Lith printing - aaargh...

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by tim_walls, Oct 14, 2007.

  1. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    ...is this the most frustrating process in the world?

    I am tearing my hair out here, with my first attempts at lith printing... I must have made about 10 test prints so far over the last few days (my darkroom time is almost as limited as the capacity of the chemistry) and none of them am I happy with. More frustrating is that there are several which are oh-so-close to being there, but when I make the next attempt in order to get that perfect print, the result is completely damn different!

    Grrrr!


    Sorry, not expecting help here, just had to vent... A big part of my problem at the moment is difficulty determining the snatch point; what looks like the right time under my dim safelight results in a picture that seems to magically evaporate on contact with fixer. I'm ordering one of the RH Designs safe torches now to try and fix that problem.

    If it wasn't for the lith print exchange, I'd probably have given up by now. I hasten to add, this is a great justification for the lith print exchange - it's great to have a motivation...
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    That's how it is, in my experience. Completely irreproducible, but stunning when it "just happens" to be right.

    Lith prints do that, but that's a part of the process. The picture doesn't disappear, it just turns a colour that happens to match the colour of the safelight making it seem to vanish.

    Don't worry about that - and get Tim Rudman's book. I can tell you haven't got it already, since if you did you would know about the image disappearing in the fixer! :smile:
     
  3. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Tim
    What paper are you using???
    Sometimes the papers will explode in the fix which adds monster problems, Ilford WT is one for sure.
     
  4. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    You mean it's not in my imagination? That's possibly the most reassuring thing I've read in ages - I was starting to question my sanity...
    I've literally just ordered it. Hopefully will turn up in the next couple of days, our miserable postal system notwithstanding.
    At the moment I'm using the Fotospeed Lith paper (incidentally, I love the finish of that stuff.) I'm going to stick to that paper until I'm at least vaguely in control of what I'm doing I think - unless anyone advises otherwise.

    I do also have a box of Fomatone Chamois, which I didn't buy specifically for lithing, but I understand that it works quite well - I'll probably give that a try once I know what I'm doing.
     
  5. Jersey Vic

    Jersey Vic Member

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    2 ideas:

    Maybe mix up 2X or 3X the amount of developer you've been mixing so that the exhaustion of the developer is more gradual.

    Also, I keep a wet regular silver print in a tray as a comparison to help determine how much density I want in my lith print under a safelight. Seems to work pretty well.

    It's alot of fun but time consuming. If I make 1 or 2 prints I really like in printing session, I'm pretty happy. Not an great process for making lots of copies..
     
  6. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    That's a genius idea, and I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it myself...
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Tim
    Fotospeed lith is my favourite go to paper as well, It does not suffer from the problem I thought you may be having.

    This paper can be tough to lith print and a way to solve it is kind of wierd but bear with me.
    For all lith printing the neg is always the deciding factor on how the end print will perform or look.
    thin negs, normal negs, pushed negs, it really dosen't matter but for each case there is a sweet spot in exposure just like there is a sweet spot on the snatch point.
    In fact with fotospeed the correct exposure is more important than the snatch point.
    I always use two enlargers, for lith, one for the neg and one for the flash, If you do not have a second enlarger a low wattage bulb on timer will suffice.
    For very contrasty negatives, you will need a flash to make the lith effect work,
    Normal negs less flash to no flash.
    Flat negatives there should be no flash,

    In all of the cases less exposure will give more contrast, more exposure will give more highlight detail but can go to flat.

    So I probably have made your life more complicated, but if you spend more time with the exposure / flash sequence it will make better prints.

    I can only say this from printing thousands of lith prints over the last 10 years that once the exposure/flash dev dilution/ snatch point is drilled into your head it becomes second nature.
     
  8. rst

    rst Member

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    Well Tim,

    Hey do not give up, I am looking forward to your print.

