Lith problem with MGWT

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by schrochem, Sep 9, 2012.

  1. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Hey fellow lithers, and more specifically the MGWT lithers,

    I need a bit of help. I got some MGWT and have had some great success with the paper and really want to see what all I can do with it. However, I have two problems I can't figure out. I want to make sure it's clear that I am contact printing with ambrotype (collodion on glass). This might or might not be contributing to the issues. These are not intensified or developed as a negative but regular ambrotypes meant for black backing. I've had no problem with fomatone and fomabrom. I'm exposing with a 40W bulb with a piece of cardboard over it with a hole punched in it. It's 2ft above the print.

    Unfortunately, I purchased arista lith developer at the same time and so I don't know if that is part of the problem. I thought for sure it was because switching to LD20 it went away. I had read about the tricky snatch point so I know about that and the 'explosion' in the fixer. Having said that, on to the first issue.

    This is with arista lith, 70:70:2000 with about 250ml old brown (from a frustrating session with fomalux). As the development progressed, I could see the image fine but there was the foggy layer. Well it didn't really go away. It was like a mottled scum layer. The weird thing is I could see the infection(albeit slow) progressing 'under' this scum. Being new to the paper I thought this was the stuff that would clear off in the fix. It actually looked like the type of stuff that would. Well it didn't..... The very strange thing about the arista bath is it would go REALLY yellow quickly after a few 4X5 test prints (in 2L dev bath). That's totally different than LD20 so I thought it was definitly the arista. I had similar issues with arista and fomalux (different story.....)
    Stop bath is 1%acetic and the fix is 1:7 Clayton archival rapid fix. (2 baths).
    Attached is an example of the mottled scum.
    IMG_20120907_204623.jpg

    I switched to LD20 and I was able to make some prints and learn a bit about the different snatch point. However, toward the end of the session I started to see problem 2 (splotching). It was almost like the inverse of problem #1.
    As the development progressed I would see the foggy image (as usual for lith IMO). Then I'd see these black splotches start to come out of the fog. They were in the shadows and mids but completely random from print to print. These weren't blacks progressing from infection but random spots on the print. I chalked it up to warn out developer. I could let it progress and the final image would be fine but the splotches were prominent. See second attachment
    IMG_20120909_084620.jpg

    Ok, so that is what happen the first session. After reading some things further I wanted to make sure these weren't from contamination. The tray I used has only seen lith developer. However, I was wondering if the arista didn't like some residual ld20 from previous sessions (although I cleaned the tray). So I cleaned the tray well and last night decided to try 40:40:2000 arista with NO old brown (in case it was contaminated). I saw the same problem #1 and quick yellowing of the arista bath.
    So I clean the tray again and make up the same dilution with ld20, 40:40:2000 because I wanted to see what colors i could get out of MGWT with the higher dilution. Well that didn't go so well.... I immediately saw problem two. I thought because of the weaker developer I might have to use more exposure than my previous session. I went from 20s to 2min. Then I saw problem #1!!! crap. It was late and I was tired and frustrated and gave up...

    Is it possible that overexposure (or wrong exposure) could cause this? That perhaps the arista needs FAR less exposure than LD20? Therefore the high overexposure would kill the bath that fast (seems unlikely)?

    Is it possible I got a bad batch of MGWT?

    How about the glass causing weird reflections to cause #2? Like a magnifying glass 'burning' areas with extra exposure. If so why would it be mainly in the darks.

    Agitation was fine. No edge developing out faster. These were 4X5 test prints in a 12X16 tray so there was plenty of room to move around. The first session with LD20 did produce a nice print that I uploaded.
    I was hoping for some gritty grain that I like in lith but it wasn't there. So that might be related to these problems? Also, if you look close you will see the problem 2 splotching to the left of the girls (and elsewhere). It just wasn't that bad at that point and just got worse.

