative term. A properly processed & stored RC print should last in excess of a hundred years, IIRC from the book I linked to above. A properly processed and stored fibre print could last in excess of 1000 years, certainly several hundred (same reference). Apparently, because of the plastic preventing contaminants in the emulsion from dissipating out the back of the print, archival toning in selenium etc is more important for RC than for fibre.

    Cheers, Bob.
     
  14. titrisol

    titrisol Member

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    Depending on what you call "destroying" the paper, try SISTAN.
    Othewise I'd just use some viradon for a few minutes or Selenium right after fixer
    That seems to be as archival as you can get.

    Also why rinse with photo-flo?

    If you tone right after your fix it'd be something like:
    - Develope 1.5
    - Stop 0.5
    - Fix 1.5
    - Rinse with carbonate 0.5 (to avoid carrying acidic fixer)
    - Selenium 1+9 2-4
    - Water 5
    Total 11-14 minutes
     
  15. Steve Roberts

    Steve Roberts Member

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    Alessandro,
    I have to agree with Konical. I frequently have Ilford RC prints that go through the usual processes, sit in a holding bath for an hour, get washed (sometimes for rather longer than intended when I forget them!) and then dried, so could easily be wet for a couple of hours and I've never had any problems. As with many photographic issues, I think the problems are more theoretical than practical.
    As for the archival qualities of RC (or any) paper, I often see the term "archival" used in a context where I would choose "display". I have untoned prints ( mainly FB but some RC) going back thirty years that have been stored in the dark and are the same as the day I printed them - that to me is archival usage - kept in the dark and hauled out occasionally to be looked at. I've no doubt that had the same prints been displayed behind glass in strong light they would probably not be worth having by now but would have benefitted from toning.
    Best wishes with whatever course of action you take!
    Steve
     
  16. Alessandro Serrao

    Alessandro Serrao Member

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    Thanks all folks who replied.
    Again this forum is a wonderful place to share impressions and comments.
     
  17. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Alessandro,

    My apologies for the delayed response. I am having major computer problems and have been unable to access the Internet until a few minutes ago.

    I suspect that some of the RC prints I've accidentally washed too long may have had soft edges, but, if so, I have never noticed. I would stress that I don't routinely subject RC paper to extended wet times, but I do think that the manufacturers' recommendations are probably conservative.

    Konical
     
  18. gareth harper

    gareth harper Inactive

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    If I remember correctly Ilford recommend selenium toning RC prints for display (sorry if this has been mentioned already).

    One thing I have heard about RC is that it contains brighteners. Apparently if you leave the print wet for too long the brighteners can be leached out. Can't say I've noticed myself though.

    I use both Ilford RC and fibre papers.
    All my finnished prints are at least selenium toned.
    One method I have found pleasing with MGIV RC is......
    Dunk it in warm KRS selenium (22 degrees C or more) at 1/4 dillution for maybe 3 or 4 minutes. This should remove the papers horrible green tinge and impart a more pleasing very suttle blue hue.

    That's what I often do with MGIV RC anyway.

    Archival? I'd say so. A well processed and toned RC print should last longer than any of us. Also RC is much more tollerant of bad processing than fibre, so don't be surprised if many modern RC prints last longer tham many fibre prints being produced to day!
     
  19. chuck94022

    chuck94022 Subscriber

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  20. TPPhotog

    TPPhotog Member

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    If I remember correctly the last time this was discussed it was pointed out that the manufactor of both RC and FB have changed over recent years.

    As a result there is no proof that FB has remained archival and prints will last like the old stuff.

    RC has improved leaps and bounds and I've not had prints fade that have been printed in the last couple of years. It would appear that the achivity of RC has been addressed by the manufactorers.

    All we can really hope for is that FB is still archival and RC is now archival.
     
  21. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    My real life experiences are that I have had the emulsion peel from RC paper when it's been left to soak in water for more than six hours. In less than that, it hasn't happened. I strongly doubt if any accepted process of development and finishing will run you into problems.

    I don't know what current thinking about archival properties of RC is, because I rarely ever use it. However, I did some experimenting with it when it was first introduced more than 30 years ago, and those prints are just fine (except for a few that were fixed in exhausted fixer, and those have gotten "brassy" in spots).

    Larry
     
  22. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    RC Prints -long immersion

    My reply backs up most of your other replies, although there were notes of caution indicating a problem could arise. Until I started to read about printing in some depth I had no idea that there was a problem real or imaginary with prolonged immersion- certainly not in the normal develop, fix wash process. When I started printing it was at an evening class in a college darkroom with about 20 other students all trying to produce as many prints as possible in the once a week two and a half hour session we had. As a consequence of time pressures, students would practically form a queue to develop, fix and deposit prints into a large tray of running water and then leave them for practically the whole session while they repeated the process with each print before forming another queue at the end of the session for squeegeeing and passing the prints through a high speed heated roller machine for RC prints.

    I spent two terms there and must have seen more than several thousand prints completed. In all that time not once did I see any problem or hear any student complain in the following weeks that the emulsion had lifted.

    Certainly I was guilty as the rest at leaving prints washing for maybe over an hour before sorting them out. Incidentally the wash trays would end up with dozens of prints in them at any one time and not once did anyone mention damage.Prints would often tend to stick to one another stick and get less than gentle treatment when the students came to retrieve their own prints - not easy to sort out your own prints from others in a large tray in safelight conditions.

    Incidentally many a student would not retrieve prints in the large fixer tray at the recommended time and yet there was no obvious problem with highlights degrading. I know "fine prints" may suffer and fine printers set exacting standards but all I can say is that when the prints were shown at end of term there was no obvious deterioration and the tutor never said that some had been left too long in fixer.

    So my experience is that RC paper is a pretty "tough bird".
     
  23. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    when disposing of selenium that has gotten near exhaustion, i will take several RC prints and put them in a tray with the selenium and leave them for days at a time to fully exhaust the solution.

    Never have had the paper split, fall apart , did get a lovely shade of tan :smile:
     
  24. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    the image permanence institute is at rit --- kodak has quoted their stuff to me before when i asked them specific questions regarding the archival nature of rc paper. i've had rc-prints 'silver out' ( that is what i have been told they did ) where silver stain/spotches covered areas of the front of a rc prints. the images looked like they were solarized in certain areas. kodak had no comment about the problem but suggested that had nothing to do with the paper because a rc print processed correctly would outlast ( by many many years ) any archivally processed fb print. ( this is what the image permanence institute suggested to kodak ).

    while i can see printing on rc for the shortened drying times &C, i wouldn't really invest any energy printing on rc unless it was absolutely necessary and the prints were not expected to have a long life. while its been suggested rc is as stable as fiber, if archives don't accept rc prints as "archival", i don't think i will either ...