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Thread: Print Washing

  1. #1

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    Print Washing

    In the course of some other research, I was reminded of the article linked below, Mysteries of the Vortex, which many here have read. I thought I would pass it along afresh to others.

    While explaining the chemistry of fixer removal, mostly in layman's terms, and dealing in detail with archival washing in various print washers, it offers very useful information regarding diffusion of fixer out of prints and the value of washing aids. For those of us without expensive and bulky archival washers, and those concerned or obliged to limit water use, it's a great reference.

    http://www.film-and-darkroom-user.or...read.php?t=296
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  2. #2

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    Re: Print Washing

    I ran a print washing test today and thought I’d pass along my result. I got zero stain anywhere on any print, using Photographers’ Formulary (PF) residual hypo test. PF says it’s not sensitive enough for archival testing; 30-40 years is good enough for me; it has been so far.

    Permash had told me my recent change to a current, standing water, tray-changing routine can not produce an archival wash. I looked up Bruce Barnbaum’s; he washes a single print at a time, according to the first edition of his Art of Photography, soaking in three complete water changes for 1/2-hour each. I haven’t time nor space for such a routine. Not having a vertical washer to separate each print, I have chosen to return to running water, though still with as little as possible.

    I processed a single batch of five 8x10s and five 11x14s (a total equivalent to about 15 8x10s in surface area), all Ilford fiber warmtone. After develop and stop, I fixed each for 1.5 minutes, a half-minute more than standard, just to ensure thorough washing results. I use PF’s TF -5, which is said to wash from prints more easily than acid fixers.

    My washing tub is a restaurant-style bussing tub, very sturdy, bought decades ago, internally about 14x18, in which I drilled 4 small holes at the 1-gallon level (about ¾-inch up) and 3 larger ones another half-inch up. The first row passes from a trickle to about 1/6-gallon per minute (gpm); together with the upper row, about 1/2 gpm.

    Each print was drained for 10-15 seconds (depending on size) after fixing, added to the wash tub, and moved around in the water for a half-minute to dilute surface fixer while some fresh water was run into the tub.

    After all prints were completed this way, the following was my wash procedure.

    PRINT WASHING
    Dump wash tub, leaving prints in tub, and fill to 1 gal level
    With water running @ ½ gpm, rotate prints 3 min (rotation is continuously bringing bottom print to top of stack)
    Dump wash tub, leaving prints in tub and fill to 1 gal level
    With water running @ ½ gpm, rotate prints 5 min
    Drain each print and add to Permawash (1/2 gal of working solution in 11x14 tray)
    Rotate prints in Perma 5 min
    Dump wash tub and fill to 1 gal level
    Use faucet hose to lightly rinse Perma from front and back of each print and add to wash tub
    With water running @ ½ g/min, rotate 5 min

    Therefore, total water use for the session, including chemicals and washing trays and sink afterwards, was 12-15 gallons. I would be tempted with important prints to add one more 5-min wash, but this appears to be adequate.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  3. #3

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    Re: Print Washing

    Philip,

    The two most-important things when washing fiber-base prints are 1) not overusing your fixer and 2) using a wash aid, such as Kodak's Hypo Clearing Agent.

    You're using Perma Wash, which I am somewhat skeptical of; still, testing should tell the tale. I mix my own wash aid using sodium sulfite and sodium metabisulfite.

    If you're not using two-bath fixation with fiber-base prints, be very careful not to exceed fixer capacity. For optimum permanence, the capacity of a single fixing bath ends up being around 10 8x10-inch prints per liter. A two-bath regime effectively doubles that. Remember that residual silver from exhausted fixer will not show up as inadequate washing with the residual hypo test. You need to do a separate residual silver test (Kodak ST-1 or KRST 1+9).

    Ilford's sequence for optimum permanence calls for a five-minute wash followed by 10 minutes in the Wash Aid and then a final five-minute wash. Note that this final five-minute wash increases to 30 minutes if toning is part of the process. See Ilford's toning sequence here: https://www.ilfordphoto.com/ilford-o...nce-fb-papers/

    And also note that extending fixing time with this sequence does NOT shorten wash times, just the opposite. Ilford's sequence is based on a very short fixing time in a rather strong fixer. The idea is to fully fix the emulsion without giving the fixer enough time to soak into the paper base, thus making it easier to wash. Extending fixing time allows more fixer to saturate the paper base, thus requiring longer wash times. So, either keep your fixing time short, or do as I do, go ahead and fix longer, but wash longer too. Again, fixing for longer than one minute in "film-strength" fixer results in the need for longer wash times. You're likely not washing long enough for your 1.5 minute fixing time. Also note that the whole Ilford sequence is tailored to their products, fixer and paper in particular. Using other papers and chemistry may not deliver the short wash times Ilford gets either. Specifically, using Permawash instead of Ilford's Wash Aid and for half the time Ilford recommends seems like a weak point to me...

