van dyke printing setup questions from newbie beginner

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by buggy, Feb 17, 2006.

  1. buggy

    buggy Member

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    I'm getting ready to order supplies to begin van dyke printing. I already have the chemicals from Bostick and Sullivan. Along with a contact frame, puddle pusher, and paper.

    I am ready to get the trays, bottles to hold the fixers, graduated cylinders to measure, scale to weigh, etc. I do not know what sizes of bottles and how many, what size trays( I am using 8.5x11 paper), will 8x10 trays be large enough to accomodate 8.5x11 paper? What size of graduated cylinder should I get to measure? Are all trays similiar or does one brand stand above the rest?

    Basically, I am asking for help on what to buy, how many, and what size.

    Also, do I need a scale to weigh dry chemicals or is it ok to use conversion factors and measure dry chemicals?

    Does anyone have any ideas on this to get me started? I don't want to buy a bunch of stuff I really don't need.

    Thanks for any help...
     
  2. Shinnya

    Shinnya Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hi,

    If you are using 8.5x11 paper, 8x10 trays would not be sufficient as the dimension suggests. I would go with 11x14s. I would think any darkroom trays would work just fine. I buy ones from US Plastics. They are a little cheaper than ones at photographic suppliers. Or Ebay would be another source.

    For fixer, you can reuse those bottles that other chemicals come in (1 gal). Any 2 liter soda bottles would work just fine as well. Or you can order brand new HDPE bottles from USP again.

    I am not sure how others work, but I make new fixer every time I print. So there isn't really a need for storage. I do not think plain hypo lasts that long if I am correct.

    Depending on how much to measure, you need to choose graduate cylinders accordingly. I have some 200 ml beakers to mix individual chemicals and one 1000ml to mix altogether. But I am sure you can do the same with two beakers.

    Probably you would want to buy a scale. It does not have to be expensive kind. Anything it can measure accuracy of 0.1g would be sufficient for our use.

    Happy printing.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 17, 2006
  3. dmax

    dmax Member

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    At this early stage, I would suggest scaling down on your containers and graduated cylinders until you become thoroughly familiar with the volumes of chemistry required. The idea is not to mix too much chemistry at first, but just enough so that you are able to coat a sufficient amount of paper that you can use immediately. Like many alternative processes, freshly coated paper works best, and is consistent. I use very small plastic containers (about 150 - 200ml capacity) bought from drugstores. Look in the cosmetics section. The containers are designed for transferring things like shampoo or lotions for travel purposes. They're rather inexpensive. Working with smaller volumes has an added advantage. If you make a mistake in mixing solutions (happens even to the best of us), the amount you waste is not too much. If you mix up one liter solutions in one go, and then you make a mistake, then that's a lot of expensive silver nitrate going down the drain, literally. The other pragmatic advantage is that you have less of a clutter on your work area if you use smaller containers, and accidental spills (again, happens to the best of us) are easier to clean up. The hypo fixing solution you can mix in one liter quantities. I also second the recommendation for using larger trays, unless you intend to cut the 8.5" x 11" into sections as your working dimensions.

    I hope this is helpful.
     
  4. gr82bart

    gr82bart Subscriber

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    Get a brush instead. A good one. That's what I've been told - another newbie.

    Art.
     
  5. Shinnya

    Shinnya Advertiser Advertiser

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    Hi,

    One thing I forgot to mention is that you should get an ambler bottle to keep the sensitizer. I am sure you can buy them at a drugstore, or UPS carries them if you do not mind buying them by a case.

    I would agree that mixing smaller amount of solution is a better place to start with. There is a certainly chance of mixing at wrong dilution.

    Happy printing.

    Warmly,
    Tsuyoshi
     
  6. donbga

    donbga Member

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    To mix up the basic traditional VDB solution you will need to mix 3 different chemicals of 33ml each. Part A, B, and C. You will then add these together to make a final volume of 100 ml. It is important to follow the mixing instructions. After mixing each part (A, B & C) A&B will be added together and stirred throughly. Then part C (the silver nitrate solution) will be mixed into the combined A&B mixture very slowly. Usually a white cloudy percipitate will form , try to avoid this though by adding part C very slowly.

