Chemical stain sagga/Ilford Multigrade FB problems?
About 6 months ago I started printing 16X20 for the first time. I am using Ilford Multigrade FB paper which I use more than any other paper. It seems like something(s) have gone terribly wrong in my darkroom since then OR now my errors are much much easier to see--although I have inspected my 11x14s have seen no evidence of all but one problem--OR Ilford is having problems with their papers since they moved manufacturing? Could fixer stock be the culprit if it wasn't sold fast enough in the store, so even if I have only had it for a couple of months, it is giving me problems as a result of its age?
June/July 2005--printed 5 prints--first 11x14, then using a formula to determine new base times etc. to print 16x20.
Process: Develop in Dektol 3 min. Rinse in water 30 secs. Fix: Photographer's Formulary alkaline fixer bath 1 30 secs.; drain; fix in bath 2 30 secs. Short rinse in holding bath for about 20-30 sec. Wash in tray with Kodak siphon washer for 10 min (up to 4 16x20s and 4 11x14s; but usually only 2 16x20s and 2 11x14s at a time--some rotation of prints, no definite system). Tone in Kodak Selenium Toner 1:9 for 5 mins. (1 16x20 at a time; 2 11x14s at a time). Permawash for 5-10 mins., usually closer to 5 (1 16x20 at a time; 2 11x14s at a time). Final wash in an archival Versalab 16x20 print washer for 25-30 min., water temp. between 75 and 80 degrees F. Drained with clean hands and dried on screens emulsion side up. At this point I was using "16x20" trays--which actually measure more like 17.5x22.
Problems: yellow stains on some 16x20s after being pressed
Likely causes: late one night I didn't mix my permawash correctly, so the prints may not have been washed correctly. AND after rewashing, I failed to rewash my screens. Also, a strange brown water mark looking stain in some 16x20s that can only be seen when the print is on the light box or held up in the light (this problem I have seen on some of my 11x14s from the past, not just the 16x20s); I still have no idea what this is.
October: Worried that the brown watermark like stains could be selenium staining (I had never seen it for sure) I washed my print washer, screens, trays etc and let them dry.
October 27th: Using the same stock Dektol and mixing new fixer for bath 2 from a new bottle of fixer (the last bottle & suspiciously dusty, but purchased at Looking Glass in Berkeley a reliable camera store) I prepared three unexposed 16x20 pieces of Ilford Multigrade FB (from the same box) in order to test for residual hypo and residual fixer using Photographer's Formulary's tests (their hypo test seems to be made with the same ingredients and have the same life as Kodak's HT2 test, but is much more affordable). I tested with a new procedure, adapted after some research, 2 of Tim Rudman's books being my main sources.
My development and fixing times and procedure were the same as before except: I doubled the fixing time on one sheet of paper and did my post fixing rinse in the same tray as my post developing rinse (developing tongs NEVER end up in this tray, only ones used for fixing) as my partner always does when in the same darkroom.
Problem: each piece of paper had a bright yellow stain running along the same edge of the paper, no matter how it was put in the deveoper or the fix. It looks like fog. Looking glass employees suggested that it is chemical fog. The rest of my Ilford Multigrade paper is fine minus on box that almost a year old; it has a similar but lighter yellow line in the same area.
For 2 prints (1 fixed 2 min total, the other 1 min total) I washed in the print washer for 5 min; Permawashed for 5min; washed again in the print washer for 10 min; selenium toned (same toner) for 5 min; washed in the print washer for 5 min; permawashed for 5 min; final wash 30 min.
The other print (fixed for a total of 1 min), I washed in the print washer for 10 min; toned 5 min; washed in the print washer 5 min; permawashed 5 min; final wash 30 min.
All of these passed a selenium test (for incomplete fixing according to some, and incomplete washing according to others). They also passed Photographer's Formulary hypo and residual silver tests.
I spoke with a local professional printer who told me Ilford was having problems with the Multigrade FB, that she was getting the same yellow fog looking line on her new roll papers.
November: New box of Ilford Multigrade 16x20; rewash all screens: Some of my prints look like they haven't been fixed properly, and red spots appear on edges of paper. I show my printer friend; she thinks the red spots are selenium staining and suggests longer fix time, larger trays or more chemicals in the trays, and washing for an hour. I buy new trays for the fix, start fixing for at least 2 min. in each bath and STOP toning altogether, rewash my print washer. I always check my fix with hypocheck religiously, both before and after making a final print in addition to counting the square inches that go through.