    The more traditional fixing-washing sequences all use the wash aid earlier in the sequence and then wash longer afterward. For example, Kodak only recommends an optional 30-second rinse before a shorter three-minute treatment in the Hypo Clearing Agent and then a minimum 20-minute wash afterward. That was standard practice till Ilford came along with their newer sequence.

    I opt for a cross between the two methods: I don't use a rinse before the wash aid, rather transfer prints directly from fixing bath two to the toner and then directly from there to the wash aid tray (as Ilford recommends and as Ansel Adams describes in his books). There they stay for 10 minutes or longer with agitation (your rotation...). After that, they go into the final wash for a minimum of 60 minutes. I have a low-flow archival washer and don't live in an area with water shortages (plus I have a yard that doesn't require watering) so I don't need to worry about conserving water. I'd rather spend a few cents on water than underwash my prints.

    You seem to be following the Ilford sequence for the most part. I tend to be a little skeptical of the short final wash in their sequence, especially given the much longer final wash when toning is involved.

    If I were you, I'd be concerned about my wash-aid and time and that the final wash time was not long enough. Still, if you are getting good test results with HT-2 (PF's residual hypo test is just the Kodak HT-2 formula) and some kind of residual silver test, your prints should be adequately processed. Nevertheless, increasing your final wash time would seem prudent to me, especially in light of the longer fixing time you use.

    Best,

    Doremus

  4. #4

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    Re: Print Washing

    Doremus, thank you, as always, for your thoughtful and well-informed reply. n a couple of points:

    Although I have since switched to TF-5 from Ilford 1:4 rapid fix, I did run a residual silver test when I was starting back into the darkroom a couple of years ago, with approximately the same washing sequence as given here, and the same paper, and came out clean. TF-5 gives the same fixing times as the 1:4 Ilford. I'm no chemist and take their word for their process. PF has been a reliable source, as far as I know, for some decades now.

    I don't presently envision using other than Ilford papers, at present only the WTF. I'll jump off that bridge when I come to it, with your cautions in mind.

    I will reread the toning instructions you linked, and will certainly plan to extend my wash time, despite my good tests, whenever making prints I'll be keeping long-term. I am as careful as I am able respecting processing, contamination of stored prints, etc.

    As for the clearing agent right after the fix, I am simply out of room, at least for 11x14s -- three truly is a crowd, in my sink -- and 8x10s would be quite awkward with an extra tray. As I indicated, I have prints made more than 30 years ago that are apparently fine, and I had no running water then. I am even more careful now. In any case, I take your advice seriously and appreciate your taking the time to share it with me.
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Print Washing

    Tight spaces! I run into the same problem developing 11x14 film on a 5 foot surface. Room for three trays, but I use four. I cover the fixer tray with a larger tray (up-side down) to keep the fumes down (poor ventilation), and I put a tray of water on top of that larger upside down tray and it is used as a holding bath.

    So after the developer (pyro), the film goes into the next tray (water as a stop), then into the holding tray on top of the fixer tray. I then lift the larger tray (with the water tray w/ film on top) and move both over the middle tray (first stop). The the film then gets put into the fix. A little awkward in complete darkness, but it works -- primarily I am keeping the fixer tray covered as much as possible -- for me and it makes clearing out the space quicker between developing sheets of film.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6
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    Re: Print Washing

    I am currently working out the processing work flow in my little darkroom with 5 foot sink. For washing I am using a 11x14 Doran washing tray and limiting each session to 4 8x10 or 2 11x14 prints. I set the wash tray after the developer and use it instead of a stop bath. Fix for the recommended 45 seconds in a TF-4 type fixer, and then back into the wash tray till I am finished with the remaining prints. Final wash then is 1 hour in water and the prints are rotated several times during the wash. The one hour wash is what Bergger recommends when no wash aid is used.

