Lith oddities - little patches of white

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by f/stopblues, Jul 20, 2011.

  1. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    I have all the requisite reading material at hand, but I can't quite identify what this thing is that keeps popping up on my lith prints. It only happens on this paper.

    Here are the specifics:

    Fomabrom 111
    Moersch Easylith 1+20
    Plus 3 stops over base exposure

    So.. what is it and how do I banish it from my paper?

    Also, is there a way to get a more rich black without bumping the contrast? If I extend the snatch point it seems to just lose detail in the shadows and never get a punchy black (which I've gotten with this paper before.)

    Thanks for your help!

    [​IMG]

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  2. tomalophicon

    tomalophicon Member

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    I've sen those before. I forget what they are but I think I remember reading in 'LEE FROST'S SIMPLE ART OF BLACK & WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY' about how you can get rid of them.

    Maybe you could increase exposure to alter your blacks.
     
  3. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Probably a paper issue.

    And, are you 'poking' the print with your tongs to keep it under water at all? If 'yes', that can be a reason. Some papers are sensitive to that, and you want to avoid touching the print surface during developing to the largest possible extent.
     
  4. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    It's hard to tell from these photos but it could be drops of fixer that got on the prints before total submersion. It's probably some kind of contamination, especially if the spots are different and in different places every time. I used to get spots all the time doing lith until I changed to a much more "clean" process:

    I always wear gloves (nitrile). New gloves go on right before putting the print in the developer. Usually only one hand ever touches the developer/print. Then straight to stop, then fix. After the fix, gloves are thrown out and all surfaces (especially the lip of the trays) are given a quick wipe and I wash my hands. It's amazing what the prints will pick up (and from where), even though you think you are doing everything right.

    I could be wrong of course, but my weird spots disappeared after I started being much more consciencious of the process and what were possible sources of contamination.
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Yes, lith chemistry is so dilute that it will pick up all sorts of contaminants and react harshly to them. I always scrub my developer tray thoroughly with a Scotch Brite pad before I use lith chemistry, to get rid of all regular developer remains.

    One thought occurred to me - why would the spots be darker AND brighter in bright areas if they had been contaminated with fixer? The fixer would surely inhibit development and make the spots ONLY brighter, wouldn't it? Just a thought.

    I still would like to know what the OP does to the prints to keep them submerged.
     
  6. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    thats a cool shot,
    hope you get it sorted out.
     
  7. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    I'm siding with Thomas in that it is probably a paper issue, particularly if the spots are in the same location on each print.

    To quote the master (Tim Rudman)..."Lith has a way of showing up emulsion flaws that regular processing 'to completion' does not show."

    Do you have some different paper you can try?
     
  8. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Thanks for the responses!

    My first thought would have been contamination as well, but I'm pretty darn clean through the process, including scrubbing trays, etc. This issue has happened with different packs of this kind of paper and different sizes, but only with the 111. I've used some of the Fomatone papers and didn't see this.

    Curiously, I added about 600ml of water to warm it up and effectively lowered the dilution. After that the problem vanished. There's also the fact that the developer is closer to exhaustion after a few prints have passed through. Still, I have no clue as to the actual cause.

    This Fomabrom isn't a "recommended" paper for lith, but one of my first lith prints was with it and it might be my favorite print I've ever made, so alas, I am chasing the rabbit down the hole. :smile:
     
  9. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Also, the spots have been in different locations each print. For kicks I ran a piece of Fomatone 542 through and it came out clean.
     
  10. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Oops, one last addition.. I'm agitating by rocking the tray and flipping every minute or so, careful to keep my fingers in the white border space. Times are running around 12-15 minutes.
     
  11. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    Personally I'd still lean towards the paper being the culprit.

    You say you flip the paper? That's fairly uncommon with lith printing (as far as I know, anyway)....could it be bubbles are forming on the paper when you flip it?
     
  12. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I have this problem every once in awhile with Fomatone. I suspect, but do not know for sure, that I somehow contaminated the paper with fixer or something else just before development. Next print, its gone. Maybe it is the occasionally defective sheet of paper, I don't know.

    But I do know that Rudman's admonition that poor darkroom hygiene will show up when lith printing is oh, so true. I have learned to keep my hands clean while handling the dry paper, and never, ever, touch the paper with my hands after it has gone into the developer. I put it in face down, turn it over with tongs after 1 minute, and develop the rest of the time face up with constant agitation, never poking at the paper with my tongs (or anything else.) I use separate tongs for developer, stop, and fix to avoid contamination.

    Regarding your contrast issue, I find that when I get a muddy looking print I need to back off on the exposure time, which will necessitate an increase in development time. 1/4 or 1/2 stop is usually enough to give me nice, clean, bright highlights and punchy, dark shadows.
     
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    this looks like initial agitation in the developer, or air bells .
    the fact you added more water and warmed up suggests that the flow of developer got on the print more quickly.
    If the spots move on the paper , its probably not the paper but uneven dev.

    to increase the blacks,.. flash the paper for the highlights and shorten the snatch point. as Dan points out less dev time, but use the flash to put
    tone in your highlights.