Printing problems

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Matej Maceas, Jan 25, 2004.

  1. Matej Maceas

    Matej Maceas Member

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    I'm experiencing an unpleasant problem with some of my prints. Some areas of the photo come out lighter than the rest of the print, leaving an ugly stain effect. These stains are very random: they vary in size and shape; there does not seem to be any correlation with specific paper (I'm using RC papers) or developer brands; they appear on one print of the same photo but not on the second print (if I'm lucky). I thought it could be uneven development due to uneven immersion or something like that, but neither placing the paper face down in the developing tray nor increased agitation have helped. Does anyone know what causes this problem, and how to remedy it? Thanks.
     
  2. bmac

    bmac Member

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    are your hands clean? Do you have any fixer on your fingers, etc?
     
  3. sergio caetano

    sergio caetano Member

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    Defect on paper.
    Try another batch (see code #). If there is no problem on it, return the first to the maker and ask for reimbursement. Let us know which paper is.
    I've already had this problem with Kodak RC Kodabrome II.
     
  4. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    You say that it is different packages of paper?.

    To help you, I think you have to describe your process in more detail. I have never been a fan of placing prints face down as air can trap under the paper and inhibit development. Tell us about your agitation, as well as your routines in and out of each chemical and on through the wash.



    MIchael McBlane
     
  5. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    If there is a stain on the print I think that the cause is likely to be contamination or it could be heat from your fingers as you lift it to either inspect it or move it to the next solution. I know that this sounds silly but it does happen, I have had this problem with both Oriental Seagull and Ilford Warmtone. Are the stains on the edges or in the actual image area?
     
  6. Matej Maceas

    Matej Maceas Member

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    The stains are in the image area, and they can be seen to emerge while the paper floats in the developing bath.

    When I move the paper from the enlarger into the developing tray, I hold it directly in my fingers (no gloves or tongs) near the edges. Normally I place the paper face-up into the developer (placing it face down was just to see if it would make any difference, which it hasn't). I agitate by raising the corner or sides of the tray so that the paper doesn't stay motionless but slowly floats around the tray. The stains, if they indeed form, can already be seen at this stage, as areas where the image does not emerge as strongly as in the rest of the photo. After the prescribed developing time, I lift the paper from the tray using tongs, hold it above the tray for a few seconds to let the developer flow off, and then place it into the stop bath. In the stop bath I use my hands to move the paper around until the image surface stops being slippery, then place it into the fixer tray, which I agitate similarily as the developer. After the prescribed fixing time, I take the paper out using a different pair of tongs, and place it into the sink to wash.

    95% of the time, I use Fomaspeed papers, of different types (single and variable contrast), sizes and surfaces (velvet, glossy). Using paper from a single package, sometimes the stains form, sometimes they don't. I can't recall for sure if I've had this problem with Ilford MG Express which I've used on a few occassions.

    While I cannot completely rule out the possibility of some fixer residue on my fingers (I will pay more attention to this in the future), I have not noticed that the stains would coincide with the places where I touched the paper.
     
  7. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    I can see what may be happening. The developer is not flowing over the face of the print evenly as you start the agitation. I've had problems like that long ago in a different galaxy. My solution to that is to rock the tray a bit before inserting the print, making a wave go to one end of the tray. As it nears the end I slip the print down to the developer and the wave rolls back across evenly wetting the entire print very quickly. It takes a bit of practice at first but will become almost automatic very soon.
     
  8. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    This is indeed strange.

    If the print is in for a minute for RC and 3-4 for fiber it should not have under developed areas, as long as the agitation is constantly getting developer to all the print, even if it misses for a few seconds early on.

    It sounds like something is wrong with the paper or skin oils are touching the paper from the box to the enlarger or the enlarger to the developer.

    Anyone?


    Michael
     
  9. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    I would need to see the prints in question to make a reasonable response. But as a shot in the dark, have you checked for light leaks in your darkroom, including your safelight? I once had the dye flake off a red safelight bulb resulting in a pinpoint of light. This evidently produced a rather narrow beam which, from time to time, fell across my paper resulting in bands of slightly fogged areas, which ultimately resulted in print banding. It took some time to figure this out as I never handled the paper in the same manner or located the box of unexposed in the same place.
     
  10. Jorge Oliveira

    Jorge Oliveira Member

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    Is this recent (you did not have them before) or are you starting a new darkroom?

    Honest, I've never seen it and can't imagine what would cause it from your description.

    Jorge O
     
  11. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Just a thought have you tried to processing unexposed paper? This would tell you if it is something with the paper..it may seem wasteful but it would save the frustration of having to remake the image and if it is the paper perhaps you can determine if something happened to it or if it just a bad batch. Had something like this happen with Ilford, but did not show up until after the print was complete and then toned..keep us posted on what you find.
     
  12. Matej Maceas

    Matej Maceas Member

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    I've uploaded an image showing the stain to the Technical gallery.

    I will check the safelight to see if the paper gets any exposure from it. I can try developing a couple of unexposed papers as well.

    The darkroom is always the same one.
     
  13. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  14. Matej Maceas

    Matej Maceas Member

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    OK I will immerse the prints faster.

    Thank you everyone for your advice. I'll keep in mind the things that have been mentioned and I'll let you know how I have fared.
     
  15. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Your use of the word "float" when describing the print in the developer makes me wonder if you are not agitating vigerously enought. I slosh the developer around creating a pretty good wave.

    I have "The Photographer" the Weston documentary. He held his double-weight paper on one end and slid it under the developer with one motion. He then rocked the tray rather vigerously.

    juan
     
  16. dr bob

    dr bob Member

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    After seeing your print in the Tech Gallery, I believe Aggie has the correct diagnosis. It is clearly not light leaks or fingerprints. I have had similar effects with depleted developer. What developer concentration and temperature do you employ?

    dr bob.
     
  17. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I concur with Aggie.

    With RC paper it probably is not enough agitation and getting the print fully emerged. Remember, if you develop RC for 1 minute and part of the print does not begin devloping for 6 seconds, you have a 10% reduction is development. One easy way to test is to leave a print in for 2 or three minutes and see if the spots develop out.

    My procedure (with fiber based) is to start the paper face down, with the tray lifted so when I place the sheet in the tray and as I set the tray down a wave of developer quickly covers the print. Then I rock the tray from a couple of different corners and then flip the print over after about 30 seconds, and continue constant agitation for the prescribed time for that paper and developer combo.
     
  18. Matej Maceas

    Matej Maceas Member

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    Ilford Multigrade 1:9 at 20C.
     
  19. philldresser

    philldresser Subscriber

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    Matej
    Looks to me like a classic case of uneven print development as Aggie has said. I would look at you technique when first immersing the print into the tray. It is essential to get the whole surface submerged without air pockets. Somebody suggested the rocking of the tray first and immersing the print in the wave of dev. Give it a try and make sure you have enough developer to fill the tray to at least 1 cm deep as well
    Good luck

    Phill
     
  20. Matej Maceas

    Matej Maceas Member

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    I've done some printing yesterday with a fresh developer with a longer prescribed time (2 minutes), faster immersion and more vigorous agitation, and there were no stains (using the same batch of paper as before). I think there's reason for optimism :smile:

    Thank you everyone for your help!