    I hope that was clear enough....
    Any help or comments will be much appreciated. I ran out of LD20 but have PLENTY if arista....it's 30X less expensive than the LD20. That sure would be nice if it worked for what I want to achieve.

    THANKS!
    Scott
     
  2. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Two other things I've thought of.
    Would touching the emulsion cause the second problem? I'm using a guillotine paper cutter to dice up 8X10 sheets and so I handle the paper.

    Also, I was mixing the A and B concentrates in the tray not separate and adding. I'd put 2L of water in the tray, add the A, stir, add B, stir, add old brown and stir. Is it possible the concentrates being added like that don't play nice?

    This is the powder version of the Arista which I found out is not the same as the liquid arista...
     
  3. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    One last stab in the dark here. I'm not sure but snatching happens fast and I'm sure my tongs get in the stop. Bringing that residual acid into the developer isn't good for the alkalinity but could that cause these problems?
    I'm wondering if it's what is killing the arista lith. Compared to other formulations it doesn't have glycol which might help buffer the solution?
     
  4. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    I think this might fall in a realm that even Rudman couldn't figure out.....
    Nonetheless I did some further tests last night. i used easylith and at first it was fine, then the splotching started. After some earlier reading, I decided to add some KBr to delay the lith effect. Well this made it require more exposure. Which might be part of the problem.
    I also went back to the Arista powder lith mix and added more B(has the KBr) than A and had the same issue right away. Then I decided to use more A than B and it was good for a few prints and then the splotching started...

    I think the emulsion of the paper doesn't like the ambrotype laying on it for very long. The longer the worse it gets. Going from problem 2 into problem 1. As the bromide starts to build in the developer this problem gets worse and worse. For some reason the Arista shifts yellow rather quickly and assume it getting to that state quicker. If I add lots of exposure (time the glass is against the emulsion) it seems to get worse and worse.

    The other papers I've used a lot are fomatone mg and fomabrom. I believe fomatone is considered a contact paper and fomabrom is semi-matte. I got the glossy version of MGWT. I'm wondering if the glossy surface and it being an enlarging paper have created this problem. For whatever reason, as the dev exhausts (Bromide increases) it gets worse. Which has me wondering if the semi-matte of MGWT will do the same thing.....

    I don't want to give up on the paper for contact printing ambrotypes because i have had some nice results when it works. I also realize I might not get much help because not many have done this exact combination.
     
  5. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    You are contaminating the developer for sure, I have been using Ilford WT since its launch , in fact I was a beta tester of the product. . I have never seen a bad batch of paper from Ilford. Not that that says it all but reading your posts , you have so many variables I think there is other things happening.

     
  6. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Thanks for chiming in Bob. I agree it's not the paper.
    I've had it happen with three different developers so I'm not sure where the contamination would be.
    Have you ever contact printed with it? I'm wondering if it doesn't like being in contact with the collodion. These plates are 'bright' and have not been varnished.
    May I ask what developer you use to lith this paper?
    Thanks
    Scott
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I only do enlarging for lith, other than some inkjet negs to lith , but my main workflow is with an enlarger so I cannot comment on your working method.

    I started using Champion Nova Lith A B -- If I could find it again I would stick with it.
    I currently use fotospeed AB,, I also have used Morechs 5 which btw was really good.

    I just saw the Arista A B in larger liguid containers and may give that a go.


    If you are every bringing tongs backwards from stop to developer it does not matter what developer you are using you will get contamination.. I would advise you
    to get out of that practice.

    the pull time for Ilford WT is very different from other papers and I think this may be giving you some problem... I would use another recommended paper, until
    you solve your problem... most papers you pull the print when the image looks right in the developer... That is not the case with Ilford warmtone as all the contrast
    happens in the fix... if you wait until the print looks good in dev with this paper , you go to the fix and the print immediately darkens and becomes useless.. very tricky.

    So I would switch to a paper like slavich 4 which is cheap and works very well for lith , and the snatch/pull time is indeed in the developer.

