Van Dyke's fixing

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Kate Mocak, Dec 30, 2004.

  1. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    Contrast management was a major problem I used to have with my VDBs. When adding 1-2 drops of 50% citric acid per 0.5-0.8 ml of VD senzitizer (for small pictures) I get nice contrast already at development stage (I develop in the tap water with a pinch of citric acid). Then, when I fix in hypo, the contrast reduces a bit, I assume due to hypo's reducing characteristics. (When I don't use citric acid in the sensitizer hypo increases the contrast but not as much as I wish.)

    What would happen if I didn't fix at all? Is the picture going to deteriorate? If yes, how fast? (If it is going to last 80 instead of 100 years it wouldn't bother me too much :smile:.)
     
  2. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Kate,

    I recommend you read the following two articles found on The Unblinking Eye web site. One, by Wynn White, covers VDB printing specifically and the second, Sandy King, discusses Kallitype printing.

    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Vandyke/vandyke.html

    http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/Kallitype/kallitype.html

    Wynn's article outlines the basic workflow for VDB printing. The important item in Sandy's article is the formula for fixer, toner, and toning additives fro the sensitiser.

    Your are bound to get lousy results if you do not fix your prints since the fixer darkens the image and I don't know how long they will last without fixing.

    Hope this helps,

    Don Bryant
     
  3. shinn

    shinn Member

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    Hey Kate,

    How strong is your fixer and how long do you fix? I don’t think VDB is all that archival with out toning much less not fixing it but there are a lot of opinions on how long these need to be fixed and at what dilution the fixer should be.

    You can try adding a small amount of Sodium Carbonate to the fixer and it will reduce the bleach back but you can add too much I use a pinch (a gram or so) per liter, also if you’re toning you can do it prior to fixing which also helps.

    Happy Days
     
  4. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    My fixer is one teaspoon of hypo powder per 1.5 liter of water. I know this is milder than it should be but my images used to 'swim away' during fixing when I had a stronger fixer. I fix for 1 minute. What is your standard fixing time?

    I don't tone yet, though I'd like to get colder browns, towards blacks, by toning. As described in the unblinkingeye article it can be achieved by a gold toner which is not available here. (But I plan a trip to Vienna to get it.) Unlike with silver prints, selenium works as a reducer. (I use thiourea/sodium hydroxide in various ratios for silver prints but never tested them with VDs. Do you know if it works?) What toners do you use?

    I will try Sodium Carbonate. Thanks for advice.

    K.
     
  5. sanking

    sanking Member

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    The question of whether you need to fix a VDB print at all is somewhat questionable and up in the air since the unexposed silver salts left in the paper is very soluble in water. However, my opinion is that no matter how soluble the silver may be it is unlikely that washing will remove all of it so in the interests of caution I recommend a short fix in a fairly weak fixer.

    The greater issue is whether to tone or not tone, and here I don't hesitate a second to say that any untoned VDB print is on the road to certain self-destruction. How long depends on storage conditions but the fact of the matter is that the large silver particles, which are on the surface of the paper, are highly susceptible to oxidation.

    Toning a VDB print can be done just as for a kallitype print, and can range in cost from very inexpensive selenium toning to much more expensive gold, palladium or platinum toning. Selenium toning must be done after fixing, but gold, palladium and platinum printing are best done before fixing. If the print is toned before fixing there will be little or no bleaching of the image during fixing.

    Sandy
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Kodak KRST bleaches just about everything away with the ammoniumthiosulfate (?) content. I'll try Viradon as soon as we get some sun around here...
     
  7. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    Sandy,
    under 'normal' conditions (framed, behind glass, hanging on the wall) approximately how long is it going to take it to be self-destroyed? (Some people are interested to buy some of my VDs and I hate to think that they pay for something that will not last their lifetime because I didn't tone it.)

    I immediately ran to test selenium toning (on a fixed print) again but I got the same results as before: the image got bleached. I used 1:19 dilution (the same as for silver prints). Apart from its archival effect I want the toner to either leave the print's colour unchanged, or to intensify it, or to shift it from warm brown to colder brown. None of this happened with selenium. Am I doing something wrong?

