STEAM , STEAM , STEAM

Discussion in 'Enlarging' started by Bob Carnie, Mar 24, 2011.

  1. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    So this is a question that is in regards to the merits of steaming prints.

    We spot first then flatten , then steam, the thinking the steam allows the spotting dye to suck into the emulsion and become invisible.
    We also in colour work use **in past** kodak dyes and with heat and soft spot colour tone prints .. then we would steam the prints and the dyes would suck in and be invisible as well.

    John Sexton - wrote articles on steaming prints and how the steam will make the glossy fibre print look more luxurious.
    Now I have never done this for one reason and one reason only, In Canada the humidity will drop to very low values and I feel the value of the steam will be lost when the humidity drops to very low values.

    Ralph, Ian and others thoughts or observations, maybe John himself will chime in.
    :munch:
     
  2. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    I've read John's tips on the subject but have never tried it myself.

    Why would you expect the ambient humidity to affect the results though? My understanding of the procedure is you take a dry print and steam it to slightly increase the surface gloss and then it stays that way. I had not considered whether or not low ambient humidity levels might cause this effect to reverse itself. Interesting question. I guess the best thing would be to test it with a scrap print.
     
  3. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I steam FB prints regularly. I use a hand held clothes steamer to do it. It does raise the moisture level in the print momentarily, but leaves the surface with a nice sheen. Care must be taken not to burn yourself, also to avoid condensation droplets from landing on the surface of the print, as it will soak in and leave spots, and the print will have to be resteamed after drying.
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Bob, the steaming softens and swells the gelatin surface allowing it to re-align. It's not going to reverse in a dry humidity and it would need extremely damp humid conditions to undo it.

    It does help with retouching and can make spotting and knifing pretty much invisible. It works with FB & RC papers, B&W and colour.

    Ian
     
  5. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    (Posted from the rainforest on the Wetcoast of Canada)

    Bob:

    Speak for yourself!:D
     
  6. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Member

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    Very interesting. I had not read about this technique helping with the spotting dyes becoming absorbed into the gelatin.
    I shall subscribe to this thread and follow it with interest.
     
  7. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Yes Thomas, we spot before any heat is applied the spotone goes on easier and when pressed and steamed could become invisible.
    The heat of a press kind of toughens the emulsion and is harder to spot.
     
  8. PVia

    PVia Member

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    Knifing, too? I'll have to try that sometime...
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    A tip with knifing is to get a gummed envelope (not the self sealing type) and spot a bit of dissolved gum into the knifed area.

    Ian
     
  10. Sim2

    Sim2 Member

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    FWIW, I have recently done a couple of very non-scientific "tests" of steaming prints. Not for spotting purposes but as I have no access to a dry mount press was for the dreaded "fibre paper flat" routine.

    For me, so far, it has been a general success - nothing fancy - just taking my dry "curly edge" prints and holding them in the steam froma kettle; the print folds open as the emulsion expands. When the print settles to flat I pop it between two boards with the other prints and when all are finished this then gets weighted. Flatest prints I have had. Only issues have been when prints are put face to face slightly too "hot/damp" and they stick together.

    I haven't noticed a grand "glossifying" of the print surface but neither any detrimental effects, my terms of success were primarily for flatness. May not help the o.p. but maybe of use! My thoughts may change and other users experiences may differ but for now I am a fan of the steam.

    Sim2.
     
  11. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    What do you use for steaming Bob?
     
  12. sly

    sly Subscriber

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    FWIW - FB prints I've flattened (in a sketch pad under books) so they'd be easier to spot, I steam after spotting. They curl backwards a bit in the steam, them curl the other way once dry. I always need to re-flatten tham before matting. I image it would work to flatten them straight after steaming, but I'm hesitant to to put any print between the pages if it has any moisture - I've wrecked prints in the past by flattening them and having them stick to the page.
     
  13. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Well in the past and for small prints I have considered and used a kettle,
    for the larger prints, my business partner is a commercial photographer and has a large steaming unit for clothes and such for shoots.
    I think that this will be the way to go but I have to try murals to see if this works, now that Ian G has given me the dope about the look keeping its property's even in super dry conditions I am going to give this a go,.

     
  14. michael_r

    michael_r Subscriber

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    At least as described by John Sexton, it is not intended to dramatically increase gloss. The effect is supposed to be more subtle, often used more as a corrective measure to compensate for things like occasional batch to batch variations in paper sheen on whatever paper you're using. Sometimes a paper might dry to a flatter sheen than usual. That type of thing.
     
  15. PVia

    PVia Member

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    Brilliant...I wonder if a dab of clear gum arabic would work as well? Diluted, of course...
     
  16. michaelbsc

    michaelbsc Member

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    I understand spotting somewhat.

    How does knifing work?
     
  17. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Knifing" is where an area of emulsion is scraped away using a retouching knife. It can be just a slight touch to remove a black spot, right through to quite extensive cross hatched retouching to lighten a specific area. It can be done on prints or for the very skilled negatives as well.

    I use a surgical scalpel or a needle and these days just to remove clack spots or thin black lines but I used the technique more extensively in the past. It was one of the main methods of retouching in the printing trade before that went digital.

    Ian
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 25, 2011