Washing fiber prints

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Mark H, Feb 16, 2004.

  1. Mark H

    Mark H Member

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    I was reading someone's (somewhere on the Web) suggestion that fiber prints can be soaked for a few hours with only several changes of water. Supposedly this removed enough fixer to make them archivally stable. I'm assuming they were also selenium toned.
    Does anyone have experience with this or done testing? It sure would conserve water and make life easier!
     
  2. victor

    victor Member

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    mark..
    i dont know of this method, but i dont think that tests will give u some orientation about the archival properties of this method. archival properties are not judged in a time of days weeks or months. not even years. trust the menufacurers recomendations, they know very well their job. selenium of course helps to it, since it is more resistant.
    u can have the washers as well. there are good and cheap ones and they can save water as well. for me it is important as well since water in israel is very expenssive.
    generally, ilford recomendation is to use high concentrated fixer for short time. u can use as well the washing aids (gallery from ilford, tetenal lavaquick, or wash aid from fotospeed). they reduce the washing time dramatically. also, u can use the selenium (for archival purposes and for increasing the dmax) deluted in the washing aid solution. it works very well.
     
  3. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    The selenuim doesn't really enter into it this thought process.. Selenium is just another way to archivally treat your prints but the idea of soaking with a number of water changes has been around a while. It in itself is archival.

    The idea is that the fixer leaches from the print in standing water, and doesn't necessarily need constant running water, although it does need a few changes of water.

    The selenuim/sepia/gold/ toners just are added insurance as they change the chemical composition of the print making it more stable.

    I use an archival print washer and as I'm printing and toning, I soak the finished prints in the washer until I an done printing. Then I have the water running for about an hour. Many people have the water running even less than this.

    There are residual fixer test you can buy to test that the fixer is gone.

    Hope this helps,


    Michael McBlane
     
  4. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

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    I use this method and have tested the prints - it does work. I only use one half change of water after 30 minutes and soak for another 30 minutes. This is after 5 minutes in Adorama generic version of Perma Wash. There is no color stain when I use a residual hype test. If I only wash for a few minutes and skip the Perma Wash I get a severe stain, so the test seems to be working.
     
  5. DickS

    DickS Member

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    Kodak, at one time, had recommendations for using the soak and dump method. As I recall, it involved several cycles of twenty minute or so soaks, with a complete refresh for each cycle. I wish that I could remember the number of cycles, but think it was five. If one were to use the Ilford high concentrate, short fixing time method, combining with a hypo-eliminator/neutralizer, then fewer and/or shorter cycles would seem to be in order.
     
  6. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    I've now exclusively using Formulary TF-4 fixer, which requires no hypo clear and a relatively short wash. So far, I've seen no downside to this, although as noted above, the true test of archival permanence is, simply, time.

    I do know this: with thiosulfate fixers, I always had problems with stains from selenium toner. With TF-4, this problem has diappeared. Is there a connection? I don't know.

    I do know that TF-4 makes life much easier for a fiber printer. Just develop, water stop, fix, quick wash, tone, then wash for 15-25 minutes. I'd hate to go back to hypo.
     
  7. Doug Bennett

    Doug Bennett Member

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    I knew I'd read about akaline fixers and selenium, but couldn't remember where. It was at Lloyd Erlick's excellent website at http://www.heylloyd.com. His claim is that the acidic conditions present if all traces of hypo are not washed out can contribute to staining during the toning process. I'm not a chemist, so............

    This website is highly recommended. Good technical articles, and an impressive gallery to boot. IMHO, this is protraiture at the highest level. See http://www.heylloyd.com/photos8/9611-15-02-08-hunter.htm#enter. Be sure to read the comments!
     
  8. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    It was my understanding that Bruce Barnbaum uses a soaking method for washing prints. Changes from tray to tray, letting them soak for about 10 minutes in each. Am sure there are others on this site who have taken workshops with Bruce who can either support or deny this as the truth.

    I do know of others who use a soaking technique and find it successfull. I have a commercial washer available and so i tend you use it because it is there, easy and ??????????
     