Interestingly, one of the prints that has what looks like a poor fixing cast was the 1st final print to go through after making a fresh bath 2--but this print was only fixed for a total of 1 min in the smaller tray. However on another occassion, another print that went through both baths for 2 min each (2 final prints before making a fresh bath 2) has that "poor fixing cast," but the last print I printed before changing the fix does not. Both were fixed for the same time and continuiously aggetated.
Also, when comparing these to other 11x14s and 16x20s made in the last 6 months, some of them are creamier or warmer than others. It doesn't seem to be correlated with which ones were washed longer. Some of the ones washed longer are creamier or warmer, and some of them arn't. Could fixer stock be the culprit if it wasn't sold fast enough in the store, so even if I have only had it for a couple of months, it is giving me inconsistent results because of its age?
Tomorrow: perform the hypo test and residual silver test on some of the problem prints (red stains and the ones with the "poor fixing cast" look). Stay tuned and wish me luck, I am supposed to hang a show in one weeks time: )
Exhausted fixer will cause stains and other problems.
Claire (Ms Anne Thrope is in the darkroom)
I see a couple of possibilities.
1. The Paper may not fix well with the alkaline fixer.
2. Selenium staining caused by:
a. Insufficient washing
b. insufficient fixing
A solution to try:
After fixing, go to a second fix. From there go directly to the selenium toner. Since I have altered my processing in this direction I have had no stains.
I use a non-hardening acid fixer for all work.
Hope this helps.
I think Jim nailed it.
Ansel in The Print states, "Selenium toning requires an alkaline environment or stains may result, especially in the whites and high values of the image".
By rinsing your prints after the second fix, they might not be at a proper pH for the selenium toner to work as it should? I use TF-3 (a close relation to TF-4) and go straight into the selenium after the second fix...no staining problems.
Wouldn't it be great if it's that simple of a solution to your dire situation! Let us know how it goes.
Note to self: Turn your negatives into positives.
I have stopped toning altogether, to try to avoid the selenium staining problem (for now), but I am still getting stains that (I am told by a professional printer) look like selenium staining. I scrubbed everything, trays, tongs, print washer, dry screens and printed again, without toning--I'm still getting the same stains. Maybe I will test the ph of my tap water periodically, I wonder if there is something in there from time to time that makes it more acidic than it should be. From what I have read, washing before toning is supposed to insure the correct ph for toning.
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Once I introduce toning into the process again, I am definitely going to try this. Thanks! Do you think it is possible, if the paper doesn't fix well in this alkaline toner, that there could be completely inconsistent results? For example, that that one sheet wouldn't fix well and the next sheet from the very same box, fixed for the same time, same aggitation style etc., would fix well? This would explain a lot, i.e. why when I did the residual silver test the process seemed to be fine and why fix that doesn't seem to be exhausted fixed one print fine, but not the one before it.
Originally Posted by Jim Noel
Just finished doing a residual silver test on the ones with what looked like a "poor fixing cast" and the ones that had the light red spots (but were not toned with selenium, thus any selenium staining must have been from contamination--if that is infact, what it is). The test came up negative. The prints were fixed properly.
Are you mixing your selenium toner in Perma-Wash?
Here is Michael Smith's recommrnended procedure:
Water 128 ounces
Perma Wash 3 ounces
Rapid Selenium Toner 1 ounce
Use for 3 minutes.
Everything is analog - even digital :D
Next possibility is the paper. Contact Ilford and see what they have to say - they may want a sample of the paper. I'm pretty sure Ilford have not moved B&W paper production for many years. The age of the paper is unlikely to be a problem as MG-IV is renowned for its keeping properties (I suspect that's the trade-off for its relative reluctance to tone). Inevitably though, even in the best kept system, they will be some production problems.
Do you do sulphide based sepia toning in the same room as you store the paper? The fumes can apparently fog emulsions.
Good Luck! Bob.
My name is Simon and I work at ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology Limited : Normally you should send it to the country distributor to have it checked out, I do not know where you are but please do as someone suggests and send it to us, in this case send it to me and I will have it checked out. We will need the box ( or batch number, and your printed samples, some unexposed paper as well if you have it, we always have stored unexposed samples here, but it can help determine the possible issue ). It can take a few days or a few weeks to get a full reply dependant on what the potential issue is, it will be couched in these terms : we have cause justified ( A product fault ) cause not certain or cause not justified ( no product fault found ). As an FYI all ILFORD photo paper products are coated on machine 14 in Mobberley and none have been transferred or moved since the French factory was shut down many years ago. Since the foundation of ILFORD Photo / HARMAN technology nothing has changed re sensitizing or coating.
Please ensure you give us your full address and contact details :
UNITED KINGDOM. For The Attention Of Simon Galley