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Thread: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

  1. #1

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    Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    I usually print on Ilford Warmtone FB, contacts on gloss, prints on semi-matte. I ordered for testing a package of 8x10 Fomabrom Variant III (neutral tone, variable contrast) matt surface fiber and 2 5x7 packages of Fomatone MG Classic fiber (warm-tone VC), one gloss, the other matt. I use Eco Pro print developer, which favors warm-tone papers.

    Summary:

    The glossy surface is a near match for Ilford's; both a bit smoother and shinier than 1990's Ilford gloss. I prefer the old style, but it's a moot point for me.

    Fomatome Fine Grain (see note, below) surface gives me an excellent complement to Ilford WT, providing a warmer print with good tonal separation, and my near-ideal for a surface. Varnishing (see below) enhances the lower vales and renders a surface with slightly more luster than Ilford semi-matte varnished.

    I did not have Ilford Classic on hand to compare with Fomabrom. The latter's neural tonal rendering appears close to Foma's Warmtone, though the Warmtone mare have a longer shoulder yielding a bit more separation in low values; just an initial impression.

    Foma's matte surface is not to my liking; in the batch I have, the texture of the surface is visible to the extent of interfering with the image tones, even when varnished, as opposed to Ilford's very smooth matte and semi-matte.

    Notes

    After making a first round of prints and studying the dry results, I saw that the allegedly matt contents of my Fomatone 5x7 was actually a luster-surface paper, rather similar to Kodak's old E surface, definitely more lustrous than Ilford semi-matte. My guess is that a packaging error was made and that this is actually Foma's Fine Grain surface.

    Foma's matt surface exhibits, in the package I have, at least, subtle but visible slightly wavy striations running parallel to the long edge of the 5x7. These show in the dry print in dark-toned areas.

    I have not yet heard back from Foma on these two issues; will post when I do, and also after seeing how these papers tone in selenium.

    There is a clear but subtle difference in the base emulsion tone of the three papers when compared in natural light. Variant's is a neutral, bright white; Ilford WT's slightly off-white; Foma Classic's a warm white. The latter's tone appears more yellow coming out of the fix than when washed and dried.

    The image tone range follows, with Variant neutral, Warmtone moderately warm, and Classic warmer, reminiscent of Agfa's Insignia of yore. As with Ilford, the gloss surface gives the appearance of slightly greater warmth to Classic, and the apparent three-dimensionality of the image is comparatively greater when shown side by side with the luster or semi-matte.
    Last edited by Ulophot; 6-Aug-2021 at 11:03. Reason: missing words
    Philip Ulanowsky

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
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  2. #2

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    Further notes on first experience with Foma paper

    I had a chance to do some preliminary toning in selenium and thought I'd share, for anyone else considering a try with these papers.

    My toner, 1:19, was probably about 75 degrees F, not 68 (no central AC and didnít bother to cool it down for these initial tests). In any case, it tones both papers considerably faster than Ilford. Two minutes at this temp and dilution already made a marked color change; one-and-half nearly as much; three didnít seem to do much more. Density increase, evident with Ilford WT, is less visible, but that's a matter for more careful testing. In both cases, the shift is toward characteristic purplish-black selenium.

    The neutral paper looks pretty much as expected. The Foma Classic's(warmtone) shift is significantly greater, and the color is closer to Ilford WT toned, but, partly due to the warmer base, Classic offers a distinctly different color rendering. Thus, a further expansion of possibilities mentioned in my post above.

    One very nice feature, which I didnít expect at all, is that, as far as I can see so far, there is no split toning in the Foma; that is, the high values tone equally with the lower ones. If that proves to hold through further testing (longer times, etc.), it is both an exceptional feature, very attractive to me, and offers hope that Ilford might find its way toward a similar solution for its VC papers someday. But I'm neither chemist nor physicist, so perhaps it's not possible with their formulations.
    Philip Ulanowsky

    Sine scientia ars nihil est. (Without science/knowledge, art is nothing.)
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  3. #3

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    Just a quick further informational update.

    I toned two prints, one Variant III, one Classic, for 10 minutes at approximately 68 degrees F last night. The Variant toned markedly further into characteristic selenium eggplant purples in slow and seemingly fairly steady fashion -- beyond a color that I would use. The Classic, however, seemed to accelerate around 8 minutes and ended up a very clearly split-toned red, with the high values remaining relatively more neutral in tone. In both cases, even at this lower temperature, initial toning was still significantly faster than Ilford WT.