    Regards
    -- Ruediger
     
  9. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I second Victor's idea of mixing a lot more chemistry. For 8x10 prints I mix three (3!) liters of developer. That gives me a capacity of nearly ten prints including test prints.
    Note that less exposure increases contrast and developing time, more exposure decreases contrast and developing time. Pre-flashing the paper is a great idea if you have contrasty to very contrasty negs. Stay with it, try harder. Eventually you will find that the process indeed is reproducible.
    I started with normal negs at about 40seconds exposure at f/8. Then just go from there according to the recommended dilution of your chemistry. Pay particular attention to chemistry temperature (very important) as well as any other upthinkable parameter. Everything matters, and consistency from your part is crucial to succeed.
    - Thomas
     
  10. Travis Nunn

    Travis Nunn Member

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    There were several problems that I ran into when I started lith printing. The main one I think was that I never mixed enough chemistry. Now, regardless of whether I'm lith printing 8x10 or 11x14, I mix approximately 1 gallon of developer (not including the 30% Old Brown I add).

    Additionally, once I got my safe torch from RH Designs, the consistency of my prints improved tremendously.

    I went through a lot of paper and chemistry before I finally started getting the results I like. You just have to keep working at it.
     
  11. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    Hello Tim, this is Tim ;-)

    I can well remember the frustrations of trying to balance all the variables when experimenting with my 1st lith prints so I know your frustrations! ;-)
    Only then, there was nothing written up about the process, so it was a bit more taxing to work out what was happening and why.

    You are getting excellent advice on this thread. Missing the snatch point is oh-so-easy if you work with subdued safelights because of the long unsafe periods. You get so used to looking at a faint tone that, when a mid tone appears, you think it is a black; but it isn't. The fixer soon reveals the truth!
    The colour change in what I call 'fix-up' makes it look as though many of the tones disappear. Room light and dry down go some way to counter the loss of tonality - but a mid tone is still not a black.

    In my workshops, I notice that judging the snatch point is always harder for people who don't use a safelight torch, unless they have bright sodium lights (not without their own problems). The tendency is to snatch before a true black has formed. A quick flask of the safelight torch will show a black as black, but a mid tone that is pretending to be a black will almost disappear under the safelight torch. Your RH Design torch will sort that out for you. Once you see the difference you won't get it wrong again (too often! ;-) )

    The advice to use a larger volume of developer is good advice too. There will be less change from print to print.

    The rest is just a bit of practice, but the process is actually quite easy in a 'learning to ride a bike' way. It suddenly clicks and you are off. A Rudman workshop can help a bit in this process ;-)

    Let us know how you get on.
    Tim
     
  12. Gay Larson

    Gay Larson Member

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    I agree with all that has been said and I also got the RH design torch at Tim Rudman's workshop and it works well and leaves a hand free to continue rocking the tray. Before I got it, I went to a sporting goods store and got a small mag light with a red filter. I put a clear colored robber glove over the front just to be sure it was not too bright and fastened it with a rubber band and it worked pretty well. So if you want to have something before you get your safe light torch the mag light torch is pretty inexpensive and will help in the mean time. Once you get that great print, you will be hooked. Tim's books helped me immensly. Happy Lith printing!
     
  13. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    One thing I forgot to mention is that I have a strip with a step wedge grayscale taped to the wall next to my developer tray. This helps in identifying desirable tones if you're not keen on the torch or extremely bright safelights. It works very well, and it truly helps me pulling the print out of the developer right when it's time.
    Remember to dunk the print in the stop bath right away. Don't let the developer run off the print. Just soak it in stop in less than a heart beat after snatching it.
    - Thomas
     
  14. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Hi! :smile:

    You've hit the nail on the head there - that's been exactly my problem. It's more depressing when you know that's what you're doing but still fall for it the next time :smile: . I deliberately massively overexposed a sheet last night though and developed it way beyond my 'comfort point' as it were though, so I can now safely say I at least now know what I'm looking for...

    Torch and your book were both dispatched yesterday apparently, so I'm waiting with bated breath :smile:.

