Lith: Not enough contrast

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by unhinged, Nov 9, 2007.

  1. unhinged

    unhinged Member

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    Hello there. I'm asking this here as the two Tim Rudman books on the subject I recently purchased are in storage somewhere. I've developed 6 prints now, all in Fotospeed LD20 and on Kentmere Kentona and Forte Polywarmtone and the prints have all come out lovely but they're just normal. There's a small sign of the heavier concentration of dark tones coming through but not a lot. Apart from the colour change there's not a lot to tell them apart from an ordinairy developed print. The scanner's in storage too so I can't really show an example. I'm using the instructions that came with the developer which said 15ml of each with water to make up a litre of solution. I'm getting 3 prints at a time though I did end up spending 25 minutes on the last print last night so do I need a bit more developer to get this "explosive" development. I think the papers I'm using are all said to be suitable for the job. The development seems to be pretty flat at the moment and I certainly don't need to "snatch" it. I've tried long and short exposures with the prints coming out pretty much the same each time. What have I done wrong?
     
  2. keeds

    keeds Member

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    How much exposure with each print? Probably teaching you suck eggs, but you have to double the exposure to increase by 1 stop.

    Just for ball park... I did some printing on Fotospeed Lith with LD20 at those concentrations the other day and I was using around 60 sec at f/11.

    I suppose the other question is are you snatching too early? Do you have a red torch to inspect the print with?
     
  3. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I don't know that that is so unusual. I've a number
    of lith prints which look quite normal but toned. Dan
     
  4. bwakel

    bwakel Subscriber

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    The new formula Kentona doesn't lith very well, it produces pretty plain results. Forte Polywarmtone will generally produce a chocolate colour and you should get could solid blacks. The actual effect will depend on concentration and the best results are achieved after toning in selenium. I don't use LD20 so can't comment on the dilution you'll need but something like 1+19's probably a good start point - the instructions that come with kits often suggest too strong a solution.

    For better results try some Fomatone MG and dilute to 1+29 to 1+49. This will produce all the best lith effects and you'll get lovely tri-tone splits when toned in selenium which you can turn into quad-tones if you then additionally tone in gold.

    Barry
     
  5. unhinged

    unhinged Member

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    No, now you mention it, it's obvious but last night I was scratching my head. That said I've tried from 70 sec @ f/8 down to 30 sec @ f/8.

    No, but I do have my safelight which I can waft about. I left one print for quite a bit longer but all that happened was it turned into an overexposed print. Didn't appear to have the dark speckly black stage (for want of another way of putting it) that I'm looking for.
     
  6. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I make no claims of being an expert at lith, but I can share some of my learning at this.

    At 25 minutes, you are probably developing to completion, or close to it, and you lose a lot of the lith effects. I use PWT and Fotospeed lith dev, but I've been using 20 ml of each instead of 15, I also add about 100 ml of old brown.
    My dev times run about 12-15 minutes, I find that much more than that, I lose the lith characteristic color, and get very neutral or even cold tones.
    How much exposure are you using, compared to a "normal" print of the same negatives?
    I've found that getting enough exposure so that you don't develop to completion, but enough that you don't have too much contrast, is tricky.
     
  7. unhinged

    unhinged Member

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    I did use 20 ml last night rather than the 15 they suggest but it was my 4th print of the evening and an hour in and I figured I'd pretty much exhausted it. I'll stay off the Kentona too.

    The infectious development, does it come on as fast as is implied in the writings? Even after I start to get dark tones it's not a fast transition. I reckon my shortest development time so far's been 15 minutes.
     
  8. keeds

    keeds Member

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    I have one of RH Designs safe torches. They are a must for Lith for me. Safelight not bright enough to gauge the blacks. Quick flash of the safe torch shows how far they have got.

    Another variable is temperature. I also use a tray heater for Lith (not lots of heat but some), especially this time of year.
     
  9. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    First thing I'd do is scrap the instructions try a stronger dilution. I mixed it just as you did the first few times I tried lith printing and it was very frustrating. Try anywhere from 1:9 to 1:19. How much total volume of developer are you mixing? If you only make a small amount, it'll will deplete much faster.

    While I've never liked Kentona, many people love it for lith. The polywarmtone should work well. I think a stronger dilution may be the answer to your problems.
     
  10. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    I agree with Travis concerning dilution. I think 25ml of each A and B per liter would be a better starting point.

    You did not mention the use of old brown. If you are starting from fresh, it can take quite some time to build up enough semi-quinone (if I have that correct) for infectious development. If I get a particularly good batch of developer, I keep all of it for use as old brown.

    And did you add any sodium sulfite? Perhaps a couple grams per liter would be a good place to start. While this is on the light side of what is recommended in the book, I find it is always easier to titrate up than to dump developer out. If I am not getting infectious development, for whatever reason, the first thing I do is submerge a little test strip in the developer, with the lights on, then sprinkle a little pinch of sodium sulfite on it. If development occurs rapidly, then there's the culprit: add more sulfite. Seems like the optimal bromide/sulfite balances are different for different papers.
     
  11. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    If you have no old brown to add, just take a piece of paper out into the light and let it sit in the developer while you are getting everything else set up. That way it "seasons" the developer a little for your first print.
     
