RA-4, something's wrong

Discussion in 'Color: Film, Paper, and Chemistry' started by thisismyname09, Jun 10, 2010.

  1. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I've been trying to get good RA-4 prints for a while now, but it's become obvious that something is really wrong here.

    I do my first print with no filters, and it usually comes out with the most correct colors of anything I print after. My prints always come out blue, cyan, or green. No matter how much cyan I add, it always turns out blue-ish (and, of course, I'm not even supposed to be using cyan filters with RA-4...). The corrections that the kodak color print viewer gives make everything much worse.

    I've tried several different negatives (one developed at a lab, one at home), kodak and fuji paper (supra endura and crystal archive), and just about every filter combination there is. That narrows it down to my chemicals and my enlarger, I suppose. I'm using a condenser enlarger with a filter pack, and I'm using kodak Developer Replenisher RT. I develop for 45s at 95 degrees F in a tube on a unicolor base, reusing and replenishing the developer.
    I do not have the 'starter' solution for my developer, but I'd be surprised if that's causing this dramatic of a problem. Shouldn't developing a few sheets "season" the developer just as well as the starter, anyway?
    If that really is the problem, is there anything suitable as a replacement? I don't have the time to wait for it to be delivered at the moment.
     
  2. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    - Are you running the correct process times for the temperature?

    - Are you trying to print from multiple film types or a single film type?

    I should point out that I've printed colour RA-4 with a colour diffusion head, not using a physical filter pack with a condenser enlarger.
     
  3. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    You say you are developing with daylight tubes, and acetate filters. I used this process for years, with good results before finding a reasonable priced dichroic enlarger and roller processor.

    Colour paper has a dye overcoat, which I suspect the manufacturer uses to 'correct' the colour repsonse of different emulsion batches. It can cause problems with tubes and developer reuse/partial reuse.

    I would do a pre wet of about 300mL per 8x10 tube (more on larger tubes) with about 100F to pre warm the tube, and in the process, wash off most of the dye overcoat, and also wet the gelatine so the subsequent developer can penetrate more quickly. Use fresh water from the tap for this each time; dont reuse this water.

    Then after the pre wet drains, pour in the developer. It is ok to develop a bit longer than 45"; colour RA-4 is a develop to completion process (don't go past 2' or toher wierdness ensues.

    You say no starter; not a huge issue, but do you dilute the replenisher strength solution first to a working tank solution? With kits I have bought int the past it was all working strength. I would need about 80mL, but would often add in 60mL fresh, and about 60 reuse from the prior run to help dilute and spread the active fresh developer.

    Then a 15" weak acetic stop bath used once only to keep the blix pH from being screwed up too easily from alkaline developer carry over.

    Then blix for something like 2' if above some temeprature that I thing was 75F. Then a water rinse consisting of 3-4 changes of 300mL.

    Pull the print, hang to dry, rinse tube again, and then dry it out. This prvents blix carry over the next time you use the tube for the developer. Minute blix carry over will screw up the developer's performance fast.

    If you change the filter pack you need to adjust the exposure to account for the light loss change. The print viewing filter kit should have a card that gives the exposure factor for each filter. It is recommended for dye stability in the fiter pack that you put a heat absorbing glass filter upstream of the acetates; this is a long term issue, and not related to the challenges you face here.

    My experience with Kodak Supra paper in my RA-4 set up is that the paper needs about 30 magenta and and 50 yellow, as a minmum, exposed at 5s, f8 or f11 to start. As paper ages it looses red sensitivity, so over time the M and Y filtration goes up to pour more red at the paper to try to overcome its loss of red sensitivity

    I hope these comments give you clues.
     
  4. RPC

    RPC Member

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    There is definitely something wrong, a print with no fltration should be very reddish or orange, not on the cyan side.

    If you are using the replenisher, you should develop at room temperature for 2 minutes. Why are you using it at 95 degrees for 45 secs? That is the time for the regular developer or the replenisher with starter. The replenisher alone may not work well at that time & temp and may not season quickly enough.

    RPC
     
  5. Robert Ley

    Robert Ley Member

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    Please do not be offended, but are you exposing the print in total darkness or are you using a safe light? Have you tried processing a blank not exposed sheet? I have not processed any color paper as you are in a tube in many years, but have used a roller transport processor (Fujimoto CP-51) for over 15 years and your experiences with color printing are new to me. The Kodak color correction filter sets can be used to correct both color prints from negatives and color prints from slides. Are you sure that you are using the white side and not the black?
    I have no experience with the Kodak chemistry that you are using, but I have used Fuji-Hunt chemistry for prints and developing negatives for many years and highly recommend that chemistry.
    This is about all that I can think of and good luck with working this out.
    Robert
     
  6. paulie

    paulie Member

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    what paper and how old is it, if its paper in sheet form then its likely to out of date.

    ra4 needs to be fresh fresh fresh

    are your masked borders bluish?
     
  7. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    When I hear someone say cyanish color prints, I think "red safelight", "developer contaminated with blix" or "no stop bath". These are the three common causes.

    I suggest running a small strip of unexposed paper through the process. Use of starter is not needed. You have things right otherwise unless you have a safelight or one of the other problems I've noted.

    PE
     
  8. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I'm not using a safelight, I'm using brand new paper and freshly mixed developer, though I have not been using a stop bath, just rinsing well in between steps. I just tried 2m at room temp with no improvements. A sheet exposed to room light came out black, but has a very faint magenta-ish tint.

    I'll try again with the stop bath.
     
