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Thread: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

  1. #1

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    Dec 1999
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    Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    I've been working on a print for my daughter this week that I took of her recent wedding venue. It's of the historic Ainsworth House in Oregon City (Ore) built in the early 1850's. Of course, we always have to deal with dry-down. After getting the best result that I could anticipate, I washed the print and let it dry overnight.

    The print was decent, but not quite there. Although the shadows were good, I needed to bring up the highlights a bit, so the print need some additional contrast. It occurred to me to rewet the print and use it as a basis of comparison for the contrast increase.

    What caught me off guard was the effectiveness with which I could fine tune the new print, knowing what the wet print looked like when dry. It was easy: I gradually increased the contrast, but also increased the exposure sufficiently to keep the shadows the same. (I use a color head for B&W printing, so increasing the contrast also increases the density of the filtration, thereby requiring a degree of increased exposure.) I had a good sense of how much to increase the contrast (when wet) to get the desired end result. (After dry down.) It worked out great, and the final print "sings" in quite a nice way.

    This seems like such an obvious approach, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, this was my first time at giving this a try. (At the same time, I don't think that I recall seeing this strategy described in books I've read, either.)

    It was also during this printing session that I ran out of paper in a previously purchased box, and had to open a new box to continue the session.

    [See related post:] http://www.largeformatphotography.in...77#post1456377

    The reason the loss of contrast in the new box became so obvious, was because I was comparing against the same wet print.

    The box-to-box variation that I experienced alarms me. Like many, I keep notes on prints so that they can be reproduced later. But variation like what I experienced can render printing notes almost useless. So in addition to the notes, I will keep an unmounted print in a plastic sleeve that I can rewet during future printing sessions. The printing notes can be a starting point, but the wet comparison print will enable me to nail both the exposure and the contrast. Of course, the printing notes also convey the useful dodging and burning information.

    This was quite an instructive printing session. I also learned that, for about a 25 second exposure, each 10cc increase in magenta filtration required about a 3 sec exposure increase to maintain the shadows. That was interesting as well.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Hamilton, Canada
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    In addition you can rewet just half the print and see both endpoints at the same time.
    Bill
    "There are a great many things I am in doubt about at the moment, and I should consider myself favoured if you would kindly enlighten me. Signed, Doubtful, off to Canada." (BJP 1914).

  3. #3
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    Once upon a time we would make a dark, rather flat print then bleach it in mild potassium cyanide to clear highlights and remove light fog.

    cowanw: In addition you can rewet just half the print and see both endpoints at the same time.
    That's a great idea!

  4. #4

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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    The other thing to add that, when using your WT paper, that they can look a little flat until you acheve FULL drydown in a few days, then even a little more when the DWFB is hot pressed, driving out the final remains of moisture...

    Dry a print totally, then flatten it in a dry mount press to get a final dry... You will also notice a cooler color then on the WT...

    Steve K

  5. #5

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    Jun 2014
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    Quote Originally Posted by Jac@stafford.net View Post
    Once upon a time we would make a dark, rather flat print then bleach it in mild potassium cyanide to clear highlights and remove light fog.



    That's a great idea!
    I hope that was potassium ferricyanide.

  6. #6
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    Quote Originally Posted by koraks View Post
    I hope that was potassium ferricyanide.
    Oh! Is my face red. Of course it was.
    Thanks for the correction.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2014
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    I'm glad it was, you might not have been with us otherwise

  8. #8
    Robert Bowring
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    Wauwatosa Wisconsin
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    Ansel Adams used a microwave to dry a print quickly while was was printing in order to see how it would look when dry.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
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    Oregon and Austria
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    Re: Drying and REWETTING a Print During a Print Session

    I almost always dry prints down before deciding which exact exposure and filtration/contrast grade/developer strength I want. I tend to spend a lot of time getting one print exactly right and then I'll make a run of 3-5 prints. When I'm getting close, I'll dry several prints made at slightly different exposure/contrast and hang them up on the white board in my darkroom. It's illuminated with a mix of 3200K and 5000K floods to approximate what I think is ideal gallery lighting. Then I'll live with them for a while till I decide which I like best before I make the final prints. In the summer, I just walk outside and dry the print in my hands; in the winter I'll use a microwave (sometimes tearing a larger print into pieces so it'll fit...). I find that drydown compensation, either with a drydown timer or applying some percentage of exposure reduction, is simply too imprecise. Sure, it takes a bit more time, but my motto is, "waste time, not paper."

    Best,

    Doremus

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