  9. Black Dog

    Black Dog Member

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    The staining in selenium toner comes from the acidic elements in the fixer if you don't wash them out. I'm going to use an alkaline fixer for my fb prints for these reasons.
     
  10. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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  11. Flotsam

    Flotsam Member

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    I always use consecutive soak and dumps for film. It only takes a few seconds to make a bucket of water at the exact proper temperature as opposed to fiddling around trying to tweak the water coming out of the tap just right. It also ensures a specific number of complete fresh water changes at determined intervals rather than relying on the stated water changing efficiency of the washer. I heard somewhere that moving water and bubbles and such don't do much to improve removing chems from paper over just soaking prints in still water with regular changes. I'll let you know for sure in a hundred years if it all works out .
     
  12. lee

    lee Member

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    Maybe Lloyd will join in the conversation as he is now a new member of APUG.ORG

    lee\c
     
  13. Mark H

    Mark H Member

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    Thank you all for the input...it's been very helpful! Sounds like alkaline fix and the hypo check stuff is what I need to make the soaking method work.
     
  14. MikeK

    MikeK Member

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    If you do not have an alkaline fix available, plain hypo and sodium sulfite work great and are a good combination if you are going to tone with selenium.

    If you have an acid fix or fixer with hardener give the prints a good soaking in a bath of water and sodium carbonate (5 tablespoons/liter). Using this method I have never had a staining problem :smile:

    - Mike
     
  15. lloydapug

    lloydapug Subscriber

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    _____________________________
    Feb 17, 2004 from Lloyd Erlick,

    This is a bit of a bio of myself, since it's my first post to apug; you would get me going on print washing ...

    I worked out my FB print washing method some time ago, when I decided I had to choose between quantity and quality. At the time I had been using RC materials for years, but I knew I would like my pictures a lot more on FB. It was more work and bother and took longer and was in general the subject of whining on my part. Anyway, I chose quality, and set about researching how to make FB prints.

    Concurrent with this, I decided I'd had enough of anything that smelled bad to me. My girlfriend's dog had died a long time before, and I was impressed with how much better I liked the smell of her hands. So maybe it wasn't just darkroom smells I wanted to eliminate (or maybe it was all that ugly rapid fix stink that made me touchy about dog smell, I don't know...) but anyway I targeted some common darkroom odors and researched their demise.

    Plus, over the course of learning how to make FB prints properly, my natural inbred laziness manifested itself. That lineup of trays! Oh, please, clean every one, no, just rinsing them is a chore.

    And, just to add yet another introductory paragraph, there seemed to me to be a built in problem with the usual sequence of making FB prints. I was not happy with the absence of control over the relationship between enlarger exposure, developer, and selenium toning. I was looking in books like Ansel Adams' "The Print" and Vestal's "The Art of Photographic Enlarging", and of course the long line of trays was well presented. Most sequences one finds in books on darkroom practice include a holding tray. Usually the print is developed, stopped, treated in first fix and left to rest in a holding tray full of water. Later the mass of prints accumulated in the holding tray is treated to second fix, then to selenium toner, then to hypo clearing agent, and then washed.

    Well, first and least important is the tedious cleaning and refilling of the trays once all the prints had been exposed and developed. I'd be tired enough by that point...

    Second was the number of prints to handle while second-fixing and hypo clearing and toning them. Inevitably people batch-process them. A big ugly wad of wet prints sticking together and complaining about the treatment they're getting. I have always hated handling more than one print at a time. I've watched people fix four 16x20s at a time. If you look at their faces after they're dry and hanging for admiration, often there are faint, faint scratches visible by light very obliquely glancing off the surface. Plus the whole activity makes me tense and anxious. I go to the darkroom to relax.

    And third was the impossibility of processing a given print to completion, so I could judge whether it was right or needed remaking. The holding tray system precluded looking at the finished (although wet) print, including selenium toning. I prefer to get the print toned and decide whether I will change the exposure. I look over each print carefully at each stage of the process. I don't want a bunch of close-but-not-quite prints in the holding tray waiting to disappoint me later when I'm fatigued and cranky.