    I recommend that you contact B&S and get a few dropper bottles with plastic droppers. The plastic droppers have a uniform size and the drops shoupd be all the same size. I'm surprised that this wasn't supplied with your kit.

    But to answer question get 2 or 3 50 or 100 ml wide mouth plastic graduates to measure the required water. And a couple of beakers will be useful.

    And BTW, photo grade silver nitrate is real cheap about $100 or so per pound, enough for a life time of VDB printing. The FAC isn't very expensive a pound is about $25 nor is the tartarric acid.

    The most expensive material will be the paper to make prints. Use good quality paper otherwise you will be disappointed from the get go.

    Go for 11x14 flat bottomed trays. Probably at least 3. You can process with just 1 tray but you will need trays to wash and hold wet prints.

    All of this will just get you started but in the end went you make your first good print will will be thankful that you spent a little more money for supplies.

    Don Bryant
     
  7. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

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    I experimented with coating using an acrylic rod, did a LOT of small prints with it, and got decent coatings. When I wanted to go to larger prints I still wanted to use the rod, but it doesn't work as well as a brush, so I switched. I would start out with a brush because you'll want to go bigger, and the technique with the rod won't carry over.

    FWIW, I would start out with some el-cheapo foam craft brushes, 1-inch wide available just about everywhere. When you get the hang of it go for the Richeson brush that everyone raves about (do a search and you'll find it here).

    Start with good paper, and only use one type. If after you've got your coatings consistent, your exposure figured out, etc., you are still having bad luck, then try a new paper. Don't mix up a bunch of papers when you're starting out, you'll only frustrate yourself.

    Good luck!
     
  8. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Thanks everyone for the great advice. You have all been a big help. I hope to be setup to start printing within a couple of weeks. Now, I just need the sun to cooperate a little.
     
  9. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    I'm a VDB newbie too. One tip I can provide (originally from Sandy King) is that you can use a spiral compact fluorescent blacklight as a light source. Mine is in a "worklamp"-type reflector clamped about 18-24 inches above the print. It has worked fine for me for 6x9" prints.
     
  10. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Hi Buggy,

    Lots of good ideas already offered in this thread. For my part I would recommend the use of 11X14 trays for your processing, and you really only need one in my opinion since one-tray processing is very convenient and takes up a lot less room.

    I second the idea about the spiral BLB tube. If you put one of these in a 6-10" reflector ($6-8 at Lowes or Home Depot) and place it about 15" over the print surface you will get plenty of light with good even illumination for an 8X10 print, and avoid the inconsistency of the sun. Total expenditure on this would be about $30 or so.

    Sandy


     
  11. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Sandy,

    Thanks for the help. I need it.

    Being new to this I'm not sure I understand the mechanics of one tray processing. After the initial wash do I simply dump the water out and pour the fixer in? Then after fixing just pour the fixer back in the bottle and start washing the print? All using the same tray?

    After my first few prints to get me up to speed, I plan on toning the prints for permanence. Can I use one tray processing for this or do I need at least two trays when toning?

    Also, should I save the fixer for reuse?

    Sorry I have so many questions. Thanks for all your help.
     
  12. sanking

    sanking Member

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    You can use one tray for everything. After each step you just pour out the previous solution (either discard or pour into a retaining container) and pour in the next solution. With VDB I don't even recommend a wash between the different chemicals. In fact, a water wash, if alkaline, has the potential to cause a stain which will be difficult or impossible to remov.

    Sandy





     
  13. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Thanks Sandy, I printed my first 2 VDB prints today. I took Jordans' and your advice and got a clamp on worklamp reflector and a spiral BLB bulb today at Menards. The lamp cost $5 and the bulb was $8. I double coated the paper, 12 drops each coat for aprrox. 5x6 coating area, 4x5 neg. I like the look of the extra emulsion around the edges. The lamp worked great. One negative took 20 minutes and the other took 50 minutes. I platinum toned both prints, I will always do this for permanence. When done they were slightly bleached back some. I don't know if the negatives I used weren't dense enough or what. I had read somewhere that if the prints were toned the bleach back would not occur.

