No offense taken, and that was my assumption.
Originally Posted by Roger Cole
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
Roger - small drums have always been so cheap that I just keep multiples on hand. I generally just
use them for test strips, then make the full size print in one of the big drums. I'm allergic to RA4 so
only make a few big prints a week. The drums are loaded in the darkroom and the processor wheeled
onto the patio so I don't get a whiff of the chem. RA4 can slowly lead to sensitization, so better safe
than sorry. If I had to make a significant quantity of small prints I have a 20-inch roller processor, but it hasn't seen use so far. The less complicated the machine the better. I've been offered a 50
inch Kreonite, but am a bit lazy figuring out where to put it - plus all the new fume ducting and
plumbing lines I'd have to add. Drums are a lot simpler up to about 30X40, then it gets dicey in terms
of holding internal temp, solution volumes etc. I'd rather be spending time prepping negatives with
masks etc than fussing with more equipment. I've done enough of that.
That's an idea, just having lots of drums. I'm afraid that wouldn't work much better for me right now as I have no running water in the basement where my current darkroom is located. I can work with a holding bath and big water jug with a spigot on it, but even if I had lots of drums it would be awfully inconvenient to run them up and down the stairs when I did need to rinse them thoroughly. My "big" water jug is 7 gallons - fine for mixing working solutions or even a hold tray, very quickly depleted by trying to rinse things, and then it goes into a catch bucket which also has to be emptied. It could have worked in my permanent darkroom back in my parents' basement in Tennessee.
I did have problems with the fumes from the Tetenal RA4AT, particularly when it hit the stop bath, but people here tell me there's no explanation for that. Changing to citric acid stop (double B&W strength per Tetenal) helped, and going to a Print Pod with much less surface area exposed to air helped even more. I'm hoping the Kodak stuff used at only slightly elevated temperature won't be as bad, even in open trays. We'll see about that.
I'm so far behind on black and white (have something like a dozen rolls to develop going back to last fall, and a dozen or so sheets of 4x5, plus stacks of contacts that still need to be enlarged, at least a few frames from each roll and some of the 4x5) and so short on darkroom time I am reluctant to jump back in right now and have another project that I don't get to do. But it's on the agenda.
Roger - I can't pin down the irritant in RA4. It's nothing corrossive like Ciba bleach, so doesn't give itself away by odor. I know a number of lab owners and their employees who got sensitized to RA4
and couldn't be around it. I can work with it for about a week and then all of a sudden only tiny
amts of the odor will irritate my resp system and make me very susceptible to cold virus etc. So I
opt just to do the actual chem mixing and dev outdoors during mild weather (to keep temp variables
within tolerance inside the drum). But ventilation is important even with much milder b&w chem.
An option for those who want to do RA-4 printing but are bothered by the odor is to use home-brew RA-4. It seems to be a preservative in the developer (in addition to a small amount of sulfite, too much of which will interfere with dye formation) that has the strong smell and if you mix it yourself you can leave it out and use only sulfite but the shelf life will be short, only a few days at most. But it is an option.
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My darkroom in TN was pretty well ventilated. Here and now - eh, well, I hung black plastic around the area of the basement I use and over the ceiling joists, mostly to prevent too much movement of too much dust into it from outside and dust falling from the ceiling, but it also cuts down on any light that leaks in from the blacked out windows and I can print in the daytime, or even with the stairwell light on at the other end of the basement. It can't be very air restrictive - I notice no problems with black and white. I do use brown toner outside that area, though, both for the smell and for the fact the fumes can fog paper or so I seem to recall reading.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
The RA4AT stuff was, I think, more concentrated than regular RA4. Working with it for a couple of hours even in good ventilation would give me a sore throat for a day or two. After the change of stop and change to the printpod it wasn't too bad.
I did a little RA-4 printing about 10 years ago in drums using my Jobo CPP-2. I found it slow and tedious for 8x10 to 11x14 prints, but that is mostly because it took me several tests to get the color and density where I wanted it. I could have proofed in trays, but it didn't occur to me.
I never printed larger than 11x14, but I am sure that a Jobo drum would be easier and more economical in terms of chemistry used than developing in trays for 16x20 and up, at least in my darkroom. My sink will fit four 16x20 trays, but only three 20x24.
I've almost got my Fujimoto CP-31 up and running. That will simplify my process, but I'll be limited to a maximum of 12x16 prints. For anything bigger than that, I will use my Jobo. It won't be that painful because I'll be able to proof smaller test prints in the CP-31.
Making your first really good RA-4 print is a terrible, frustrating experience. But eventually you will get the color balance right and the workflow correct. After that, it is very easy as long as you keep doing it. Go away from it for a couple of months though and you have to endure the torture again.
I have never had such a problem.
Maybe making notes would help you.
I didn't make notes and it took some time before I started remembering the base filtration without writing it down. It took some time to notice that my filtration for "typically" exposed (natural light) images and neutral look is always the same! Just as it should be. You are much easier off if you take a piece of paper and write these two magical numbers down.
For those who are lucky enough to have an enlarger with STANDARD filter scales can read these magical numbers directly from the paper package. ... it's not too difficult.
That's basically what I plan to do - use trays for smaller prints, move to the drums for the occasional larger ones after proofing in trays. My CPE2 I think won't do larger than 11x14 anyway but I'm sure I can find a manual 16x20 drum.
Originally Posted by SkipA