First argyrotype - questions
I tried my first argyrotype yesterday using the B&S/Ware formula on Arches Aquarelle. I didn't use any Tween and coated a 5x7 area by brush for a 4x5 negative made with APHS Ortho Lith film.
I let it dry for one hour and then exposed it in sunlight for 5 minutes.
I cleared it in water for 5 minutes during which time it seemed to get slightly lighter. Upon fixing in a 2% sodium thiosulphate solution, it immediately turned a dark brown, but also started to bleed from the dense borders. I turned it over so the bleeding wouldn't stain the print. At about one minute or so, the image started to lighten. I eventually pulled it before the recommended 3 min fix time, washed it and let it dry face up on a clean towel.
When dry the image was much lighter in tone and contrast than what I had seen in the initial "fix down", so I think the image bleached in the fix.
What can I do to eliminate both the bleeding and the reduction in the fix?
Should I use Tween to help with the first problem (bleeding) and a more dilute fix or shortened time to help with the second (bleaching)?
Any info or tips are greatly appreciated...
I will be trying my first Argyrotypes on Tuesday evening. I'll post my findings/issues as well.
Are you sure 5 minutes exposure was enough? The descriptions of the process I've read so far indicate that bleaching in the fix is normal, the image as it comes out of the printing frame should be darker than you think the final image should be.
Also, I don't think you need to cover such a large area outside the image. Cover just a bit larger than the negative size and the bleeding should not be an issue.
The first water bath is quite important , Ware suggest to use non chlorinated paper. I just use tap water, I keep for a day before use and it works.
the argyrotype sensitizer is not as fluid as other sensitizer and tween help the sensitizer to get in the paper.
the tween will help to keep the image in the paper.
This directly from AlternativePhotography.com:
"If there is any bleeding of colloidal silver metal, indicated by a red-brown stain running off dense areas of the image, then the paper fibres are failing to trap the tiny silver particles, and it is likely that insufficient Tween has been used, or that the paper is unsuitable. The effects of bleeding may be minimised by processing the print face down, to avoid staining adjacent areas, but there will be some density loss."
"Fix in 2% sodium thiosulphate for 3 minutes.
This removes any traces of insoluble silver salts and, if the print has not already been toned, it partially sulphide-tones and intensifies the image, improving the shadow gradation and shifting the colour from red to brown. (As the bath ages its action in this respect increases). Extended treatment in this bath and exposure to air will result in loss of image density especially in the highlights; it may be used to reduce an overexposed print."
Did my first argyrotype session last night. PVia, I think your main problem is the paper. I did 3 prints on Crane Cover and 1 on Arches Aquarelle. The Crane prints did not bleed at all, but the Arches bled like crazy in the Selenium toner (1:100 dilution). It didn't bleed much in the first water bath though, so I'm going to try the Arches again without toning to see how it looks. I think the Crane prints look pretty good (best one attached). I'm using the B&S chemicals and exposing with one of the spiral black light bulbs they sell. My exposure time on the posted image was 9 minutes. I did experience some bleaching in the fix, but any loss was regained in the dry down - the highlight area in the center of the image was nearly white when the image came out of the fix, but regained a good amount of detail when dry.
The negative was a pinhole exposure, 12 seconds on Acros @ EI 50 and developed in Pyrocat-HD.
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I haven't done argyrotypes, so take advice with caution, but for fixing kallitypes and van dykes (which also tend to bleach in the fix if you're not careful) I use a 5% Hypo with 0.3% Calcium Carbonate (3g/litre). Raising the pH does wonders to reduce bleaching.