if this is your first attempts then i would just say keep practising , experiment with sizing, papers ,toners, etc
use a quality brush and double coat, allow each coat to settle into the paper and then hairdyer , then re coat. you dont have to force dry but i do and see no difference in quality to natural dryed. except the paper can be a little slower on exposure.
test your fixing routine i find 4% hypo for 5 mins to clear the print.
everyone says that vdbrown is easy, it isnt if you want great prints.
a good steady paper for vdb is fabriano hotpress 300gsm, with 2 coats of 3% gel size, also arrowroot size gives a slightly more nuetral colour tone
stick with it, print good contrasty slightly overexposed negs, and if you want a more photographic look learn how to carbon transfer print :0)
Sorry, but my experience is different. Personally, I find vandyke brown very consistent and predictable.
I used to do VDB and my results were all over the place. To the point where I gave up and started doing Pt/Pd printing, which is so much easier and predictable.
I took it up just as a cheap means of seeing for myself what alternative processes were about, thinking that I'd soon be switching to a more "aristocratic" one. Well, I now cannot find any good reason to give it up. It works so well and looks so nice that I can't find any justification to move on to a more expensive process.
so important vlad siad it twice, i agree once you have a good routine and know the limits of the process you find that certain negs just look fantastic , so gentle and tonal, i just wish i had more robust negs in my collection so i could print more often to the quality i require
Thank you all for the help. I'll try more papers, new sensitizer and varying the fixer time and concentration.
As for the Pt/Pd printing I may try it at some point, but it is too expensive to start experimenting with it without any previous experience.
I find it very easy to do with stonehenge and arches platine (which you can't get right now). I got the stuff to do it from bostick&sullivan. It's just one bottle of chemical sensitizer that I brush on in two coats, and I'm good to go. I suspect having the right paper is the most important aspect. I have experimented on other paper that is buffered with blotchy results.
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I'm curious Vlad, what paper do you use, and are there any special things you do, out of the ordinary, not in the books that you might want to share? The few good prints I've gotten with VDB I really liked. I see paulie says he double coats. I remember I tried that, and I always sized with hardened gel. It may have been my paper choices. I was good at salted paper printing and the other kind of Kallitype with the Rochelle salts. But for some reason, VDB, kicked my butt.
Right now I'm using Fabriano Academia. It doesn't seem to require any extra sizing. In fact, I tried once to size it with 3% gelatin, thinking that I might see at least a slight improvement in sharpness and/or gloss, and I got an image that looked exactly as usual. There was no difference. So I decided not to bother with sizing anymore.
I double coat by brush. Not only do I find the brush method easier, but I also like the brush strokes to show at the edges. I found the glass rod technique too finicky and often got uneven coating with it, so I now avoid it and use the brush exclusively. When I coated with the glass rod I didn't need two coatings. One was enough. But with the brush the second coating improves D-max and evenness significantly.
I don't do anything special. I have no special tricks. My only trick is to keep everything constant. As long as I use the same paper, the same amount of sensitizer, the same coating technique, the same processing procedure, the same drying method, the same drying time, the same distance between the UV lamp and the contact printing frame, and I use fresh chemicals, I find I can make as many identical prints as I wish.
My workflow is as follows:
- Use about 1.5 ml of sensitizer for an 8x10" print if I want to cover it completely, or 0.7 ml if I want the image to fade into brush strokes toward the edges.
- Wet the brush, then shake it a few times and wipe it with a paper towel.
- Pour all the sensitizer in the middle of the paper and start brushing it quickly in all directions. Keep brushing until all sensitizer has been thoroughly absorbed into the paper, but not longer.
- Let the paper dry naturally for half an hour. No fan, no heat.
- Apply the second coating.
- Let the paper dry naturally for one hour.
- Make the exposure.
- Wash the print in distilled water with some citric acid for three minutes, twice.
- Add one tablespoon of sodium thiosulfate pentahydrate in a liter of water. Fix for five minutes.
- Rinse for a couple of minutes, while preparing a 1+200 dilution of selenium toner (5 ml per liter).
- Tone until there's a visible (albeit very slight) darkening of the color. This usually takes from three to five minutes. Be careful not to tone any further, because the print will start lightening to an ugly orange.
- Rinse the print for a couple of minutes, while preparing a 2% (give or take) solution of sodium sulfite.
- Wash the print in the sulfite solution for five minutes.
- Wash in tap water for half an hour.
- Hang to dry.
As you can see, there's no special trick. I don't do anything that's not in the books. I just found a method that worked for me and stuck with it.
- The dry-down effect is unbelievably strong. If the print looks great wet, it's guaranteed to be far too dark when dry. I try to aim for a lighter than normal print. I don't know if this is a characteristic of the process, or of the paper I'm using. It may be just the paper.
- Selenium toner changes the color of the print from a reddish brown to a dark chocolate brown and also improves D-max slightly. The effect is strong and beautiful after the print has dried, though it's quite subtle when the print is wet.
Last edited by Vlad Soare; 03-29-2011 at 02:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
my process is allmost the same as vlad, except i give the exposed paper a 2 min wash in a weak p dichromate bath, some say not to do this , but hey it works for me.
vdb is without doubt harder to master than many other processes, partly due to everyone saying its such a easy process.
ive deffinatly put in as much time to vdb as carbon transfer to get the results that i was happy with, stick with it and dont get mad get even.;0)
Originally Posted by paulie
How weak a dichromate solution and does it pick up the contrast?? Evan Clarke
i vary the ammount of p dichro for each print, lets say 50 drops of 6% dichro in 400ml of water, approx
2 min wash in the dichro water and then a 3 min wash in plain water, try making a test strip and cutting it into two, one goes in the dichro and the other just water.
yo will see if you like the effect,
i used to add it directly to the sensitiser but had problems with consitancy and clearing,i now only use this technique when im doing a combined cyanotype and vdb, helps to slow down the vdb so the cyanotype can get enough exposure