problem with platinum/palladium printing

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by jwest, Apr 15, 2005.

  1. jwest

    jwest Member

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    Recently I've been having a problem with my pt/pd prints. The highlight areas are blotchy and grainy and the overall contrast of the prints looks weak. Also, it just seems like the color is off.

    I used to pt/pd print, and get beautiful results. I stopped for about a year, changed darkrooms, and now I've started up again. The chemicals are all brand new, and I'm using the same paper that I used before (when I got good results).

    I've tried to think of what could be the culprit. I wasn't in a dimly lit room when coating my paper - did my paper get fogged? Should I have used distilled water - I never used it before, but is the water different in my new darkroom? I also don't know much about the humidity in the new place - would this affect it at all? Any advice on these, or any other ideas at all would be appreciated. I'm going crazy trying to figure out what's wrong, especially when before it was so easy.

    Thanks! Jay
     
  2. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Many times the paper manufacturers change the formulation, and of course dont bother to tell anybody. Sounds like you need to acidify your paper, try a pre oxalic acid or hydrochloric acid bath before you print. I have gotten away from using oxalic acid and use Hydrochloric acid at 80 ml/ 1000 ml for my pre treatment of socorro. I hope I am not pointing out the obvious but just in case let the paper dry after the pre treatment.

    Good luck....
     
  3. CraigK

    CraigK Member

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    A couple of ideas.....for what they are worth.


    1. Check the humidity of the room. It may be too low. I print pt/pd at home in my basement and at my photography school in a darkroom. Thanks to the clothes dryer usually running in my basement the humidity is typically 50% to 60%. Great coatings/prints are effortless under these conditions on any of the three or four different papers I use (including fixed out baryta paper).

    At the school the humidity can be as low as 20%. Good prints are much more difficult. The highlight areas tend to be blotchy and dull. I find that the situation is even worse as more restrainer is added to the mix. So when I print at the school I make sure that I use a neg that will require a mix with minimum restrainer and that I pre-humidify the paper in a smaller room that has a humidifier running in it.

    2. How are you drying the paper once coated? I have seen people really blast the paper with a hair dryer immediatetly after coating. This can lead to not-so-smooth looking images. You should let the sheet let it rest a minute or two after coating to allow the solution to settle into/onto the fibres. After a minute or two dry it with a gentle stream of air from a hair dryer instead of Max Power. You may notice a big difference.

    3. Check to see that Jupiter is aligned with Mars and that the Feng Shui in your home is up to snuff. PT/PD can be the darndest thing to get just right sometimes. You may need to consult some kind of pyschic medium that specializes in alternative ectoplasm.
     
  4. Peter Schrager

    Peter Schrager Subscriber

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    Platinum

    Jay-it is most likely the humidity as the culprit. I had the same thing this winter. Same results; no density. It can also be called "cold snap" as described by platinum printers.Buy one of those fine air mister/humidifiers-it will definately make a difference. You can always put in a call to Bostick+Sullivan. They are the most helpful people in the world and enjoy talking about the process.
    Regards, Peter
     
  5. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Why the hydrochloric instead of the oxalic?
     
  6. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    LOL...to save money Jeremy, I can get HCL here pretty cheap...Oxalic I have to order it from the US.
     
  7. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    That's what I figured, but "no stupid questions," right?
     
  8. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    YOu are right....
     
  9. Allen Friday

    Allen Friday Member

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    The problem may be the brightness of the light you have on when you pour developer on the print. Last week I did a full blown paper test of my standard pt/pl mix for nudes. (30-0-15-15 using Pot. Ox. developer with sod. dic. for contrast control). I was appalled at the amount of fogging I was getting in the very low contrast mixtures. I started testing all the variables to eliminate it. I am using fresh cemicals.

    I found that my coating light was only a small part of the problem. I used a 60 watt "bug light" in a reflector located across the room. The reflector was inches away from the wall and pointed directly at the wall, which greatly reduces the amont of light entering the room. I still got fog even when I coated the paper in complete darkness. I had to look elsewhere.

    When I turned it off to develop the print, the fog went away at all but the PO-0 mix. I plan on using a 15 watt red safelight from now on for coating and developing. Just enough light to see the edges of the print in the tray when I pour on the developer.
     
  10. jwest

    jwest Member

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    Thanks for all of the info! I went back in the darkroom twice more, with all of this new information, and things are looking better. The humidity was 25%, so I brought it up to 50-60%. I'm mostly just using a safelight now. And I realized when looking closely at the paper that I also think the paper was a culprint. For now I actually changed to a different paper, but also I'm going to experiment with sizing. I also called B&S, and they were very helpful, and told me my darkroom was also probably too cold, and that I should use a space heater, which I did. So my coatings started to look very smooth again, and the tone of the prints looked richer.

    One more note - I noticed I had the best results with a double coating (got the idea from Jill Enfield's book). Not sure what this says about my negs (too dense? not dense enough?), but it seems to work, although it makes an expensive process even more expensive.

    But thanks for everyone's help!
     
  11. Michael Mutmansky

    Michael Mutmansky Member

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    Jay,

    It is not uncommon to find that double coating will improve certain aspects of a pt/pd print. However, in some cases, double coating can worsen some qualities of the print. I have found that while double coating with a rod will improve the DMAX, I am not able to get the same smoothness of tone with the double coated print.

    This was the driving reason I switched to brush coating a few years ago, and I haven't looked back.

    I don't think that the improvement through double coating is any reflection on your negatives, it is simply the reality of the limitations of single coating. With double coating, you will get a lot more FO and metal salts into the paper, and the paper might also be a little better acidified and humidified due to the first coat.

    What paper are you using? That may help determine whether a precoat with an acid might help the quality of the prints you get.


    ---Michael
     
  12. jwest

    jwest Member

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    The paper that I had been using was a drafting paper, Bienfang Graphics 360. I started using it after being introduced to it at a pt/pd workshop. It's very thin but ultra smooth so it rendered exceptional detail. It actually tears very easily, though, so I was thinking of trying something new when working with 8x10 negatives. I think I'm going to look into some of the other papers mentioned in this forum, however, so that I know at least someone got good results with them! (At any rate, sorry for the delay in replying, but I had been out of town.)