Testing Outdated Paper

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Merg Ross, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. Merg Ross

    Merg Ross Member

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    Is there an accepted way (other than the obvious) for testing outdated paper. I have 100 sheets of 10 year-old 16x20 Ilford Multigrade recently discovered in my darkroom --- also a 2% solution of benzotriazole available.

    Thanks for any suggestions.
    Merg

    www.mergross.com
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Just the obvious. I cut old paper into strips and put one strip into developer and one into fixer. After my normal developing time I stop and fix the developed strip and compare to the strip that is fixed only. I use red safe light for this procedure.
     
  3. dasBlute

    dasBlute Subscriber

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    ... and so what would this tell you?

    when I've used old paper, I get an increased base+fog i.e. I cannot get any 'whites' only some low level grey
    as if the paper were heavily pre-flashed. So, my question is, what to do with this information? Can you quantify
    the B+F and use that to reduce exposer/developement?

    Or is it more like: 'nope, ain't gonna use that because it's not worth the effort' ? [which was my eventual decision]

    -Tim
     
  4. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I'd make step wedge exposures at each grade filter on this paper and some fresh (control) paper and develop normally.

    If you can't get white, then I'd make another set of step wedge exposures and develop with a restrainer... (on hand, I've got only Potassium Bromide so that's what I'd use)
     
  5. Molli

    Molli Subscriber

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    Wow, I am so sloppy and unscientific when testing papers. I just print a negative that I kind of like which I know prints easily with a full range of tones. Generally I prefer to use a negative with more than the usual amount of contrast just so I can see how well the white and black print. If there's any fog, I throw in 2% Benzotriazole, a few millilitres at a time until the whites print cleanly. That's it. No quantifying level of fog; but I do keep note of how much Benzotriazole I've used for any particular paper and if the paper required more/less exposure than "usual" and more/less development.
     
  6. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I use Rick's method to test, its the easiest way to see if any fogging is apparent. Though I prefer to do it without any safelights on, just to remove another potential variable. If there is fog, and depending on how much, you can try restrainers to keep the whites. I use Potassium Bromide (KBr) as its pretty cheap. mix with water to create a 10% solution and add to a developer of your choice. Increase the concentration until you can get whites. Sometimes if the paper is to far gone this will not work even if you add a ton of KBr.
     
  7. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    I've never used restrainer, but since I have a lot of outdated Galerie graded paper I've made notes from AA's "The Print" for future use. Here's what my notes say:

    Benzotriazole:
    1. Prepare a 1% solution:
    Dissolve 10g BTZ in 900cc of water, then add water to make one liter.
    [B&H info says use water at 125F or higher due to difficulty in dissolving]

    2. You might begin with 25cc of 1% BTZ per liter of stock Dektol. Use only enough to clear paper fog. Adding 50cc causes a noticeable shift toward blue. Adding 100cc will reduce paper speed by roughly 2/3-stop. Image contrast may also be increased somewhat (more so than KBr).

    Potassium Bromide (KBr):
    1. Prepare as a 10% solution:
    Dissolve 100g KBr in 900cc of water, then add water to make one liter.

    2. You might begin with 50cc of 10% KBr per liter of stock developer present in the working solution.
    Check on the effect of the bromide and add more as needed for the desired effect.

    Bromide sometimes adds a slightly greenish tone to the image, which can be overcome in most cases by selenium toning. With modern papers, bromide produces a warmer image. Paper speed will be reduced, requiring longer exposures – possibly longer emergence time as well, requiring lower than normal development factors.
     
  8. dasBlute

    dasBlute Subscriber

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    Gee, that sounds pretty scientific to me... [empirical method, keeping notes...] thanks for the explanation

    thanks also to silveror0 for the very detailed example, well worth trying...
     
  9. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    There's a good chance it'll be OK, Ilford reckon that their papers last at least 7 years if stored well, no extremes of heat/damp etc.

    In my own experience it's unlikely there's any base fogging with 10 year old Multigrade, it may have slowed a little and have a very slight drop in contrast. To test for base fog just process a small piece for your normal dev time (unexposed) and compare to a piece unexposed/undeveloped but fixed.

    If there's a slight drop in contrast you could use a more contrasty developer, like the Part B of Dr Beers, I used to use ID-14 an Ilford contrast developer.

    I had a big clear out 3 years ago and tested quite a few boxes & rolls of old paper and only the warm-tone papers had deteriorated beyond being remotely useable, all the plain Bromide papers were fine some from the 1960's sloww, maybe dropped a grade none had base fog, the early Multigrade papers Kodak & Ilford had dropped contrast slightly but they were well over 10 years old.

    So just give some a try.

    Ian
     
  10. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    I also use Rick's method. It works to show major fogging problems. But I suppose Molli's method is more accurate as it shows paper fog problems that are below the visual tone threshold. Like what happens when you flash paper to just below the point a tone is seen. I haven't seen visible fog on my old Gallerie. Maybe a slight loss of contrast.
     
  11. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    I have some ILFORD MGWT RC Gloss which is about 10 years old and shows significant base fog, to the point of only being usable for contact sheets etc.

    Tom
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2013
  12. Marco Buonocore

    Marco Buonocore Member

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    My method for testing paper uses a Stouffer projection test wedge. I compare my results to new Ilford Multigrade IV - my standard paper.

