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. So...one 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.
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!