You may be having problems with too much heat, too little coating solution, poor coating technique, and possibly expired chemicals. It's also possible that the grain was caused by using too much contrasting agent (trying to print a negative that is too flat for the process).
It's really hard to tell what may be the culpret from the scan, but based on your posts, I can suggest a few things to try.
A 15 minute exposure may be about right for the typical PMK developer, especially if you do a post-development dip in the used developer (don't do this, as it merely increases the exposure time with no benefit to the image quality). I would think about going to a different developer that is less prone to nonproportional stain.
Are you double coating the paper? That normally doesn't work too well with a rod. With a rod it is possible to use much too little solution when coating, which can result in weak blacks, and some uneveness and mottling to the image, but typically not grittiness.
Grittiness can come from overheating the paper, and also from the amount of restrainer you are using. It can also be caused by coating technique. It sounds like you have enough contrast, so I would try letting the paper air dry for about 30 minutes with no heat and see if that affects the quality. If you do use the hair dryer, have the heat setting at the lowest level, or off to avoid too much heat.
If you do use a blow dryer, don't start with it until the surface of the paper no longer has the sheen of the liquid on it (wait until the paper goes 'velvet'). You may be drying some of the solution on the surface, and then when you develop, it washes away, resulting is a bit of grain in the image.
When I first started, I got the most miserable images with all kinds of problems like you are experiencing. The experience you gain from the first few printing sessions will quickly help eliminate a lot of the technique problems that you may be experiencing, so I recommend you keep at it, and try to modify your methods a bit to see where you can improve.
Thanks for the advice. After reading your remarks, it probably does have to do with the amount of heat - while I do use the cool air setting on the blow-dryer, I've not been using it exclusively, and I've probably rushed the paper into production.
I don't think it is expired chemicals - my set from Bostick & Sullivan is about three weeks old, and is stored in my darkroom, which is air-conditioned and quite dark when I'm not working around it, as it is in the basement.
The negative is definitely not too flat - the scene is a very high-contrast scene. I'm not doing the post-processing dip. I learned after about my third batch of film in Pyro that Gordon Hutchings himself had repudiated that technique, so I quit doing it some time ago.
I'm single-coating my paper, since this is my first ever batch, and I wanted to stretch my learning curve. The mix I've been using is 3:9:12 drops (#1,#2 FeOx and #3 Pd), to coat a 5x7-ish area for printing a 4x5 neg. I switched to a glass rod for coating because I was having problems when working with the Crane's paper of the foam brush lifting up balls of paper. I'll give the brush another try on the COT, since that paper is so much more durable.
PUT DOWN THE FOAM BRUSH AND BACK AWAY FROM THE COATING....
No good can come from a foam brush. The puddle pusher is better, the Richardson Brush is best. You might want to look at your drop count. Weak blacks might come from not enough sensitizer solution.
I let my COT 320 air dry for at least three or four hours, sometimes overnight.
If I read this right, you're using 3 drops FeOx No.1, 9 drops FeOx No.2 and 12 Pd. The FeOx No. 2 is your problem. I suggest you abandon the use of No. 2 and change to either Na2 contrast booster in the sensitizer or dichromated potassium oxalate developer.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
Also, if you need that much No. 2 to acheive the contrast you desire, your neg may be too flat to produce a really fine pt/pd print.
Finally, you may want to try out a Richeson Series 9010 Watercolor Wash brush for coating (aka The Magic Brush by those who use it).
Originally Posted by Kerik
I'm just using the Pd kit from Bostick & Sullivan, and following their directions. Trust me, the neg is NOT flat. Printing it on a silver-gelatin paper, it requires somewhere between a 0 and a 1 to print without blown-out highlights.
Will most art supply stores carry the brush you speak of?
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Here's a link to the magic brushes. Jerry's Artarama is where I got mine.
Originally Posted by Joe Lipka
I second the Richardson (its actually spelled diffrent than that but I can't rember the correct spelling) brush. You realy can double coat with a rod well, you can with this brush.
NO FOAM BRUSHES!!!!
Based on your mix listed above, I think Kerik is right about at least some of the grain coming from the restrainer in the #2 mix (great minds think alike). If you are using the #2 PD mix (1.2% Chlorate), then you have an awful lot of restrainer in the mix, and restrainer will definately do this to a print.
I don't know how good of a representation the scan is that you have provided, but it looks like you can back way off on the #2 FO, as the highlights appear to be quite hot. One of the things about pt/pd is the very long toe in the response curve, and that typically results in very nice, subtle highlights.
The image you are showing looks more like a silver print than a pt/pd print, which makes me think that you may be trying to get typical silver contrast characteristics at the expense of the tonal range in the print, and also at the expense of the smoothness of the tone.
I can't recall if you looked at the pt/pd prints I had up at the VC Conference last month, but I can assure you that with good technique, the grain you are experienceing will not occur. The key is to understand the limitations of pt/pd, and be sure that you are working to maximize the positive characteristics of the process, and minimize the weaknesses.
Richeson I believe. I had one sent over by Joe's Cheap Art Stuff. I have to confess that I have not used it yet but I will one day !
Originally Posted by magic823
Cogito, ergo sum.
I did see your prints at the VC conference - I guess I'm working to what I'm familiar with, and what I have as reference prints, which is largely silver prints. Please bear in mind that the image I scanned is about the fourth or fifth Pd print I've ever made, so I'm in the beginning stages of learning the medium. I was guessing at the mix I should use based on the instructions that came along with the Bostick & Sullivan Pd kit - I was getting a print I was happy with on silver paper printed at around grade 0- 1/2, so I was using the amount of the #1 and #2 recommended by their chart. I'll try a more temperate mix and print again tonight. Perhaps a 6:6 mix of #1:#2, or should I go even farther toward #1?