Washing technique

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Gary Holliday, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I was hoping to be a little bit more economic with my wash water for 120 films. I've read the Ilford agitation technique for films, but feel a little bit nervous doing that.

    In flowing water and dunking the film, what could be my minimum wash time?

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear Gary,

    I know how you feel (Yes, yes, I know I'm being irrational!). My solution is to just add a bath of hypo clearing agent (not hypo eliminator). For some reason it calms my nerves without drinking it.

    Neal Wydra
     
  3. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Garry,

    There's a huge thread on this, under some such title as 'Does fixer leach out?'

    I have used nothing but the Ilford technique for 15-20 years.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  4. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I've no qualms with the Ilford sequence. I don't rush it at
    all and even interrupt with some little clean-up twixt changes
    and inversions. A final short fourth rinse comes with a half
    strength Photo Flo. Squeegee with a Jobo or other brand
    eight blade squeegee and they dry fast.

    Using 500ml water each change plus the Photo Flo adds
    up to 2 liters. I keep a jug of room temperature water ready
    for the purpose. Warmer water speeds diffusion and allows
    for a more thorough extraction. Dan
     
  5. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    I get bored reading huge long threads but I'll have a go!
     
  6. Dietmar Wolf

    Dietmar Wolf Member

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    Remember, we are no lab assistants, we are photographer.

    Stay with techniques, which have proven over years (->Roger).

    I made the mistake to be oversensitive to such things. This takes you the fun. It is partly the fault of too much reading such posts.
     
  7. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Dietmar,

    I could not agree more.

    To quote Keynes, "In the long run, we are all dead."

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  8. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I'm about to post some additional comments on the "LONG THREAD" that I suggest you all read.

    PE
     
  9. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    Phew 12 pages long. I'll stick to my original method. The planet isn't planning on running out of water.
     
  10. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Not by a long shot. Ice maybe. Dan
     
  11. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    Coming out of an ice age I'd like to think so...until the next wax and wane of the ice sheet.
     
  12. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    The most important thing to do in using Ilford washing process is to follow their instruction very carefully. You want to use non-hardening rapid fixer and you want to give at least twice the clearing time. Their washing process may be greatly shorter than what you hear elsewhere, but that's partly because of practice from old days where everyone used hardening fix. Many darkroom chemistry authors are not familiar with the technical issues and they also just cut and paste old instructions (that they are used to). I have tested Ilford washing methods with several non-hardening rapid fixers and I get residual thiosulfate level well below the ISO archival standard for life expectancy greater than 500 years. You don't need to worry about amateur opinions on APUG threads; trust Ilford on this one.

    If you use continuous flow washing, the time it takes is strongly dependent on how vigorous the agitation is. Usually, most washers rely on the water inlet flow to agitate the washing water and this is far less vigorous than inverting tank by hand. So you'll need 5-10 minutes to be safe. But if you give good manual agitation on top of flowing water, the washing time of 1-2 minutes already exceeds the archival standard.

    http://wiki.silvergrain.org/wiki/in..._thiosulfate#Criteria_for_archival_processing

    The current standard is ISO 18901:2002 as summarized in the page above.
     
  13. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Gary;

    Dr Mason of Ilford labs has effectively repudiated the Ilford method in his textbook "Photographic Processing Chemistry". Please see my long explanation of it if you wish on that other thread. Basically, it involves a lot of math not needed here, but the bottom line is one of my last points there.

    The famous photographer Ctein was blindsided by what he thought were archival prints. He had to replace prints for some customers and wrote an article about it pointing out that if you do things wrong it may take a long time to see if you over or under washed. There is a sweet spot in washing that the experts recommend.

    I think it is foolish of us to ignore all the years of experience of those who went before us, for the advice of anyone who has not conducted the experiments for himself, or someone who has not had long term keeping results of their own to view.

    PE
     
  14. Gary Holliday

    Gary Holliday Member

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    Not wanting this thread to develop into a battle of photographic chemistry theories, I'm looking for a practical method for washing that everyone can relate to.

    It's clear that Ilford's method is fairly controversial, so practical alternatives are what I'm hoping for.

    I was originally taught (many years ago) to wash in flowing water, exchanging the water regulary for 20 mins.

    I use Ilford Hypam at present, so needed advice on a shorter wash time.
     
  15. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    To summarize my viewpoint:

    Kodak's recommendation for film has been unchanged since the early days for acid fix, and that is 5 - 6 changes of water over 30' with agitation. For FB papers it is 10 - 12 changes over 60". RC paper or alkaline fixes will take shorter times as suggested on the recent fixer packages themselves.

    The key according to all my experience and all the textbooks I have read is to have some sort of flow and/or agitation, whatever means or time is used.

    Selenium toning helps, but wash aids require washing themselves.

    You must take care to not overwash.

    PE
     
  16. jstraw

    jstraw Member

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    How fine is the line between adequate washing and overwashing? What constitutes overwashing (what's being washed out that shouldn't be?)? What are the consequences?
     
  17. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    "A Practicle Method For Washing that Everyone Can Relate To"

    Perhaps my post #4 this thread went unread. The method
    described in that post is "a practical method for washing that
    everyone can relate to" Takes about 10 minutes and for a 120
    roll uses only 2 liters of water; that with a final Photo Flo rinse.
    Keep some room temperature water on hand. It will speed
    diffusion and make for a more thorough wash.
    I suggest post #4 be given a read.

    As I believe it is practiced the running water method is a big
    waste of water and time; 20 minutes? Dan
     
  18. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    I think overwashing would be 1.5x to 2x or more of the manufacturers recommendation.

