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  1. #1

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    Lith: Not enough contrast

    Hello there. I'm asking this here as the two Tim Rudman books on the subject I recently purchased are in storage somewhere. I've developed 6 prints now, all in Fotospeed LD20 and on Kentmere Kentona and Forte Polywarmtone and the prints have all come out lovely but they're just normal. There's a small sign of the heavier concentration of dark tones coming through but not a lot. Apart from the colour change there's not a lot to tell them apart from an ordinairy developed print. The scanner's in storage too so I can't really show an example. I'm using the instructions that came with the developer which said 15ml of each with water to make up a litre of solution. I'm getting 3 prints at a time though I did end up spending 25 minutes on the last print last night so do I need a bit more developer to get this "explosive" development. I think the papers I'm using are all said to be suitable for the job. The development seems to be pretty flat at the moment and I certainly don't need to "snatch" it. I've tried long and short exposures with the prints coming out pretty much the same each time. What have I done wrong?

  2. #2

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    How much exposure with each print? Probably teaching you suck eggs, but you have to double the exposure to increase by 1 stop.

    Just for ball park... I did some printing on Fotospeed Lith with LD20 at those concentrations the other day and I was using around 60 sec at f/11.

    I suppose the other question is are you snatching too early? Do you have a red torch to inspect the print with?

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by unhinged View Post
    Apart from the colour change there's not a lot to
    tell them apart from an ordinairy developed print.
    I don't know that that is so unusual. I've a number
    of lith prints which look quite normal but toned. Dan

  4. #4

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    The new formula Kentona doesn't lith very well, it produces pretty plain results. Forte Polywarmtone will generally produce a chocolate colour and you should get could solid blacks. The actual effect will depend on concentration and the best results are achieved after toning in selenium. I don't use LD20 so can't comment on the dilution you'll need but something like 1+19's probably a good start point - the instructions that come with kits often suggest too strong a solution.

    For better results try some Fomatone MG and dilute to 1+29 to 1+49. This will produce all the best lith effects and you'll get lovely tri-tone splits when toned in selenium which you can turn into quad-tones if you then additionally tone in gold.

    Barry
    My website: Light Work

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by keeds View Post
    How much exposure with each print? Probably teaching you suck eggs, but you have to double the exposure to increase by 1 stop.
    No, now you mention it, it's obvious but last night I was scratching my head. That said I've tried from 70 sec @ f/8 down to 30 sec @ f/8.

    Just for ball park... I did some printing on Fotospeed Lith with LD20 at those concentrations the other day and I was using around 60 sec at f/11.

    I suppose the other question is are you snatching too early? Do you have a red torch to inspect the print with?
    No, but I do have my safelight which I can waft about. I left one print for quite a bit longer but all that happened was it turned into an overexposed print. Didn't appear to have the dark speckly black stage (for want of another way of putting it) that I'm looking for.

  6. #6

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    I make no claims of being an expert at lith, but I can share some of my learning at this.

    At 25 minutes, you are probably developing to completion, or close to it, and you lose a lot of the lith effects. I use PWT and Fotospeed lith dev, but I've been using 20 ml of each instead of 15, I also add about 100 ml of old brown.
    My dev times run about 12-15 minutes, I find that much more than that, I lose the lith characteristic color, and get very neutral or even cold tones.
    How much exposure are you using, compared to a "normal" print of the same negatives?
    I've found that getting enough exposure so that you don't develop to completion, but enough that you don't have too much contrast, is tricky.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by bdial View Post
    I make no claims of being an expert at lith, but I can share some of my learning at this.

    At 25 minutes, you are probably developing to completion, or close to it, and you lose a lot of the lith effects.
    I did use 20 ml last night rather than the 15 they suggest but it was my 4th print of the evening and an hour in and I figured I'd pretty much exhausted it. I'll stay off the Kentona too.

    The infectious development, does it come on as fast as is implied in the writings? Even after I start to get dark tones it's not a fast transition. I reckon my shortest development time so far's been 15 minutes.

  8. #8

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    I have one of RH Designs safe torches. They are a must for Lith for me. Safelight not bright enough to gauge the blacks. Quick flash of the safe torch shows how far they have got.

    Another variable is temperature. I also use a tray heater for Lith (not lots of heat but some), especially this time of year.

  9. #9
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    First thing I'd do is scrap the instructions try a stronger dilution. I mixed it just as you did the first few times I tried lith printing and it was very frustrating. Try anywhere from 1:9 to 1:19. How much total volume of developer are you mixing? If you only make a small amount, it'll will deplete much faster.

    While I've never liked Kentona, many people love it for lith. The polywarmtone should work well. I think a stronger dilution may be the answer to your problems.
    ____________________________________________
    Searching my way to perplexion

  10. #10

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    I agree with Travis concerning dilution. I think 25ml of each A and B per liter would be a better starting point.

    You did not mention the use of old brown. If you are starting from fresh, it can take quite some time to build up enough semi-quinone (if I have that correct) for infectious development. If I get a particularly good batch of developer, I keep all of it for use as old brown.

    And did you add any sodium sulfite? Perhaps a couple grams per liter would be a good place to start. While this is on the light side of what is recommended in the book, I find it is always easier to titrate up than to dump developer out. If I am not getting infectious development, for whatever reason, the first thing I do is submerge a little test strip in the developer, with the lights on, then sprinkle a little pinch of sodium sulfite on it. If development occurs rapidly, then there's the culprit: add more sulfite. Seems like the optimal bromide/sulfite balances are different for different papers.

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