A couple more beginner's questions from the darkroom
Hello again. I feel I have made some progress in the darkroom now with my new enlarger setup and I am solving problems slowly one by one. I am getting a few nice prints inbetween the disasters and beginning to get the hang of dodging and burning. It feels good . However, I have a few queries that I have not seen answers to by searching.
1. I bought a box of Ilford MG RC and a box of WT RC (8x10). The normal RC is fine, but the WT is very curled. There is no way that I can get an even focus on this paper with my LPL easel. Do I have a bad batch or something; or is there a way to flatten it out (eg keep it under heavy books I suppose for a few days)? Is this a common problem?
2. I picked up some old gear (trays, funnels, measuring cylinders) but it is all pretty dirty. Is there any easy way of cleaning stuff like this up? There seem to be chemical residues dried hard onto some of the plastic. It is not easy to get off. Should I just ditch this stuff and buy new?
3. I am thinking that eventually I will get into fibre paper when I have cut my teeth on the RC a bit more. The price of print washers seems astronomical. Is there a cheaper alternative (or is skimping here a false economy)?
Thanks again in advance.
Good Afternoon Mark,
Re #1--Are you using a borderless easel? I'm unfamiliar with WT paper, but I've never encountered an RC paper which had a particularly pronounced curl. It's hard to imagine that a standard bladed easel would not keep it flat enough. By the way, just use a fixed and washed sheet of the Ilford as your focusing sheet. I'm all for saving money, but sometimes "bargain" materials just aren't worth the bother; I'd stick with the Ilford.
Re #2--Standard household bleach and other cleaners can often work; sometimes it just takes long soak. There are photographic tray cleaners which may be effective. Whether the cost, time, and effort are worth the bother is something only you can decide.
Re #3--Using a number of water changes in a tray can work. A Kodak tray siphon is effective, but requires attention to keep prints separated. If you intend to get serious about FB, a good print washer makes things enormously easier.
I think warmtone RC can sometimes have a bit more curl to it but there shouldn't be any focusing problems if all the edges are tucked under the easel blades. I very rarely print with less than inch and a half (sometimes 3 inch borders) This helps to keep the paper flatter.
There are various stain removing products on the market although I've never used any. Prefer to start with clean equipment in the first place and keep it that way !! I'm shocked when I go into some peoples darkrooms and see the state of their trays, jugs etc !!
Continuously changing trays of fresh water as mentioned above is quite good for washing FB paper but use a hypo clear bath after the first couple of changes then go for as many clean water changes as possible. Slightly warm water is better too
Some paper does have a curl to it, I'm not sure why, maybe it is cut from close to the centre of the roll. You can buy small magnets, use these on the easel to help pull the blades down. The LPL easels are rather light so sometimes need a little help. This is usually more of a problem with fibre paper than R/C.
Providing the dirt on your trays is not loose it should not effect the process. Nova market a cleaner, although I can't recall it's name. Normally a good scrub with soap and hot water does the trick. Do a search on print washing, there have been a number of discussions on print washing recently.
Household bleach can interact with photo chemicals soaked into some trays to produce a quite noxious and perhaps toxic gas.
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Good tip. the best magnets for this are the ones from an old hard drive motor. They are rare earth magnets and really have a lot of power. Be careful to pull them off before lifting the easel or you could bend the blades.
Originally Posted by Dave Miller
Last edited by Kilgallb; 10-27-2007 at 08:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Originally Posted by mrtoml
Thanks for all your advice. Useful as always.
The magnet idea seems like the way to go with the paper curl. I have a 2 bladed easel, but the curl on this box is so pronounced that the blades do very little to alleviate it even when I reduce the borders by an inch. In the end I was holding down one of the blades with my hand during exposure, which is obviously bad practice. I now wish I had not bought 100 sheets.
I'll check some of the washing products (I don't have a dishwasher). I suspected that there may be potential chemical reactions. The trays are not so hard to clean, it's more the measuring cylinders where there is stuff precipitated at the bottom that is hard to reach. I didn't want to use boiling water or anything like that as it might crack the plastic.
I'll have another search on print washing and check these alternative methods. Most people seem to prefer expensive washers. I guess I am just shocked at how expensive they are when they just look like modified fish tanks.
For washing r/c prints I use a Paterson washer. The larger unit does two 10x8 sheets at a time, and will also do fibre. http://www.patersonphotographic.com/...ls2.htm#bottom
For a quantity of fibre prints I use http://www.novadarkroom.com/cat/32/A...l_Washers.html a Nova upright print washer. You are correct that these are expensive, but they do appear on eBay.
As for washing graduates if these are half filled with hot water and given a good shaking with your hand over the end I find the crud comes off - eventially.
Why don't you contact Ilford about the paper curl, they may be able to help, and they are always interested to hear about problems with their products. Simon Galley is the person to contact, you can send him a PM from this site.
I'd always rationalized it as purely due to humidity level. Paper is always coated under a specific humidity level - so any environment with close to 100% humidity expands the gelatin - and pushes the paper flat or curls it 'outwards'. Dry environments correspondingly shrink the gelatin - and curl the paper 'inwards'. Maybe Simon Galley or one of the other manufacturing reps have a comment on this...?
Originally Posted by Dave Miller