RA-4 beginnings and troubleshooting
So I mentioned, in the thread for rhapsodising about Portra 400, that I was about to do my first RA-4 prints.
On Tuesday night I made my first ever colour prints, and to my delight and amazement, it more or less worked, except for one issue on which I'd like advice.
I was printing on Kodak Supra Endura paper, expired 2011-01 (so probably okay) using Rollei Digibase RA-4 chemicals. (I bought these since they have a little kit which was cheap to ship intercontinentally while I figured out whether I want to press ahead. I think my next run will be with Tetenal 5l kits. It's too expensive to import boxes of Kodak RA chems unfortunately).
Foolishly, I chose a fairly difficult negative to print at first but on the whole I was satisfied with the colour rendition after tweaking the filter pack slightly. Of more concern is that the exposure times are so very short that dodging and burning look really difficult.
The only real problem I have is that the unexposed borders of the print (from under the easel blades) have a marked, mushroomy-coloured stain -- a sort of yellowy grey with a bit of redness to it too. Funnily enough white areas within the print itself actually look better, but that may be an artefact of their being next to relatively dark areas. Overall, the prints are quite dull, but I may have better luck with other negatives -- like I said this was a difficult one.
I presume this is probably a chemical issue, but which one? I know PE has spoken skeptically of monotype blix concentrates in the past, and I trust his judgement on the subject. Also, one of the chems appears to have leaked a little during intercontinental shipping -- though certainly the developer still seems active and is rendering colours in the image okay. My suspicion is around the blix, but I'm no expert on the subject.
Any idea how I could fix this?
Oh, and some process details:
Exposure (zippy! About 4 to 8s!)
Processing in unicolor drum on roller base:
Pre-soak about 30s with 38-40C water(bright blue rinsate. Who knew?!)
Dev about 60s at 38C
Blix about 60s at 38C
Rinse with warm water x3
Should I be adding a stop / rinse between dev and blix? I guess that could extend the life of the blix but shouldn't have made a difference in the first couple of sheets. Should I be shortening process steps to 45s?
Thanks all for any input!