Ilford archival washing/toning sequence

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jonathan R, Dec 24, 2013.

  1. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    I have quite a number of Ilford MG FB prints that I printed and selenium-toned in make-shift darkrooms up to 30 years ago, and they are fine. Now, I have a dedicated darkroom, but my prints stain as soon as I put them in the toner. The procedure I am currently following is:
    Ilford MG paper developer
    Tetenal Indicet stop bath
    Ilford Rapid fixer (1 minute only)
    Rinse, running water, 5 minutes
    Water bath hold until end of session
    Wash in running water 45 min
    Ilford Washaid
    Kodak Selenium toner
    ...and then I would wash archivally if only the d**n things didn't stain.

    I have seen Ilford's recommended archival wash sequence, which involves using toner diluted with washaid straight after the fixer. I am hesitant to try this, because (a) I understand it makes the toner essentially a one-shot bath; and (b) I can't see that why it would be an improvement on what I am already doing.

    I have read a lot of older threads here and elsewhere, and folk seem to divide into two camps over this (have problems, can't explain, or no problems ever). Does anyone have any chemical insights that might help me here?

    Thanks in anticipation.
     
  2. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    I believe you do the Washaid before the wash, not after? That's what I do with Hypo-Clear at any rate. It helps make the fixer become more water soluble.

    I go straight from the fixer into a holding bath of Hypo-Clear until I am done printing. Then I do a 5-10 minute wash, toner, and then final washing. I'm probably doing it wrong but it's working for me.
     
  3. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    That seems like a very short fix time for FB prints.
     
  4. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    Ilford's own "optimimum permanence" processing sequence only calls for 1 minute in the fix. My prints generally go for 1 minute or two but sometimes longer if I forget about them. :smile:

    Jonathan, I think you should try replacing your water holding bath with washaid.
     
  5. Mike Crawford

    Mike Crawford Member

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    I have not used the Ilford method myself, but from what I remember, the fixer is one minute at 1+4 not 1+9, though I would check with a published Ilford guide. Wash aid / Hypo Clear would need to be soon after the hypo not after the wash I would reckon.
     
  6. jcc

    jcc Member

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    I fix or four to five minutes, with constant agitation. One minute is very short for fibre, IMO, and I would expect the paper to turn.

    Anyhow, after fixing, I go straight to a selenium toner (duration depends on tone I want to achieve), then wash for 5 minutes, then hypo clearing agent for a minute or two, then archival wash for at least 30 minutes.
     
  7. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    1 minute for FB in fresh Ilford Rapid Fixer (1+4) is correct. Works great. For RC papers it is shorter.
     
  8. dasBlute

    dasBlute Subscriber

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    I'll second the 'washaid before long bath'.

    I use the two-bath fixing method as per T. Rudman, who also warns about the short
    fixing times of the Ilford method...
     
  9. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    I assume that you have made a typo in the order of your steps? The one minute strong rapid-fixer (better with two-bath method), minimal hold time, a short wash of the print, washaid, the long wash of the print (which is then much shorter than usual, thanks to the washaid).

    Toning comes afterwards and/or gets complicated, and selenium mixes often contain fixer, so another quick-wash - washaid - long-wash scenario comes up. It is easy to push the manufacturers recommended wet times, but what can one do . . .
     
  10. gleaf

    gleaf Subscriber

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    Over long fixer time can cause bleaching in the highlights.
     
  11. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Here are some excerpts from Kodak Tech Pub G-23 that may help:

    Improper fixing is probably the major cause of stains in
    toned prints. Use two-bath fixing for best results.

    Do not exceed the capacity of your fixer. An exhausted
    fixing bath contains insoluble silver compounds that will
    remain in prints; you can’t remove them completely by
    washing. When these residual silver compounds come into
    contact with a toner, they form a dark yellow stain that is
    especially noticeable in print borders and highlights.
    Proper agitation in the fixer is important. Stains
    commonly occur when prints stick together or float on the
    surface of the fixer. For example, air bubbles trapped
    between or under prints during fixing can later produce
    round purple stains in prints toned with selenium or sulfide
    toners.

    Also avoid excessive fixing. Do not fix prints for longer
    than the recommended time...
    Prolonged fixing expands the paper and allows the solution
    to penetrate the base. Fixer that is trapped in the base is
    difficult to remove, and will make prints that are toned in
    selenium or sulfide toners turn yellow.

    Do not use metal trays or tanks to hold your toning solutions.
    Use only unchipped enamel, hard-rubber, or plastic trays.