  9. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

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    I heard of someone with this problem. He claimed the paper was bad but his rinse was causing a terrible cyan cast. I believe the rinse was too hot but I don't know if changing temperatures will effect this. So skip the rinse.

    1. Mix fresh developer, let it cool to room temp (68/72ish). Set in tray. Same for blix, room temp.
    2. Make a print with a filtration of 75M 75Y using 2.5 minutes in the developer. The blix should be 3 minutes, lights on after first minute. If it's a final print I use 5 minutes in for fun.

    Use room temp and no stop bath/rinse/water of any kind until after the blix. Let the print dry (or submerge in fix.) Then evaluate. If this eliminates your problem, it was probably the rinse.
     
  10. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    Adding the stop bath didn't change anything. An unexposed sheet came out pure white.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

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    Then the only thing left is your enlarger itself. If the light is wrong, such as being extra high in red or IR light (too hot), then the balance would be too cyan. Or, if the system is deficient in blue light for some reason due to yellowing of optical parts then this might result.

    That is all I have left to suggest.

    PE
     
  12. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    Taking out the rinse step also seems to have no effect.

    I would think that this is a problem with my negatives, but I've used negatives from a lab and ones that I developed and had almost exactly the same results. I find it unlikely that the lab and myself made the same exact error.

    What are the chances of this being a problem with my enlarger? That's the only thing I think could be the problem at this point.
     
  13. ZorkiKat

    ZorkiKat Member

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    Are you using a Dichro head or condenser head with acetate CP filters?

    When I first tried colour printing, it was with a "colour" enlarger with acetate filters. Used with the filter pack was an anti-IR or heat-absorbing glass. Without this, the prints came out too blue.

    OTOH if you are using a Dichro head, the way the halogen lamp is placed sometimes affects how the colours come out. Reorientating the lamp, if possible, may just take out the mystery casts.
     
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  15. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    Well, I've just found the problem, and an interesting one it is: a neutral density filter. I'd always used a 2 stop ND filter in the top filter drawer when printing B&W to avoid 1 second exposure times without stopping the lens all the way to f/45. I thought it wouldn't affect my color exposures, being that it is supposedly neutral, but I guess it does.

    Thank you all for the suggestions, though.
     
  16. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Great that the OP has found the solution but I'd be interested in the experts' views as to why a ND filter should create the problem. In a dichroic head the cyan filter can be dialled in to achieve the same ND effect without it affecting the colour balance.

    I am puzzled

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  17. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    All emulsions are sensitive to UV light and color paper is somewhat sensitive to IR light. So, proper exposure needs an IR and a UV filter. If these are out of balance, then the light is off.

    Or, the filter itself may appear neutral, but is not, as our eyes adjust to different color balances and consider them normal. If you are looking outdoors through a window, things look normal, and if you turn around and look in the room with tungsten lighting present, it will look normal. But, if while viewing the room, you look in a mirror at the outdoors, it will appear strongly bluish. This is normal due to the way our eyes adjust.

    Only a spectrophotometer can truly answer this question in an unbiased fashion.

    PE
     
  18. anikin

    anikin Subscriber

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    What was your exposure time with ND filter? Modern color paper is rather sensitive, so with longer exposure time
    you could have picked up fog from stray light from the enlarger.
     
  19. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    It couldn't have been fog. Both exposures, with and without the filter, were 10s. I removed the filter and compensated by stopping down two more stops to get the same exact exposure.
     
  20. RPC

    RPC Member

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    But it still seems strange that prints would come out cyan with no regular filtration. Just think how much regular filtration it would take to do this...typically 50-75 units of magenta and yellow just to balance it, and then even more to make it cyan. Even with IR and UV hitting the paper, is such an effect really possible? It does not happen for me. And if the ND filter looks even close to what a ND filter would look like it, how could it have such an effect?

    RPC
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    You cannot see IR and UV but the paper can.

    Therefore, we cannot judge this situation without a proper instrument that can see UV and IR.

    PE
     
  22. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    So just to nail this one down. You have taken away the ND filter, reverted to an aperture of f45, found the correct combo of Y and M filters and have achieved prints with good colour balance?

    Presumably you also use UV and IR filters.

    Just as a matter of interest what combo of Y and M did it take to get good balance and do you now find that simply removing Y and M filters produces a markedly red cast as it should?

    Thanks

    pentaxuser
     
  23. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    I have a UV filter, but no IR filter. The filtration is still very low, between 10M 10Y to nothing, but I believe that can probably be accounted for by the yellowness of the light from my condenser enlarger, and also possibly the IR light I've not filtered out. I've used a different condenser enlarger with similar results before. In any case, I'm getting perfect prints.

    I should probably mention that the ND filter I was using was a plastic Cokin filter, which are somewhat known to be kind of crappy. I once owned a small cokin filter system, but sold it because it wasn't really that great. I only kept the ND filter because I found it useful in the darkroom.
     
  24. RPC

    RPC Member

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    IR stimulates the red-sensitive layer of the paper, making it more cyan. With the ND filter in the enlarger you might get some blockage. With the filter out, you would get no blockage and the print would be more cyan. Yet you have the reverse. Weird...

    RPC
     
  25. Photo Engineer

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    I guess you still don't see it. The ND appears to be blocking the visible portion and lets more IR through than normal thus giving the print a cyan cast.

    No proof, but that is what it sounds like.

    PE
     
  26. RPC

    RPC Member

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    Yes, I understood. It is just that my experience with both IR filters and ND filters have not had near the magnitude of difference he experienced, but I conceed his circumstances could quite different.

    RPC