Thursday, 1 September 2016

South Lighthouse

I had a long session in the darkroom on Monday.  I haven't really been in much over the summer, what with our visitors here and everything and I was feeling the need.  It ended up a much longer session than anticipated, though.  I'd tried lith developing once before (using Foma MG Classic 131 paper) and was pleased with the results so the plan this time was to try Ilford's Fibre Warmtone paper.  Now some folk say the Ilford paper doesn't lith but Bob Carnie over there in Toronto appears to get it to work for him.  He's even posted a couple of videos on it.  The trick, he reckons, is to pull the print well before you would usually do so and then it comes to life in the fixer.

It's probably me, but I couldn't get it to work.  I pulled the print early all right - that bit was straightforward, but when I dumped it into the fix nothing happened.   Now if I'd been anyway organised at all I would have cut up a sheet and tried a small print first, but that would have been far too sensible. large sheet of fibre paper in the bin.  Not a great start to the afternoon.

So I retreated to the relative safety of the Foma paper for the rest of the afternoon.  The only thing I can think of, with regard to the abject failure of the Ilford paper, is that while Mr Carnie was using Fotospeed's lith developer I was using Moersch Easylith.  Would that have made a difference? Dunno - but when I run out of the Moersch developer I'll get some Fotospeed and try the Ilford paper again.

The South Lighthouse, Rue Point, Rathlin.   Knocklayde just visible in the distance.  The print was slightly too big for my scanner so lost a bit of the bottom margin.  When wet I thought the sky to the left of the lighthouse had no detail at all but once dry, well as you can see some detail appeared.  The top right of the print has some black flecks appearing, which according to the instructions may be a sign of too high dilution.  Hard to see in the scan but the lith process really suited the rocks.  This was the first shot I took when at Rue Point and just caught a small wave breaking to the right of the lighthouse.  The Brother and I waited and waited, me poised ready to snap, for a larger wave to break but in the end we had to admit defeat.  Isn't it supposed to be every 7th, or is it 9th wave is a big one?  Something like that anyway.  No doubt as soon as we turned our backs the whole lighthouse would have been engulfed.  Taken on the rangefinder/21mm/HP5+ combination.
Anyway, I had some success with the Foma paper and I did notice that when the print went into the fix the blacks deepened appreciably.  Interesting.  I was using 40ml of Solution A and the same of Solution B with about 2 litres of water, at around 25 degrees (to start with anyway) - this equates to about 1+25 dilution.  According to the Easylith instructions, you can dilute anywhere from 1+15 to 1+50 and overexpose by up to 4 stops (I was overexposing by 2 stops).  More exposure and higher dilution leads to longer development times and more intense colouring, shorter exposure and lower dilution should give you higher contrast and less colour.  I suppose the thing to do would be to print the same negative several times over, with varying dilutions and exposures - kind of like the thing Tim Rudman does in his Lith Printing Course book, which I should really re-read.  But sometimes you just have to get on with it and experiment yourself - I mean, that's half the fun, right?

It doesn't take long for the developer to exhaust.  After the failed Ilford attempt and about 6 Foma prints, of 9.5x12 size, things started taking a lot longer.  The first few Foma prints started coming up after about 5 minutes and by 8-10 minutes I was pulling them from the developer.  I think my 7th print was up to about 20 minutes before the blacks had reached anything like a tone I was happy with.   The thing is, the times just suddenly started getting significantly longer, without warning.  And for the 8th print nothing was happening at all after 20mins.  The instructions seem to suggest making up fresh solution for every print, which seems a bit excessive but clearly after a few prints a bit of replenishment is required.  I mixed another litre of develop on the fly, 20ml of solution A and 20ml of solution B and fired it into the tray and the image came up.  But it was another 10 minutes or so before I pulled it, so 30 minutes in total.  Too long sit-standing and agitating the tray.  Actually as I write this I seem to remember writing something similar after my first lith session - which just goes to show that I should have made some decent notes at the time.  D'oh!


  1. Oh... which reminds me I should start taking notes myself as well. Sometimes I seem to even forgetting what I did two minutes ago when in there making my masterpieces.
    Very interesting post on your world of lith prints, Michael. If I ever get my hands on some kind of developer of this kind I will certainly look this way to get some good inputs. I also got some paper you could test just to see if they lith well, so I might fire a few of them away to Ireland and the Outer Hebrides just to see if they might be useful. I think that was the plan a while ago, but I have forgot all about them... as you do as time flies.
    The old saying about bigger waves every 7th or 9th or whatever is quite correct, but you also have good old Murphy around playing tricks on you. Did you take that into consideration at the time when you were standing there waiting? Been there myself a million times, and he always seem to get the best of me that old bugger. If you really want to see that big one coming in that would give you the masterpiece, you would just have to turn around and leave, just as you did.

    1. Haha Mr Karlsvig you are indeed correct - that Murphy Fellow has a lot to answer for. I didn't mind too much about the lack of a big wave - as you can see, we were pretty close to sea level there by the South Lighthouse, so too big a wave and there might not have been any more blogging on North East Liberties...I was happy with what I got in the end.

      I must admit I am liking the lith process a lot, in spite of the time it takes in the dark place. From what I read, some IR film and a dark red filter are very suited to lith. Those films are a little more expensive for running about wasting like we normally do, but I think it will have to be done, regardless...

    2. Just as well than, that you got away from the place on your own two feet instead of getting washed away giving Murphy yet another victory.
      IR film and lith printing combined sounds like a nice combination to me, so I will of course be sitting here waiting for that to show up at some point. I also seem to get the time to get stuff done today, and hopefully I can use that to develop a few films and maybe put an envelope together bound for North Ireland... I will keep you informed over at the other place if that ever happens. You see I have to go away to get some work done soon, but they keep on making me sitting here waiting for the ticket for some reason. Seems like nobody knows where they are heading next, and when, with that old ship.