    Kate
     
  8. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Sandy,

    If the unexposed silver salts are soluble in a VDB then can you explain what is causing the rapid change in density and color when the VDB print first meets the weak hypo? I always assumed the hypo was interacting with the silver salt to cause an initial deepening in tone over and above the POP image. Is something else going on? Does the silver salt remain soluble silver nitrate in the VDB emulsion or does it react with the iron salt and tartaric acid to form another silver compound in solution?

    Fixing to excess always bleaches the image but the initial brief fixing changes the tone from that ugly mustard brown POP color to a deeper, redder brown IME. I use two successive 2% hypo baths for 1 1/2 minutes each without apparent bleaching whether I've toned the print or not.

    I also note that I don't see very much tonal change in the fixer since I've begun rinsing the print in a weak citric acid bath in place of an initial water wash as you've recommended in the past. If the purpose of the citric acid is to remove the iron salts, could it be the hypo was formerly reacting with iron salts rather than silver salts in the emulsion using the standard processing method (i.e., no citric acid bath) recommended in most books?

    FWIW, I've never had any luck selenium-toning VDB which I assumed was because of the high ammonium thiosulphate concentration in Kodak's RST. Even at diutions like 1+200 I get bleaching before color changes. OTOH, I really like the effect I get in Clerc's gold toning formula with VDB. IIRC, I found that formula originally in the unblinkingeye.com article. I also use it for toning Centennial POP. It produces a nice purplish brown color with both processes. I especially like the color when the VDB is printed on an ecru paper.

    Joe
     
  9. shinn

    shinn Member

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    Kate,

    I use a sorta heaping tablespoon of hypo and the carbonate to one liter for one minute or there abouts…I watch the color of the print change uniformly and then pull it but I try to keep it in the fix for a short time after the color changes completely.

    Happy Days
     
  10. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Looking at the wide variety of experiences with different fixing methods (stronger, weaker, acidic, alkaline, shorter, longer, etc.), I wonder if the variability might be related to paper choice. I usually print VDB on Cranes' ecru Kid Finish but have had good results on Platine, Bienfang marker paper (360?) and Socorro (sp?) as well. OTOH I've seen beautifully exposed VDB images wash away on Arches and other watercolor papers.

    Joe
     
  11. shinn

    shinn Member

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    I've noticed the same thing but had always thought it had to do with the densities of the print...a darker print needs a longer fix? Not sure about it but it seems that the denser the print the longer the color takes to change completely.

    anyone else pay attention to the color for determining fix times? Or am I completely wrong in doing this?

    happy days
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Weak hypo and citric acid initially do the same thing: They mobilise one of the components, causing a deepening of the tone. Citric acid is a good iron-complexer, letting more of the reduced iron react with the silver salt. Hypo is a good silver complexer, letting more silver react with the reduced iron. So both of these act partly as developer, partly as fixer (by dissolving the excess).

    Silver salts tend to react with anything, and will do so given enough time. That's why we fix all silver processes. They also tend to be relatively insoluble, so we need special chemicals to remove them - fixer. More rapid fixers than hypo tend to remove some of the already reacted silver as well, leating to loss of density. That's why a weak solution of sodium thiosulfate is used, instead of ammonium thiosulfate or even sodium thiosulfate/sulfite fixer.

    As to paper: My current favorite is the back side of Canson sketch paper. The front side gives blotchy prints which tend to wash away at the slightest provocation.

    I have made a few gold toned VDB's, after I bought a bottle of Tetenal gold toner for my POP prints. Nothing conclusive yet, but I've never yet got a usable result with KRST.

    I may try Palladium toning this summer.
     
  13. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    I would suspect the opposite - a darker print would need less fixing since there would be less unconverted silver salts left in the print. Kinda like fixer gets exhausted quicker doing high key DOP silverprints rather than low key ones although the developer wears out quicker with the dark prints.

