Wet vs. Dry

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Joe O'Brien, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. Joe O'Brien

    Joe O'Brien Member

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    I really like the look of my prints when they are fresh out of the wash, they seem to have such a great depth to them. But, by the time I dry them they seem much more lack-lustre and flat. Does anyone know anything I can do to solve this?
     
  2. E76

    E76 Member

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    I am assuming you are using fiber based paper and, if that's the case, what you are observing is a phenomenon known as "dry down." Fiber prints often appear darker dry when they are wet. In order to compensate for this you will need to make your prints a little bit lighter so that when they dry they will have the tones you want. One way to do this is to always dry your test strips and fiber prints throughly before deciding on an exposure time.
     
  3. Jon Shiu

    Jon Shiu Subscriber

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    some people steam their prints

    Jon
     
  4. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    As has been pointed out that's dry-down and you have to allow for it. However the paper surface can also look duller if air dried and it's remarkable how much of a lft can be given by steaming the print surface. This needs to be done carefully, I hold a print about 6" (15cm) over a boiling kettle (with the lid open) for a few seconds, half at a time so my fingers are well away from the steam. This has the effect of increasing the gloss of the paper surface.

    Ian
     
  5. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I'd try ferrotyping to get that super glossy wet look. Last I checked, the plates were still available new from B&H, and they were not that expensive.
     
  6. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    This is very true. I used to ferrotype on a large mirror back in the 70s. However its a fussy process that needs a lot of patience. The mirror, or ferrotype plate, has to be scrupulously clean and the print must be absolutely free of air pockets when its laid down.
     
  7. Marco B

    Marco B Member

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    Start toning your prints, a bit of sepia or selenium toning really enhances the appearance of "depth". I know, it is a different phenonom from the surface gloss mentioned by all others, but in my experience, it plays an important role in the final appearance of "depth" too. There is just something about - even mildly - toned prints that sets them apart from untoned prints. The effect is almost like the one experienced in oil paintings, where subsequently applied semi transparent oil paint layers (called "glazes") enhance color depth, an effect more or less made famous by Italian renaissance and Dutch 17th century painters.
     
  8. Wade D

    Wade D Member

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    Sometimes a few test prints are necessary to see what the dry down effect will be. The details in the whites will not be evident in the wet print but when dried they will show up. Printing dark enough to see the details of the whites in the wet print will result in a flat image because the whites will dry down too dark. I did a lot of 5x7 glossies for a publisher in the early 70's. I used an Arkay drum dryer and the prints were soaked briefly in Pakosol to get the gloss finish. I now prefer the look of glossy paper air dried without ferrotyping.
    Edit: I also agree with what Marco said above.
     
  9. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    A similar effect seems to occur if one briefly micowaves a lightly damp fiber print. I've always thought this simply produced the required hot water via a slightly different mechanism, producing a partial "glazing" effect. But that's just speculation on my part.

    The effect, at least as I've observed it personally on Ilford MGIV FB, can be startling. The prints I've tested went from a modestly nice sheen to a very wet-looking, deep lustrous look. Especially when viewed under near point-source lighting.

    If the print is too wet when it goes into the microwave, I have noticed what appeared to be dried water/mineral spots, even though the prints were squeegeed off. I have found that a gentle squeegee followed by air drying until only very lightly damp (just barely into the non-tacky stage) works best in this regard. About 60-80 seconds on high seems to do the trick for 8x10s.

    I should also note that I have no idea what the long-term effect on the paper emulsion might be. I do know that dry-mounting these guys can be challenging. The surface seems more prone to damage from bumps or bruises, including a "flattening out" of the surface texture is the platen pressure is too high.

    But this could be due to my use of a non-hardening fixer (Kodak F-24). Or it could also be because the more "perfect" surface now shows off any defects more easily.

    Ken
     
  10. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Glossy RC looks glossier than glossy FB unless you ferrotype it.
     
  11. Tony Egan

    Tony Egan Subscriber

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    Dry down varies by paper and is more obvious in the highlights. If you are new to printing and have the "perfect" wet print then make another with around 7% less time. e.g. 20 seconds less 1.4 seconds, make it 18.5 or even 18 rounding down to a whole second. More experienced printers take this into account in their assessments as they go. Also many ease off on the contrast a little knowing a final tone in selenium will beef up the blacks. Of the easily obtainable papers around at the moment I find Ilford WT has a wonderful sheen when dry and doesn't disappoint.
     
  12. hpulley

    hpulley Member

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    Gotta love Ilford WT for sure. Not sure why I bought IV as I just seem to be printing WT these days! Semi-matt for me.
     
  13. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    A teaspoon of Benzotriazol in the Developer. Shorten exposure time a bit... print will look a little light but once dry it should be on the money. You will learn with more experience.
     