    Bet you didn't think there'd be a fourth, eh? The stink. Usual practice is to leave a tray of acetic acid wide open the whole time the darkroom is operating. I'm a Canajun and I like vinegar on my fries, but no more eight or twelve hour stints in a closed room with it, no more for me. Same for the selenium toner. Ammonia is not yummy to me. Most workers do not even so much as cut up a packing carton to make a cardboard tray cover.

    The upshot of all this (funny how it all leads to washing the prints...) was that I began to investigate removal of the sources of the odors. Ventilation is a great idea, but it works so much better if there is little or nothing to vent.

    My first move was to substitute citric acid for acetic in stop bath. Smell gone.

    Second (no - let's not do this again!) -- Then I started playing around with homebrew fixers. The stench of rapid fix really upsets me. I know sulfur dioxide when I breathe it, and that is sulfur dioxide. I've reached an age where sulfur dioxide stops me in my tracks if I get one whiff. Acid stop and sulfite from developer liberate enough of this stuff. The fixer need not add any at all for me, thanks.

    Anyway, a bit of poking through the Kodak fixer formulas, and the ones in the back of Adams' "The Print", quickly revealed that the underlying cause of odor problems (as well as selenium toner staining) is acid in the process. Just mix up in your very own sink some Kodak F-5 fixer and then some F-6. F-5 stinks, nothing to be done about it, it's a historical item by now. F-6 can be mixed two ways, for educational purposes. The conventional way adds the acid before the metaborate. As the acid is added, there is a powerful, odoriferous release of sulfur dioxide, which ceases when the alkaline substance is added. Mix a second batch of F-6, this time adding the alkali first, then the acid. No smell at all.

    Okay, that's all very cerebral. So the acid causes smell. Indeed it does -- and -- it is unnecessary. Acid is in fixer to permit the hardener to work. I haven't used hardener since the sixties. Modern materials don't need hardener in the fix, at least not for hand processing with care.

    No need to vent smell out of the room. Don't put the acid in the fixer (well, don?t put it in the darkroom) and there will be no smell. I found this a huge relief.

    I know I'm a peculiar person, but rapid fix is a noxious substance to me. The rock hard deposits it leaves in the sink if I fail to rinse properly are the icing on the cake. I started mixing F-6 minus the acid and the hardener. In fact, I discovered Ansel Adams had a name for it, and a formula. Plain Fixer. In the back of "The Print". It's not really plain, it has sodium sulfite in addition to sodium thiosulfate. No smell, neutral to mildly alkaline, very cheap, very easy to prepare, nice low capacity that matches my low volume production. I mix a batch of plain fix and usually use it twice. My fix is always fresh. I never overwork it, as one is tempted to do with rapid fix. Rapid fixer is always old.

    I'm aware there are alkaline rapid fixers on the market. Presumably they smell less. Many people value the ease of use of a liquid concentrate. I don't care, though. Nothing is going to be as cheap as plain fix.

    Only gen-yew-ine red light darkroom people could have read this far, and there is a reward: after removing the acid from my fixer, I noticed a big change for the better in the behaviour of my selenium toner. I can't be the first to note this, since my birth was after the centenary of photography, but I've never seen it mentioned anywhere. My selenium toner had always grown dark and murky with a fine, brown or black precipitate. The more use it got, the murkier it got. Filtering helped only slightly, and eventually I couldn't stand it and had to pitch it. I use my selenium toner diluted 1+5 (I use the Kodak product, KRST). It's expensive to pitch. After removing the acid from my fixer, the murkiness abated to a much slighter level. It still appeared, but it took longer to happen, and proceeded more slowly. The toner had a much longer working life.

