Let's Talk: Fiber Paper!

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by sbalsama, Apr 14, 2005.

  1. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    I just took my first dive this evening with some Bergger VCCB, part of a Bergger sampler I picked up from Freestyle. Also got some VCNB and some other VC warmtone ivory stuff.

    Fiber base paper really is different, I pulled it out from the package to discover it was basically cardstock, except it curled! I've heard of the infamous fiber paper curling. I got some good results, printed two photos (I'll admit, I didn't "work" with them too much, too excited to see how the paper was), and they looked nice. They're dry now, but they didn't curl...they more or less look like they buckled, as if they've been crumpled or, probably more appropriately, bent out of shape.

    Perhaps you guys could help me out here, how do you dry your fiber prints? Since I don't know if I'll continue fiber usage, I don't want to up and get a print dryer right away. All I did was hang them up on the clothes line, then pulled them off to lay flat when they were just a tad moist to the touch. Once they dried all the way, I lightly bent some on the major kinks out of them. They didn't look too bad after that, but nowhere near "flat."

    Alright, done with the long post. Any more suggestions for fiber? Brands? Toning? Am I asking too much for a flat unframed fiber print? Tell me! Thanks :)
     
  2. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Fiber base is Baryta paper - paper coated with Barium Sulphate which gives it a smooth finish and a high reflectance.
    resin coated is just that so it does not absorb chemicals or water and so processes and dries more quickly - and as the base doesn't get wet it stays flat.
    FB does the opposite so you need to process for longer and wash it thoroughly.
    When it dries it tends to dry unevenly so it buckles and curls - particularly if you air dry it. The old traditional way is either using clothespegs and a line or on flat wire racks as for silkscreen prints.
    You get a much quicker and flatter dry if you use a drier. These come in two types:
    Flatbed - either single or double sided. They consist of a heated curved metal surface with a cloth cover under tension. The print goes face up on the metal surface and the sheet goes over the top to hold it flat.
    Rotary - the same principle as above but the metal surface is a drum which rotates with a continuous blanket to keep the prints in place. It is much quicker than a flatbed and you can keep feeding prints in.
    The drawbacks to these two are that the blankets have to be kept clean to avoid contamination of prints so you have to wash them regularly to remove chemicals.
    With the decline in popularity of wet photography (and the popularity of RC) you can pick these driers up quite cheaply if you look around.
    I had two pro flatbeds and a rotary and I didn't pay for any of them. They were being thrown out of a College as redundant items.
    They reduce curl and keep the paper relatively flat - but cannot stop buckling. This is a feature of FB. The usual way of dealing with it is to dry mount the prints onto museum board. Dry mount presses usual cost £1 - 2 thousand new but I picked one up at an auction for £50 because no-one knew what it was!

    I much prefer Ilford Galleria FB. Agfa is nice though.
    Always tone FB when it is wet, before you dry it. Re-soaking FB is not a good idea and you get different, less intense, colours if you have dried the paper first.
    If you want to sepia tone then Sulphide toning is best for FB. I always preferred to Selenium tone though. Depending upon dilution you can change the colour a fair bit and it seems to improve the tonal range.
    The old metal toners are best for other colours - the modern 'safe' colour toners seem to have a permanence problem. But do read the H&S sticky above. All these toners tend to be toxic so you need to use them with care.
    Fiber base is also easier to hand colour and retouch.
    You can get single weight and double weight. Single is best for dry mounting and double for unmounted.
    Developer choice also seems to affect the end result more than with RC.
     
  3. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    Good stuff, Hertz, thanks! Kinda makes me exicted...

    About the developer, I did notice with the Dektol I hadn't gotten as warm of a tone as I expected, or at least that I have seen shown around the 'net. I'll take a poke around for some print dryers next month, if one can be had cheap. B&H had a Doran brand one for about 73 bucks. It was a flatbed with those blankets you mentioned. Thanks for the good overview!
     
  4. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    I dry 8x10 FB on home made sceen racks (check out O'Malley's awesome retractable screen rack in another thread). 11x14 and 16x20 I usually hang from lines with cloths pins.

    I have an old drymount press I picked up cheap that I use to flatten, but I've found that if you stack the FB prints, and put even a minimal amount of weigh on top, they will flatten nicely over time (a few weeks) on their own.

    Another trick that isn't very useful for lots of smaller prints, but good for a few larger prints is to tape the wet FB print to a sheet of foamcore with artists tape. Tape all four sides with the wet print flat, and it will dry very flat.

    I try to use the most water efficient, archival methods of fixing and washing possible. I've found that the less washing you can get away with, the less curl (half hour wash = some curl, 1 hour wash = curled like a canoli ). Also I like to save water. Archival washing is a whole 'nother (and possibly contoversial ;) ) thread if someone wants to start it.

    The biggest difference besides increased wash times, between RC and FB is dry down, IMHO. