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  1. #1

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    Ok, what is it with this paper that gives such ugly grainy skies?.

    Here is my experience maybe someone can explain to me why the prints look so crappy.

    I started a printing session, the negative has a 1.4 range and I started with a #7 solution FO#1 12 drops, FO#2 12 drops, Pd 18 drops and Pt 6 drops....exposed, developed...and ugly, ugly skies, the print was correctly exposed and the tones in the subject area looked beautiful...but those skies...jeez I have never seen anything so ugly in my life....So I thought ok, maybe it is the potassium chlorate, since I dont have any dichromate (it is in transit) I figure I use hydrogen peroxide in the developer as per the tip Clay gave me....so my new emulsion was...21 drops FO #1, 18 drops Pd, 5 drops Pt, and 2 drops sodium platinate 25%.
    Expose develop....better but still butt ugly skies. So I thought Ok, I am on the right track, I lowered the FO a little and restrainer in the developer helped, so my next thought was maybe is the "cold snap" thing Sullivan mentions in his book, so I heated the solutions to room temp in a water bath....so, made the emulsion same as above with only FO#1 and exposed and develop....better but still looked like the skies were licked by my dog....so, I am thinking...ahaa...I am getting better result, maybe the paper is too alkaline so if I dip it in oxalic acid maybe I should get more even skies....so I did this, and success.....great smooth skies...but crap! the brush strokes were apparent in the print...so I am thinking ok, I got it handled, I made the same exact emulsion with heated solutions, paper dipped in OA and dried overnight, so nest print.....same ugly grainy skies...
    So I finally gave up after many prints and grabbed the platinotype....first print...beautiful, even smooth skies...so now I am weary, I am thinking, Jorge you are new at this, this must be beguinners luck...so I make the same exact print and again...beautiful even skies...and I thinking..ok, lets try another negative with more contrast.....again, perfect...so my conclusion, they should label socorro paper in the catalog not as "advanced platinum" printing but as "buy if you are a stubborn masochist".
    The thing is, I love the tone of this paper and the way it dries to give rich beautiful tones...unless there is sky, that is! So, any thoughts, help....or should I use this paper when the subject matter has no smooth even tones only?...if so this paper is more trouble than what is worth.

    BTW I have to thank Clay for the tip on the oxalic acid bath, it really is useful.

  2. #2
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    Another easier-to-find paper that has worked well for me with an oxalic acid pre-treatment is Rives BFK 280gsm natural white hot press. A quick dunk in 1-2% oxalic, and you can get a tone like the image I printed last night. If you intend to use it for a later gumover treatment, you MUST pre-shrink it in hot water for at least 20 minutes, dry and then dip in oxalic. Needless to say, I do large batches of this paper so it will be ready. It is a really long scale beautiful paper and will print 20-21 steps on the Stouffer tablet!

    I'll send you a jpeg off-list.

    Clay
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  3. #3

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    I just got your print and I wish you would post it here too.....it is a lovely print full of brightness.

  4. #4
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    Ok, here is a reduced size thumbnail of the image on BFK w/oxalic

    Clay
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  5. #5

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    Hi Jay, it is an interesting book, but I found albumen way to hard for the results. I agree that the initial outlay for pt is more expensive, but let me share part of the message Clay sent me, on his print, Clay made a test print and the first print came out like you see. How many times have you printed with silver and have a great print right at the first time?

    Of course Clay is experienced and I am sure he has his technique very well controlled but I think the rewards far outweight the initial "pain"...


  6. #6
    clay's Avatar
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    Maybe I'm a crappy silver printer. But it usually takes me about 4-5 sheets of paper to get it close to right with dodging, burning and whatnot. It is not uncommon for my first platinum print to be by final. Admittedly, I have been doing this almost exclusively for about the last year or so, but I do think that platinum requires a lot less dodging and burning to get a print that 'glows'. When you factor all my silver failures into the equation, I think it is about a wash for me.

    And yes, in answer to the other question, that is the same Rives company that's been around since god was a kid.

