I discovered the lith development technique a few
Originally Posted by Martin Reed
years ago while experimenting with a low sulfite very
dilute hydroquinone developer. I left an otherwise flat
print in the developer for eight minutes. The contrast
had come up and after wards it dawned on me that
the developer had produced a lith print. I knew
because I had read descriptions of it's
So I can't help but think the production of lith prints
may have been as early as the 1800s. Print production
may have even preceded the use of lith developers with
film in the graphic arts and making of half-tones. Dan
Originally Posted by Bob Carnie
It will be great to see you, but give us plenty of advance notice,
Mike now only works on 'giant prints' ie bigger than 20x24" and other work is done by Sharon Easterling here. Mike is more or less retired now and only comes in to print when he has jobs lined up.
We saw Les a few weeks ago and he spent half a day here, which I think was more than he was expecting!
Was it definitely Seagull, which has always been a very bright paper? There was another chloro-bromide Oriental paper called 'Center', which although promising much never really delivered, and as you say was off-white. It was replaced with the ultra slow Oriental 'Portrait' which was dropped when the company restructured in the late '90's.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
Yes, Bob Carlos Clarke was one of the early Kodalith adopters. I think the Kodalith LP lent itself to small intense images, I don't recall seeing it used very large, and as it was on such a thin base it was difficult to make large prints without damage.
Tim might correct me, but possibly the definition of 'lith' development has to incorporate the presence of the infectious development cycle, which in normal lith development gives ultra high contrast with no half tones, and then in pictorial lith where the print must be 'pulled' rapidly at the point where the infectious development has delivered the desired half tone image.
Originally Posted by dancqu
A colour effect can be obtained by other types of development but it's not really lith. Kodak's history says Kodalith was launched in 1931, so that might be as far as one can go back.
I stand corrected, yes it was Oriental Centre, I have a print I made on it here with me in Turkey. It was a very nice paper, rich and warm, and it toned nicely in Selenium, but it's the base colour which stopped me using it more.
Originally Posted by Martin Reed
Presumably by 83/84 Bob Carlos Clarke was predominantly using Agfa papers, it would be interesting tom know if he was lith processing Record Rapid, or Portriga around that time, my guess is he was.
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I am surprised that no one has mentioned Gene Nocon here. He was printing professionally with Kodalith paper in his London darkrooms in the early 80's for sure and I expect earlier. I met him first around '84 if I remember the date approximately. I spent a few days printing with him and he showed me his Kodalith prints then, for which he was becoming known. Kodalith was discontinued and his stocks were running down. I used the lith process with Oriental, which was the next best thing and very very easy to lith print on. Then Sterling Lith came on the scene from India. The first generation of this was wonderful for Lith and I still have some 20 x16 deep frozen. It then altered its character somewhat 'overnight' and this strange phenomenum of pepper fogging was suddenly there - between one batch and the next. The manufacturer denied absolutely that the paper had changed, and so did the plant foreman in India when I spoke to him, but changed it was and it was never the same again. It was still a fabulous paper (once the pepper cure was nailed down), but it was different.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
Martin (Reed) sent me some old Kodalith paper out of historical interest when I was writing the first Lith book. It was probably 20 years old and its storage details were not known (to me at least) so we were not too sure how well it would print. It printed like a dream and had a character and a look all of its own.
There is another as well:
Artist will use a printing process called "Lithography" whence the word "Lith". Lithography is literally "writing on stone". Lith is latin for stone.
Alois Senefelder invented lithography in 1798. The process relies on the fact that water and grease repel one another. Artists were able to draw directly onto a flat stone surface with a greasy ink which was attracted to the dry stone surface and which, in turn, would attracted the printing ink, while the background absorbed water. The area of the surface that was damp repelled the printing ink. This is called a planographic process. Senefelder used the process to print sheet music. It was a process that could be used for book illustrations, artist's prints, packaging, posters etc.
I lifted the info from this site
Gene never seemed to accept there was any alternative to Kodalith LP and put a whole chapter devoted to it in his book although it had long gone by then.
Yes, it was a great shame the way Sterling Lith went downhill after the first batches. One never really gets straight answers from manufacturers about emulsion chemistry, but I expect it had something to do with having to reduce the cadmium content or changing another restricted ingredient.
I did some printing on Fomatone glossy (with a standard warmtone dev.) a week or two ago & found it to be much yellower in base colour than when we first began importing it. I haven't tried lithing it yet, but fear the worst, the cadmium may have gone, & the base tint has been bigged-up to compensate. I think you have been holding it up as the last true resource for lith, Tim, so we'd better look into it.
Interesting topic this and one I was talking to a client about a few weeks ago. He certainly remembers lith printing in the late 60s at college and said that at the time, John Claridge was using the technique quite a bit. I also remember seeing an exhibition about ten years ago and being surprised that there were some lith prints, (named as Kodalith in the description I think), which were dated from the 60s, however I can't say for sure who the photographer was. I think it was Terence Donovan though don't quote me. Of course Mike Spry was around then, setting up Downtown, so he is the one to ask. My assumption, (and that's all it is), is that undiluted lith dev, which was originally used to produce pure black text and illustrations on lith film and papers for the reprographic industry, was used to make very graphic pure black and white prints from continuous tone negatives. The colourful lith effect was discovered by either accident, pulling the prints out before the 3 minute dev, (or was it 2 minutes 45?), or by noticing the intermediate step before the image went black, and then diluting the developer to make the snatch point more controllable. All sounds very groovy and 60s to me. Incidently, if you ever come across some discontinued Kodak sheet lith film, this prints wonderfully in diluted lith dev to make lith transparencies, and gives an idea what Kodalith paper was capable of.
One wee question. Bob mentioned that the current Oriental still works. I'm sure this has been covered elsewhere on Apug, and I don't want to start a big debate, but I was under the impression that what is being sold today as Seagull doesn't work in Lith. Any definitive answers?
PS. I taught myself lith printing by studying Gene Nocon's book many times in a bookshop in Covent Garden when it first came out and then running back to the lab I was working at to try it out. Not sure now why I didn't just buy the book!
Well, that's where the photographic lith terminology came from, it's been hijacked from the original application, high contrast film images for making lithographic plates. Kodalith was a user-friendly substitute for the old cadmium based wet collodion plates used for litho ink printing well into the 20'th century - part of the system was the formaldehyde based 'lith' developer which we're still using to try to wring something out of what's left of the modern papers.
Originally Posted by Paul Goutiere