    I'm hoping you're right :wink:. Being positive, I'm sure my 'normal' printing really ought to improve as a result of this as well - I'm learning a new appreciation for patience and attention to detail.
    A workshop sounds a wonderful idea - sadly, I'm not sure I could convince my wife that a trip to Montana is warranted at the moment, but I shall keep a keen eye out for anything happening back here in Blighty :smile: .

    Thank you, and everyone else, for the encouragement and help; it really is amazing.
     
  15. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    One little point not mentioned

    Because lith printing is totally a visual process *snatch point* who here has found that lith printing has improved your regular printing?
    I know that I definately am looking at my prints for emergence , highlight and shadow much more now because of lith printing.
     
  16. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    Which book did you order Tim? (There are 2 on Lith)
    Tim
     
  17. rst

    rst Member

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    It has even more impact on my regular printing. I am not doing lith printing for a very long time but it slowly starts to replace my regular printing. Well that might be a sign that I do not enough printing anyway.

    I can only speak for a Wolfgang Moersch workshop and that was absolutely worth it. A workshop gives you a more steep learning curve and avoids alot of the frustrations that you may have when teaching this process to yourself.

    ciao
    -- Ruediger
     
  18. tim_walls

    tim_walls Member

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    Both! MPLPC should arrive tomorrow I believe, TWOLP is on order; I'd have ordered them directly, but I'm kind of trying to support my local branch of Waterstones by ordering books from them. This is my own futile attempt to stop the high street bookshop being killed off by Amazon :smile:.
     
  19. Gennari

    Gennari Member

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    Actually, just yesterday I was wondering which one to get, but I figured, not being interested in digital techniques, that the old one would be more appropriate. Is that correct? :smile:

    PS Oh, first post, hi everyone.
     
  20. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, hi!

    Yes, I would recommend the MPLPC to begin with. And TWOLP for inspiration and updates.
     
  21. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I can imagine instances where a great solution volume
    is the way to go. Most obvious are those occasions where
    volume production is needed and some little variation in
    results is tolerable.

    I came across lith printing entirely by chance. I was
    testing a hydroquinone, sulfite, carbonate blend on 5x7
    paper; volume 1/8 liter. As usual the chemistry was very
    dilute and used one-shot.

    When testing with very dilute developers I sometimes
    go very long; in this case eight minutes. Low and behold,
    after a very slow start the image quickly began to show
    increased density and contrast. It took some to to sink
    in that what I had concocted was a lith developer!
    That first lith print turned out great!

    Later I discovered that the developer I had brewed was
    of a type I refer to as Wall's Normal Hydroquinone. There
    are only a few of that type listed. All are easy home brews
    with few components.

    BTW, much easier to tell when to pull if using Graded Paper.
    The level of Visible light is very noticeably higher. Dan
     
  22. tim rudman

    tim rudman Member

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    Hi, and welcome,
    The older one is the 'how & why to do it' book.

    The second one has a different brief - to update the first in areas of the considerable changes in materials to those of 'today', and to introduce newer techniques.
    Digital techniques are a relatively small part of the book and of that partly related to areas where it augments the darkroom - digital negs for darkroom contact printing; darkroom prints for outputting on alternative materials digitally etc.
    It also introduces lith work in different styles and genres from around the world for intsruction and inspiration.

    The aim is not to overlap with the first book, although there is a brief synopsis of what LP is, for those who don't know.
    Tim
     
  23. matti

    matti Member

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    Is it only me that use the advice to flick the non-safe light switch, when you think the print is ready? I don't remember where it is from, but probably one of the excellent Rudman-books. It seems there is not enough time to fog the paper if you do it for a couple of shorts bursts right at the end of the development.
    /matti
     
  24. jgcull

    jgcull Subscriber

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    >>>That's how it is, in my experience. Completely irreproducible, but stunning when it "just happens" to be right.<<<

    And you're giving it into a print exchange? I'm afraid if I got one right I'd just want to keep it in my hot little hand! (NOT that I'm wanting to discourage your generosity! Really.)