RC Paper Longevity

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by sircarl, Jan 5, 2014.

  1. sircarl

    sircarl Member

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    I know this topic has been done to death, but I thought I'd report on an interesting personal experience.

    Just today I removed from their frames six RC prints of mine, produced in my darkroom on 12 X 16 Ilford Multigrade IV Pearl RC. They have been in frames in our two Philadelphia houses over the past three years, WITHOUT any glass or plexi covering -- because I prefer to exhibit them that way, but also because I had read somewhere online that RC prints can suffer if confined behind a cover. (Something about urban gases being trapped there, eating away at the print surface.) For two years they were hung in fairly subdued light, but this past year they were in a very bright location, with the sun actually shining directly on some of them for a couple of hours a day.

    As it happens, I have virtually identical prints of these same photos, done at the same enlarger settings and processed in the same way, stored in an archival box. So I compared the prints removed from the frames with these boxed prints.

    There was absolutely no difference.

    Obviously, this is a particular set of circumstances, and I realize that RC prints exhibited in other circumstances may show deterioration over time. But I personally have never found any such deterioration, even in my prints done over ten years ago (all on the same paper). YMMV.
     
  2. timor

    timor Member

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    That's good news I think. I have some prints on RC paper hanging on the wall in mixed light condition for 7 years now. Behind the glass. No changes. And why they should occur ? Emulsion is the same silver halide in gelatine. What I understand the main danger for RC paper is the separation of plastic layer from the paper base in certain conditions, as the plastic may deteriorate much faster, than a paper, just by itself, due to basically unstable characteristics of plastic. Otherwise everything else is like with FB.
     
  3. miha

    miha Member

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    I don't want to be a party breaker, but three years is not much. I have noticed some detoriation on most of my RC prints, the exception being those printed on Ilford RC glossy paper.
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    sircarl and timor, I get the impression, rightly or wrongly, that Simon Galley is tempted to say exactly what you have found but refrains from stating it outright because(a) he has no wish to risk antagonising a lot of his APUG customers who believe otherwise and (b) Ilford still hasn't had its latest version of RC (MGIV) in production long enough to be able to state categorically that will last as long as FB.

    pentaxuser
     
  5. jamie young

    jamie young Member

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    Maybe things have changed with the latest rc papers, but I always thought the biggest issue was "silvering" on the image surface, which could be prevented by selenium toning during processing.
     
  6. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i have an rc print in my darkroom that has travelled with me since 1981 ..
    its migrated to probably 15 apartments/ homes/dorm rooms&c
    never been matted/framed .. never toned, and was one of my first prints ...
    and it looks like the day it was printed.
    the problem with rc is the misconception that it is olde bad rc from the 70/60/50s
    and "a plastic print" when they can infact pe processed to be as arcival as fb prints.
    i enjoy printing on rc .. saves water and time, and looks as good as fb most of the time ..
    i dont like the logo on the back though, and dislike attempting to wax or paint on them which seems
    more difficult than hand coated or fiber paper
     
  7. miha

    miha Member

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    John, there is no more logo on the back since Kodak quit making BW paper. :smile:
     
  8. timor

    timor Member

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    What should cause the silvering in this papers ?
    I know, that 5-7 years is not long enough for much of an evaluation. I am also afraid, that different manufacturers etc. may have importance. On the other hand I don't think I will live long enough to see, how long can last RC paper from "good manufacturer" and properly processed. :D
     
  9. timor

    timor Member

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    I think the bad opinion about RC papers also comes from the fact, that many contain own developer.
     
  10. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

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    That's good news. I've been worried about even giving my prints away and having them deteriorate. Given my location/setup (well water, septic system) Fiber Paper is a MASSIVE pain and waste. Our well water is very hard (very tasty, though!) and I usually hypo-clear RC prints so I can wash in a small amount of distilled water. All the added washing of FB is difficult and pricey if I used distilled.

    Any way to point me to some research of the disadvantages of keeping RC prints behind glass? As long as I am using them, I may start making/modifying frames to be glassless, and take a dry-mounted print, vs a hinge-mount behind glass, or just start mounting on 4 ply and supplying stand-offs for wall-mounting...
     
  11. miha

    miha Member

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    Silvering on a Tetenal branded RC print (probably made by Sterling, India) after beeing framed for 5 years. I've taken this snap in 2010 and need to pay a visit to a friend of mine who received this framed photo from me soon to see how the damage progressed: http://www.shrani.si/f/1l/wq/1YxiQBuv/p1110974.jpg (see shiny spots)
     
  12. MartinP

    MartinP Member

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    To protect your RC paper prints to the highest level of certainty currently available, make sure they are fixed and washed correctly then use Sistan in accordance with it's instructions. It might be available from other manufacturers these days (I just checked, it is now called AG-Stab) but that will do the job. Selenium toning has to be a total replacement of the silver to give complete protection, and that will change the image appearance.
     
