Sunday, 5 March 2017

Ilford Warmtone and lith

I promised some more words on my lith adventures.  A while back I saw Bob Carnie's YouTube video of him working in his darkroom.  It's always nice to see someone else's darkroom adventures - it's not a thing you often see, for obvious reasons.  Particularly good when the person involved is an expert, of course.  Mr Carnie was singing the praises of Ilford Warmtone fibre paper and lith. Now I tried that a while back and nothing worked for me, so I'd kind of set it to one side for a while.  But, given that I've a shedload of this particular paper, acquired a while ago from a guy who was selling out his darkroom, I thought I'd give it another go.  I was glad I did.

Same neg as last time - the one of St Thomas's Church in Rathlin Island.  OK so I looked at the Ilford Warmtone lith print from a while back (the one that didn't work) and thought what can I do to bring this round?  Since you need to 'heavily over-expose' the negative for lith developer I thought maybe I had erred too much on the side of caution last time, when I overexposed by 2 stops.  So this time around I opened the lens up 4 stops and sure enough, that seemed to do the trick:

Not perfect, but there is something there so I was encouraged.  Contrast is low, as you can see and there's a bit of a greenish tone to the whole thing, which isn't very attractive.   If you compare it to the Foma 131 paper version (here) it just doesn't look great. 

I then did probably what I should have done some time ago - I did a bit of research.  I looked up Tim Rudman's book on Lith Printing and sure enough, under Ilford Warmtone he makes the following observations: "Lith effect more subdued and understated with less colourful results.  Many possibilities on bleach and re-development".  

OK so far so good.  The bleach and re-development sounds great but I need to read up a bit more on that before doing anything.  But saying as how this paper is supposed to reach well to toning, I soaked the print in water again and then sloshed it around in some selenium heated to about 30 degrees.  The change was pretty noticeable:

As you can see the whole print looks a lot more alive - perhaps even more so than the first print on the Foma paper (although to make a fair comparison, I should really tone that print as well).  Certainly the green cast has disappeared to be replaced by a much more pleasing warm tone, almost verging on a copper appearance, or "plummy-red" as Tim Rudman puts it.  Anyway, I was pleased enough with the outcome.


  1. Ooo, yeah, the second one has real spark. Man. You make me want to try this printing stuff.

  2. A great print that last one there, Michael. The nice highlights makes the church and the scene really jump at you.