    In regard to your question about color change determining fix times, my VDBs always change color completely within about 2 seconds of hitting the fix. They do deepen in tone and appear less red once they dry but the chemical color change from mustard brown to red-brown is always immediate in the hypo. Are yours taking longer, perhaps due to the alkaline fix? I've never had any bleaching occur using Cranes' and fresh 2% plain hypo baths for a total of 3 minutes.
    Joe
     
  14. Mateo

    Mateo Subscriber

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    Try using Selenium at 1:100 or even greater dilution. I don't like the color of Van Dykes toned that way but it does work.
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The colour change and the fixing time are entirely unrelated (well - not entirely, but so close to it that it's safest to ignore the connection).

    Colour change = developing - a dark print shows less of this effect.

    Fixing = removing excess silver - as colourless complex ions.
     
  16. shinn

    shinn Member

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    It takes maybe 30 seconds or less to completely change, but I'm not completely sure as I've never timed the color shift, but I'm still trying to digest some of the info in this thread. I should also mention that I'm extremely color blind...I see it changing but.

    I've never used cranes usually Platine for almost everything I print. Over the past few years I've learned a great deal about chemistry and so forth but this discussion is making me thnk that I am doing things right but maybe thinking wrong?

    Happy days
     
  17. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Even though the silve salts are soluble in VDB I very much doubt that it is possible to wash them all out in the short wash typically given VDB prints before they are toned or go to the fixer, so in fact there would be a lot of soluble silver salts in the print when fixing. You can definitely see result of this with selenium toning because selenium reacts very strongly with unexposed silver salts and darkens and stains the print considerably, even with washing for as long as 10-15 minutes. This is primarily the reason why toning with selenium should be done after fixing and final washing.

    Sandy
     
  18. donbga

    donbga Member

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    Joe and all,

    I have to agree with Joe's observation about VDBs changing color quickly in the fix, the color deepens and shifts away from red yellow to deeper brown. After 30 seconds or so the color change has more or less stopped, but I always tone before fixing using a gold or palladium toner. My fixing bath is 3% sodium thiosulfate with sodium carbonated added (the one listed in Sandy King's Kallitype article) and I never have bleach back problems. I follow up after fixing with a clearing bath which seems to deepen or intensify the tones again.

    Mike Klemmer tones his kallis in KST using a dikution of 10 grams of concentrate per liter. Yes that is 10 grams. I've seen his prints first hand and there doesn't look like there is any bleach back. I've tried toning with Kodak selenium toner diluted at 1:500 and still see bleaching in the highlights.

    As for paper I've had great success with COT 320, Cranes Natural White Wove 90, and Stone Henge but lately I've been amazed at the tonality I'm getting with Fabriano Satinata. The Fabriano Satinata for my money is the best paper I'ver ever used for VDB printing. The FS is a little warmer in color but has wonderful warm tones through out the tonal scale whereas the Stone Henge for example tends to have more neutral tones in the lighter parts of the print.

    Clerc's gold toner will shift the print to neutral tones with a shorter scale. The possibilities with VDB and toners and self toning additives seem to be be endless. Also as Sandy mentions in his article nice split tones are possible with gold and palladium toners.

    Lastly dry down is always a factor so be prepared for that.

    Don Bryant
     
  19. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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    Sandy,

    This is one of those things that I've read people have success with but that I have not been able to duplicate. I'm speaking of toning a VDB with Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner. Even at dilutions like 1+200 I get bleaching regardless of whether the toning is done before or after fixing. In fact, I doubt that a fixing step is needed if toning is done/attempted with KRST because of its high ammonium thiosulphate content. I spoke to a Kodak rep years ago about this and also consulted the MSDS for that chemical and got a figure of about 45% ammonium thiosulphate in KRST's formulation IIRC.

    I would think that using KRST "after fixing and final washing" would put thiosulphate back into the paper and that would not be good for longevity of the print.

    Are you refering to results you have experienced personally with VDB and selenium toner (KRST) or are you referring to results with another selenium toner/ or kallitypes instead VDB/ or someone else's work either read or seen?

