Print Washing Alternatives

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by EKDobbs, Feb 27, 2012.

  1. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    So I'm a little stuck. I have a darkroom, and it's doing wonders for my learning in the art of B&W photography. I've got a workflow set up and everything. Now, just like a lot of you, my darkroom is not as decked out as I'd like it to be. Primarily, I have no running water, and no way to quickly access it.

    Now, that brings up an issue. I read that prints must be washed under running, circulating water, or bad things will happen to them. So far, I've just been putting 8x10 RC prints in a 20x16 tray full of water and shaking it around for a few minutes. About every three prints or so, I change the water out with a bucket, but I can only do this once. (I have an hour and a half class period to work in, so I rarely make more than 4-5 8x10 prints in a sitting.)

    So far, no negative results to my naive eye, but I'm wondering if my method risks the quality or longevity of my prints. If I am truly doing something terrible to my prints, I'd like advice on how to improvise a better washing system.
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    One change of water is not enough. Can you imerse the prints in a shallower depth of water at a higher temperature, say 25oC and change the water 10 or 15 times? This may help.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    RC prints only need around two minutes under cold running water. The flow rate needs only to be around twelve changes per hour or once every 5 minutes in whatever size tray or container you are using. Do not let RC paper stay in water or chems for very long as it will start to delaminate. FB paper is a different story, I wash mine for around 12 changes of water at 5 minute intervals after soaking in HCA solution.
     
  4. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    Nope. Cannot leave the room for the entire period. My only source of clean water is a single five gallon bucket. I could change it maybe three times in really warm water.

    Even still, how exactly is it affecting my prints? I don't see any major issues, but then again, none of the prints I've made are more than a month old.
     
  5. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Also can use Hypo, it will help shorten it a little bit too.
     
  6. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    In that case, if there is room for multiple wash trays, you could provide the water changes by putting the paper in 4 8x10 trays of water for a minute each. After a few prints, dump the first try, refill it and put it at the end. That should provide multiple changes of water and very little water use.
     
  7. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    That is definitely do-able. I'll get a few more trays and start doing that.

    My question goes unanswered, however. Lets say, hypothetically, I decide to wash my prints simply by dunking them in water for ten seconds; what happens to them? (as opposed to traditional washing techniques)
     
  8. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    They don't wash very well, as they are in stagnant water for a short time. You need continuous flowing water or many changes.
     
  9. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Rinse the RC prints for about a minute then place them into a drying rack until you are finished printing. Then haul them to the nearest washing station for a final rinse of a couple minutes each. I've been washing my prints this way for years. I allow my FB prints longer in the first rinse after second fix. When I'm ready to wash the fiber prints I resoak in water for a couple minutes then into HCA for recommended time then the resulting wash cycle I described earlier.
     
  10. brucemuir

    brucemuir Member

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    The fixer doesn't get adequately washed out and the result can be from stains to image fading completely.
     
  11. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Derek probably means Hypo Clearing Agent, not Hypo, because Hypo is an old name for fixer, and fixer is what you need to wash out.

    And for RC, Hypo Clearing Agent really doesn't make much difference.

    For RC, I would suggest doing what you have been doing. Then take your prints home and within a day or so wash them for a couple of minutes each in a small tray in your laundry sink, kitchen sink, shower or bathtub. Cool water flowing fairly slowly will work fine - just make sure the print doesn't stick face down in the tray.

    If you leave anything more than a trace of fixer in your print, it won't tone evenly, it won't last well and will probably discolour and stain. And if you allow a fixer laden print to contact other, otherwise properly washed prints, they too can be damaged.
     
  12. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    how so ?
     
  13. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    You don't need running water, even for FB. You can use successive soaks in changes of still water. This is a bit of a PITA but works well and doesn't use as much water. I don't have running water in my darkroom yet either. For 8x10 and smaller prints I can bring them upstairs and wash in the sink. For larger prints I don't have a large enough sink to wash them anyway (I suppose I could use the bathtub but that's too big.)

    For FB I suggest the modified Ilford fix/wash sequence. Fix for one minute in film strength rapid fixer with no hardner. Wash for ten minutes - two soaks of at least 5 minutes each in fresh water will do. Follow this by 10 minutes with continuous agitation in a washing aid (like hypo clearing agent) then Ilford recommends a 10 minute running water wash. I err on the side of caution and do a final wash of six, ten minute soaks in trays of fresh water. It's a lot more trouble than just putting them in an archival washer and going away, but you can get a good wash, and save water too. You can learn a ton about washing prints from this article:

    Part 1:

    http://www.film-and-darkroom-user.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=296

    Part 2:

    http://www.film-and-darkroom-user.org.uk/forum/showthread.php?t=344

    What I do have in my darkroom is a 7 gallon water jug with a spigot, that I can fill from the water hose just outside the basement door. It isn't ideal, but it works much better than you might think.
     
