Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Lith on RC paper

Some more lith experimentation, since that seems to be the flavour of the month.  Unfortunately what was almost a half-decent snap was somewhat ruined by an invading shadow of a lamp-post, which I failed to spot at the time.  However, that's not really what this story is all about.

When I was reading Tim Rudman's Lith Printing book the other day I saw that he not only referred to Ilford Warmtone Fibre paper as lithable, but that the RC version also got a mention.  This intrigued me, since I never really thought about using an RC paper with lith - I don't know why, but I just assumed that it was a process that would only work with fibre paper.  Anyway, since I had a nearly-empty box of 5x7 Warmtone RC lying about I thought I'd give it a go.

Dr Rudman suggests that both versions of the paper respond best to dilute, hot lith (in the book 40 degrees is mentioned, which certainly is hot).  So I made up some as hot as I could without resorting to a kettle - certainly it was over 30.  I was suitably stingy with the developer, mixing 10ml of A, 10ml of B and 500ml of water - good, eh?  I overexposed by 4 stops to begin with:

As you can see, the result was, well...interesting.  With the other papers I've used, in the Moersch Easylith developer the image can take anything up to 5 mins to make an appearance but this one appeared within 30 seconds and seemed to accelerate at a fearsome rate.  I'm sure that isn't supposed to happen - perhaps it was due to the temperature of the developer.  At any rate it caught me by surprise, as you can see, and the whole thing rather got away from me.  When things are happening so quickly, you forget that during the few seconds you are holding the print up to take a closer look the process is still accelerating.  From what I read about it, once you have decided the print is there or thereabouts (i.e., you are happy with the shadow tones) the best course of action is to get it into the stop bath without delay.  Forget even about draining the developer from the print, just get on with it - you get the point.  Anyway, the clouds in the top right of the print in particular look nicely textured, even if the whole print has a bit of 'What's going on here then?' quality about it.  It's art, innit? Think JMW Turner on a bad day.

The golden rule in lith developing, I understand, is that highlights are controlled by exposure, shadows by development.  I closed down a full stop and went again:

OK so the print has opened up a bit and although it is more conventional-looking there is still a degree of lithy-ness about it, albeit it fairly subtle.  In hindsight it probably wasn't the best negative to choose for this little experiment.  Anyway, you can clearly see the offending shadow of the lamp-post in the foreground. I think I prefer the first print...

This last one shows the effect of a dunk in some hot selenium - things are warmed considerably, this RC paper certainly takes the tone well.  Not that suitable for this particular subject, mind you, which was taken in cold winter light one morning last week. 


  1. Nice work. Lots of RC papers work in lith. Old Agfa and Foma being the best for me.

    1. Thanks Andrea, appreciated - and good to have that RC&lith confirmed. Can't wait to try some more papers now...

  2. Very good again, Michael. Both prints and words that went along. Was looking at them with some nice old sunshine flaring my monitor this morning, but could not see a thing of that first print there. Looking at the same thing in the middle of the night really did the trick! I love it :))

    1. Thanks very much Roy...yeh it's a bit of a mystery what's going on there ;)