    So I decided to stop using citric acid stop, and use a quadruple-rinse in plain tap water to get rid of as much developer as I could. I had tried rinsing thoroughly after the acid stop, and that seemed to help. But removing all acid from the process left my toner water-clear indefinitely. I never discard my toner now. I make it up with distilled water and filter it regularly. The solution disappears because of carry-out on the sheets, so I top it up with fresh toner from time to time.

    Parallel to all this I thought I'd try out an old idea. I got a bunch of plastic jugs that had wide mouths and tight closures. They originally held cat food, which my cat ultimately rejected, rest her furry soul. Anyway, I just put developer working solution in one, plain fixer in two, selenium toner in one (it stands in a tub of hot water because I like it around 32-34C), hypo clear, it's all very simple. I use selenium toner for ten minutes, diluted 1+5, at around 32-34C. Except for that ten minutes, the toner is in its nice jug, all covered up. Not quite no smell, but very little. I use only one tray for the whole process. I put the tray on an elevated stand in my sink, so it's very easy to pour from its corner into the jugs. This all works very smoothly. I just wish I had figured it out years ago, before I bought all those trays!

    The sum of all this is that I no longer have any smells to bother me in my darkroom, and I no longer have to clean trays, plus my selenium toner works much better. And it's cheaper.

    Washing the prints. I wish I could advise others to wash their prints as I wash mine. Unfortunately, I succumbed to the blandishments of Fred Picker and bought one of his print washers before he sold the farm. I use a 20x24 Zone VI print washer. But I would not advise anyone to spend that kind of money on such a thing. My eyebrows rise in wonder as I think I actually did that. All those extra trays of mine could be used very nicely for tray washing. Less convenient to be sure, but that washer was a thousand bucks by the time the currency was converted...

    However, washing after an alkaline fix is supposedly easier to accomplish. I say supposedly because I am no chemist, and I have performed no scientific tests myself. Others with qualifications, such as Tim Rudman, have said so. The lack of hardener contributes to ease of washing. And the single tray method makes it very easy to achieve an absolute: nothing, absolutely nothing (except chemistry and water!) touches the face of the print while it is wet. So there is no contamination from gloves or tongs or fingers to hope we can wash out.

    There also have been suggestions that no hypo clear is necessary if an alkaline fixer is used. I haven't tested this, and in fact I use a two-bath hypo clear. It's cheap, easy and not that much extra time. Wot th' 'ell.

    I think the real difference among the washing methods is convenience. A commercial upright washer is very convenient, because one can leave it for the whole wash time. I've left mine run overnight with no problems, and really like the ability to just go to sleep instead of more work. If I needed to replace it, I think I would hunt the yard sales for old fish tanks of appropriate size. I think I'd get two, and rig some way to hold the sheets upright inside. Then I'd fill both, slip the prints in one, pull them out and into the other tank after some time, dump the first and refill, and swap the prints back and forth into freshly replaced water as many times as I thought it took. Just plain tanks, no dividers or manifolds or siphons or vortexes. Maybe some snails and those really deep blue tiny fish ...

    A much more important issue than how the prints are washed: how they are dried...

    regards,
    --le
    _____________________________________
     
  16. lee

    lee Member

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    Hey Lloyd,
    You got logged on. Good for you.

    lee\c
     
  17. lloydapug

    lloydapug Subscriber

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    Hi Lee,

    Immediacy! I just posted it ten minutes ago. Wouldn't McLuhan have loved it...

    All problems resolved by enabling cookies. Don't let your dog eat any, you don't know where they've been.

    --le
     
  18. jansenh

    jansenh Member

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    I realize that I am a few months behind, but ...

    I just wanted to say to you all that the story Lloyd tells, which also can be found on hiw web-pages, totally changed my printing habbits, some 18 months ago. The acid-free processing, plain fixer and the single tray method are now an integrated part of my printmaking. I have had GREAT inspiration from Lloyds pages, and a lot of help to.

    That is all I wanted to say :smile:
     
  19. skahde

    skahde Member

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    This one of the two possible reasons for stains. Residual halide from incomplete fixing will also end up as stain when the print is toned in selenium as well as a sulfiding toner.

    Stefan