Lith woes - developement at edges

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by f/stopblues, Jan 12, 2011.

  1. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Here's the problem.. I've attempted printing three different negatives so far, all with this phenomenon that I haven't seen addressed in anything I've read. During development, the tones start to come up around the edges of the paper first, then work their way to the center. The result is that the infectious development goes quickly around the edges and leaves the center underdeveloped. If I snatch the print when the center looks right, then the edges create a vignette effect where there is normally not one in a straight print.

    I'm agitating at regular intervals and have tried alternating directions so it gets even agitation. Beyond that, I'm really not sure how to even things out. These are all prints that have printed perfectly even on the same enlarger at the same size during normal printing.


    Here's some basic stats about my process so far, so you know what I'm working with..

    - Fotospeed LD-20 lith developer mixed per the instructions, 15ml A + 485ml water, 15ml B + 485ml water. I extrapolated up to 60ml A + 1940ml, 60ml B + 1940ml. Developer is at room temp.

    - Foma 111 grade 3 (11x14)

    - Exposed +3 stops beyond normal print

    Thanks for your help!
    Chris
     
  2. Stan160

    Stan160 Member

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    How big is your developing tray? It helps to use at least one size up from the paper you're developing.

    Ian
     
  3. David William White

    David William White Member

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    Yes, also rock gently. I had similar woes in my recent session (in the standard gallery) but you can see how things got better when I eased up.
     
  4. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Maybe I am going a little too aggressively. I'll try backing off and see what happens. Ian, I'm using a 16x20 tray for 11x14 right now so I could get enough developer in there.

    I'm off to make another print.. i'll check back soon!
     
  5. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Okay, I severely decreased how aggressively I was agitating, plus how often and the same thing still happened. It maybe was the slightest bit better. Any other ideas? I'm going to stick my nose in the Tim Rudman book some more.
     
  6. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Try either pushing the print in face first quickly for the first 30 seconds and then flip back or rock a wave and slip it in faceup as the wave hits the end of the tray so it rolls across evenly and quickly. I used to hand develop large sheets of lithographic film and have seen that when being too timid about getting the emulsion under the developer. Do you pick up the sheet and drain it on occasion for inspection out of the developer? Might have some effect on the outcome.
     
  7. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Try lifting the print to agitate, instead of rocking the tray.

    Are you sure the vignetting is not caused by your enlarger? If it is due to agitation, the overdevelopment at the edges generally looks a little splotchy; I've never encountered a truly smooth gradation with an agitation issue.
     
  8. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I see you are using Foma paper and from the 111 designation I guess that it is Fomabrom Variant III, is that right? I've never had the vignetting issue with this paper.

    Even if there is no fall-off vignetting when doing a normal print - are you really sure the light is even? If it is very slightly uneven, it may show up when you do longer exposures. As an aside, I've seen people actually using enlarger lenses wide open for lith. I did hear a few complaints about getting vignetted, fuzzy corners and prints going soft. :wink: What f/stop do you use?

    Agitation is a strange thing. I rock the trays quite heavily, while I've seen others doing it like it was cooking in the kitchen, stirring once in a while. :smile:
     
  9. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    I often find test strips will develop blacks more quickly at the edges, just as you describe. My prints, which have a white border, don't. I've assumed it was something about turbulence at the edge of the paper.

    I'm not saying it isn't an agitation issue. I tend to agitate prints by flipping (pulling out and turning over, changing directions frequently) while test strips are more likely to be sloshed around. I'd like to know from more experienced lithers if turbulence at the edge of the paper is a possible explanation.
     
  10. wfe

    wfe Member

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    I've done a lot of lith printing and have never experienced this. I generally agitate very gently. I'm anxious to hear what is causing this but I would suspect the enlarger.
     
  11. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    All good advice thusfar. Very gentle rocking is the key. Also, some papers (Fomabrom and Slavice unibrom) are more susceptible to this from my experience. It can be a very nice creative tool if you can learn to control it.
     
  12. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Sounds to me like the enlarger is pushing out to much light at the edges, which is normally not the case. Is there something in the light path that may be letting more light at the edges, or are you giving an extra exposure to the edges.

    hard to imagine it being in the developer/agitation issue.
     
