Michael, I am surprised that the Kodak Rapid Fix is not more acidic. It is interesting that 0.5 pH difference, at that level, makes it hardener-friendly, compared to Ilford Rapid Fix, which isn't. Still, the scale is logarithmic.
Bill, please let me know if introducing the HCA before toning, without a longer rinse, has eliminated the stain. And in any case I'd be cautious about a holding bath that accumulated a lot of fixer, though it largely depends on the bath's volume, I suppose.
Rafal, usually when there is the option to add a "part B" hardener to the fixer as in this case, the part B contains the hardener and more acid, which lowers the pH of the fixer once it is mixed in. In the case of the fixer Bill is using, the fix without hardener has a pH ~5, but is lowered to ~4.4 when the hardener is added. The hardener solution contains the hardener and sulfuric acid. The situation is similar with Ilford Hypam - the pH of the fixer is ~5.0-5.5 without the hardener and ~4.5-5.0 when the hardener is added.
Hope this helps. By the way this stuff is all in the tech pubs I linked to in my "resources" article if you need more info.
That makes perfect sense, Michael. Thanks for explaining.
It is comon knowledge that a print should never be fixed if it contains a hardener since it won't wash well and it particularly won't tone well, with stains all over.
Bill isn't using the hardener. Just plain Kodak Rapid Fixer.
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Right, just the Rapid Fixer part A... Part B bottles are just accumulating with nothing to do.
The part B hardener is great to have if you sepia tone.
“Photography is a complex and fluid medium, and its many factors are not applied in simple sequence. Rather, the process may be likened to the art of the juggler in keeping many balls in the air at one time!”
Ansel Adams, from the introduction to The Negative - The New Ansel Adams Photography Series / Book 2
My work flow led me to make prints over a period of time, and then take a couple copies of each image to tone (KRST) all at once -- perhaps ten or more 16x20 prints. Not knowing exactly when I'd get around to toning, I gave all but the work prints an archival wash and then dried. And then a long soak right before toning.
I used two different papers and worked out a work flow that gave me consistent results, so I could match print color pretty well over time. The Ilford Gallerie changed color only very slightly then stopped, and over-toning was not an issue. The Portriga Rapid was touchy -- I wanted to catch it in the transition color when it when it changed from the original warm-green, but before it went to almost purple-ish. There was a wonderful reddish brown if you could stop it there.
For the record I used Kodak Rapid Fixer, but I used the hardener (part B) at quarter-strength. I tried with no hardener: My prints were usually in the water for a long time as I did a final wash at the end of a 10 to 12 hour printing session. With no hardener, I got an impression of the dry screens on some of the prints (dried face-down) -- so I went back to some Part B, and had no more problems.
Last edited by Vaughn; 01-26-2014 at 11:59 PM. Click to view previous post history.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
Originally Posted by Rafal Lukawiecki
I started a rather long response to you before I read Rafal's post above. I basically said the same thing, so I won't bother to go into more detail and just quote him instead.
FWIW, I use Ilford Rapid Fix or Hypam, two-bath fixation at "paper-strength" and transfer the prints directly from the second fix to the toner. Never any problems with staining. I've used the Kodak (more acidic) products in the past, but didn't like the longer fixing times and the need for a different, less-acidic second fixing bath (I used to mix plain hypo, but now just use the Ilford products for all baths, plus film processing).
Your problem can be traced to either under-fixing or the prints being too acid. A second fixing bath with a less acidic fixer would cure both problems immediately and really give you some peace of mind. And you wouldn't need but one extra step, i.e., fix two. I really encourage you to try a two-bath regime.
Just a couple of other things: A wash-aid is designed to be used just before washing (as an ion exchange), not as a pH changing bath before toning. I differ from Rafal here... Since your toner contains ammonium thiosulfate, using the wash-aid before toning might alter the pH and prevent staining, but it won't help with washing. You would have to use another wash-aid step before washing, thus adding even another step to an already too-long process (fix 2-washaid-toner-washaid-wash...). You can solve the problem much more easily by simply using a more toner-friendly fixer.
If space is your concern, you might consider dividing printing and toning sessions like I do. I develop, stop, give fix 1 and wash and dry my prints in a "printing session." When I've collected enough prints (usually 36-40), then I set up a toning session that consists of a water soak, fix 2, toner, wash-aid and then wash. You don't need any more than four trays at a time.
@Those-who-think-Bill's-fixing-times-are-too-long: Kodak recommends "5-10 minutes for fiberbase papers" in their Rapid Fixer. Bill's 7 minutes is right in the middle of that.
There is another problem with short intermediate wash/rinse times before toning. If the print is not washed well before toning, there are areas in it with more still-undissolved silver compounds than others. Toning such a print can result in uneven toning, since the areas with lots of residual silver compounds may tone differently than the well-washed areas. This is the reason Kodak and others recommend a thorough washing before toning if not transferring directly from fix to toner.
Best and good luck,
This is the print I've been talking about. It shows the overall stain, which I believe is from the acidity of the fixer due to insufficient washing between fix and toner.