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  1. #1
    jmcd's Avatar
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    Old-style print washing—Please fill me in

    How did Edward Weston wash his prints? From what I read he made many prints in a good session. I know he had a little light bulb under his developer tray to keep it warm, but I am guessing he used a simple tray method involving elbow grease to wash prints.

    I am wondering how well it would work to simply shuffle prints continuously through a tray of water, and dump for fresh water after an interval.

    Would this work well? At what interval would you dump the tray to add fresh water? How many changes of water might be suggested? If you know of an effective tray washing routine, yours or an oldtimer's, I would enjoy hearing about it.

  2. #2

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    Among other ways, I believe he washed them in a running stream on his property.

  3. #3
    wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcd View Post
    How did Edward Weston wash his prints? From what I read he made many prints in a good session. I know he had a little light bulb under his developer tray to keep it warm, but I am guessing he used a simple tray method involving elbow grease to wash prints.

    I am wondering how well it would work to simply shuffle prints continuously through a tray of water, and dump for fresh water after an interval.

    Would this work well? At what interval would you dump the tray to add fresh water? How many changes of water might be suggested? If you know of an effective tray washing routine, yours or an oldtimer's, I would enjoy hearing about it.
    Using the old timers washing methods, might not work so well today. They often used FB papers with hardening slow working fixers. They also had cheap, plentiful water and no concerns over water contamination with chemicals and silver.

    Today we have RC papers and fast working non-hardening fixers, so that you don't need long washing times. Water is much more expensive now, and in many parts of the world there are conservation concerns. We now know that wash water contains fixer and silver, so there are pollution concerns as well. Perhaps a better question would be, how does one get archival prints using modern washing methods?
    Paul Schmidt
    See my Blog at http://clickandspin.blogspot.com

    The greatest advance in photography in the last 100 years is not digital, it's odourless stop bath....

  4. #4
    sun of sand's Avatar
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    I don't know how to help you but maybe this will
    simple =/ needing a bunch of answers from people on an internet photo site
    Seems like you want some some kind of extremely educated simple answer
    or
    something even more intelligent than an educated guess but not anything so precise as to be called scientific

    Just seems if you want "simple" you should keep it simple
    When you want proven ask for proven
    I don't know whether there can any inbetween


    Put some prints in a tray
    soak em for an hour with some shuffling
    repeat 3-5 times
    or just leave overnight

    Will that work just as well
    I don't really care
    will it work well
    Seems like it would do fine
    Will it work just as well
    I don't care
    I'll care when it doesn't and I need it to
    Then I'll be done with simplification
    simple science performed
    ....

  5. #5
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcd View Post
    How did Edward Weston wash his prints? From what I read he made many prints in a good session. I know he had a little light bulb under his developer tray to keep it warm, but I am guessing he used a simple tray method involving elbow grease to wash prints.

    I am wondering how well it would work to simply shuffle prints continuously through a tray of water, and dump for fresh water after an interval.

    Would this work well? At what interval would you dump the tray to add fresh water? How many changes of water might be suggested? If you know of an effective tray washing routine, yours or an oldtimer's, I would enjoy hearing about it.
    ******
    There are threads along this line. It is my understanding that the fixer, etc. diffuses into the water and that sufficient agitation and changes of water can get the prints "clean." That constant running water, with outflow at bottom, is not an absolute necessity.
    All this, I am led to believe, is dependent upon several variables--freshness of fixer, type of fixer, etc.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  6. #6

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    Large floor-standing rotary print washers existed as far back as the the 1920's. Print washing in smaller applications was not much different than today for the last 60 years or so, such as a tray with a tray siphon, or smaller table-top rotary print washers.

  7. #7
    Wade D's Avatar
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    I am on well water in southern California and try to use it sparingly. I soak prints in a large tray changing the water every 15 minutes or so. Then a final wash of 5 minutes in running water works well. This is for RC prints. FB prints are treated in hypo clearing agent then the same wash as for RC. This has worked well for years.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Anscojohn View Post
    It is my understanding that the fixer, etc. diffuses into the
    water and that sufficient agitation and changes of water
    can get the prints "clean."
    That constant running water, with outflow at bottom, is not
    an absolute necessity.
    Other than the clinging surface fixer all the remaining fixer
    finds it's way into the body of surrounding water by a process
    of diffusion. Fixer brought to the surface by diffusion continues
    it's course through out the body of water. That is, the process
    of diffusion does not stop at the emulsion's or paper's
    boundary.

    Running water washes are a BIG waste of water. Running water
    is not at all a necessity. Still water, with print separation works
    well. Fred Picker would agree and has said as much. See the
    Sticky concerning film washing. Dan

  9. #9

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    I tend to use my upright washer for diffussion after an initial blast:

    I use hypo clear and then wash for ten minutes on fast/moderate flow then do three or four changes of water, removing them on the last while the water is moving. I dont believe that when ilford says that after using hypo clear the print should be very close to its best after 5-10 mins, people wash for an hour plus on full blast when their (Ilford) results and those from Nova appear to show little to no reduction in fixer product in the paper.

  10. #10

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    I should add that I have done 20x24s in trays with about six changes of water over about half a day with intermittent agitation, then toned them perfectly with no spots, marks or the like. no idea whether archival but they are still on my wall, catching a fair bit of windowlight and look fine. I suspect they will for another 50+ years...

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