  13. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    With the materials I have used, when the developer-laden paper sticks up out of the developer the development speeds up (kind of the oppositie of what you would think would happen). So , I suspect your paper is not laying flat in the tray and the edges are getting close to the surface.
     
  14. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    I've had this happen on some papers if my tray was too small. You basically get more agitation at the edges as a result and this accelerates the infectious development process ahead of the center of the paper. For 8x10 prints, I use a 9 1/2" x 11" Paterson tray I've had from the UK for many years (as they used to have paper that size)
     
  15. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Chris,

    When I print (lith or conventional) I actually agitate very aggressively, particularly in the beginning. I place the print face down in the developer and move it constantly with tongs for at least the first 20 seconds (and normally longer). I fully appreciate that others have a different experience, but film or paper, the only time I've had agitation issues is when my agitation has been insufficient.

    Neal Wydra
     
  16. Rich Ullsmith

    Rich Ullsmith Subscriber

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    It's turbulence.

    Something to consider with lith. It really does not matter if the edges get more development early on, when you can't even see an image yet, or later when you are getting ready to pull. Reaching infectious development is a cumulative process.

    Try this: expose a test strip that is easily handled. Let only 1/2 of it submerge in the developer for maybe 30 seconds, then submerge the entire strip and agitate until you have development. See what happens.

    I develop face-down for the majority of the time, agitating the print, not the tray. I suppose if the tray is large enough, it would not matter. You can actually walk away from it for a minute or so, face down, if the pan does not have gnurls or grooves.
     
  17. f/stopblues

    f/stopblues Member

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    Sorry to resurrect an old post, but I did some more lith printing last night after a hiatus due to darkroom frustrations.

    There were a few posters who mentioned agitation or turbulence being the culprit, and my hats off to you! Lith printing seems to be particularly sensitive to this phenomenon.

    Below are two prints developed one after the other. The left one was agitated only by flipping the paper every so often. The right one was left face up and the tray was rocked both front to back and side to side.

    The differences in the edges are obvious, but the interesting part is that in a straight print, the people in the swings cutting across the frame are uniformly lit. In the print agitated by rocking, though the overall effect is darker, the people towards the center of the frame are noticeably lighter.

    In the one agitated by turning the paper over, the overall effect is lighter, but the people are more uniformly dark all the way across the paper. It is certainly a more even print.

    Tech details.. Fomabrom 111 grade 3 (not Variant III. That's the multigrade stuff.) Fotospeed LD-20 diluted 1+1+18. Developing times were right around 15 minutes with 3 stops over a straight print.

    Sorry for the terrible picture! Digital taken with my cell phone.. yuck.
    [​IMG]
     
  18. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    Thanks for getting back to us on this. The effect is pretty obvious here isn't it? It could be used if you wanted a print that was darker around the edges, lightest at the middle. I'll keep that in mind next time I'm lithing.
     
  19. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    BTW, you probably won't see this on most other papers. The ones with the most aggressive infectious development. Fomabrom is definitely the most aggressive! I can't make any other paper except Slavich Unibrom do this. Also, I have to say that I like the image with the darker edges better :smile: Really nice image
     
  20. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    First: I think this is a great composition. I love the circles and arcs. Second, I have used Fotospeed lith developer a lot and with one exception I have not experienced this issue. I agitate by lifting the corner of the tray almost constantly throughout development, (same corner even) so I don't see agitation being the issue. I always put the paper in the tray face down, agitate for one minute, flip the paper over and continue agitation until done. I avoid touching the print or poking it with tongs to avoid marring the surface. I normally use Fomatone 131 for lith printing and have never experienced this problem with that paper. The only time I have seen anything approaching your problem is on the rare occasion when I have used Slavich Unibrom paper because I wanted a more graphic, gritty print with little color.

    So I am in the same camp as Mark Fisher: some papers may exhibit the problem, others may not. I suggest trying some Fomatone and see if your problem is resolved.
     
  21. joefreeman

    joefreeman Member

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    i dont know squat about lith printing, so take this with a grain of salt.
    why dont you use a brush? try putting the paper in the developer and brushing the surface of the print from top to bottom and side to side. works great with negatives...