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  1. #1

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    Brown fingerprint stains, why?

    Please no flames about bad technique, I know I need to work out some running water in my darkroom. But...

    I just spent an afternoon printing. I tried out some new paper and chemistry. Printed Fomatone(warm) mat surface using Iford VC developer and Ilford Rapid fixer, none of which I have used before. 3 min in VC developer, stop bath then into the fixer. Alot of the prints ended up with brown fingerprints on the borders, I would assume from fixer on my hands when developing.

    The question is, I never had this problem with Portriga Rapid 118 or Ilford Galerie in Dektol developer. Do you all think the problem is with the new paper or the developer. I would have no problem going back to Dektol. Also now that I have Selenium toned the prints am I SOL as far as getting rid of the stains? Is there a way to bleach them without affecting the "archival" quality of the prints? I print 16x20 with LARGE borders and frame without overmats, so any stains on the edges make the print trash.

    I guess that ended up being alot of questions...

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by CLee View Post
    Alot of the prints ended up with brown fingerprints on the borders.

    I print 16x20 with LARGE borders and frame without overmats, so any stains on the edges make the print trash.
    Sorry, but I can't help you with your chemistry questions, but if they were my prints, I'd cut overmats as opposed to trashing the prints.

    Just my 2 cents
    John Bowen

  3. #3
    Ole
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    I had a similar problem once - either undeveloped fingerprints (white) or unfixed fingerprints (brown after toning).

    I finally traced it by comparing with my fingers! It was always my left index finger?

    I used my left hand to adjust the easel, and then to push each sheet into the deep corner of my 2-blade easel while I held the sheet down with my right hand.

    There was oil on the sliding stop in the inside corner of the easel. This got on my finger, and I then transferred it to the emulsion side of every print I made. The oil masked the paper from the developer, giving lighter spots in dark areas. In highlights and borders the masking wasn't immediatley apparent, but it prevented proper fixing so the unfixed fingerprint-shaped blob turned brown in the toner.
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  4. #4

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    Your assumption is dead on...Brown fingerprint stains in my experience have been caused by pulling fresh paper out of the papersafe with hands that were still slightly wet with fixer from the previous print. If I am making multiple prints my first prints never seem to get this.

    I'll stop being long winded (sorry) and say there is no way I have found to get these stains out. The problem is NOT with the new paper or developer. Warmtone papers are MUCH more sensitive to this issue (in my experience) so you must be very careful about making sure the hands are dry. Having plenty of paper towel to dry my hands in the darkroom seems to have fixed this problem.

    Ole's problem has happened to me as well. This was solved by making sure that I wash my hands really really good prior to going into the darkroom.

    Regards,
    John

  5. #5
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Simmons View Post
    Ole's problem has happened to me as well. This was solved by making sure that I wash my hands really really good prior to going into the darkroom.
    The interesting bit with my problem is that I got the oil on my finger from the easel, so it happened even when I put on clean gloves just before I took the first sheet out of the box!
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  6. #6
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    Having plenty of paper towel to dry my hands in the darkroom seems to have fixed this problem.
    This is why I wear jeans that don't go out in public when I'm printing. I hate having wet hands anyway, but I always wipe before touching anything. And, yes, I also have an apron when I remember to put it on (it says APUG on it, too!).
    I also agree with the overmat idea before trashing any prints.
    And don't worry, you're not the first or last to do it. I have tongs with "dev" "stop" and "fix" in big marker letters and they only go with their tray. (That's also partly because I hate having wet hands, but I don't want to touch the chemicals anyway)

  7. #7
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    I got the same thing, but for a different reason -- it had nothing to do with chemicals on my fingertips.

    Paper becomes pressure sensitive when first in the developer -- when subject to pressure, the silver acts as if it was struck by light. I would get the fingerprints on 16x20 Portriga Rapid prints that corresponded to my finger position when I would tightly grip the edge of the paper to flip it over in the developing tray. (I start emulsion side down, then flipped it over withing the first 30 seconds.) The positions of the fingerprints did not correspond to any contact I had with the paper before or after the exposure under the enlarger.

    But I print with a 1/2 to 3/4 inch safe edge that was to get cut off the paper during mounting, so I did not worry about it.

    Our students sometimes get thin black lines on their prints -- then I see them with their prints in the developer and they are using SS tongs with no rubber tips to push their prints down to the bottom of the tray (emulsion up, of course.)

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  8. #8
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    I think, but am not positive, if you have developer on your fingers when you take the print out of the fixer it will cause brown fingerprint stains.

    Jon
    Mendocino Coast Black and White Photography: www.jonshiu.com

  9. #9

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    Dear CLee,

    Try print tongs. They should help keep your hands clean (cleaner? :>) ) while printing. Assuming the other people in your life don't love the odor of photographic chemicals as much as we do, your hands will smell better as well. I like the plastic ones with rubber tips, but you will always find somebody to swear by each type.

    Neal Wydra

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neal View Post
    Dear CLee,

    Try print tongs. They should help keep your hands clean (cleaner? :>) ) while printing. Assuming the other people in your life don't love the odor of photographic chemicals as much as we do, your hands will smell better as well. I like the plastic ones with rubber tips, but you will always find somebody to swear by each type.

    Neal Wydra
    I have never had a problem since I went to tongs dedicated to each tray, so my fingers are never wet with anything. It takes a little getting used to, but I don't even think of it now. You are better off not getting your fingers in the chems anyway, so it makes for good practice all the way around.

    J

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