It hasn't been mentioned, but matting and framing the photo with clean glass adds some dimension to the photo's presentation.
The glass is sort of like the reflective sheen of water on a wet print.
If you are also comparing your bare prints in your hand with other people's matted and framed photos, you need to do the same to make an accurate comparison.
Dry down amount varies by paper, but MOST (not all) are -10%. The test is easy. Make 4 prints. One you like, and three with -4,-7, and -10 %. Dry those three, keep the one you like wet in a tray. When dry, compare. One will match, or pretty close. If it's pretty close, interpolate and get on with life.
Doing the test itself yields lessons other than dry-down amount, too. So please just don't take my word for it, do it for yourself.
Want to have fun? Take a sheet of paper and tear it in half. Toss half in the fixer directly, develop and fix the other half. Compare. They'd better match. I found mine don't - developed paper was fogged until I added an ounce of benzotriazole to a half gallon of working solution of Dektol. That was true even of brand new paper, and more true of older stuff freezer-stored. My whites aren't dingy anymore.
By the way, RC dries down, too. I use it for proofing and with new students. It also has fog.
Develop, stop, fix.... wait.... where's my film?
Now that this thread is chock full of good suggestions and useful observations, I'll add a really bizarre one I happened upon accidentally while investigating my particular lab setup some years ago. I assume the OP is using glossy papers to begin with. At one time I used the kitchen micro-wave to see the immediate effect of "dry-down", after development. The (torn) micro-waved print exhibited a super, super contrasty, wet looking, cibachrome-like gloss to the print's surface. I have no idea how the radiation changes the actual paper or emulsion physically, other than to note that it was a bit "crispy".
The next step would be to attempt to flatten and mount a print small enough to have been dried wholly within the device. I never completed this part of the investigation as my micro-wave is too small to treat normal (for me) sized prints and the changes to fiber based papers seems undesirable, by any classical consideration. But, there you go...
Papers, Colour and B&W like films can suffer from Micro reticulation, so do home made emulsions (as one Emulsion maker on APUG can attest).
Kodak did tests with colour papers where they used a visual grading, a then current paper emulsions was the standard, they tested hardeners that prevent this happening (all were better than the standard), these improvements are now used in colour papers and most films.
With papers the micro reticulation causes the surface dulling, heat drying alleviates it, steaming or use of a microwave momentarily remelts the surface gelatin super-coat, within reason the more the heat the greater the gloss, the extreme is glazing (ferrotyping) where the surface is deliberately re-melted against a chrome metal plate.
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I would also recommend you keep all your less than perfect dried down prints for experimentation with other techniques such as bleaching, bleach and redevelopment and sepia or other toning options which often take the top of the highlights giving you a more contrasty, punchier print. On occasions you will find an initial discard comes out a winner.
So then there might indeed be something to my assumption that a gentle microwave heating of a damp print is similar to a steaming treatment? At least in terms of surface appearance alteration?
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
But since steaming would seem to be an external application of damp heat and microwaving an application of internally-generated damp heat, would there be any other additional reasons for concern when microwaving?
I know from experience that excessive curling is one possible downside. But the overall effect - the enhancement of surface sheen - is pretty darned dramatic, and to my eye worth the trouble, if it's not somehow destroying the print internally.
"They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."
— Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs
Bruce, was that an ounce of 10% solution?
Originally Posted by BBarlow690
I have only briefly hear someone mention selenium toning. about 5 minutes in 1:40 will increase the intensity of your photo slightly (making richer blacks, while adding some depth to the photograph), which might help.
You also never mentioned what paper your using. If you're using FB Warmtone, it tends to appear duller as the base isn't as white. Also, if you're using matte lustre paper or semi-matt, it will look "weaker" than glossy.
Selenium toning would make the darks that are already too dark even darker. It would also change the color of the print.
If anything chemical to recover a print that has dried down unacceptably, it is a mild bleaching. I do it all the time when I decide I should have printed something slightly brighter over all. I also do it when I want to slightly change the contrast (pop the highlights throughout the print) of something, by using a quick shot of diluted bleach on a print that has not been pre-soaked. Then, of course, there is localized bleaching, which I also do not all that rarely. It allows you to "paint in" your highlights and really fine tune your print.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 03-12-2011 at 05:11 PM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)