    If you use Hypo Clearing Agent after fixing fiber-base
    prints, you can use a working solution of Hypo Clearing
    Agent to dilute Rapid Selenium Toner 1:20 or 1:40, and
    eliminate the wash step between fixing and toning. To avoid
    stains, don’t rinse the prints after fixing; immerse them
    directly into the combination bath, and tone for
    approximately 3 minutes for print protection or longer for a
    tone change.
     
  12. Alan Ross

    Alan Ross Member

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    Toning problems

    Hi Jonathan,

    There are two things that will cause a print to stain in Selenium toner:
    •The print is not fixed thoroughly, or
    • there is residual acid in the paper fibers

    I have been working almost exclusively with Ilford MG since the early/mid '80s, using Ilford's short fixing procedure since that time. No problems, here.

    It would seem that you have rinsed the prints sufficiently to not have acid content as an issue. The Ilford Rapid Fix should be just fine if mixed 1:4 with water, fixing WITH CONTINUOUS agitation FOR 45-60 seconds.

    Like you, I rinse the prints in a tray of slightly running water for a minute or more, then transfer to a large tray or sink for the duration of my session. The prints can then go directly into a tray of toner (MGFB at 1:10 for 3' or the new Classic for about 3' at 1:20). Next a water rinse. Next the wash-aid of your choice. Then I put the prints in fresh water THEN into archival washers for maybe 20 minutes depending on the washer.

    Good luck!

    Alan
    www.alanrossphotography.com
     
  13. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    That would work but you are correct the OP has not read the Ilford wash aid instructions and got the steps in wrong sequence.

    You also need to read the hypo clear instructions too sorry for archival perm

    fix, rinse off fix, hypo clear, holding bath preferably sink syphon slow run

    the rinse of fix protects the hypo clear for the whole scession all the prints get fresh hypo clear with minimal hypo carry over...

    our corvettes just used sea water while they were taking U boat pennant number shots no desalination plants
     
  14. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    The time in the fixer depends on the fixer. I use 2 minutes in ordinary, non-hardening rapid fixer (F-34) with continuous tray tilt agitation. I don't know the composition of the Ilford fixer, but there are fixers that will work properly in about a minute. I also don't know what is in the Ilford Washaid, but I am a bit surprised at its use after the final wash and immediately before toning, without a rinse. (Of course, there would be a wash after toning.)
     
  15. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    I have read the instructions I just choose not to follow them. :smile: Some year I'll make a print worth keeping and then I'll worry about archival permanence...
     
  16. Xmas

    Xmas Member

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    Ok but the title of the thread was ...archival...

    Id be more careful about your prints, year before last at Xmas I was visiting my boss, (lady) from 40 years ago, and removed the camera bag from auto as it was -5C and falling.

    So her greeting on doorstep was 'you still take photos?'
    Then 'The picture on my bed side table of the children is one of yours (- sic from 40 years ago).'

    Undirected candid of boy and girl happily playing together on Kchrome 25 1/30 f/1.4 M2 35mm lux, but value of print to her nostalgia, they were just end of roll shots for me, at the time.
     
  17. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Alan has your answer.

    Since you rinse enough to ensure that the prints are not too acid, you can likely suspect inadequate fixing or contamination.

    There are quite a few things to consider here.

    First, if you insist on using the single-bath method with film-strength fixer, be aware that the capacity of your fixer is very small. Ilford states it is only 10 8x10s per liter before residual silver in the fixing bath is beyond limits for optimum permanence. Be sure you aren't overusing your fixer. However, the first few prints through your fresh fixer should be fixed well and should not stain in selenium. If you are getting staining on these, then look elsewhere.

    As others have mentioned, the wash aid before the selenium toning may be the culprit. And, as mentioned before, the wash-aid treatment should come after the toner, just before the wash. It's easy to fix that...

    As for mixing the toner with wash-aid: forget it. It is old-school and wasteful. Selenium toner will live forever if replenished and filtered before use. There is no need to toss an active (and potentially dangerous) selenium-rich solution into the environment just because the wash-aid capacity has been reached.

    So, mix your toner without wash aid and use the wash aid after toning. Use fresh fix, or better, a two-bath fixing sequence (which Ilford recommends before toning, by the way...) and you should have no staining problems.

    ------------------------------------------

    Also, you should know that the entire "strong-fast fix" method that Ilford espouses is based on limiting the amount of fixer that makes it to the fibers of the paper base. The idea is that stronger and faster will fix all the halides in the emulsion before the fixer seeps into the paper base and thus reduce wash times. The time it takes for fix to reach the paper base is just over one minute. If you are fixing a bit too long, you might as well change techniques. Also, the Ilford sequence may not work for other products besides Ilford's... I don't believe Ilford tested with other manufacturers' papers or chemicals. Fixing too long with this method won't cause inadequate fixing, but it will require longer wash times.