    So, let's say brand new IMGIV has 14 steps between black and white at grade 2 on a step wedge. If I test some old Kodak Elite and it has 17 steps between black and white, I can conclusively say that it is less contrasty than IMGIV grade 2. I will then pick my negatives accordingly.

    I do this test for both grade 2 and grade 5, if it's a variable contrast paper. I find that what suffers most with old paper is the contrast. So while an old box of Agfa MCC111 may have 14 steps at grade 2, it may only have 12 steps at grade 5. So it's useable, absolutely, but not for certain negs. It wouldn't be useful for split grade printing, as there is no real "high end" to it.

    I find this manner of testing much more useful than just testing to see if there's base fog. I see a lot of people struggling with old, albeit unfogged, paper. They struggle to get any contrast out of it, because it simply isn't there. If you're aware of the constrast of a paper, you can successfully match a negative to a paper and get great results.

    I attach the step wedge prints to each box of paper (i've got mountains of old paper!) and think of them as a fingerprint, or DNA. I use them for toning tests, etc... The projection step wedge is one of the most useful things I have in the darkroom.

    Some other tips I might suggest are:

    - note whether the paper is graded or variable contrast, and whether the paper has a white or cream base.
    - don't over develop the paper; keep development times to an absolute minimum.
    - don't compare paper base to Ilford Mutligrade; it's such a bright paper base that everything seems muddy next to it. I liken in to Hollywood whitened teeth.
    - if all else fails, save the paper for lith printing.

    Good luck!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 17, 2013
  13. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Warm tone papers don't keep as well, not since the cadmium was removed which was before Ilford introduced their current Warm tone range.

    Ian
     
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  15. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    I don't get this cadmium business. I paint with colours containing cadmium all the time.
     
  16. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    It doesn't necessarily answer your question regarding testing, but I have a fair bit of outdated paper in my darkroom that I'm slowly using up.

    My method is to give the print just a hair more exposure, and after the print is developed, fixed, and washed, I use a pot ferri bleach and bleach back the fog until it is near paper white. I use a fairly dilute bleach, so that things don't happen too quickly.
    It makes for a pretty nice print, and good enough where the difference compared to a print on fresh paper is pretty minimal.
    The slightly lower contrast of the paper has to be accounted for.

    Afterward I wash, fix again, wash, and then either dry the print or commence with toning in normal order.

    I can't stand seeing paper go to waste. :smile:

    Hope this helps a little.
     
  17. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    This is totally the wrong way to go about it. People should not use out-dated fiber paper, nor try any fancy tricks to make it 'usable'. Instead they should ship it all to me (on their dime), so that I can fix it out and use it for final support paper for my carbon prints!!!! :tongue:

    PS...do what you want with the old RC!!
     
  18. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Obviously! :smile:

    How silly of me.
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The Cadmium salts used in emulsions were banned from use in the EU many years ago and later from batteries as well. Kodak was the last big company to use Cadmium in a B&W paper in Ektalure.

    The more soluble a Cadmium salt is the more toxic through ingestion, inhalation, contact with skin, those used in paints are insoluble so not as toxic, the ones in papers are soluble.

    Ian
     
  20. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I had a lot of old Agfa paper that I sent for recycling (Ag recovery) 6 weeks ago, something in the emulsion caused the base paper to turn quite a strong salmon pink, I tried fixing it out to no avail. Had it worked I would have passed it on for the cost of the postage.

    Ian
     
  21. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    At the time, I remember hearing that the cadmium removal from photopaper was more for the factory workers' benefit rather than the end-user. I still have a stash of Portriga Rapid 111 paper I occasionally print on. Definitely a little on the green-toned side...nicely corrected by a little KRST.
     
  22. silveror0

    silveror0 Member

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    Thomas, that's considerable washing, so if you are doing this process with Ilford FB Warmtone I thought you should be aware of info from an Ilford pub that I have. To quote:

    "The optical brighteners that give MULTIGRADE papers their brilliant, sparkling whites stay exactly where they are needed - in the highlight areas of the print. All MULTIGRADE papers, except MULTIGRADE FG WARMTONE, have anchored optical brighteners which means they won't wash out and the paper stays white. With MULTIGRADE FB WARMTONE, the brighteners can be removed with extended washing for an even warmer base tint."

    I've also posted this info on the LF forum some time ago.
     
  23. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Good information.
     
  24. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    This is absolutely noticeable as well. When I want extra warmth I wash for about 1.5 hours. It's something you want to test because you need to account for it with your drydown when printing.
     
  25. Merg Ross

    Merg Ross Member

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    Thanks to all of you for your replies.

    I took the easy test route, and got my answer this morning. I have never seen such mottled paper, pink in color and with phenominal abstract patterns. Who needs a camera, lens and film to produce fine art photography?

    Seriously, it is toast, and as Ian suggested, was stored in too damp a location. An order for a fresh supply is going out today.

    Thanks again,
    Merg

    I should have mentioned the paper sans development that went directly into the fixer was fine. Any use to you Vaughn?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 18, 2013
  26. Vaughn

    Vaughn Member

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    Merg, yes it is. Unless you need it out of your way ASAP, perhaps I can swing by and pick it up the next time I am passing thru the Bay Area. Possibly over the Thanksgiving holidays.

    Vaughn