    This will start taking out variables that may be giving you grief. but as I have said I have never printed collodion images so my advice is only geared to silver and inkjet negs.
     
  8. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Thanks again Bob for the response.
    I'll admit that this is my first foray into the darkroom...
    I felt last night I was more careful with the tongs but I'll make sure of it next time.
    I guess I'll move the print to the side wall then use my fingers. It's just that snatch point makes me rush... ;-)
    Yes, I read all about the snatch point being different from you and Thomas so I was prepared.
    I did have some time with LD20 that allowed me to see what y'all were talking about and feel comfortable with it.

    Last night when the bath was 'out there' I switched to fomatone and it didn't suffer from the same splotchy illness.
    However, I realize it's a different paper and I can't really go by it.
    I think the layer (or whatever you call it) of MGWT that makes that snatch different is what is causing the weirdness (reaction).
    If you look at the first attachment in the first post it looks like a residual layer that just doesn't clear off. It's partially 'eaten' away but can't finish.
    When I first used the paper, I thought this was the part of the snatch y'all were talking about because it looks like something that would clear in the fix, but that wasn't the case....

    I still think there is something weird about that powdered arista that is another issue compounding this one...

    I ordered some semi-matte and some more LD20. I'll be extremely sterile and give it another go.
    I like warm tones I'm getting with the paper. I do want a bit more grain and therefore was hoping to experiment more with dilutions and exposure time.

    Anyway, thanks again for your comments.
    Scott
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Scott

    I have never used tongs in over 35 years printing.. I wear gloves that get tossed each and every run.. At first glance sounds expensive but with my concern for health it is pointless to use your hands in the chems.

    find a medical supply house and put together a large order and be confident that you skin is safe.

    Tongs are ok but when you get into larger prints the problems in creases and dings, not to mention the contamination issues you are talking about $$$$ far out weigh a purchase of gloves.

    Sounds to me like you are having fun , and for me thats what a darkroom is for...


    Bob
     
  10. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Yes, I'm having a great time! I'm enjoying lith like I do wetplate with all the crazy stuff that can (and will) happen ;-)
    Last Friday I was wondering why my elbow hurt so bad.
    I finally realized I had 'rocker's elbow' from lith developing Thursday Night :smile:
     
  11. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Scott, I can't help you with the paper since I haven't had much success with it either (although after reading many of Bob's posts about what to do with it I'll probably give it a try again soon), but I was going to say that, like Bob, I only use gloves to handle the prints and toss them after every print. Nitrile gloves are super cheap, and in my case, eliminated contamination problems not in the trays, but on the prints themselves. Also, it's much easier to 'snatch' prints with your hands than with tongs.
     
  12. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    So it was an interesting day/night yesterday. I found out where the splotching is coming from (sort of).
    I made up some more A/B of the arista powder. Splotched by the second print.
    Since it seemed to happen in every developer and when the bromide content rose, I took it out of the equation. The B solution has it already in there.
    I looked on the internet and found a simple alkaline solution for B (5.2% w/v NaOH) which is Kodak D-9.
    I ended up playing with that the rest of the night....different ratios/ dilutions/ adding KBr......LOTS of wild things.
    Anyway, it just showed me that something in the Arista B doesn't play nice. It could be their solution or my tap water. The next step will be to make it with distilled. The shift quickly to yellow/orange was quite the indicator that something was awry.

    Using my mixed homebrew was kinda fun and I got a really warm color I liked but it didn't have that extra bit of pop. I think it had to do with a shrunken range and not being able to reach blacks. The strange thing about this homebrew was the lack of the 'explosion' in the fixer. It actually was even weird compared to other papers in regard to the 'bleaching' effect. It was like the fixer wasn't really doing much. This just reinforces that it was a wonky and incomplete/insufficient development. However, I'd love to have that warm tone with the mids lighter. I actually liked the muted blacks. Maybe used in a two bath dev....