    Being in wash tray together might be a problem, but they don’t stick together and are rotated. Maybe it is time to test for residual fixer.


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  7. #7

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    Re: Print Washing

    Vaughn, I salute your resolve and fortitude! Whatever it takes (there must be some exalted Latin phrase for that). I cannot, myself, imagine doing that for each print.

    Doremus, I meant to mention that I use the print fixer for 4/5 of its recommended capacity. Two fixing baths is again an issue of space -- I actually had more in the old days before the sink -- which could be conveniently solved only by fixing halfway, then holding in water, then, after cleaning up the developer and stop trays, completing fixing, then washing including a visit to the Permawash, then cleaning up those trays, then toning, then a final wash cycle, including Permawash. I think that would wear me down for the extra 30 seconds of fixing the prints would get, even if archival standards recommend it.

    By the way, by fixing the extra half minute in my test, posted above, my intention was to see if, despite this, the wash sequence would be adequate.

    ADDENDUM: In the toning wash sequence linked by Doremus above, Ilford refers to fresh running water. Can someone refresh my memory as to suggested minimum rates of flow? As indicated in my OP, my wash tub works at about 1/2 gpm wish a appox. one gallon of water in the tub. At that rate, about 15 gallons in a half hour. Would a 1/4 gpm sufficce? Less. with, say, two complete dumps at 10 and 20 minutes? I don't know the math to figure out the asymptotic rate of washing (and truly am not asking for it!), other than looking at the charts in the Mysteries of the Vortex I recently linked in starting this thread.
    Last edited by Ulophot; 1-Nov-2020 at 15:23. Reason: Addition
    Philip U.

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/156933346@N07/

  8. #8
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Print Washing

    After clearing, my platinum/palladium prints are rinsed to remove most surface chemicals, then are put in individual trays with water. Aggitated occasionally, water changed every 10 to 15 minutes for an hour or two. A little different than silver printing (the exposure time under the UV lights is 20 minutes) - less prints to wash from a session and more time between prints.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  9. #9
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Print Washing

    In the 1970s I did sports and publicity photography for a college, requiring fairly large volumes delivered in a fairly short time. Long print life wasn't important, but prompt delivery was. Consumer print stabilizers and their material of that time would have been quicker, but otherwise not as good. The final choice was Kodak Polyprint RC. 8x10 prints were processed in batches of up to 30 at a time in deep wash pans. After fixing, the stack of prints was held vertically over the fix tray while the prints, one by one, were peeled off and pushed down to the bottom of the first wash tray. Taking two or three seconds to peel each sheet off removed most surface fixer. They were shuffled through the first tray once, and then shuffled into the second tray. After a few shuffles there, on to the third tray. Then surface water was removed from front and back with a towel and the prints were laid out, face up, on a bed to dry
    To save water, that first tray had been the second tray of the previous batch. It's residual fixer had been greatly reduced by the first tray. The same process was repeated for the third and final tray. Thus, a gallon of water first was used as the final wash, then as a second wash, and finally as a first wash. One gallon of water would wash maybe 30 prints.
    Next day the editor could select the prints for publicity, and I would spot those then and there with a Papermate fine ball point pen. It's good enough for publicity prints! As for long life, the editor's rejects mostly look fine today, 45 years later.
    Some of these techniques may still be useful today as part of archival high quality printing, especially where good water is scarce.

  10. #10

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    Re: Print Washing

    Informative thread. I think I'm washing my prints incorrectly. As I usually tone them the following day after a printing session (too tired after being on my feet for hours), I give them an abbreviated wash (10 to 15 minutes) in a 11x14 tray in running water while constantly shuffling, dumping and refilling the tray with fresh water. I then bathe the prints in Perma Wash for 5 minutes, followed by another 10 to 15 minute or so wash as described. I then hang them to dry.
    The next day, I immerse the prints in water and then begin the selenium toning process. After that, I wash them as described for 25 to 30 minutes (constant shuffling, dumping and refilling).
    After reading this thread, I think I should hold off on the Perma Wash until AFTER I've toned the prints.
    I know my method is rather tedious, what with standing at the sink shuffling, dumping and refilling. But it can be kind of Zen, actually.
    It also gives me a chance to really study the prints as a shuffle through them. Unfortunately, under this constant gaze, I also begin to notice all the flaws, and then I start thinking, why waste water on prints that, unless my son hangs on to them for sentimental reasons, will likely end up in a landfill in 50 years.

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