The grain could come from too much drying during the exposure process. This certainly happens with Pt/Pd prints, where the paper dries out too rapidly because the light source is too hot. You end up chasing a reciprocity failure problem. Another possible cause could be a contrasting agent, if there is one for VDB. In Pt/Pd, using certain contrasting agents promotes flocculation (graininess) in the highlights.
Originally Posted by rippo
If the grain is not in the film it is most likely from the paper. Papers that don't have a good size will show this.
There are other things that can cause graineness with the iron processes, for example contrast control agents such as dichromate and chlorate. But this should not be an issue with VDB because you would not be using them anyway, right?
What paper is this?
VDB, which is ferric ammonium citrate based, does not respond at all to the contrast controls we use with kallitype and pt./pd, which are based on ferric oxalate.
Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
thanks FlyingCamera and Sandy.
i'm not using a very hot light. it's two blacklights in a fixture hung from the garage rafters, with a ladder holding the two sheets of glass i use for a contact printing frame. i've never noticed much heat from them at all. so i don't think it's drying unduly fast under the lamp. i can't say for sure though.
i'm not using any chemical contrast controls.
the paper i'm using is Stonehenge Rising. i don't do additional sizing to it, as i was under the impression it had adequate sizing already. should i?
I have been using Rising Stonehenge for Van Dykes with good results; I don't think that sizing is the issue.
Rippo, are you still using the older sensitizer? I found that dead sensitizer prints a little grainier but it also has no dmax which doesn't seem to be the issue with you.
Also, are you toning before fixing? If your using Rapid Fix, it can destroy your image and cause a grainy look.
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actually i ran out of sensitizer last week, so i mixed up a new batch and let it sit for a few days. so it's fresh (but *not* too fresh).
this print is untoned (not going to tone until i've got the procedure working a little better). i'm not using rapid fix, just normal hypo (sodium thiosulphate). then clear it (sodium sulfite).
i printed two at the same time, because i wanted to compare inkjet with imagesetter negs. however the imagesetter print came out very poorly...lots of mottling, and some dark stains or deposits. i think this particular sheet of paper hadn't dried as much as the other.
so perhaps this is just a problem of the sensitizer not being dry enough?
i think i'm going to have to coat, dry, coat, dry, and then humidfy. otherwise getting the timing right is going to be tricky.
Careful of the diBEEEEEEEPal neg too, the ink can sometime take ages (over a day) to dry properly, and if it's not dry it will "bond" with the sensitizer and create bloched highlights.
heh. sorry about using references to the 'evil D'...i forgot this wasn't hybridphoto i was on.
this negative was nice and dry...at least a week. but good point! thanks buze.
ok, problem solved!
rather than trying to rely on the sensitizer not being completely dry - which i think was causing the graininess - i just let both coats completely dry. then, an hour or so before it was time to expose, i took the electric tea kettle and the paper into a small bathroom, and repeatedly ran the kettle with the door closed.
it worked very well! in fact, it worked too well...the first print i thought wasn't dark enough, so i exposed another for twice as long. turns out, with drydown, the first exposure was closer (but there was a flaw in the paper, which was why it was my test). i ended up having to bleach the second print a little, which gave me more contrast...dmax still better than the first exposure, but the highlights were brightened nicely.
thanks for all the help! now here's the print...