Mine went in the mail yesterday.
This time I decided to send out an RA-4 colour print. I have been busy with other things, and it has been a while - like before Christmas - since I spent any meaningful moments in the darkroom.
The colour developer and blix I had mixed and on hand were 2l each of Kodak RA-RT, with low activity additive in the blix. The mix date I had recorded on the jugs was 14 September 08. Kodak rates them for like 6-8 weeks after mixing before they are to be expected to start pooping out.
There was no 'crud' in the bottom of either bottle after I poured them into the roller transport machine. They had been mixed with pre-boiled and cooled reverese osmosos water, and the developer lives in a glass bottle. The darkroom is 'dark' when I am not in it, and cool - like 16-18C this time of year unless I have had the roller transport or a space heater going. I had not run more than 10 sheets of paper though these chemicals back in September. So I thought - lets give them a try, before resorting to mixing fresh chemicals for this print run of 30 or so 4x6" prints.
I programmed the master channels in my analyser to the paper settings that worked best the last time I used this stock some 6 months ago (it pays to keep good notes if you print colour). Thge image I wanted to enlarge was an outdoor scene, that was well suited to analysis on a neutral grey channel, with a diffuser held under the lens to scramble the projected image to get the recommended colour filter settings. Using this method almost always gets the colour right, but exposure is always off by a stop one way or other.
The settings for filtration seemed to make sense, and I exposed a first piece of paper to test for basic colour flaws and to start to fine tune for exposure. I was prepared to see any sort of wierdness with 5 month old chemistry being used. 5 mintes later a somewhat dark, but otherwise fine in colour balance print dropped out of the dryer. I cut exposure by a stop, and the second exposure was bang on. (Of course then, being unsure of my self I put though a 1/2 stop over and under that just to convince myself this was not a fluke). All of this, including the time it took for the paper to warm from being in the freezer, and the chemistry to warm in the processor took no more than 1.5 hours, mostly spent watching an Indiana Jones movie with the kids. Then it was time to go into production mode, and bang out the 30 prints I wanted to send as postcards. All on 5 months old RA-RT chems - love that stuff!