Keeping paper flat BEFORE exposure

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by srs5694, Sep 5, 2005.

  1. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've been doing darkroom printing for just a few months, using VC RC paper (mostly Agfa, but I did try some of Freestyle's Arista.EDU Ultra). I've got an 8x10 paper safe in which I keep most of my paper. Anyhow, I've noticed that when I first remove the paper from the box, it's flat. This is very handy when I want to make borderless prints; I just drop the paper on the borderless easel and that's it. After a few days in the paper safe, though, the paper curls, which means the only way to keep it flat for making a print is to put it in an easel that produces borders. I was just wondering what others' experiences are with this. Should I put a heavy object on the paper in the safe? Put it in the safe only during printing sessions, and keep it in its black plastic bag and box between sessions? Do something else? Thanks for any tips.
     
  2. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is a post-it style adhesive you can put in spots on your easel you can use, otherwise a vacuum easel is a good way to control unruly materials under the enlarger.
     
  3. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

    Messages:
    3,242
    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2004
    Location:
    Milwaukee, W
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You might try a barely damp sponge applying it to the back side of the print being careful not to dampen the front side. This might remove the curling long enough to make a exposure.
     
  4. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Not being able to afford a vacuum easel the only way round this I found was to use my masking frame. Unfortunately this does produce borders, but it isn't difficult to crop these off.
     
  5. Bill Mobbs

    Bill Mobbs Member

    Messages:
    156
    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Dip a cotton ball in your favorite soft drink and draw an "X" about the size of your paper... Let it dry a bit... all the brands I have tried are very sticky. If any sticks to your print it is gone by the final wash.
     
  6. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have made my own vacuum easel with a drill and some formica. Drill a grid with a 1/4' bit, build it to the top of a shallow box and attach an old vacuum cleaner to it. Works best with the vacuum outside the darkroom, the air being piped through the wall with plastic drain pipe.

    Pay attention to reinforcing supports inside the box, as little a 5 psi vacuum can exert a total of 500 lbs on a 10x10 area.
     
  7. naaldvoerder

    naaldvoerder Member

    Messages:
    654
    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2004
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Would placing the paper emulsion side down, in the papersafe, with some sort of waight on it, be a solution??
     
  8. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,725
    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2002
    My RC paper curls so the middle is higher than the sides on the easel. I roll it into a tube the other direction before I lay it down and it stays flat long enough for exposure. I have used double sided sticky tape at the corners also.

    If it curls away from the emulsion, your storage is probably on the humid side and a bag of silica gel may help. I'm tempted to use a small hair dryer on each curly sheet to dry the emulsion. If my dryer doesn't light up or can be shielded, I'll try it and let you know what happens.
     
  9. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

    Messages:
    25,776
    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2005
    Location:
    Rochester, NY
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Jobo (sigh) makes a borderless easel with the sticky edges and a bevel so that paper is held flat. You merely insert the paper into the easel and genly press the edges down.

    Lifting the paper is a snap. There is a handy lift lever you press and the paper is lifted above the edge at one corner for easy removal.

    The same easel comes with a 4 part light trap that allows you to make 4 exposures (4x5) on 1 8x10 sheet of paper, or 4 test exposures.

    Wonderful little device.

    PE
     
  10. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,247
    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2003
    Location:
    Port Hueneme
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have never had issues with RC paper not lying flat - but - I live in a desert - My issues are with Fiber paper. I have concluded that all images will be printed with borders and likely the borders will get cut off at some time. The whole process after drying and flattening usually comprimises the 1/4 inch area around each photo anyway wo even if it were flat in the eisle, it would be lost after the process is done. A 7x9 or 10x13 image is just as fine to me as an 8x10 or 11x14.
     
  11. Andy K

    Andy K Member

    Messages:
    9,422
    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2004
    Location:
    Sunny Southe
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am a newcomer to enlarging but this thread got me to pondering various ideas, cheap ideas, lol!
    What reason would there be against putting a piece of thin (say 2mm) very clean glass on top of the paper and projecting through it like a contact printing frame? Would it interfere with the focus or contrast?
     