    I made the A/B stock solutions in distilled water just not working solutions. That will be next....
     
  13. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Oh Bob and Rachelle, I used gloves and prefer that over the tongs....
     
  14. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Scott, I was going to say it might be something in your tap water. I've used both the liquid and the powder developer, and have always had almost identical results with them. Currently I'm using the powder, and my tap water must be of exceptional quality since I have never seen anything like what you show in your print above. That's wild and completely whacky.

    What I do with lith printing is that I never use old brown from other developers. Always the same developer, so if I switch from one brand to another I toss all old brown and carefully rinse the bottle it was kept in. I scrub my tray with a well used scotch brite pad every single time before I print. I use a dish brush and scrub my developer tong too (yes, I use tongs unlike everybody else here; they're stainless steel with silicone rubber coated tips and I can easily move 16x20 prints with them). Basically I make sure there is NO chance of contamination. Mixing beakers are cleaned out too, just in case. And in your case it makes sense to use distilled water also.

    I'm sorry you're having trouble. Whether you're contact printing or enlarging shouldn't matter. Light is light is light. Shouldn't make a difference, as long as the plates you're contact printing aren't contaminated with something that the Arista Lith developer reacts to.

    Good luck, and sorry I didn't respond to your PM sooner. It's been hectic days here.

    - Thomas
     
  15. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    No worries Thomas, it's all good.
    My water might not be good mixed with developer but its known for making good beer ;-)
    " Celis required a water profile as close as possible to Hoegaarden. He found that in Austin, and opened the Celis Brewery (1992? 1993?), using a recipe for the Wit that was, he claimed, the original Hoegaarden. "
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Well, then everything is well in the world. If there's good beer, then everything looks better. :smile: Forget about print developing.
     
  17. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    The bad news is that it isn't the water. The goods is that it isn't the water....
    I'd much prefer to use beer loving tap water than fool around with distilled.
    Anywho, I have some fotospeed coming in today. I have a plate I'm giving to the family and was trying to give them a nice print as well. I have dozens....hahaha. Well a lot of partial test pieces.
    To give them the plate I need to varnish it and paint the back black. I don't have to paint it but I feel that's easier on them than backing it with black felt or something.
    Doesn't really matter, because the point is once I give it to them no more prints ;-)
    I kind of like the finality of it. I'm pretty sick of the damn image at this point anyway.....that's a lot of hours watching it come up in the developer.
    But it's all good, lots learned and knowledge gained.
     
  18. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    Well....
    last night I used fresh ld20(no old brown) in a new tray and gloves....no contamination.
    It was going well as the bath became seasoned the splotching slowing came in. I had ordered some semi matte and tried that.
    It was similar but different. As it was developing it was a foggy layer that slowly 'ate' away.
    This is not like a transition to infection but like a clearing of fog in a weird way...
    Well this was splotchy. However, if I let it go to deep blacks they splotching would be gone and uniform.
    I was able to do this as well with the glossy but it was more susecptible.
    It preventing me from snatching earlier and I had to settle on the colder blacks.

    To make sure, is a dark red light 5 ft above (on the whole time, exposure,dev,etc) okay?
    I wondered about the light source for exposure so I diffused it more but the results were the same.
    I have to only guess this has something to do with contact printing.
    However, Thomas and Bob seem to have really quick development times so perhaps it goes through this state really quick?
    I don't have a heater so this happens later as my bath cools. I start with hot water.
     
  19. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    So last night I repeated the ld20 test and for the print I was making the splotchiness eventually disappearing wasn't an issue.
    I usually start with hot water from the tap. This gives minmimal splotchiness. As it cools and becomes seasoned it gets worse and dev times increase.
    I'm not sure why this 'layer' has trouble clearing for me. Bob and Thomas seem to be the printers with the most experience with this paper here.