    I long ago decided that a conventional two-bath fixing sequence using a rapid fixer and then the associated longer washing times was a better method for my work flow.

    FWIW, I use Ilford Rapid Fix or Hypam 1+9. I fix for 1.5-2 minutes in each bath, and discard the first bath after a 36 8x10 per liter capacity is reached.

    I tone in separate session to printing. When printing, the prints get the first fix and are then washed (min. one hour) and dried. Keeper prints are collected and toned in a later toning session.

    My toning work flow is: water pre-soak (5 minutes), fix two (in freshly-mixed fixer, 1.5-2 minutes, again with a 36 8x10-print-per-liter capacity), then directly into the selenium toner. Prints are toned visually until the desired tonal change is achieved and then go directly into a homemade wash-aid. (Yes, the capacity of the wash-aid could be increased by inserting a rinse after the toner, but sodium sulfite is cheap and I don't need the extra step.) The prints are agitated for three minutes and then simply collect in the wash-aid bath till I have twelve to load the washer with. Wash time is a minimum of one hour.

    I test regularly for residual silver and hypo and always have had excellent results.

    Maybe my sequence can work for you as well.

    Best,

    Doremus
     
  18. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    that's a sign of underfixing. start using a 2fixing bath procedure.residual silver will stain in he toner.
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Thanks Doremus, I got some tips for improved process from that.

    I agree that, if some prints stain but the first ones through the fixer don't, it's most likely over used fixer. I've used two bath fixing but been getting to print too seldom so I went back to to single bath fixing and found what was said here - the life if the fixer is less than half what you would expect with conventional fixing times, even with a single bath. 10 8x10s per litter may be a tad conservative but not much. When using a single bath I stop at 20 8x10s per half gallon. More use risks stains in toning and under fixing even without it. I suspect a longer, conventional fix time would still work ok for somewhat more capacity but at the expense of longer wash times.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  20. Jonathan R

    Jonathan R Member

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    Friends, I had not expected any responses until after the Christmas break, but two whole pages of thoughtful advice is humbling. Thanks to all.

    I think my problem probably is with incomplete fixing. I have been using only a single fixing bath, because it seemed difficult to use two if the total fix time was to be limited to 1 minute. Also, I couldn't see the point in having fixer soak into the fibre base if one could instead have something simpler to wash out, like acetic acid. It's hard to believe that there is residual acid in the paper before I tone, because of the long first wash and the Washaid. No typo there, by the way, I did use the Washaid immediately before the toner. That was maybe mistaken, given the intended function of the Washaid, but it surely wouldn't be a cause of the staining, if it's OK to mix the toner with Washaid?

    But it's also odd that I got staining yesterday, because I mixed fresh chemicals and put through only 5 12x16 sheets before starting to tone. Admittedly, the first one in the toner was the last one printed.

    OK, it's a 2-bath fix for me next time. Will report how things go. Merry Christmas, all.
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    What is the reason for needing longer for fibre based paper? As the emulsion is on the outer surface, I would have thought they would be the same.

    I can appreciate why it would need more washing as the paper itself will absorb more.


    Steve.
     
  22. miha

    miha Member

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    There is always some sort of supercoat / protective layer over the emulsion so I guess the supercoats differ from FB to RC.
     
  23. Richard Jepsen

    Richard Jepsen Member

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    I believe Ralph may have the answer. I never get staining. I place fiber prints in a hold tray. I start with a 5 min rinse. Prints are toned, 5 min rinse, 10 min wash aid, 20-30 min manual tray wash. I do not mix toner with a wash aid.

    I limit fix capacity to (10) 8x10 prints per L. per Ilford's directions for optimum permanence.

    I use a two tray fix work flow when printing a 8x12 image on 11x14. Fix capacity limited to no more than 15 prints per L. I use a citrus stop and TF-4 fix. Total fix time no more than 90s. Fix prepared to film strength ratio per manufacture's directions.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 26, 2013
  24. adelorenzo

    adelorenzo Subscriber

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    I just remembered that I'm using Ilford 2000 RT fixer which might make a difference? Even though it's for RC paper I am using it for FB paper and also film. My fixing times are very short and I get a lot of prints out of 1 L of working solution.

    With a minute or two in the fix, a soak in hypo-clear and a 5 minute wash in my print washer I have never had any staining when toning.
     
  25. sepiareverb

    sepiareverb Subscriber

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    I had staining in my last darkroom due to iron, rusty "copper" screws holding in my "copper" pipe clamps for the sink. This time I went with stainless & plastic for the pipe clamps and have rust from nails coming through the basement ceiling from the flooring above. Lots of dabbing with epoxy paint or silicone caulk in my near future.