    As far as Dan's method goes, as long as there are 5 or more changes with a hold in between along with agitation, that is not inconsistant with what I said.

    PE
     
  19. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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  20. Michel Hardy-Vallée

    Michel Hardy-Vallée Membership Council Council

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    I would like to ask to this question: is there a testing procedure to figure out whether one has over-washed?

    And more generally speaking, besides the test of time and the HT-2, what tests are reliable indicators of a properly processed print?

    My own understanding so far would be that although there are theoretical guidelines regarding wash, mere conformity to these rules does not replace actual verification, and does not warrant by itself that a print or a film was properly processed, right? Somehow I think that people can get by with a as little theoretical knowledge as is needed to validate a bullet-proof testing.
     
  21. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Michel;

    You have raised some very valid points.

    No, there is no test for over washing.

    I wash and test, I test to the first indication that the print passes the test and then stop. That presumably prevents overwashing.

    PE
     
  22. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    The short answer is that you can pick either Ilford rapid method or Kodak slow method. Several other manufacturers publish instructions that are the same as or modified from either of them, and they are also ok as long as the method was well tested. Anything more than that are of academic concern, and you should certainly understand the factors involved if you have to devise your own washing technique. Most people are perfectly fine with either Ilford or Kodak method.

    Think about it. Anyone who does darkroom work has to wash material. Manufacturers make simple and effective instructions for their customers. Not many people have to devise their own washing technique. It is actually rather unusual that so many people at APUG read thread like this and the other ongoing one although they are not trying to make their own washing routine. If you are happy to accept existing, well tested method, you can either go with Ilford or Kodak method.

    Recommendation like you referred to is still a standard method if you use acid hardening fixer. They require a lot more washing to remove the residual chemicals to the same level. But most people use non-hardening rapid fixer, which washes out very fast, especially with films and RC papers. So if you just look at the number of minutes or amount of water used, you might think Ilford method is absurdly short, and that's what some people (including yourself) are concerned. But if you understand the chemistry behind it, or if you run your own test, the concern is wiped out right away. I do test for residual thiosulfate on rather routine basis, and haven't seen a single incident that Ilford method was insufficient, even for the highest level archival standard specified in the applicable ISO standard.

    The price of short Ilford method is that you have to make sure your fixer is non-hardening rapid fixer. If your fixer is not of this type, you'll have to use more elaborate washing process.
     
  23. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    First of all, "overwashing" is a rather paradoxical description.

    To make the story simple, I'll tell you when you have to worry about it and when you don't.

    The notion of overwashing is completely irrelevant and unnecessary if (1) a pictorial camera negative film is processed; (2) your print is toned in any of the archival toners; (3) if you don't care about archivality of the print.

    Overwashing can harm the image stability if you intend the untoned print for long term storage. Again, anyone who's sensible would use anyy of the archival toner for prints made for long term archive.

    The notion of overwashing came from the finding that a very small amount of residual thiosulfate can sometimes protect image silver when there is no other protection (e.g., toning). However, the degree of protection provided by even the optimal amount of thiosulfate is smaller than a light toning with polysulfide or solid toning from selenium. Another problem with relying on the optimal residual thiosulfate is that it is impractical to aim the optimal value by adjusting the washing method. Therefore, anyone serious about archival printing should consider using any of the archival toning process, thereby making the notion of "overwashing" is irrelevant.

    Manufacturers know that "overwashing" exists and it is counterintuitive to average darkroom workers who are not serious enough to go through the toning process. This is a very tricky issue in phrasing usage instruction, and each manufacturer thinks hard to be as "informative" and "courteous" but without making the instruction overly complicated. One example is that many manufacturers overly emphasize it is unnecessary to use more washing time than indicated. They may also emphasize that there is no need to use washing aid for RC prints as long as the fixer is fresh. They would still recommend polysulfide, selenium or gold toner if you are serious about image permanence.

    Back to your original question. You can use methylene blue test or amylose iodine test described on the page linked below to test for overwashing, if you really want to do that. But as you already saw above, avoiding "overwashing" is more of prevention of wasteful effort than an effective and active means of increasing image permanence.

    Described in this page:
    http://wiki.silvergrain.org/wiki/index.php?title=Residual_thiosulfate

    There are other tests that are intentionally omitted in this page. Those tests are unreliable or unsuitable and are currently not recommended.

    If you stick with standard processing sequence from Ilford, Kodak or mine (silvergrain), and don't deviate from the recommended usage and processing capacity, users can rest assured that their material is properly processed.

    Testing is recommended if you have reason to be concerned, such as unfamiliar processing chemicals, unfamiliar paper stock, need to limit the washing water to the minimum due to water supply situation, etc. It is also easy and simple to perform if you are very serious about archival processing.

    More often on this site people recommend to test for your own as a way to end otherwise endless battles from people with strong dogma. Think about it, most Kodak users, most Ilford users, almost all other darkroom users, they never run their own tests but you don't hear about images that are deteriorated due to too much residual thiosulfate from careful darkroom workers who recognizes the importance of proper washing. This is because the majority of deterioration of image silver is due to oxidative attacks and not residual thiosulfate. Most people who are reading this thread and concerned about image permanence are actually better thinking about the toning process rather than washing process.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2007
  24. Ryuji

    Ryuji Member

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    Ok, with the stuff that was asked in this and the other thread, I revised this page:

    http://wiki.silvergrain.org/wiki/index.php?title=Washing

    I intentionally excluded unimportant and generally irrelevant factors such as developer retention. This is more of a problem with monobath and not with conventional processing.

    Will revise the page with more stuff later, but just for your information.