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  1. #1
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Best Archival Practices through use of municipal tapwater

    In thinking recently about various reactions occurring between alkaline devs, acidic and alkaline fixers, washing and various 'best practices' it occurred to me that domestic tapwater used to wash prints would present a rather powerful buffer load that would easily fight degradation due to acidic degradation of the pulp fiber in paper.

    I was just wondering if anyone had thoughts on the matter. It would seem that even a fairly minimal wash in today's municipal tapwater might go a long way towards preserving images.

  2. #2
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    Tapwater - well why not

    I nefver have looked at it too carefully; RC gets tossed in the water washer after about a minute or two in TF-3.

    For FB I just do a stand in water after first fixer, second fix once a bunch have accumulated, or I am nearing the end of the night, then put them in the vertical rocker washer for a shake for the 10 or so minutes that it takes to tidy. They stay there overnight, then get another 10 minutes of shake with the fresh water on in the morning before I fish them out and brayer them, then roll them into blotters. Usually by after work they are dry enough to finish up drying on screens, unless the humidity is really low. I think David Vestal turned me on to the overnight soak, which is kind of like Ilfords water conserving wash.

    AS to municipal water, what else are my options - I sure am not going to wash with distilled or RO water. My negs do get a final rinse on R/O with wetting agent. I find there are fewer drying spots that way.

  3. #3
    Sparky's Avatar
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    I'm just saying that all this talk and theory about long washes may be offset by alkaline municipal water supplies. I mean - I want my prints to last as long as the next archival freak does - but I'm wondering just how necessary the long washes are.

    I'd be a little suspicious of Vestal's suggestion of the 'overnight soak' - that sounds like a great way to lose all your optical brighteners...!!

  4. #4
    JBrunner's Avatar
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    It completley depends on the local water. Out here in the west USA, water quality and character can change drastically even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

    I have very good water here. Almost as good as bottled. I don't think it is leaving any acid fighting residue, just clearing the paper.

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
    I'd be a little suspicious of Vestal's suggestion of the
    'overnight soak' - that sounds like a great way to lose
    all your optical brighteners...!!
    Optical brighteners? You worry too much. Besides it's
    too easy a test. That assumes the lack of brighteners
    does not take years to show it's absence. Have you
    or anyone else experienced a loss of brighteners?
    Are they even used these days?

    I use a wash method which do to late night sessions
    leaves my prints in a last overnight soak. The prints
    are diffusion washed in tray with porus non-woven
    separators. They sit and soak, 12-14-16 hours.
    No loss of brighteners that I've noticed. Dan

  6. #6
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JBrunner View Post
    It completley depends on the local water. Out here in the west USA, water quality and character can change drastically even from neighborhood to neighborhood.

    I have very good water here. Almost as good as bottled. I don't think it is leaving any acid fighting residue, just clearing the paper.
    I guess what I wasn't being clear enough on - is that most city tap water (certainly very true in most of los angeles) has such a large amount of dissolved minerals that it seems like the mineral content ALONE would go a VERY long way to fighting the acidic products of the aging process.

  7. #7
    Sparky's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dancqu View Post
    Optical brighteners? You worry too much. Besides it's
    too easy a test. That assumes the lack of brighteners
    does not take years to show it's absence. Have you
    or anyone else experienced a loss of brighteners?
    Are they even used these days?

    I use a wash method which do to late night sessions
    leaves my prints in a last overnight soak. The prints
    are diffusion washed in tray with porus non-woven
    separators. They sit and soak, 12-14-16 hours.
    No loss of brighteners that I've noticed. Dan
    Well - I'll tell you something. I used to do multi-hour washes out of archival zeal - but most of those prints I found really lacked zing. It's pretty obvious even to the untrained eye. I think what paper you use, however, does make a big difference. Try it sometime. Pull a print from the wash after 10 minutes, say - and then leave one for 24 hours... just to be dramatic and see if you don't notice a difference after they've dried down and stabilized (after a few days, let's say).

  8. #8
    Dave Miller's Avatar
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    I use an alkaline fix, and follow the manufacturers recommendation regarding the washing time for fibre prints of 20 minutes.

    What benefit do you think I can expect to get by extending this time?

    ref: http://www.monochromephotography.com/fixer.htm
    Regards Dave.

    An English Eye


  9. #9
    Sparky's Avatar
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    I think people (wrongly) felt that if 10 mins is far better than 1 min, and 20 is far better than 10, that the more you wash, the better your craft (potentially) becomes... (maybe?)

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparky View Post
    I used to do multi-hour washes out of archival zeal
    - but most of those prints I found really lacked zing.
    I don't wash using running water. The method I use is very
    similar to that advocated by Fred Picker and Bruce Barnbaum;
    long still water soaks. Fred endorses the use of a fish tank
    equipped with separators while Bruce uses tray and tub
    soaks. He over nights.

    Still water diffusion washes and washers use a least
    amount of water. Back to municipal. Consider protracted
    running water washes and the amount water to wich the
    prints are exposed. I need to be damn sure of that water.

    My specific method of still water washes uses a least
    amount of water. The water used is distilled although
    I should use a RO unit or at very least an at home
    distiller; plastic gallon jugs need recycling. Dan

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