  13. Rafal Lukawiecki

    Rafal Lukawiecki Subscriber

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    Having somewhat hard water, though depending on what makes up its hardness, can help in washing FB prints. If the water is high in carbonate, you may want to compare the residual thiosulfate levels, after washing in your hard water, and after washing in distilled water. You may be pleasantly surprised to find no difference, and maybe even better results with your well water. On the other hand, if your well water is heavy with some other less helpful minerals or heavy metals, you could be worse off with it, but I suspect you wouldn't have found it so tasty.

    In any case, using a hypo clearing agent with FB should help no matter what water you use, being even more important when using distilled water.
     
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  15. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

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    Dumb question, but is this stuff OK/recommended for use on negatives? I'm about out of PhotoFlo and noticed it has a wetting agent included... I'm tight on space to the fewer the bottles of concentrate I have laying around the better.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    thanks,
    its been a while since i bought any ..
    all mine is expired about 10 years or so ...



    there are plenty of fiber prints that haven't stood the test of time
    and they had no incorporated developer :wink:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 5, 2014
  17. fretlessdavis

    fretlessdavis Member

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    Good tip. We actually live at the base of the Whetstone mountains (home of the famed Kartchner Caverns and likely many other caves.) So it is very likely that our water is quite high in carbonate. I never thought about it before, and just associated our water with horrible spotting on prints, and have been afraid to use it ever since. Maybe a wash in our well water with a final quick rinse in water with a wetting agent would work.

    A small pack of FB paper and some more hypocheck will be on its way shortly!
     
  18. R.Gould

    R.Gould Member

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    If RC prints are processed to archival standards then they will certainly last a very long time indeed, In hesitate to say that they will last as long as FB prints simply because RC paper hasn't been around as long, but I started using RC paper almost as soon as it came out, I still have prints made on the very early paper and I can't see any loss of quality on either the very early Ilford or Kodak paper, so I have no hesitation in printing for myself, for exhibition, sales or other on today's RC Paper, in fact I prefer to print on RC paper as I think I print better on it, many people prefer my prints made on RC, and mounted you have a very hard time telling the difference between RC or FB paper,
     
  19. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    None of the current Ilford RC papers contain developer. Only the long discontinued rapid papers did.
     
  20. mdarnton

    mdarnton Member

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    As soon as RC hit, I almost never touched fiber paper again, except for one portfolio I assembled. I have prints from the dawn of RC, the early 1970s, that are still just fine--100% of them. There is some silvering in the oldest ones, and I gather that was one of the early problems that was worked out by the manufacturers. In later more commercial production work with RC papers I discovered on my own that fix that had been used too much could cause silvering to develop, and after using that was always careful to use fresh fixer and discard it early, after which I never had any silvering problems whatsoever. All of those prints, shot starting in 1985 and many of which I refer to daily (they are dry mounted to archival museum board, in binders) are still fine.

    I guess it's probably well-known, but I'll say it anyway, that excessive wet time causes the edges to curl up. Because I was doing hundreds of prints a day at that time, I have a lot of curled edges, but that's not the paper's fault.
     
  21. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Possible causes for deterioration of PE-based prints in contrast to prints made on classic paper:

    -) the deterioration of plain PE due to UV-light

    -) un unwanted catalytic effect of the TiO2 within the PE on this

    -) the absence of a baryta-/paper-sink for forming and migrating salts


    This does not mean that it will happen, but these are the critical issues discussed in the past. There are preventive means against all three.
     
  22. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    my favorite rc paper is probably ilford portfolio
    it is thick like double weight paper, and is a dream to print on ..
     
  23. miha

    miha Member

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    Another portfolio admirer here.
     
  24. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    +1

    Those who are not familiar with what AgX is talking about should start by downloading this -

    http://ctein.com/PostExposure2ndIllustrated.pdf

    - and reading pages 158-167.
     
  25. miha

    miha Member

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    Oren, I understand you use mostly RC now. What's your take on RC stability? Do you tone your prints?
     
  26. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    An article by Ctein states that overwashing can cause bronzing of B&W prints. Some minute amount of hypo left in the print stabilizes it to deterioration. It may also be referenced in Post Exposure.

    PE