  12. stevebeyer@mac.com

    stevebeyer@mac.com Member

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    Are these Prints the first prints or a few later

    If these are your first couple of prints then it could be that the developer has not been seasoned enough. It takes a couple prints before the Lith really Liths unless you add some of the old developer from your last batch.
     
  13. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    IF I am reading your question correctly, it seems you need to increase contrast? If that's the case, then more exposure is not what you need. Reduce the exposure by 1/4 stop and lith develop to see what happens. I've found that doubling normal print exposure/dev is usually about right, but the contrast can be tweaked either way by increasing exposure to reduce contrast, and reducing exposure to increase contrast works well. It's finding the balance that takes time, and lots of paper!!
     
  14. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    No problem if using Graded paper. Easy to see the
    print's progress using safelights geared to blue
    sensitive only papers.

    FWIW by adjusting exposure and development
    lith processing makes a VC paper of any
    Graded paper. Dan
     
  15. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    I agree you need stronger developer, I use LD20 and used the instructions at first, then I took Tim Rudman's class and he said to use stronger development to get the more contrasty, lithy look. In class we used 1-9. Increasing or decreasing your exposure time controls the highlights and the contrast. I also use forte warmtone and Kentona but you might try Fomtone MG classic warmtone for an different look. Get those books out of storage. I have mine in the darkroom at all times. Good Luck.
     
  16. unhinged

    unhinged Member

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    Thanks for all the help. I've yet to give them a try but plenty to play with when I do, thanks.
     
  17. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    After the fact, for what it's worth, I don't want to contradict Tim Rudman and his genius, but I've had no problem at all getting good contrast with the recommended dilutions from Fotospeed. I've made it work by adjusting the contrast and using lots of developer. I mix 3 liters of working solution every time and keep it at about 75*F.
    Attached print is on Fomatone in Fotospeed LD20 developer at the recommended dilution. I think you need to experiment more with exposure. If your negs usually are thin, the exposure will be rather short and your development times long, but it can certainly be done.
    With that said, I can see how a stronger solution would be more active, not exhausting in the shadow area as much and developing those blacks quickly with the highlights pretty much intact.
    I think for your situation a combination of shorter exposures and stronger developer would be the best solution.
    - Thomas
     

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  18. Silverhead

    Silverhead Member

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    I use LD20 in my lith developing, usually at 1-to-15...gives me a little more control than speedy 1-to-9. I've lith printed with Kentona and have had very little to complain about...I think it liths quite nicely.
     
  19. unhinged

    unhinged Member

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    Stronger dilution and some old brown at 1+4 has helped greatly. Not all the way there yet but I'm seeing more of what I was expecting, thanks for all the help.
     
  20. Willie Jan

    Willie Jan Member

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    I use foma baryta based paper for this.
    I develop in moersch lith developer 20cc of A and 20cc of B.
    First 2 prints are not coloured much. Add old developer to increase from start.
    Overexpose about 1 stop.

    You will get rich colors:
    http://www.foto-art.nl
     
  21. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    I can definitely agree with everyone else that a stronger dilution of LD20 than recommended helps; I can't remember what I settled on for the lith print exchange, but it was around 1:20. At the lower dilutions the highlights and midtones were a beautiful pink colour (on Fotospeed lith paper) but actually getting any infectious development going to bring out the shadow tones was an exercise in frustration.

    At the around 1:20 dilution, the blacks did start to rapidly develop, although they never fully blocked up, leaving a nice speckly appearance in the shadows. (Speckled Jim keeps popping into my head now...)


    I put my troubles at the recommended dilution down to my own incompetence, so actually quite pleased I don't seem to be alone ;-).
     
  22. ginaw

    ginaw Member

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    Resourse with out going into storage

    Tim has a website and is very gracious in responding to questions sent via the website. google the world of lith printing and you will find it. I use Fotospeed starting at 1:1:12 and have been getting some nice results with the Forte papers - (although I have not contined as Forte is no longer manufactured) Tim's website is also a great resourse on materials new and old. I can tell you from experience that every time you change a variable in lith it will change the look - many times drastically. My standard used to be Nacco lith developer 1:1:12 with Forte Polywarmtone Art. The combination gave nice texture and a color that really fit my work. As far as the Fotospeed developer they have a paper as well that, as would be expected, works nicely with the developer (again I used 1:1:12)The combinations are endless but again - Tim is the Master and a great resourse for troubleshooting

    Good Luck

    Gina

     
  23. patricia de roeck

    patricia de roeck Member

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    Only just came across this very timely thread - I've been playing around with Lith printing for the first time last week using LD20 and Fotospeed Lith paper. What an elusive process!! Now you see it, now you don't. By the third session I felt as though I was finally learning something - even though I've got both Tim's books on Lith printing nothing really made sense until I'd thrown a lot of expensive paper away. Finally came up with the combination of 50ml PartA, 50 ml Part B, 100 ml Old Brown to two litres of water at 30deg.C. Sounds hot but cools fairly quickly to about 22-25deg.C and achieved my best results this way. Went though 15 sheets of 10 x 8 at $4 a pop to get two decent prints - I think I'll save my 50 sheets of 12 x 16 for some very special occasions but fear I'm addicted already.
    Conclusion:- Lith Printing is the Photographic Equivalent of Playing Golf.
    Patricia in Tassie