    My next round will try a 1:40 dilution on the Classic, to see if this slows down the initial toning to allow better control over, say, 2-4 minutes rather than 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The dilution, of course, means that capacity per unit of volume decreases, indicating greater volume needed for a group of prints.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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

  4. #4

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    ... My next round will try a 1:40 dilution on the Classic, to see if this slows down the initial toning to allow better control over, say, 2-4 minutes rather than 30 seconds to 2 minutes. The dilution, of course, means that capacity per unit of volume decreases, indicating greater volume needed for a group of prints.
    Philip,

    Haven't you seen my posts about replenishing and reusing selenium toner? If not, then search here and over on Photrio for them. Replenishing fixes your "volume" problem.

    I have two bottles of toner, one "weak" and one "strong," that have been going for ten years or more each. Just filter before and after use and, when toning times become to slow for your taste, add a bit of the toner concentrate to the working solution to bring it back up to speed. No more discarding toner and toxic selenium.

    I've been replenishing and reusing my selenium toner for years (20+) with great results. Prints toned in the replenished solution are regularly tested for residual hypo and silver. They all pass with flying colors.

    Best,

    Doremus

  5. #5

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    I have finally received a clarification from Foma, via B&H, via their buyer, regarding the luster surface mentioned in my original post in this thread.

    The surface is 132 and comes on Fomatone Classic FB, the warm-tone stock, even though the label calls it "Matte", or "Matt," which is the same designation given to Foma's actual (flat) matte surface, which comes on its neutral-tone Variant 112.

    I did not receive any clarification on what Foma's advertised "Fine Grain" surface is. Anyway, to paraphrase Shakespeare, "Wherefore art thou Matte? ... A beautiful lustre surface by any other name..."
    Philip Ulanowsky

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

  6. #6

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    Two updates, regarding toning and finish.

    Toning: Doremus, I read your posts carefully whenever I see them, and have indeed read and followed your advice on selenium toner, even to the point of sometimes saving the second fixer till a future point and then going right from fixer to toner. It's just that, with the Foma paper, I found it toning so quickly with my usual dilution (starting at 1:20) that I had no reasonable control. I have found that a 1:80 starting dilution allows me to vary from about a minute to several minutes, which I find manageable.

    Finish: Some here know from some of my previous posts that I "varnish" Ilford semi-matte with a formula Strand used, which leaves a microscopic layer of a drying oil on the surface of the print, just enough to bring the print tones back to life, leaving a luster surface that also reveals something of the paper's texture. The Foma 132 surface is similar right out of the box, but just a bit more shiny, and I find that an application of the varnish, while it dries actually a bit less shiny, similarly enhances the values and underlying print color; though more subtle than the effect on the Ilford, which needs it more, I find it an improvement.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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

  7. #7

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    Two updates, regarding toning and finish.

    with the Foma paper, I found it toning so quickly with my usual dilution (starting at 1:20) that I had no reasonable control. I have found that a 1:80 starting dilution allows me to vary from about a minute to several minutes, which I find manageable.
    Is this the Fomatone Classic paper? I tone Fomabrom Variant 112 in 1+19 @20C, with a slightly pre-warmed print. I start seeing change in tone at around 2min, usually do around 3.5min to get completely rid off the greenish tinge of the emulsion, it starts showing purple tones somewhere at 6-7min mark.

  8. #8

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    Two updates, regarding toning and finish.

    Toning: Doremus, I read your posts carefully whenever I see them, and have indeed read and followed your advice on selenium toner, even to the point of sometimes saving the second fixer till a future point and then going right from fixer to toner. It's just that, with the Foma paper, I found it toning so quickly with my usual dilution (starting at 1:20) that I had no reasonable control. I have found that a 1:80 starting dilution allows me to vary from about a minute to several minutes, which I find manageable...
    Philip,

    Whatever works, works. If you need a really weak dilution of toner for a particular paper, then so be it. Like I posted, I have a couple of jugs of selenium toner, one "strong" and one "weak." I'm not sure what the actual dilutions are, but I would imagine that the weak one would be 1+40 or weaker.

    Best,

    Doremus

  9. #9

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    Re: Notes on first experience with Foma paper

    tf, yes this is Fomatone CLassic, and the Fomabrom Variant is quite a different emulsion, neutral, much faster speed, fuller contrast range possible -- see my recent posts on getting full contrast from Fomatone Classic.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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

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