Newby needs advice on PT/PD printing - grainy

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by timgray@rogers.com, Dec 11, 2008.

  1. timgray@rogers.com

    timgray@rogers.com Member

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    The problem is not quite grain, but small pin-prick sized white dots - particularly noticeable in the shadows. The dark shadows don't have nearly the same smooth tone as do the mid tones and highlights.

    Other than that problem, I'm getting decent results with a digital negative on Pictorico with an Epson 4000 - setting are premium glossy, 2880, no color mgmt. Chemistry is from B&S, equal amounts of PT PD and Ferric Oxalate solution 1 and 2, all at room temperature. Chemistry is roughly 2 months old, but the problem has been there from the beginning. Coating is by glass rod, single coat. Developer is Ammonium Citrate at room temperature. Paper is Arches Platine and I'm printing on the top surface (I tried, accidentally, printing on the other side but it was clearly the wrong side).

    I've tried humidifying the paper, but no change.

    Any advice would be appreciated.
     
  2. clay

    clay Subscriber

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    Ditch the Ferric oxalate solution number 2 except in tiny quantities. It is awful stuff and can cause grainy prints. Most printers now use Na2 when they need contrast control. The white dots sound like the paper has some buffer in it still. Which would be weird with Platine. I'm not sure about that. You could try acidifying the paper with 2% oxalic acid prior to coating. The other thing is that you might want to consider using potassium oxalate as a developer instead of the ammonium citrate. It is generally smoother and warmer toned than AmCit. Finally, the glass rod may be an issue. You really ought to get a 2 inch Richeson 'magic' brush. Your prints will show an immediate improvement.
     
  3. Monophoto

    Monophoto Member

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    Clay is right - too much of the Fe #2 will cause white specs. The basic issue is that Fe #2 is a contrasting agent - you substitute Fe #2 for Fe #1 in order to increase contrast, but as the concentration of Fe #1 decreases, the sensitizing solution becomes weaker.

    A better approach is the method described in the article in the latest View Camera in which the NA2 solution is used instead of Fe #2. It only takes a minute amount of the NA2 solution to achieve a far wider range of contrasts than you can get with Fe #1. And an added benefit is that the NA2 approach uses only Pd salts, and that saves money.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Unfortunately, I have gotten those white specks -- and I never use Fe#2. They showed up on some Fabriano Aristico...I had great success with the paper...then when I bought my second batch, the white specks showed up. I never figured out the cause -- but it looked like the solution actually was being repelled from the paper by the sizing. I switched paper before I worked out the problem with the Fabriano.

    Soaking the paper in Oxalic acid might help (2 to 5% solution). Brushing might help -- I actually start with the rod, and then after three passes, finish with the brush. (it helps me to get the proper area coated!)

    Since you have the chemicals, you might want to stick with the Fe#2 for now...but I would suggest tweaking your negs (up the contrast) to use as less of the Fe#2 as you can. You will get less grain than way...but I doubt the white specks are Fe#2 related...but I have been wrong before!

    Vaughn
     
  5. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    If you try the oxalic acid (wood bleach from the hardware store) soak and it doesn't work, you might try adding some Tween or simply try another paper (although Platine has always worked in my limited experience).
     
  6. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    I know these white specks from a long time back, looked at them under a 10x magnifyer and microscope, and as far as I know, they are a problem related to the sizing of the paper and very difficult to come by. I don't think changing from rod to brush helps. Sometimes you think you have the solution, only to see them re-occuring in the next print. If I remember correctly, I had them on Watson Watercolour and Rives BFK. Aches Platine is notoriously changing, I would not advise it. The news on Artistico, however, distress me, as this paper has, as far as I know, always been pretty consistent.
    My advice is: change the paper, to Artistico, I would have said, but...
    Expensive but a sure bet is Buxton paper. And what about this new American paper whose name I have forgotten? There was some news it had been changed and newly marketed???
     
  7. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Lukas, my troubles with Fabriano was a couple of years or more ago -- as you said, things change. I even had a very bad batch of COT320 once (must have been unevenly sized -- the prints were very mottled), but my latest pt/pd prints on a recently bought batch are wonderful...smooth as can be.

    Vaughn
     
  8. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Believe that would be the Weston Diploma paper - have not seen results of the new batch, but I think there was a thread here where someone was using it without issue.

    The FAEW that I am using is still fine (though I tend to purchase at least 30-50 large sheets at a time - yields 120-200 sheets). Same for the Platine I have.

    A bit of topic, have considered ordering one of the sample paks from Daniel Smith to try the different papers in it - which includes some of the following:Arches Cover and Arches 88,Rives BFK and Rives BFK Heavyweight
    Magnani Pescia,Copperplate by Zerkall ,Hahnemuhle Copperplate Bright white and Warm White,Durer Etching White by Hahnemuhle ,German Etching by Hahnemuhle ,Daniel Smith Lenox ,Somerset White Satin and Textured, Somerset Velvet ,Rising Stonehenge ,Fabriano Tiepolo. As these are full sheets (22inx30in) seems like a good way to test different papers. Has anyone tried this before?
     
  9. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Member

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    Might you have brushed the paper too harshly, thus abraiding the paper?
     