    Based on their workflows I'm wondering if the heated mixture, strength and short dev times make this 'phase' go rather quickly and it's not as perceptible as mine.
    It took me awhile but I thought Rudman had mentioned heating the dev for this paper and found:
    "Although not my ideal for Lith printing, it will respond to dilute lith developer and I
    know those who like its somewhat different look, especially with higher contrast
    negatives. It has less interesting (or perhaps more subtle, depending on your
    viewpoint) results than the others listed here but yields an ivory colour with rather
    grudging infectious development. Better in hot lith developer or with added
    bromide. Recent batches appear to have a whiter base and are trickier to lith. It does
    however deserve special mention for 2nd pass lith - redevelopment in lith, after
    bleaching a conventionally processed print. Pulled at the right moment it gives a
    delicate blend of soft warm browns and cool greys."
     
  20. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Scott,

    I have no idea why you see what you see. It's a complete mystery to me.

    I'm currently in school in addition to working, so I can't spend too much time here. I just don't have enough spare time, so I can't test it for you... Wish I could help more.

    Good luck with your adventure. Can you find a way of maintaining the developer temperature at a higher level? Like a fish tank heater, hot water jacket, tray warmer (there are some stainless steel ones recommended to me by Max Marinucci that look nice)... There are many ways to do this. I used to have a space heater with the trays on wire shelves, and the heater directly underneath. That worked really well too.

    - Thomas
     
  21. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    No worries Thomas, you've been a tremendous help.
    I found an old hot plate here at the lab that has a finicky controller. I can probably get it to a nice warmth....
    At what point do these trays start to melt? ;-)

    I think Tim's use of the word 'grudging' seems right via my experience....
    I also think the higher contrast negative might have helped me out here. Another negative was a bit more tricky and had a midtone I wanted to keep on the lighter side (person's skin in shadow).

    Hopefully the heat will give me some flexibility back. I noticed the explosion in the fixer also wasn't that prevalent. I think to see that I had to have fresh,hot developer.
     
  22. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    So last night I heat the dev up. I tried ld20 and arista. Indeed the hot plate controller was a bit wonky but I managed to keep it hot 95-105F ish. I tried fresh, seasoned, strong, weak...
    Didn't help unfortunately. I decided to see if it was contact with the glass plate so I propped up the edges of the plate and slide a piece of MGWT under with minimal contact. Nope.....not that.j
    So I just exposed a piece to the light source I was using. Still got the splotching.
    I exposed it to room light for 1sec. Still there. Tried again to verify. yep.
    I did it again but this time just let the paper sit in the dev without motion. Yep lookin the same.
    Then I did it once more and very gently moved it around the top of the bath. same-same

    I was hoping I was having this issue because of contact printing (maybe I still am). That the light is the 'wrong' kind. Anything special about enlarger lights?

    I also thought maybe there are 'dregs' that aren't exactly visible on the bottom of the bath. Perhaps somehow they are developing out on the paper in the splotchy paper. I didn't see it last night but I have seen heavily exhausted developer have some 'stuff' in the troughs. Not really a precipitate but maybe concentrated heavier liquid.....

    So I've really gone the extra mile here. I'm a stubborn one for sure. It worked well with prints I could take all the way to black and see the splotchiness grow enough to be uniform. However, that limits the snatch point and it has to be a pretty dark print. That will work for some prints but is very, very limiting.

    'So use a different paper'
    Well of course I'll have to after all my findings. The frustrating thing is how awesome the print looks if the splotches weren't there. It's rather easy to see when it's developing. The splotches usually look like they'll clear away but alas....

    So if anyone lands on this thread with the same issue, sorry I wasn't able to track down the culprit.
     
  23. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Have you tried the Foma Variant 123? :D
     
  24. schrochem

    schrochem Member

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    haha....
    Nope. I wish I had a whole pile of paper ;-)
    I like descriptions like 'green black shadows' or grainy middle tones.
    Makes me wonder what they look like....