Just printed 16x20 the other night.. A few questions

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by brian steinberger, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I finally printed my first 16x20 FB print the other night.. It's huge!! I enjoyed it. I have a few questions though.

    I had some inconsistencies between prints. Some slightly lighter, some slightly darker. I think this may be due to my agitation scheme in the developer and more importantly my timing. I'm agitating by rocking the tray every 5 seconds and flip the print over then back again ever 30 seconds for 1:40 then let the print drain for 20-25 seconds to equal a 2 minute development time. I'm used to printing 11x14 and normally allow 15 seconds for drip time and have had the same inconsistencies in densities. So my question is, should I let the print in the developer the full 2 minutes then let the print drain for 20-25 seconds?

    My other question is, what is the best way to let the prints air dry? I normally have prints by one corner to dry. This worked for 16x20 ok too, but I also tried using two clips. Just looking for suggestions.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    Leave the print in the developer for the full 2 minutes. Pull it out and let drain (takes about 15-20 sec). When I agitate, it's constant for the full 2 minutes. I initially drop the print in the developer face down, then flip it over and start agitating. To air dry, lay prints face down on fibre glass screens that have been stretched over frames. Wipe that backs with a sponge.
    By the way, you have some nice images in your portfolio.
     
  3. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Thanks so much Andrew!!!
     
  4. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    My tests have shown that virtually all fibre prints benefit from at least 3 minutes development. I also agitate constantly for the whole time and allow the prints to drip for 15 seconds before placing in (water) stop bath with constant agitation for 1 minute. Using this regime, prints are always consistent.

    For drying, I wipe front and back with a rubber blade and then dry on purpose made fibre glass frames (from Zone VI when they were still in operation). Before I had these screens, I used to hang two prints back to back from a line with two pegs at the bottom. This also worked well but the fibre screen are better.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  5. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    2 minutes isn't enough development for any FB paper I know of, try 3 or 4. See also factorial development. Make sure your timer is perfectly consistent too - an error of 0.1 stop exposure is readily visible, especially at higher grades.

    Yay for big prints!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 14, 2013
  6. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Agree with the above. It sounds like you're underdeveloping. Probably at least three minutes is required. I was taught to slide the prints into the developer so the wetting is even. Probably face down at first is OK too, although I would worry about trapping some air and leaving a mark.
     
  7. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I develop for three minutes, agitating every 15 seconds by lifting one corner of the tray.

    Print is face-up the entire time for the same reason Bruce mentions, I'd be worried to trap air under the paper surface.
     
  8. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    My agitation, no matter the time length, is constantly turning the print over and over, changing direction each time (left to right, front to back). I take my time with each turn to avoid kinking, but keep it moving. The developer drains off of the surface each time, so I know the chems are refreshing. And I don't hold it up long enough to drain completely, until the last one before the stop. And, as others have implied, test strips, etc are all done the same way.
    The most I do at a time is 2, back to back (one of the reasons I do the turning method, then it's the same when doing 2 prints), and I never use tongs with any print larger than 8 x 10.
     
  9. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Interesting information guys! Thanks!! i'm into the darkroom tonight to work on my second 16x20 print!
     
  10. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Brian,

    Keep a nitrile glove on your left hand (if you are right handed). Take the print in your right hand and kind of shove it down into the developer at a very low angle, then press down quickly and gently with tongs to make sure the print is totally immersed in the developer. I usually go 2.5 to 3 min with continuous agitation, but without flipping the print. I've never had any uneven development on prints even at 16x20.

    Use your left hand to agitate, and then repeat for stop and fix. The point of the glove is that you will always get chemicals on your hands, so the left hand glove takes the punishment, and you can keep a small bucket of fresh water to dip your hand in before you dry it. This keeps you from constantly having to wash your hands. It's especially helpful with bigger sizes, one gloved hand and one set of tongs, so you can move the print more easily. Much easier than tongs alone.