  10. PVia

    PVia Member

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    Just to be on the safe side, have you looked at your negs with a loupe? Any pin-prick patterns there?
     
  11. timgray@rogers.com

    timgray@rogers.com Member

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    Appreciate all the suggestions - easiest to test was changing the proportion of the ferric oxalate 1 and 2 from 50/50 to 2/3 1/3 luckily that did the trick - tonality is very smooth, and the blacks are what I had hoped for, now all I have to do is tweak the curve.

    Thanks again.
     
  12. boyooso

    boyooso Member

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    simple solutions...

    When I first started using Platine I got a speckly look.

    The SIMPLE solution for me was to add 2 drops ilfotol (ilford's photo flo) to my emulsion. This is for 8x10. This is when I coat with a glass rod.

    Also, I make many passes with the glass rod, perhaps 10 or so. Platine does not abraid very easily... unless you use a lot of pressure.

    Good Luck,

    Corey
     
  13. timgray@rogers.com

    timgray@rogers.com Member

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    I do make a number of passes with the rod, and finish off with a brush to get rid of the residual puddle. My prints at this point are 5x8 and when I get to 8x10 I may try just the brush. With respect to ilfotol, is that similar in effect to Tween?
     
  14. boyooso

    boyooso Member

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    I've never used tween, we I tried it once it it wasn't good, as I understand it, it doesn't work with some papers very well.

    Give photo flo a try.

    Corey
     
  15. Davec101

    Davec101 Member

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    Interesting post i have recently encountered this exact problem with Arches platine and can vary from print to print, i have since added 1 drop of tween to 2ml of platinum/palladium sensitiser when mixed,(Tween is a polysorbate surfactin and has the effect of decreasing the surface tension of the mixed sensitiser which allows more adequate wetting of the surface fibres of the paper), the problem has not been eliminated but is significantly improved, and i have smoother results, it does seem as though there is a slightly colder hue shift with the tween but i would expect this could be counteracted with me heating my developer. Adding two much tween will result in water spots which will appear in the final dried down print.

    Before the tween i would have around 6-8 passes with the rod, now its only 3 with a drop of tween before the mixed sensitiser runs out. My darkroom temp and humidity is 15C and 50 rh respectively and i use Potassium Oxalate as developer so i dont use Ferric oxalate solution 2, i found that that mottled a lot of my highlights.

    I was reading Stan Klimek's comments in the Dick Arentz book on platinum printing last night and i found his comments quite relevant to what platinum printers go through :

    'The quest for the perfect platinum print is similar to aiming at a moving target. After all these years, I still learn something new every time i print. Techniques I’ve been using become ineffective. Materials change or another printer comes up with an improved procedure. But after i chase it down, work it through, and come through with an image i am satisfied, I am allowed to relive the moment that i made my first platinum print.'

    I am having similar problems with Kalitypes and will give the tween a try, if not I will have to ask the master of the process ‘Sandy King’ for some help!
     
  16. Lukas Werth

    Lukas Werth Member

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    Dave (I suppose that"s your name),
    my advice would be to use another paper. I have used Platine"s different batches over the years, and have seen quite a number of bad batches, and non-announced changes in quality. I have run into trouble several times, and the time and energy I spent every time made me to discard this paper. Perhaps Arches tinkers with it for inkjet purposes and the like, even though they market it for Platinum.
    You may run into further problems should you use other iron-salt processes which are more paper-sensitive than platinum (kallitypes are rather easy to manage either, though they also have their issues, but Mike Ware's formulation of New Cyanotypes or New Chrysotypes are considerably more sensitive).
     
  17. timgray@rogers.com

    timgray@rogers.com Member

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    Update to my original post...

    I've finally managed to get a pretty good result. At the end of the day:

    1/3 2/3 ratio of platinum to palladium (I started with 50/50)
    2/3 1/3 ratio of Ferric Oxalate solution 1 to the restrained solution 2 (again I started at 50/50)
    48 drops for an 8x10
    I use a rod, then brush out the last puddle.
    warming the pt/pd also helps
    A big change was aggressively humidifying the Platine over a steam bath and then letting it rest for a few minutes- this cut my exposure time by 1/3, but necessitated constructing a new curve.

    Good thing too, I've just about run out of my first batch of chemicals.

    Took me 44 tries to get to where I was satisfied, but in fairness that includes a bit of a goof at the beginning when I was printing on the wrong site of the Platine (I didn't notice the watermark till after a few prints) and a few other dead ends. :smile:

    Anyway I'm hooked. The downside is that now my inkjets look cold and lifeless - almost like trying to sculpt a figure with a meccano set.
     
  18. Blunt

    Blunt Member

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    Did the white specks go away with the new procedures?
     
  19. Don Dudenbostel

    Don Dudenbostel Member

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    I've experienced the white specks with a number of papers and in every case a small drop of TWEEN does the trick. I use both rod and brush with excellent results. I also allow the sensitizer to soak in until the surface has no sheen and then dry it with a small hair drier on the lowest (very low) temp. I rarely need more than a few drops of #2 if a skight contrast boost is needed but always use 1 drop minimum to prevent fog.

    Give the TWEEN a try.
     
  20. timgray@rogers.com

    timgray@rogers.com Member

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    Yes, possibly attributed to the humidification.