Robert, I did 3-5 more trials:
- I get great dmax!
- There's considerable contrast increase; very nice in the shadows but sucks in the middletones and highlights!
- I get increased nap which isn't that good - shows as grain in the print... (I use a very thin paper - Masa - BTW; this may not apply to stronger papers with hard sizing.)
- It's hard to inhibit streaks. (Both due uneven application of silica fume and - eventually - coating solution.)
- I also mixed a ~ 10% (missed your 4% suggestion below...) suspension. Somehow, the wet application increase silica coating's unevenness - but could be because my suspension is too strong. Will investigate more on this...
I'll struggle some more but I feel like I won't use this technique with Masa paper. Will try with COT 320 or Fabriano Artistico later. (I'm also planning to add some into gelatin sizing solution for gum printing; maybe it can help in taming extra slick papers...)
That's all for now.
P.S. I try it with trad. cyanotype, on Masa paper.
Originally Posted by Robert Hall
Last edited by Loris Medici; 03-03-2012 at 02:50 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Added the P.S.
Awesome results. I would agree, probably better for heavier paper. One might use FS as something to turn a surface matte. It might be used for something like albumen if you wanted a less glossy surface.
Post some images!
I haven't been to Apug in a while and didn't see this thread about the fumed silica before I started playing with it.
I made a blog post today comparing the fumed silica on Platine and Revere Platinum.
I bought the liquid from Bostic and Sullivan, and that works great on the Revere Platinum, but Robert mentioned that brushing/rolling on dry might work better with Platine. It will be a while until I can get my hands on some dry fumed silica and a few more papers to test, but I hope to follow up with it in a few weeks.
Here is a link to the write-up I did with a few pictures with side by side comparisons.
". . . photographing as a two-way act of respect. Respect for the medium and letting it do what it does best- describe. And respect for the subject in describing it as it is. A photograph must be responsible to both."-- Garry Winogrand
"Art is just a Series of Natural Gestures
."-- John Marin
My Platinum Printing Blog
Has anyone got some accurate reflective densitometer readings i.e Dmax values from using fumed silca, if so can you post them with pictures etc... Also does anyone know FS effect on the archival properties of a platinum/palladium print.
Last edited by Davec101; 03-27-2012 at 03:02 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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Richard thanks for the report (haven't read it in depth - I'm at work right now, will return to it later...) & visuals. One quick comment: The zoom image shows more fibers (= "less absorption?" and "increased nap?") and is a little bit more grainy (at micro-scale) in the scan. This conforms with my experience; application of the amorphous silica onto the paper - somehow - do physical damage to the fibers / surface. One has to be very gentle with fumed silica. (Moreso with thin / delicate papers - at least in my experience...)
OK, I finally got around to popping my fumed silica cherry last weekend. My views follow:
I used the wet version as supplied by Bostick + Sullivan.
I first printed an image on Arches Platine (the paper I am using somewhat reluctantly for a large ongoing project) without using any fumed silica. Once I got an acceptable image I coated another piece with fumed silica by way of a coating rod (same as I coat sensitiser). As a starting point I used 12 drops of fumed silica over an area about 6x8 inches (for neg size 5x7).
The coating went fairly well, except that I couldn't see anything. By looking at an angle I was able to determine what was wet and what was not. Three or four passes max and it looked like a good even coating. The paper was let sit for a few minutes then dried with a cool blow dryer.
I then coated and exposed the paper exactly as for the previous print. As per expectations I observed an increase in Dmax, a slight overall contrast increase (though less than I had expected). So it all seemed good. Who wouldn't want more Dmax with Platine, although I agree with someone else's comment (can't remember whose) about the extra highlight contrast being undesirable in some images. I did notice some of what I think Loris is referring to when she says "raised nap", although I've always found this to a degree with Platine and sometimes 'spot it' in darker areas.
I then tried another negative (4x5) and got very similare results although I noticed that an uneven coating of fumed silica results in patches or streaks of uneven Dmax, which looks crap.
I then tried another paper that a friend had been told worked well for platinum. He had never tried it so I took one for the team. Strathmore 500 series plate finish. Quite thin, about 120-130gsm I imagine. Not quite as white as platine but with a smoother finish. The first sheet creased from being too wet. I halved the drop count and coated again.
This is where it gets interesting, and frustrating. The first two prints, barring a few small areas of patchy Dmax, were stunning. To the point where I instantly had to consider re-printing my 4 year project. The Dmax was as good as platine or better, low separation and mid-tone contrast were better, and the image was sharper with 0 raised nap. It made the print on platine look quite ordinary.
Then, to overcome the patchiness in the fumed silica coat my friend suggested we coat the whole sheet. We did so, and it did not crease too badly as it was all wet, rather than a wet rectangle in an otherwise dry sheet.
This print looked terrible. There was barely a latent image, and when developed it looked flat and underexposed by about 3 stops. I figured I must have stuffed up the mix and tried again.
The next three prints were all the same, flat, pale and lifeless. Was it coating the whole sheet? One last print where I coated just around the image area as before. Same result, well slightly better see attached image. The earlier print is on the right, the problem print on the left. Same mix, same chemistry, same exposure unit and time, same developer. It's got me buggered. Since its dry the dud print also has a distinctly powdery feel to it which is absent on the other prints that worked. My apologies for the crappy phone pics, my scanner is packed away due to renovations.
I didn't get time to re-try with platine to check my process and I'm dumbfounded as to what happened or what changed. If it were repeatable the results I got on the Strathmore paper with fumed silica would force to consider re-printing my whole show.
Oh, forgot to ask. Has anyone mixed the fumed silica into the sensitiser and coated it all at once?
Resurrecting this thread for a little while - I got the liquid from B&S a while back and have finally gotten around to trying it out. Rolled it on with a foam roller as the directions say. Used it on both COT 320 and Revere heavy weight so both papers were pretty thick.
It did not roll on as directions said (until the sheen goes away!), but did appear to go on evenly. However, when printing, did not get anything like I expected. Had significant problems with added grain appearance and even bad spotting as well as blotchiness. Did not experience darker Dmax either.
I have no desire to waste any more of my expensive paper on this stuff. Perhaps the drier air here in the Desert has something to do with it, but I don't think so. Maybe the dry version would work better, but I'm not sure if I even want to try it out.
Has anyone else had similar problems with the liquid silica?
I spent the last few days printing with the dry silica. I found it easy enough, a bit of a learning curve on how much to use and how to spread it.
I couldn't see much difference at first using my old Cranes cover paper. But after looking at it awhile on a few different prints I see that it does have better dmax and better contrast in the blacks. It also has the affect of reducing the sheen on the paper after the print is dry so that it looks contrastier and clearer.
I was surprised how little powder it takes and also surprised that you can still feel it on the surface even after printing processing and washing.
I also got some of the liquid from B&S and the little foam roller they suggest. My first try it seemed very difficult to get on evenly and I got a bunch of bubbles on the surface. The dry is so easy that I think I will stick with that. I do like what it does. At least on the Cranes paper it gives better contrast in the lower tones and it prints very smoothly. I don't see a color change or a printing speed change.