    Light squeegee on the front side and dry face up on screens.
     
  11. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Why would you want to wear a nitrile glove? Dev, stop and fix are just mild alkalis and acids.
     
  12. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    I do the same with gloves although mine are medical grade vinyl type. I do so for two reasons. One is protection of my skin for I do have a sensitive skin. Second is to avoid my contaminated hand from staining/contaminating new paper in box/safe. Although I wash my hands before handling unexposed paper, I'm afraid trace amount or drop on my hand may contaminate it. Now, I just remove my gloves, quick rinse and dry, and I'm ready for the second print.

    As to OP's question....

    For anything 11x14 and larger and FB, I have problem with getting all surface of paper contacting developer at the same time. This is especially true with FB because they curl toward the emulsion side. I always have some part that refuses to get "wet". To avoid this, I put the paper emulsion side down, slosh, slosh, GENTLY push with my palm, until the paper become saturated then flip it over. Then keep rocking the tray slowly and gently. I dev 2 minutes from the point I flip it over. Usually 2.5 to 3 minutes total. Longer if dealing with warm tone paper. It is REALLY easy for paper to float up and not get enough developer, so I keep watchful eye over it during the whole time.

    To dry, I spread bath towel and put my washed and squeegeed prints face UP. Works for me.
     
  13. BMbikerider

    BMbikerider Member

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    Like me, some have quite tough skin but have become sensitive to photographic chemicals which cause the skin to dry out and then small cuts appear around the tip just in front of the nail. They are very very painful and can get infected. I always use a nitrile glove and for the past 6 years have kept them at bay.

    As for agitation, although I only print up to 12x16 I put a thin piece of wood under the dish and use this as a fulcrum to rock the dish gently back and forward. The undeveloped print goes in face up and on the 1st 'rock' the developer flows evenly all over the print. No air bubbles have a chance to form. For even better coverage you can always add a small amount of wetting agent (Ilford Ilfosol or Kodak Photoflow).

    I do agree with giving the print more time than 2 minutes, we pay for the silver content, so let us use all of it. I also use another technique where a highlight is a bit stubborn, and that is to 'paint' the light area with undiluted developer using a 1/2" brush. The same applies to the shadow areas too if you want a touch more depth. It isn't a big difference but a one that can rescue a print from the scrap bin
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 15, 2013
  14. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I too have recently printed my first 16x20 prints. I really dislike printing this large. Even though they are printed from 4x5 negatives and my entire workflow is dedicated to producing the sharpest negatives possible, they are just a little softer than I like to see. I also think the inverse square law applies to larger prints: the chances of everything going just right are inversely proportional to the square of the print size. 11x14 is my favorite size to print.
     
  15. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    By the time I've washed and dried my hands a dozen times over an hour, they get very dry and, like others said, my skin can crack. Best avoided. I know the chemicals are generally safe, but I don't eat flour anymore, either!
     
  16. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Dough!
     
  17. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    I submerge the print by sliding it quickly into the developer and then agitating using rubber-tipped print tongs (I have bamboo tongs that have been going for 20+ years!). A side or end of the print floats up in the developer and I gently press it down with the tongs. Moving from area to area doing this throughout the entire developing time provides constant and even agitation. Often, I'll flip the print face down for a bit and then face up again. I'll use two tongs for larger prints, but manage 16x20 usually with only one. The tongs allow me to handle the prints all the way through the fixer without contaminating my hands. Never damage to the paper surface this way either.

    When developing more than one print at a time, I use my hands and shuffle the prints. I do not use gloves for common HQ and PQ developers, but do for amidol and glycin developers (and for pyro negative developers). When shuffling, I often get some emulsion flaking on the very edges of the print where I handle the paper. For me this is not an issue, since I print with generous borders and trim them off when mounting. When I shuffle prints, I am careful to wash and thoroughly dry my hands before returning to the dry side for more enlarging.

