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Thread: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

  1. #1

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    Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    Forgive me if this topic has been covered to death. Admittedly my past practice has been sloppy at times as I was rarely printing for permanence. Also admittedly, I am not a chemist and have only the most basic understanding of how these chemicals react. So I'm interested in learning more and paying closer attention to the way I process and wash my silver prints.

    FWIW, I typically use Ilford Fiber Based Multi-grade paper. Ilford Rapid Fix, 2 bath system. Kodak hypo Clear. And use a Kostiner 16 x 20 Print Washer. I've recently begun selenium toning, using Ilford's recommendations.

    I have at times questioned my print washer, whether it is pushing enough water past the prints to adequately wash them.

    Was just reading the Ilford recommendation for fiber based papers and was surprised to see their recommendation of only 1 minute fix time. From my days using Kodak Rapid Fixer, I recall using a longer time, more like 2-3 minutes in each bath. So either I've been over fixing prints in the past, or Ilford Rapid Fix is far more effective.

    So a couple of questions: Is in fact 1 minute adequate using Ilford Rapid Fix?

    Any reason to use Ilford Wash Aid over Kodak Hypo Clear?

    Does anyone have any experience using the Kostiner print washer?

    Is there some way to test the effectiveness of your wash?

    My goal is permanence for collectors and posterity. Thanks for any thoughts and advice.

    Cheers,
    Robbie

  2. #2
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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    The critical requirement for the Ilford rapid processing sequence, with 1 minute fixing time, is that the fixer be used "film strength" - for example, in the case of the Ilford Rapid Fixer product, that means 1+4 rather than 1+9 dilution. You can find a more complete description of the standard vs rapid processing sequence in the technical data sheet for any of the Ilford FB papers.

    To better understand how to achieve adequate washing of FB paper, read these articles:

    Mysteries of the Vortex Part I

    Mysteries of the Vortex Part II

  3. #3

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    regardless of the fixer or process (one vs two bath), I strongly suggest testing your prints for adequate fixing. Use that as a baseline and go from there. Same with print washing.

    I use both a Summitek (11x14) and Kostiner (16x20 and 20x24) washers and trust both. Check for proper flow rate and stick to that as well.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred L View Post
    regardless of the fixer or process (one vs two bath), I strongly suggest testing your prints for adequate fixing. Use that as a baseline and go from there. Same with print washing.

    I use both a Summitek (11x14) and Kostiner (16x20 and 20x24) washers and trust both. Check for proper flow rate and stick to that as well.
    What would be the best method you'd recommend testing for adequate fixing?

  5. #5

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    I use a drop of straight KRST on the white border of a print (usually a test print). Blot off excess water, a drop of selenium and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. No stain = adequate fixing. Brown stains of varying degree (pale straw/yellow to tan, for example) = inadequate fixing.
    Last edited by Fred L; 24-Apr-2019 at 12:57.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred L View Post
    I use a drop of straight KRST on the white borer of a print. Blot off excess water, a drop of selenium and let it sit for 2-3 minutes. No stain = adequate fixing. Brown stains of varying degree (pale straw/yellow to tan, for example) = inadequate fixing.
    Thanks. May prove to be more difficult as I'm primarily making contact prints. But perhaps a blank test sheet, fixed using the same process will suffice.

    While I'm asking, what's the best test for fixer exhaustion?

  7. #7
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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    The classic method for testing wash adequacy is the Kodak HT-2 formula which uses silver nitrate staining to detect residual thiosulfate. HT-2 is available as a packaged kit from the Photographers' Formulary.

    The "Mysteries" articles that I linked have more on this.

  8. #8

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    The critical requirement for the Ilford rapid processing sequence, with 1 minute fixing time, is that the fixer be used "film strength" - for example, in the case of the Ilford Rapid Fixer product, that means 1+4 rather than 1+9 dilution. You can find a more complete description of the standard vs rapid processing sequence in the technical data sheet for any of the Ilford FB papers.

    To better understand how to achieve adequate washing of FB paper, read these articles:

    Mysteries of the Vortex Part I

    Mysteries of the Vortex Part II
    Thank you. Reading through this now.

  9. #9

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred L View Post
    regardless of the fixer or process (one vs two bath), I strongly suggest testing your prints for adequate fixing. Use that as a baseline and go from there. Same with print washing.

    I use both a Summitek (11x14) and Kostiner (16x20 and 20x24) washers and trust both. Check for proper flow rate and stick to that as well.
    Fred,
    My concern with my Kostiner washer is prints tend to float in their respective slots, so the base side of the paper is resting against, or barely off of the plexi dividers. This makes me concerned that water flow is not evenly passing over both the emulsion and base side of the paper. Further, the slots to one side of the washer seem to receive a lower flow than on the opposite and middle slots. I tend to avoid using those slots. Any suggestions? Also, any suggestions for verifying the flow rate? Thanks.

  10. #10

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    Re: Best Practices for Archival Silver Printing?

    hmmm. I'e never noticed any difference in water levels/flow between the slots when filling my Kostiner. Doubt it would change much when full either but ymmv Wonder if your washer could use a 'wash' and there might be some calcium buildup in the jets ? can't recall what the flow I use is, but once you find out a proper flow rate, then just take the hose and fill a container and time how long it takes to fill, say a one qt or litre beaker.

    as for prints sticking, I guess you could move them around now and then with the print fishing/retrieval wand. Also do you have the plexi lid that keeps prints down ?

    I'm sure others with Kostiner experience will chime with their experiences.
    notch codes ? I only use one film...

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