This category is really slow, and this post teeters on the brink of useless, but what the Hell...
Last week I was making a couple 5x7 Pt/Pd prints, and I hadn't made any test strips. Needless to say the prints were both way overprinted. I developed the first one to a lovely pure charcoal color. I notice, however, that as I poured the developer in, a drop of water hit the print and immediately bleached the crap out of it. I would have been irritated if the print wasn't already complete junk, but remembering that second print, I thought, "Ah ha..."
Sure enough, when I poured water on the second print, it bleached rapidly (how does one dilute water?). So in a span of about 10 seconds I poured the water on, poured it out and poured the developer on. It actually worked to kind of rescue the print, but with an interesting effect. The print's contrast is considerably higher than should be, and all the maxiest dMax values are grained out like the print is from a 35mm 3200 ISO enlargement. Well, maybe not quite that bad... Interestingly the mid-tones (well, what's left of them after bleaching) don't show nearly as severe an effect.
Such are the ramblings of an idle mind...
Neat old trick. A really overexposed print can be 'rescued' by developing only with water. As you pointed out, the contrast is really high, and the print really grainy. I had one I was showing people and calling it my 'platinum bromoil'. The effect is sort of arty, but it is a damned expensive way to make a grainy print.
Any tricks to rescue a really (or rather, slightly) underexposed print as well (besides reprinting)?
Clay is definitly more experienced than I, but my observations have shown me that a truly magnificent pt/pd print has to have a perfect exposure to show that 3 d effect. Too light and it looks washed out, too dark and it looks dull and lifeless. The funny things is that the "bad" exposures still look ok, the error is not as apparent as it would be on a silver print. Perhaps this is the reason some people feel pt/pd prints are dull and lifeless, because of printing errors.
Suck it up and make a new print, if you get the perfect exposure you will be rewarded with a print unequaled on any other medium.
Jorge is completely right about getting the exposure right. Unless you nail the print exposure, it will just give all of us pt/pd printers a bad name :^) Seriously, I use the term 'rescue' only in the sense that you might get something interesting enough to delay throwing it in the trash for a few weeks. The magic 3D look that Jorge talks about is definitely a phenomenon that requires your technique to be consistent, and yet also demands a lot of luck to make it happen. Seemingly insignificant factors such as ambient humidity, drying time, and who knows what else can sometimes combine to give you a print that is so absolutely gorgeous that you feel you are some sort of photo-giant. Then you try to make another print of the same negative the next day, and while it is 'pretty close', it somehow never gets that extra 5% magic that strikes like a bolt from the blue every now and then. You begin to understand why people have 'artist's proofs'. Save the REALLY good ones for your kids!
I figured as much. I think I'll need to tweak the contrast a bit for that particular picture anyways, so I'll be reprinting it soon.
As to the 3D effect (hard for me to explain, but you know what I mean) and that "glow" or "magic" that give pt/pd that unique look...
I'm having a little trouble nailing this down (but most of that is from inexperience, granted). Sometimes, in the developer, I'll see that glow, etc., but it seems to disappear somewhat in the clearing steps, making it look a little more dull and lifeless.
I'm trying to be consistent in my process, and I'll probably try distilled water for the clearing baths, but are there any general rules here that I'm missing? Are the clearing agents bleaching my picture out?
I'm using Crane's Kid and Lenox (the latter gets some humidity by a steamy shower, because the RH here is so low). Develop 2 minutes, then clear in HCA for 5 minutes, then 2 baths of EDTA for 5 minutes each (all mixed with tap water, which is probably a little harder than most areas).
I have heard that HCA sometimes might bleach the print. I use permawash and have not seen any of this. But there is definitly a problem if you are seeing a change from the developer to the clearing baths. If anything the print should look better. Why dont you try EDTA or HCL baths and see if there is a difference?
I suppose this is the holy grail of every pt/pd printer, to find a paper which gives the same image wet and dry. But my recent expereince has shown me that sometimes the dry down helps "set" the image and it looks even more awsome.....I guess I got lucky with this last batch of negatives.
I learned a lot from Kerik K. And I think he would be the first to tell you: Paper, paper, paper. Both of the ones you mention do suffer quite a bit from dry-down let-down. I doubt if it is your clearing steps that are the problem. Try a paper like Platine or COT320, or add a drop or two of PVA to your coating mix for the papers you mentioned. I have printed some negatives with exactly the same coating mix, developer and clearing on Platine and Lenox and platinotype, and Platine wins every time for "visual pop".
I dont know Clay, as I understand it he is seeing the bleaching before the print is dry. I cannot see a reason for this other than the clearing baths....but then we all know the pt Gods are fickle.....
Yes, it is the bleaching between the time it is in the developer to the time it is in the final clearing bath.
I'll have to check up on my clearing baths, that they have the right concentration and all.