    I find tray rocking inadequate for agitation personally, but there are those who have mastered the technique of setting up enough waves in the solution to do the job. I've simply never found it necessary. I have not had problems with print damage from tongs or fingers ever.

    As for developing time: Your 1'40" is much to short for optimum development of most fiber-base papers. That, coupled with your possibly inadequate agitation is likely the cause of your density variations (although, it could also be enlarger-light fluctuations, especially if you are using a cold-light head).

    I use 2.5 to 3 minutes as a starting point for fiber-base papers and often develop for up to 5 minutes. Try the three-minute developing time recommended above, increase your agitation (more can't hurt!) and see if that eliminates your variation problem.

    Best,

    Doremus

    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  18. rst

    rst Member

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    I never wear gloves while doing regular prints and my hands keep dry during the process. Taking the paper from one tray to the next is easy with a tong for smaller formats. But for bigger paper sizes a tong may not be that practical. Therefore and due the small size of my darkroom, when printing that big I do one tray development. So I place the paper into the dry tray and then pour the developer over the paper - that way I also can make sure that all the paper gets covered with developer within seconds. For FB I develop three minutes with constant agitation, then I pour back the developer into the bottle (using a funnel). Then I pour in the stop bath etc. Since I rarely print that big, I do also all the washing, toning and again the washing in that one tray, so the first time my fingers get in touch with any liquid is after the final wash, when I take the paper out of the tray.

    That might sound impractical for you, but it works very well for me.

    Cheers
    Ruediger
     
  19. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I thought air bubbles were from NOT turning the print over?

    I always slide the print in face up, get it saturated with developer then turn it over and slide it in face down. No problems with unevenness. I develop FB prints for at least 3 minutes, sometimes 4 or even 5. I have had stains on both MGIV FB WT and Adox MCC110 from fingerprints, though the MGIV is much more susceptible. I use tongs but they do get awkward with 16x20 and sometimes require a helping hand, and this has (but far from always) resulted in stains in fingerprint patterns. I find gloves almost intolerable. I'm not worried about exposure to occasional small amounts of the usual developers (I would always wear gloves if I used amidol though.)

    No matter how you do it, 16x20 is starting to get awkward and easily damaged for standard double weight FB paper. RC is a bit easier in this regard.
     
  20. rst

    rst Member

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    Do you tone your prints? Then this might come from an emulsion not being hardened enough (depending on the water hardness). In our house we have pretty hard water and when I touch the paper I clearly see the finger prints on toned prints once they are dry. If I use a hardener bath that problem goes away.

    Cheers
    Ruediger
     
  21. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I do tone virtually all my prints and have been using fixer without hardener so that's an idea but at least sine stains have appeared before toning. I think I've just had a bit of fixer on my fingers! It can be surprisingly hard to wash completely off.
     
  22. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I agree with Roger. Fixer is the devil reincarnate! When I was printing the 16x20s that I whined about on page 1 of this post my tongs started leaving fingerprints. I have a set of stainless steel tongs, one for each chemical, careful not to cross contaminate. But the demon fixer still managed to possess my developer tongs. To finish the series I resorted to going upstairs to the bathroom and washing my hands between each print, drying my hands on a clean towel, making the print, using my clean hands to move the prints from solution to solution, and repeating the process. This was with Ilford fiber base warm tone semi matte paper. I think warm tone paper is more susceptible to contamination than, for example, MGIV. After a thorough decon of my tongs they are safe to use again.
     
  23. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I have a similar problem with the running water being upstairs. I have a 7 gallon plastic container with spigot in the darkroom that I fill and use a holding bath. This is temporary but the darkroom may not have running water until late this year so I deal with it. Works pretty well most of the time, but certainly not as convenient as having a sink in the darkroom (and no sink upstairs large enough to wash prints bigger than 8x10, except the bathtub which is too back breaking. I use successive still water soaks which saves water and gives a good wash but is a PITA.)