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  15. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    Thanks for the advice everyone. I can extend the soaking wash process, as well as bring them home in the afternoon to truly wash them. Hopefully the ones I've already made won't spontaneously blacken on me...
     
  16. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    You should also bear in mind that improperly washed prints can contaminate properly washed prints they come in contact with as well as any paper and fabric such as storage boxes and so forth. Drying screens too. The multi tray sequential soak method as well as the modified Ilford method for fiber is the best way to go, I think, for you.
     
  17. canuhead

    canuhead Member

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    Not washing related but why are you trying to squeeze in a printing session between classes ? Do yourself and your work a favor by giving them the proper time in the darkroom.
     
  18. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

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    Get a faucet adapter to convert a standard faucet to a hose fitting, and then run hose with a garden sprayer to your darkroom, even if it's fifty feet. Sounds like a pain, but having access to water will save you a ton of time in the darkroom. My sink is currently served by a ten foot hose that runs across the room to a tap. The difference between that and the old days of having to cart water in a bucket is like the difference between a rickshaw and a Mercedes. Sounds stupid, but it's a massive improvement.
     
  19. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    One way around this is to hold your prints in a tray until you're done then wash the prints in the bathroom or kitchen when you're done. I remember two great guys I worked for that had a commercial photo studio. They had a make-shift darkroom and they washed their prints in the bathroom. They rigged a tumbling Arkay print washer to train into the toilet. The water hookup was the faucet. With RC prints, you can't let them sit too long or else the RC layer will separate. You can buy a Kodak tray siphon and set your washing tray on the kitchen or bathroom counter and drain into a basin or sink.
     
  20. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Properly fixed prints, tho unwashed, will not spontaneously turn black. That only happens to under or unfixed prints.
     
  21. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber

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    Back in the day, tub type washers were popular. I made one back in the 60's from a galvanized steel washtub, some brass tubing, hose fittings, etc. The water sprays in at an angle at the top to keep it swirling and the drain is in the bottom with a piece of hose held up with wire to control the depth of water. I'm still using it today. You just can't put too many prints at a time in it as they sometimes want to stick together or along the side.
     
  22. EKDobbs

    EKDobbs Member

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    I only have this darkroom because a teacher at my school has been kind enough to let me take over a portion of what it essentially a screenprinting storage room. I have no place for one in my house, and the only public one shut down their classes a few months back.
     
  23. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    I've seen Parker's darkroom and can see why it works for him. In my case the tap would be outside and I'd have to drill a hole in the wall or door or open the outside door each time or come in a window with the same problem or...

    Here's what I have. The 7 gallon container is also a tremendous improvement over carrying a bucket at a time, and has a dispenser. 7 gallons can last for several sessions or only one, depending on what I'm doing. I just fill it up right outside the basement back door as needed. The 5 gallon bucket under it is for waste water (only) and positioned there to catch any drips as well. I just take it upstairs to empty as needed.
     

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  24. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Incomplete washing will leave fixer on/in prints and given long enough time, it can stain the prints.
    Too much washing/soaking of RC paper can cause separation of paper.
    Soaking in insufficient amount of still water means prints will be soaking in a weak solution of what really needs to be washed out/off.

    Having said that, one will have to work within the limitation of his/her own environment.

    Given your situation, I'd continue to use a large tray with plenty of water for Preminger washing. Then before the prints completely dry, take them somewhere else give them 3 to 5 minutes wash at an available sink. I use tilted tray propped up in a sink and let the water overflow it to wash off my prints.

    The reason behind not letting it dry is because if weak fix dry inside the paper, it'll be awfully hard to wash it off completely.

    You might encounter some separation at the papers' edge. But that's far better than print staining at the later date. I've soaked RC for few hours in the past. I encountered few millimeters (1/8") or so of separated corners but that's not too bad.

    That's basically how I washed mine for a while. It has been 2 years since then and none of my prints show any ill effects from my washing method.
     
  25. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Deterioration of poorly washed prints doesn't set in for a while. So you can slosh the print around in three changes of water or so (a few minutes in each), hang them up, and then rewash them properly in a few hours when you have a proper water supply. This is not ideal. The dry or partly dry prints will be harder to wash thoroughly than if you had washed them well to begin with. But the initial wash gets out most of the bad stuff, and rewashing does a decent job.
     
  26. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Member

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    Why would dry prints be any harder to wash than wet ones? It would take slightly longer, long enough to soak them until they are thoroughly wet again, but that should be all.

    Any data on this, or is it just someone's opinion/guess?