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  1. #1

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    Serious problem with Ilford paper

    I have spent the last few days in the darkroom dealing with a serious issue with Ilford Multigrade FB. I was working on a negative that I was split filtering, that is using a combination of 130m filtration (grade 5) and 130 Y (grade 00), the image itself needed to be printed high in contrast as it was being diffused. I was getting an unusual amount of texture in the sky, a grittiness, which was strange considering I was using a 4x5 Tmax 100 neg.

    I thought that maybe my paper was fogged, so I tried it on another batch of Ilford Multi, and had the same effect, I tried it on a piece from a new box of 20x24" paper and the problem seemed far less evident. Today I went to B&H and bought 3 different batches of Ilford multi in 2 different sizes. I am still having the same problem with the brand new paper.

    The problem only appears when the higher contrast settings are used so i decided to do a test. I covered the enlarger lens with a translucent diffuser, the kind that they use on light boxes, no texture will be projected this way. I turned off all the safelights except one, a Zone vi LED safelight set for VC paper and quite far away from where I was working. I exposed sheets of Ilford Mutligrade under the heavily diffused enlarger, the filtration set to 130m, even making it a point to actually move the paper continually in large sweeping, random motions during the 1 minute exposure to insure that no texture can be projected on the paper. After processing and fixing what I ended up with every time was a zone 4 print with an extremely visible, random texture, which can be best described as a coarse sprayed effect with a slight bit of uni directional run added. I tried this on some really old Oriental VC paper, at least 3 years old, paper that I new had to be way fogged and it had a similar but clearly different mottling, not as bad in fact as the brand new Ilford.

    I have a huge amount of printing to do over the next few months and am at a loss for this problem. I have used this same printing technique in the past and never had problems using grade 4 or 5.

    I well be getting other brands of paper this weekend to see if the same problem can be duplicated and to hopefully find a paper that allows me to use grade 4 and 5. Anybody ever experience anything like this? Is it possible that this is a result of the paper being x-rayed on it's way to B&H? Is it possibly and uneveness in the coating of the high contrast layer?

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    I wouldn't expect three year old Oriental to be too badly fogged, actually, so maybe it's not a paper issue. If you have mottling from some other cause I would expect it to appear differently on different papers. It also may be something you haven't noticed before, because perhaps you haven't had the kind of negative that would reveal it.

    Maybe it's a developer or agitation problem. What are your developer, dilution, development time, and agitation procedure?
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  3. #3
    lee
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    have you tried another negative?

    lee\c

  4. #4

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    You said that you have "grittiness"in the prints. The more conrast you add to a print, the more grain will show. I'm not sure if this is your exact problem/solution, but that's my first guess.

    Try making the same print, but use only the yellow setting. Don't add any magenta and see what happens.

  5. #5

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    This problem is happening with 2 different paper developers, Ilford Multi grade and Ilford PQ universal both at 1;9. Ilford Multigrade developer is made for Ilford multi grade paper so i can't imagine a conflict there. The agitation is the same continuous 2-2 1/2 minute agitation that I have done for 30 years, and including with grade 5 prints.The stop is Kodak indicator, 2 oz per gallon, the fixer is zone vi print and film fixer, the same stuff I've been using for years. I also tested it using 130 Y (grade 00) and that came out perfect. Totally even, totally textureless.

    And BTW 3 year old paper, of any brand is going to be fogged. I find that after a year there is a noticeable difference in the highlight values, but nothing like I am experiencing now. I store paper in a dedicated refrigerator, open working boxes are kept in a different storage room than my darkroom, and both my darkroom and storage room have IQ Air air cleaners with gas cartridges to help remove any chemical vapors. Still, these problems are happening with brand new paper.

  6. #6
    lee
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    I have some of the blue and white boxes of Oriental that do not seem to be fogged and I have not stored it any special way.

    lee\c

  7. #7

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    Guys , the tests have no grain. There is a translucent diffuser,just like the kind you find on a light box, over the lens, between lens and paper, no image, no grain. In addition the paper is continuously moving during the exposure, there is no way that the enlarger can project any grain or any texture under these circumstances.

    A VC paper is comprised of 2 different photo sensitive emulsions, one a lower contrast emulsion that is only sensitive to yellow light, and the other a high contrast emulsion that is only sensitive to magenta light. The low contrast emulsion is working perfectly, the high contrast emulsion is a mess.

  8. #8
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    I agree with David in that it sounds like a developer issue. Have you made any changes recently? If you tend to agitate by only lifting one side of the tray that can cause the "unidirectional" aspect you mentioned combined with too-weak solution or under-development will cause all sorts of other mottling. If you develop face-down in a tray that hasn't been scrubbed lately you will also often find some black streaks across the face of the prints.
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  9. #9
    thedarkroomstudios's Avatar
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    Ah... more infor as I was writing

    Ilford did have a bad batch of RC MGIV glossy about 2 years ago. It is quite possible there is a problem with your new batch. Check the emulsion ID's to see if all yoiur new paper is from the same batch. If it is, I would contact Ilford. If it isn't I'd be more concerned about some other variable.
    The Darkroom Studios ~ Brad Walker
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    "Film Ain't Dead Yet!"

  10. #10
    lee
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    what if the dicroic magenta filter on the color head is old and losing its "Umphf" do you have a set of multigrade filters if so, try the hardest one to see if it is ok with that one. just a guess.

    lee\c

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