    Sorry to be so questioning but this is really baffling to me. Based on my experience with KRST and VDB, I don't see how VDB wouldn't bleach in KSRT. VDB is such a simple process I can't imagine what I might be doing (or not doing) to get such vastly different results with KRST. It would be great to be able to achieve a good toning effect in KRST in VDB because it is so much cheaper than the noble metal toners.

    Is your process significantly different from mine? Here's what I'm doing currently:

    1) Coat standard VDB emulsion on Cranes Kid Finish ecru and dry using a hair dryer w/o heat in the dark. (I coat and process under fluorescent lighting and have never noticed any fogging. I used to coat and do the initial processing steps under red safelight but found during classroom demos that it was not needed.)
    2) Recoat the standard VDB emulsion and dry as before in the dark.
    3) Expose with the NuArc 26-1K for ~400 units. (This just barely bronzes step 1 on a Stouffer wedge and prints out to step 14. I'll gain about 3 steps during processing and drydown.)
    4) Rinse for 3 minutes in 2% citric acid bath. (I substituted the citric acid bath for water a couple months ago per your suggestion in another thread.)
    5) Fix in two successive baths of 2% sodium thiosulphate for 1 1/2 minutes each.
    6) Rinse for 1 minute in water.
    7) Clear in Kodak HCA for three minutes.
    8) Rinse in running water 3-5 minutes
    9) Tone in Clerc's gold toner for 2-5 minutes depending on freshness of toner. I tone by inspection until the desired color is achieved.
    10) Wash for 15 minutes using a tray siphon (1 print at a time).
    11) Air dry emulsion up on screens.

    I always gain density during processing and drydown using the above method. The only time I get bleaching with VDB is when I use KRST, a stronger fixer, or when the emulsion floats off watercolor papers in the water wash.

    During my multiple previous attempts to tone with KRST (between 1+ 20 all the way to 1+200), the differences in my process were the change in toners (KRST instead of Clerc's gold) either before or after fixing (didn't seem to matter as far as bleaching was concerned), and using an initial water bath instead of the citric acid.
     
  20. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Joe,

    A while back I asked Mike Klemmer on the alt-photo-process list to comment on his method of selenium toning of kallitypes. He wrote:

    "In order to tone properly first and foremost the print must be completely fixed and clear of residual fixer. I usually do the toning after the hypo treatment and a 30 minute water wash.

    I've been using Kodak Rapid Selenium with a dilution of 10 gms./1liter. Four or more 8x10 prints can be toned with about 1.5 liters of toner at this dilution. I do not tone longer than 5 minutes with constant agitation. The print will turn a nice dark stained oak color during this period. Longer toning can cause a reversion back to a lighter brown color and possibly some bleaching of the shadows.

    Toning with stronger solutions of Kodak Rapid Selenium is not recommended for kallitypes, as rapid bleaching is possible."

    I have toned a few kallitype prints with selenium following this procedure and it worked well. Will it also work for VDB? That I dont' know for sure because I have not tried it. However, in toning with gold, palladium and platinum (which is done before fixing of course) I have found that VDB and kallitype respond about the same.

    Sandy
     
  21. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

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  22. Kate Mocak

    Kate Mocak Member

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    I'm not a chemist and it took me a couple of hours to digest everything that was discussed here. I made following tests today with the results:

    1. I added sodium bicarbonate into my hypo;
    2. I made test strips with
    a) 1 layer of sensitizer,
    b) 2 layers of sens.,
    c) 1 layer of sensitizer with citric acid added,
    d) ditto as c) but 2 layers
    all were exposed for the same length of time, although c) and d) might've received more exposure because citric acid as a contrasting agent usually requires longer exposure.
    3. I fixed for 1 minute and in that time no bleaching was visible
    4. Results:
    a) poor
    b) very good, beautiful colour but not perfect contrast
    c) poor but with better contrast than a)
    d) very good contrast but awful colour (dark mustard); in this case the fixer didn't change the colour almost at all

    Different papers may react differently, which is a matter of further experimentation.

    Thanks everyone for the very interesting, motivating, and helpful discussion!

    Kate
    PS: Happy New Year!