    Clay
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  7. #7

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (clay @ Nov 29 2002, 02:45 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>Maybe I&#39;m a crappy silver printer. But it usually takes me about 4-5 sheets of paper to get it close to right with dodging, burning and whatnot.</td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    I found myself in the same boat, and if the negative was a problem one, the the masking, SLIMT, etc took way more time and effort to produce the image I wanted.

  8. #8
    clay's Avatar
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    I&#39;m going to launch into a somewhat philosophical discourse, so, fair warning: I find the &#39;hit rate&#39; to be much higher for shooting ULF and printing in platinum. I think it is partly due to &#39;image discipline&#39;. When I&#39;ve got the big camera out, and know I only have 10 exposures that will have to last all day, I am much more careful about picking a subject, composing it on the ground glass and getting the right exposure. The picture I posted above represents a short photo excursion when I was &#39;in the groove&#39; with my 7x17. That morning over about a two hour period, I made six exposures. I developed the negatives that afternoon, and printed the four possible &#39;lookers&#39; last night. I think two of them will interest me enough to go back and get the &#39;perfect&#39; print. Two others are &#39;okay&#39;, but probably will get relegated to the almost-there pile. The last two were decent photos, but had technical flaws. One was blurred because of tripod shake in some wind. The other had a hot streak I got from using Rollo pyro in Jobo drums, and apparently not rocking it back and forth frequently enough during processing. I plan on going back and getting both of those photos again.

    This day was about typical. So my hit rate is about one-in-three. I don&#39;t know when the last time I got 12 good photos off of a 36 exposure roll of 35mm. That said, there are certainly instances where the big camera is out of the question and the small cameras are all that are practical. The good news is that the &#39;image discipline&#39; transfers to the use of a small camera as well. Recently, I find that I will be taking a 35mm photo, and I consciously think about whether my shadows will have detail, and if the edges and corners look right in the rangefinder.

    I guess what I&#39;m saying is that, yes, it is expensive if you shoot and print like you do with small cameras. But you won&#39;t be shooting that way. You&#39;d be worn out if you tried.

    Happy snappies to all,

    Clay
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  9. #9
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    I just noticed that my previous post had quite a few &#39;quotations&#39; . It&#39;s sort of irritating to &#39;read&#39; a &#39;letter&#39; with way too many &#39;quotes&#39; in it. I &#39;apologize&#39;. It always amuses me when I see &#39;inappropriate&#39; quotation on business signs. What is &#39;Good&#39; Food supposed to mean, really?

    &#39;Apologetically&#39;

    Clay
    I just want to feel nostalgic like I used to.


    http://www.clayharmon.net - turnip extraordinaire

  10. #10

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    Jorge,

    I don&#39;t know what "sorocco" paper is, but there are plenty of papers that give bad results. Luckily there are quite a few that work just fine with no special treatment. Watch for an article in PT next spring, but as a sneak preview, Lenox 100 and Folio, both available mail order from Stephen Kinsella paper dealers, are a pair of white and off-white sheets that print beautifully with no oxalic treatment or other extra steps. Cost is just over a dollar a sheet--22x30"--so they&#39;re also very reasonable in price. Masa is a "Japan tissue" that is much easier to handle than Bienfang and again prints fine with no extra treatments in either develop out or POP (zia) platinum/palladium.

    When a paper has a tendency to give gritty high values, most often seen in skies, but snow scenes can do it too, the situation gets worse when you add contrasting agents. With *any* paper it&#39;s best to get your contrast in the negative. I never use contrast agents, like, haven&#39;t used one on a print in years, and the reward is extradinary smooth tones throughout a long scale. Getting negatives with sufficient scale is no problem with either ordinary developers like D-76 or HC110, or with PMK pyro, though the latter is my usual choice.

    On the other topic, I&#39;ll agree with Clay that getting a first good print--even a good first print is much easier in Pt/Pd than silver, once you are making appropriate negatives. I expect to get a good "artist&#39;s proof" on the first or second sheet, usually the first. BTW, doing this is much easier if your negatives don&#39;t require contrast agents in the print...

    ---Carl




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