    Anyway, I think I'm hooked on this now and thank you and everyone else for all your help!
     
  14. Jordan

    Jordan Member

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    Glad it worked out... but those times seem long to me. I use "digital negs" printed on inkjet transparencies, but my printing times are around 8 minutes. But I'm a newbie too, so what do I know? :smile:
     
  15. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Thanks Jordan.

    I don't know why the long times. It might be the negative. I let it dry out and never really cleared it. I really don't know though. Maybe next time I'll put the light closer to the printer. For comparison I have attached the 2 prints. The first print attached of the bridge is a scan of the 50 minute print. The second print attached of the covered bridge is the 20 minute print. The covered bridge image is not a scan of the print it is a photo taken with a dig. camera. If you can figure anything out let me know. Next time I print the first negative I'm gonna go at least 60 minutes.

    Thanks again.
     

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  16. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Judging from your prints it appears that you used Polaroid PN55 negatives. In my experience PN55 negatives don't have enough contrast for alternative process. If you want to increase the contrast of the negatives you can bleach and redevelop in a pyro developer like PyroCat-HD or W2D2. Be cautious of PMK as it can build too much UV blocking stain.

    The negatives also look a little over exposed. This will also affect your printing times, aside from the fact that the single UV bulb may lack adequate intensity forcing long prints. If you have a step wedge, print that along side your image negative. This will give you an idea of how your process technique fairs and s if the image negative has proper contrast. The VDB process needs contrasty negatives with a DR of 2.2 or so, up to 2.4. The step wedge will show you what the exposure scale of the process is.

    Judging from the dark borders around the image it looks like you printing time is adequate.


    Don Bryant
     
  17. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Don, You are correct. They are polaroid PN55 negatives. You are also correct that they are overexposed. That's why I didn't wash the first negative until 3 or 4 hours later because the print was total white with no image. I thought the neg. was also trash until I looked at it later and saw it had an image so I washed it and gave it a try.

    From everything I've read and from playing around a little in PS with the curve David Fokos uses for his PT/PD prints, I thought you needed to overexpose to get the dense negative. In other words if the print looks washed out and overexposed the negative is probably close to what is needed. I understand that his curve is based on Arches Platine paper, which I am not using, and the PT/PD process, which I am not using, but I have read the types of negatives needed are similiar. I am probably trying to oversimplify my approach too much.

    I will locate a step wedge and follow your recommendation.

    Again, thanks for your comment!
     
  18. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Two things here. First we do need to over expose the negative relative to the required exposure for silver gelatin prints since alt. process prints typically have a longer toe than silver gelatin does. This causes negatives created for silver gelatin to have very muddy low tones with little seperation in those values. Then we also need to increase development to produce a negative with the appropriate density range for the specific process.

    One other thing to think about, VDB has a signifigant dry down. If you don't tone your prints before fixing you can bleach the print using the bleaching formula listed in Wynn White's VDB article found on the Unblinkingeye.com. Of course this is one of the advantages using a digitally enlarged negative since dry down is built into the calibration process. Of course in camera negatives can make great prints also.

    Good luck,

    Don Bryant
     
  19. buggy

    buggy Member

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    Thanks Don.

    Onr thing about toning I've noticed, I toned both prints and I also have very little experience at this, but the image seems to lighten in the toning process and after this there seems to be very little change in tone and contrast even after dry down. I am assumimg by 'significant dry down' you mean the print darkens during the drying process. It has been my experience, which is admitedly not very vast at this point, that these images did not darken any in dry down. I ironed the prints after dry and they seemed to darken very slightly but I'm not sure if they really did or if I think they did because that's what I expected. At any rate the change was very slight.

    I will continue to experiment and sharpen my technique.

    I am going off track a little bit but I have obtained some transparency material and am going to try making a digital neg. just to see how it compares to what I've already done with the in camera neg.

    Thanks again Don.