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  1. #1
    tim_walls's Avatar
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    Lith printing - aaargh...

    ...is this the most frustrating process in the world?

    I am tearing my hair out here, with my first attempts at lith printing... I must have made about 10 test prints so far over the last few days (my darkroom time is almost as limited as the capacity of the chemistry) and none of them am I happy with. More frustrating is that there are several which are oh-so-close to being there, but when I make the next attempt in order to get that perfect print, the result is completely damn different!

    Grrrr!


    Sorry, not expecting help here, just had to vent... A big part of my problem at the moment is difficulty determining the snatch point; what looks like the right time under my dim safelight results in a picture that seems to magically evaporate on contact with fixer. I'm ordering one of the RH Designs safe torches now to try and fix that problem.

    If it wasn't for the lith print exchange, I'd probably have given up by now. I hasten to add, this is a great justification for the lith print exchange - it's great to have a motivation...
    Another day goes under; a little bourbon will take the strain...

  2. #2
    Ole
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    Quote Originally Posted by tim_walls View Post
    More frustrating is that there are several which are oh-so-close to being there, but when I make the next attempt in order to get that perfect print, the result is completely damn different!
    That's how it is, in my experience. Completely irreproducible, but stunning when it "just happens" to be right.

    Quote Originally Posted by tim_walls View Post
    A big part of my problem at the moment is difficulty determining the snatch point; what looks like the right time under my dim safelight results in a picture that seems to magically evaporate on contact with fixer.
    Lith prints do that, but that's a part of the process. The picture doesn't disappear, it just turns a colour that happens to match the colour of the safelight making it seem to vanish.

    Don't worry about that - and get Tim Rudman's book. I can tell you haven't got it already, since if you did you would know about the image disappearing in the fixer!
    -- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
    Norway

  3. #3
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Tim
    What paper are you using???
    Sometimes the papers will explode in the fix which adds monster problems, Ilford WT is one for sure.

  4. #4
    tim_walls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ole View Post
    Lith prints do that, but that's a part of the process. The picture doesn't disappear, it just turns a colour that happens to match the colour of the safelight making it seem to vanish.
    You mean it's not in my imagination? That's possibly the most reassuring thing I've read in ages - I was starting to question my sanity...
    Don't worry about that - and get Tim Rudman's book. I can tell you haven't got it already, since if you did you would know about the image disappearing in the fixer!
    I've literally just ordered it. Hopefully will turn up in the next couple of days, our miserable postal system notwithstanding.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Carnie View Post
    Tim
    What paper are you using???
    Sometimes the papers will explode in the fix which adds monster problems, Ilford WT is one for sure.
    At the moment I'm using the Fotospeed Lith paper (incidentally, I love the finish of that stuff.) I'm going to stick to that paper until I'm at least vaguely in control of what I'm doing I think - unless anyone advises otherwise.

    I do also have a box of Fomatone Chamois, which I didn't buy specifically for lithing, but I understand that it works quite well - I'll probably give that a try once I know what I'm doing.
    Another day goes under; a little bourbon will take the strain...

  5. #5
    Jersey Vic's Avatar
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    2 ideas:

    Maybe mix up 2X or 3X the amount of developer you've been mixing so that the exhaustion of the developer is more gradual.

    Also, I keep a wet regular silver print in a tray as a comparison to help determine how much density I want in my lith print under a safelight. Seems to work pretty well.

    It's alot of fun but time consuming. If I make 1 or 2 prints I really like in printing session, I'm pretty happy. Not an great process for making lots of copies..
    Holga: if it was any more analog, you'd need a chisel.

  6. #6
    tim_walls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jersey Vic View Post
    Maybe mix up 2X or 3X the amount of developer you've been mixing so that the exhaustion of the developer is more gradual.
    That's a genius idea, and I'm embarrassed I didn't think of it myself...
    Another day goes under; a little bourbon will take the strain...

  7. #7
    Bob Carnie's Avatar
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    Tim
    Fotospeed lith is my favourite go to paper as well, It does not suffer from the problem I thought you may be having.

    This paper can be tough to lith print and a way to solve it is kind of wierd but bear with me.
    For all lith printing the neg is always the deciding factor on how the end print will perform or look.
    thin negs, normal negs, pushed negs, it really dosen't matter but for each case there is a sweet spot in exposure just like there is a sweet spot on the snatch point.
    In fact with fotospeed the correct exposure is more important than the snatch point.
    I always use two enlargers, for lith, one for the neg and one for the flash, If you do not have a second enlarger a low wattage bulb on timer will suffice.
    For very contrasty negatives, you will need a flash to make the lith effect work,
    Normal negs less flash to no flash.
    Flat negatives there should be no flash,

    In all of the cases less exposure will give more contrast, more exposure will give more highlight detail but can go to flat.

    So I probably have made your life more complicated, but if you spend more time with the exposure / flash sequence it will make better prints.

    I can only say this from printing thousands of lith prints over the last 10 years that once the exposure/flash dev dilution/ snatch point is drilled into your head it becomes second nature.

  8. #8
    rst
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    Well Tim,

    Quote Originally Posted by tim_walls
    If it wasn't for the lith print exchange, I'd probably have given up by now.
    Hey do not give up, I am looking forward to your print.

    Regards
    -- Ruediger

  9. #9
    Thomas Bertilsson's Avatar
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    I second Victor's idea of mixing a lot more chemistry. For 8x10 prints I mix three (3!) liters of developer. That gives me a capacity of nearly ten prints including test prints.
    Note that less exposure increases contrast and developing time, more exposure decreases contrast and developing time. Pre-flashing the paper is a great idea if you have contrasty to very contrasty negs. Stay with it, try harder. Eventually you will find that the process indeed is reproducible.
    I started with normal negs at about 40seconds exposure at f/8. Then just go from there according to the recommended dilution of your chemistry. Pay particular attention to chemistry temperature (very important) as well as any other upthinkable parameter. Everything matters, and consistency from your part is crucial to succeed.
    - Thomas
    "Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank

    "Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman

    "...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh

  10. #10
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    There were several problems that I ran into when I started lith printing. The main one I think was that I never mixed enough chemistry. Now, regardless of whether I'm lith printing 8x10 or 11x14, I mix approximately 1 gallon of developer (not including the 30% Old Brown I add).

    Additionally, once I got my safe torch from RH Designs, the consistency of my prints improved tremendously.

    I went through a lot of paper and chemistry before I finally started getting the results I like. You just have to keep working at it.
    ____________________________________________
    Searching my way to perplexion

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