Printing Problem: Developers and papers

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BSAP, Oct 31, 2011.

  1. BSAP

    BSAP Member

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    Hi,

    So, I just recently set up a darkroom for the first time. I did some darkroom work in school, but I never really knew the details of the chemicals and papers, so I'm in the process of learning all that now.

    I've started printing, using Ilford RC pearl paper, and Kodak Polymax T developer, and I haven't been able to get any good prints. Everything comes out a hazy grey-brown color. I checked the paper, it's fine. I tried adjusting the contrast w/ filters, but that didn't help.

    So, I thought that maybe there was a problem with the developer I was using. Does anyone know anything about Polymax T? Does it not work well with Ilford papers?

    Any help with this would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Hi, and welcome to APUG.

    I use Ilford RC pearl paper and Kodak Polymax T developer regularly, and it works well for me.

    The developer has an "expiry date" imprinted on the bottle. It is near the top "shoulder". I've found that it lasts well past that date, but there is a limit to that I'm sure.

    How do you know that the paper is "fine"? Have you tried it in some other developer?

    Is it MGIV RC paper? I ask because if it is MGIII RC paper, it is very old, and most likely almost unusable.
     
  3. trotkiller

    trotkiller Subscriber

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    "Have you done a safe light test?" and "How light tight is your darkroom?" are the first 2 questions that come to mind for me.

    What temp/dilution are you using the Polymax at? Is your water temp less than 18 C/64.5 F?
     
  4. BSAP

    BSAP Member

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    The paper is MGIV RC. What I meant by 'fine' was that the paper wasn't exposed to light or anything like that. When I put it in the developer it stays white.

    I haven't done a safe light test, what is that? The room is light tight as far as I can tell. I can't see anything when the safe-lights are on and there are no cracks of light.

    I have no idea what my temp/dilution is. When I mixed the developer I did 112 ml of developer and 1000 ml of water, but I didn't check the temperature. Is temperature an important factor when diluting developer?

    Like I said, I'm pretty much a beginner, so I really don't know any of this stuff.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2011
  5. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    How long are you leaving the paper in the developer?
    What are the negs like, for example, can you read a news paper through them, with only the darkest parts of the neg obscuring the type? (good) Or, light with no really dark areas? etc.?
    Are the negs in focus?
    If the negs are sharp, and reasonably exposed, then most likely the problem is somewhere in your printing technique, or the set up.
     
  6. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Responding in sequence...

    1) Take a small piece of the paper and expose it to room light. Then turn off the lights (leaving the safelight on) and develop the paper for two minutes, followed by stop bath or water rinse and then fixer. When fixing is complete, is the paper black? If not, either paper or developer (or both) aren't working properly.

    2) Here is a link giving Ilford's suggested safelight test procedure: http://www.ilfordphoto.com/applications/page.asp?n=148. A safelight test will, however, only reveal something useful if your paper and developer are capable of doing their job.

    3) Your developer dilution appears correct (1 part concentrate + 9 parts water). The temperature you work at is also important, within a reasonable range. If the developer is very cold (less than 18 C/64.5 F as trotkiller mentioned) it doesn't work very well.

    Were you able to check the expiration date of your developer? And with respect to your paper, does the label on the back indicate that it was manufactured by Ilford Imaging, or Harman Technology? If it says Ilford Imaging, it is quite old.
     
  7. trotkiller

    trotkiller Subscriber

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    The OP did post that his/her developer has an exp date of 2013 but then he/she deleted it when they edited the above post.
     
  8. BSAP

    BSAP Member

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    The label says "Made in England by Ilford Imaging." I knew the paper was old when I got it, it was given to me by the guy I bought my Enlarger from, but I was told that RC paper lasts awhile. Would the age of the paper be causing my printing problems?
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    That it's RC doesn't add or detract from its longevity compared to fiber papers, for example, I've used MG paper stored in some pretty bad conditions that worked fine. But Matt's test would be worthwhile. A test for fogging would be good too, cut a sheet in half. Develop and fix one piece, and only fix the other. If the paper isn't fogged, they should match very closely.

    I haven't worked with the Polymax developer, but most developers need 1 to 2 minutes to get the paper to it's full black, so if you are processing shorter than that, the processing time could be a cause of your results.

    If you see stains occuring after the print has been in the fix, then you may be working with bad fixer.
     
  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    The problem might very well be due to the age of the paper (Ilford Harman took over from Ilford Imaging in February 2005). Any problems would be compounded if the paper was stored in adverse conditions (high heat and/or high humidity).

    Simon Galley is a director of Ilford Harman who posts here on APUG regularly. If you send him an APUG private message ("PM") with the emulsion number of the paper and a request, most likely he will be able to get back to you with a production date. He has been known to send other good things as well (hint: include your mailing address and a description of your current darkroom experience).

    My suggestion would be to get some new paper and try again - Polymax T is a very good choice with Ilford papers.
     
  11. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

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    Also check that the enlarging lens is clean - look up through the lens with the enlarger on and no negative in the carrier. If the lens looks dusty, foggy or moldy then this is a contributing factor to your 'blah' prints.
     
  12. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    It is importanr to develop prints fully using the manufacturer's recommended time. Avoid pulling prints too soon as this prevents good placks and leads to grey muddy looking prints.
     
  13. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    Perhaps the obvious question, are you using any fixer?! You didn't mention anything in your original post. Most likely though, the paper is a bit untrustworthy. If the various safelight, temperature and fogging checks suggested by others are producing the same unpleasant results as the printing, then it is time to find some new paper. Good luck - this is just a starting glitch, it's really a 'simple' process once you get going.
     
  14. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Sounds like you're doing everything correctly, except:

    1. Your paper is old.

    Try getting a fresh pack of paper, and continue using fresh paper until you feel comfortable with printing.
    Using dated paper is the best source of confusion there is when you start printing.

    Reminders:
    a. Develop your prints for as long as it says on the developer package.
    b. Keep chemistry at room temperature, above 18*C/65*F for best results.
    c. Agitate continuously for the first 30 seconds and make sure the print is fully submerged. Then rock the tray every 15 seconds or so by tipping up one of the corners.
    d. Stop bath for however long it says on the container. It's a good idea to agitate continuously. Indicator stop bath is great, because it changes color when it's exhausted.
    e. Fixer for however long it says on the container. It's not a bad idea to agitate continuously. Always make sure your fixer isn't exhausted.
    f. Wash your prints carefully. This is important. Or you will have yellow and contaminated prints a couple of years down the road.

    Good luck, and have fun!

    - Thomas