Print Washing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Hopscotch, Jun 19, 2009.

  1. Hopscotch

    Hopscotch Member

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    Hey guys,

    I've recently had to go through the trouble of moving my darkroom from a laundry room to a closet in our barn. The personal space is nice, it's also smaller, so I can feel around better in the dark. The problem, though, is that there is no running water in the darkroom, and the sink on the other side of the barn is completely untreated well water. (Smells terrible, cloudy, a very little amount of sediment). I have a huge cooler that I fill up every once in awhile with the clean filtered water in the house and carry out there.

    Back in the laundry room, I just kept my prints in a tray under running water in the sink for 5-10 minutes, agitating "whenever I remembered" and they came out fine.

    Now I don't have that luxury. So what are your suggestions on washing at this point? should I bring my prints back into the house for this? I'm not really looking into going into the market for a 300$ print washer.
    I do mostly street photography, so the print doesnt have to be absolutely impeccable, but I dont want to ruin it either.
     
  2. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    Before I got my print washer, I used to keep prints in an extra tray and then transferred to my bathtub to wash (16x20) or laundry sink for smaller prints. As long as I kept them in water prior to washing, I had no problems. I just ensured I agitated the final wash in the sink or tub for about 5 mins for RC paper.

    For extra archival purposes I also selenium tone all my prints 1:20 for about 3mins; this works well for me and I try very hard to conserve water here in Australia as we are on strict water usage. The print washer helps me with this, but as you have said $$ for one of these is quite steep.

    - Nanette
    www.nanettereid.com
     
  3. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    Just drop the prints into a bucket of water and when you've finished the session transfer them to the running water in the laundry.
     
  4. mooseontheloose

    mooseontheloose Subscriber

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    Welcome Hopscotch!

    I'm in a similar difficult position. My "darkroom" is my entire apartment. When I want to print I have to blackout every window. My dry printing side is in my bedroom. The wet developing side is in the bathroom, but, I have no bath (only a shower) and a very small sink. So all prints go into a holding tray until I'm done. Then the washing takes place in my kitchen where there is barely room for one 9x12 tray in the sink. I hate running water for long periods of time, and it's quite wasteful, so I often will just fill the tray and let the print soak for a few minutes, agitate on occasion, change the tray again, soak, etc. The key here is diffusion. Then a soak with hypo clearing agent for about 20 minutes and then another fill, soak, and dump routine. It takes forever when you have a lot of prints to go through, but it works (I picked up this advice somewhere in a similar thread here on apug).
     
  5. Hopscotch

    Hopscotch Member

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    Thanks so much for your suggestions.
    What is your feelings about the water? It's smelly, and when theres alot of it theres a bit of a brown tint- will this have a major effect on the prints? I'm not making anything of impeccable quality, but i do frame alot of them.
     
  6. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber

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    I'd rather go for a small tub filled with tap water as a "holding tank" - the other water could have nasties that cause staining or leave dirty marks on the actual print.

    - Nanette
    www.nanettereid.com
     
  7. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    I use well water where I live but it goes through a sediment filter before being used.
    They are not too expensive if you can do the plumbing yourself. So far (about 3 years now) there have been no problems with either film or paper washing.
     
  8. Andrea McLaughlin

    Andrea McLaughlin Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hmmm. Perhaps your water has sulfur in it! That could be a plus if it reacts like mild sepia toner. I'm kinda just kidding there, but I would check out the brown water just to be safe.

    In Northern California we can get a free report from our water district that gives a complete analysis of the content of our water.
     
  9. Martin Reed

    Martin Reed Advertiser Advertiser

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    If it's got a smell, presumably non too healthy, there must be bugs in there feeding on organic matter. My thought is that as long as it is filtered and you finish with a clean rinse you should be ok. Mucky water can have benefits -seawater works fine for the main wash as long as there is a freshwater rinse at the end, & is very efficient as it acts as it's own hypo clear.

    So it would be interesting to know how hard/soft the water is, as hard water is significantly more efficient than soft. At extreme risk of blowing my own trumpet, this is a link to the PDF's on the Silverprint site - one of them, 'Mysteries of the Vortex' is about printwashing, done for 'Photo Techniques' mag in 1996. But it does cover every washing test we could think of, most of which I think were experimentally valid. We didn't test using water as you describe, but we did some variations on water volume, which proved that as long as you allow enough time for diffusion to take place, and the prints are well separated, you can get away with very small volumes of wash water.

    http://www.silverprint.co.uk/pdf.asp
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Fred Picker and I endorse the above observation. It is
    a least water method of washing.

    My spin on the method precedes the washing with a very
    dilute one-shot fixer. A very thin fix which when done has
    within archival silver levels. Just the opposite of the Ilford
    Archival Sequence detailed in the above referred to article.

    I've had clear to the HT-2 test results with no more than
    a post fix hold/soak and an overnight soak. Dan
     
  11. Hopscotch

    Hopscotch Member

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    Dios Mio! Thank you so much. This is SO helpful!
    I'm going to go out and set up the different methods I've gathered, and see the results.
    Merci!
     
  12. wogster

    wogster Member

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    I would contact your county or state/province and see if they test well water (some do), if you can get the barn water tested, and then filter it, that may be fine for photographic use.