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  15. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    That's really not the answer, has zero effect on dry down and it's easier to just print a touch lighter.

    Ian
     
  16. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I warn our students about two types of dry-down. The first is what already has been described above -- as the print dries, its paper and emulsion shrinks...the prints gets slightly darker in the highlights as the exposed bits of silver move slightly closer together.

    Since the students work in a big darkroom, they have to come outside into the light to judge their test strips and prints. So the second source of "dry down" is actually caused by their initial reaction to their prints, seen with eyes fully dialated. Of course our eyes quickly adjust to the bright light, but that first impression can be mis-leading...sending them back into the darkroom to add a couple seconds to the exposure.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Yes, you can lose some due to technical problems. The surface needs to be absolutely clean and smooth, as anything on it will either get embedded in the emulsion or leave a depression there. I lay mine down with lots of water and use a printmaking brayer to smash the prints down slowly inch by inch. One used to be able to get chemicals for pre-ferrotyping baths at any pro photo store, and I still have a little left. I really don't think it does anything, though, based on my times using it.
     
  18. thefizz

    thefizz Subscriber

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  19. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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    For me the Benzo... freshens and adds the snap I like.. It changed my life in the darkroom.... at least for the way I print.
     
  20. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

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  21. Habitual Hero

    Habitual Hero Member

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    Increasing the contrast by half-a-grade or even one grade may help.
     
  22. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    It hasn't been mentioned, but matting and framing the photo with clean glass adds some dimension to the photo's presentation.

    The glass is sort of like the reflective sheen of water on a wet print.

    If you are also comparing your bare prints in your hand with other people's matted and framed photos, you need to do the same to make an accurate comparison.
     
  23. BBarlow690

    BBarlow690 Member

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    Dry down amount varies by paper, but MOST (not all) are -10%. The test is easy. Make 4 prints. One you like, and three with -4,-7, and -10 %. Dry those three, keep the one you like wet in a tray. When dry, compare. One will match, or pretty close. If it's pretty close, interpolate and get on with life.

    Doing the test itself yields lessons other than dry-down amount, too. So please just don't take my word for it, do it for yourself.

    Want to have fun? Take a sheet of paper and tear it in half. Toss half in the fixer directly, develop and fix the other half. Compare. They'd better match. I found mine don't - developed paper was fogged until I added an ounce of benzotriazole to a half gallon of working solution of Dektol. That was true even of brand new paper, and more true of older stuff freezer-stored. My whites aren't dingy anymore.

    By the way, RC dries down, too. I use it for proofing and with new students. It also has fog.
     
  24. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

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    Good point!

    One of my standard ways to review prints is to use a mat that is pearl white. The slight cream/off-white color of the mat enhances the white and the black of the print. It tends to bring some of the "glow" back. Since I always use that color to mat, I use it to judge my final adjustment.

    It is also important that when you evaluate your print, do it in similar light as the light that your print will be displayed. Doing it in dimly lit darkroom will often give you a false result.

    With experience, you will be able to account for the dry down process and make your prints accordingly. (either that or invent a frame with sprinkler system built in to keep your print wet....) :laugh::laugh::blink::blink::wink::wink::tongue::tongue:
     
  25. ROL

    ROL Member

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    :alien: Now that this thread is chock full of good suggestions and useful observations, I'll add a really bizarre one I happened upon accidentally while investigating my particular lab setup some years ago. I assume the OP is using glossy papers to begin with. At one time I used the kitchen micro-wave to see the immediate effect of "dry-down", after development. The (torn) micro-waved print exhibited a super, super contrasty, wet looking, cibachrome-like gloss to the print's surface. I have no idea how the radiation changes the actual paper or emulsion physically, other than to note that it was a bit "crispy".

    The next step would be to attempt to flatten and mount a print small enough to have been dried wholly within the device. I never completed this part of the investigation as my micro-wave is too small to treat normal (for me) sized prints and the changes to fiber based papers seems undesirable, by any classical consideration. But, there you go...
     
  26. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Papers, Colour and B&W like films can suffer from Micro reticulation, so do home made emulsions (as one Emulsion maker on APUG can attest).

    Kodak did tests with colour papers where they used a visual grading, a then current paper emulsions was the standard, they tested hardeners that prevent this happening (all were better than the standard), these improvements are now used in colour papers and most films.

    With papers the micro reticulation causes the surface dulling, heat drying alleviates it, steaming or use of a microwave momentarily remelts the surface gelatin super-coat, within reason the more the heat the greater the gloss, the extreme is glazing (ferrotyping) where the surface is deliberately re-melted against a chrome metal plate.

    Ian