  12. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,725
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for all your advice. I'll try wetting the back of the print (with water and with soda), as some of you have suggested, and look for that double-sided sticky tape. If that doesn't work, I might also try using 8.5x11-inch paper, setting a conventional bordered easel to produce a precisely 8x10-inch image, and trim it.
     
  13. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In my Cibachrome days, I carefully set up the enlarger, got everything ready to go, doused the light, and loaded the paper into the easel. I waited a minute, to get my hands on the Jobo tank before hitting the footswitch, and hit the switch.

    This usually let the paper relax. Sometimes it only illuminated the top of my cat's head, who liked to hop up on to the easel to watch what I was doing.

    In time, I just went back to black and white.

    .
     
  14. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

    Messages:
    8,202
    Joined:
    May 9, 2005
    Location:
    Daventry, No
    Shooter:
    35mm
    This sounds like the varioformat easel. It is a versatile piece of kit and will also do two 5x7 prints at once. The four part light trap has guidelines on it
    for this. The edge of my easel seems upright rather than bevelled. However if there is a bevel on the edge I have not noticed it being particularly successful at holding down paper which is bowed. Mine doesn't have sticky edges either but double sided paper at the edges would work provided it wasn't too strong. Is there a special Jobo sticky paper for the Varioformat perhaps which is like "post-it" notes in terms of stickiness but is double sided. If so I'd like to try it. I am wary of most double sided tape as it seems too powerful for this job

    Ideally you'd need five stick points, one at each corner and one in the middle on the easel to keep the paper perfectly flat.

    I usually bend my paper the opposite way before placing it but to be honest there is sometimes still a very slight bow in the middle. It doesn't seem to affect the edge to middle focussing enough to be noticed by the naked eye on the print, at least not my naked eye but I suspect a big bow would. If this is the case then it's either sticky tape or a constant heavy weight on the black bag which probably means a bigger box and only putting enough paper in the safe for the actual session.

    Pentaxuser
     
  15. John Cook

    John Cook Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2004
    Location:
    Massachusett
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    My solution has been to purchase a piece of glass from my local commercial suppier of store display windows.

    It is cut to the exact size of the paper. They polish the edges to eliminate cuts.

    Thickness depends upon how much paper needs to be kept flat. A 250-sheet box requires at least half-inch glass. Perhaps quarter-inch might be heavy enough for fifty sheets. Eighth-inch common window glass from the hardware store isn't heavy enough.

    Store the glass inside the paper carton on top of the sheets of paper. They will stay flat.

    While you're at it, get a sheet one inch larger on all sides than 8x10 paper for making contact proofs. For proofs, be fussy and make sure the glass has no tiny scratches from handling. They will show on the print.
     
  16. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

    Messages:
    1,845
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2005
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's impossible to use a grain focuser when the print is under glass -- the glass changes the focus very slightly (moves the plane of focus away from the lens by about 1/3 the thickness, near enough), so perfectionists, at least, couldn't focus, then drop the glass. The bigger problem,however, is that it's two more surfaces that can produce marks on the print -- dust, fingerprints, scratches, etc. -- and a 2 mm glass isn't heavy enough to reliably flatten a truly curly sheet anyway. Add to that the issues with composing the print (safelight filter? I can't see much under those) and having to lift the glass to move the paper, or keep the paper from moving while you drop the glass.

    And then, just when you have everything right, you drop it...

    I've been printing with the smallest border my easel will make (it has a movable stop under the fixed corner), with the expectation that I'll trim off the borders if I want a borderless dry mount. Personally, I don't at all mind a border on a print that will be handled; gives somewhere to grab without fingerprinting the image.
     
  17. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

    Messages:
    2,131
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You could try a Ganz Speed EZL. They do give you a border however, but you slide the paper in, under some built-in sides that hold the paper down.

    I keep my paper flat in the paper-safe by flipping it over after each darkroom session.
     
  18. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

    Messages:
    1,240
    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2005
    Location:
    Downers Grov
    Tske the paper and put it back in the package when done printing. About 1/2 emulsion
    up, bottom, and the top emulsion down. Store compacted in original package.