posted in Bleach, Foma 532, Fotospeed LD20, Moersch Easy Lith, Slavich by doug with no comments
It’s been quite a while since I have had time to be in the darkroom, but last week I was able to help a friend get set up to do lith printing and we had a great time.
Ron Reeder is a great friend and my mentor of all things alt photo; he has generously given his time to teach many folks the ins and outs of making digital negs, palladium and gum prints and his overall energy level is pretty astounding. Imagine a Jack Russell terrier with ADHD. That’s Ron.
Our setup was a little unconventional. Ron has a very large floor model NuArc exposure device, and we wanted to make use of the vacuum frame. So Ron mounted a spare enlarger to a ceiling beam over the top of the vacuum frame to use as our light source. Kinda wacky, but it worked. I’ll add a photo here next time I am over at Ron’s.
The great thing about working with Ron is that he has a wonderful imagination and great sense of humor, so the imagery we had to play with was fun from the get go. We started in the usual manner, making a conventional test print using Dektol. Ron’s digital neg profile for silver gelatin gave us a fairly low contrast print, so we printed another neg using his standard palladium profile (btw, this is the type of profile I use). You can see that the palladium profile, 2nd image, seems to work better:
We felt pretty good about being in the exposure ballpark, so we moved right along to a lith print, using Slavich Unibrom 160, emulsion 5613. We exposed at what we decided was N+3 from the Dektol test, and processed the print in LD20, 50mlA+50mlB+wtm3L. I like this print a lot. Ron felt it was maybe a little contrasty for his taste. The image, btw, is part of a series Ron has done with wacky shaped carrots. Hilarious.
We damaged the neg by not letting it dry quite long enough, and so we made another one. I should mention here that when you are using a vacuum frame, you are well advised to let the negs dry overnight, or slip a sheet of clear acetate (like a single layer of a Clear Bag) between the neg and the paper. This is especially true of the Slavich which has such a wonderful smooth gloss that the negs are prone to sticking.
Anyway, the second print gained some contrast by being second through the chems and we probably should have let it dev longer but we pulled it at 10 minutes. I can’t seem to lay my hands on that print at the moment…
Then we moved on to another neg, one of Ron’s model friends, shot by his wife Judy. I love the wonderful texture of this print, but Ron was starting to think maybe the Slavich was too cold in tone for him.
We had some gas left in the tank before needing to change developer, so I pulled out a sheet of Foma 532 and we went back to the Carrot Odalisque neg. We’re still in LD20 here, 50/50/wtm3L. Dev time about 14 minutes. Pretty nice. I still can’t decide if I like this or the Slavich print better.
We decided to stay with the LD20 (50/50/wtm3L) for another round and make some more Foma 532 prints. From the last print, we clearly needed more exposure, so we upped it another stop, now at N+4 from the Slavich. As I recall the Foma is a little slower normally and we didn’t actually run a “normal” test print on the Foma, so this is probably close to where we should have been.
Here is Heather again, this time on Foma
We didn’t get a very good black on either one of these prints despite upping the dev time to 15 minutes, although the web versions look not so bad. We also got some mottling of the prints that showed up towards the end of the fix time. My tentative theory on this mottling is that I have only seen it on Foma prints that spend a long time in the developer. Long being much more than 10 minutes. I have not done enough testing to confirm this. But I decided to up the dev concentration to get more energy and shorter times, so we went to 70/70/wtm3L.
Devon by the Window
Much better! About 10 min dev time, no mottling in the fix and good blacks. We printed another of Ron’s negs, this one from another fantasy series, and then exposed another print of Devon using Slavich.
The Owl Fantasy, has a weird low contrast tintype look to it, which is kinda cool. It will be interesting to play with this series some more. We were back to a long dev time and mottling, however.
And the print of Devon on Slavich.
OKAY! Time for some Easy Lith.
I mixed it at 40/40/wtm 3L. We also changed our exposure setup by removing the enlarging lens entirely which gave us four stops more light at the vacuum frame. Our math for exposure compensation proved a little fuzzy (and we did’t even have any wine or beer at lunch!), so these prints are a little dark. But the color is really nice, and a little potassium ferricyanide brought them back to an interesting place.
We made an exposure adjustment, 2 stops less than the ones above. Dev time right at 10 minutes and pretty much right on the money. Or on the carrot.
Overall a pretty successful day.
I’m encouraged to play with the Foma 532 some more and I think I will lean towards the Moersch EasyLith in the next set of tests to see if the mottling issue in the fix comes up.
If you’d like to see more of Ron Reeder’s work, including his excellent book on QTR and digital negs, check out his website at ronreeder.com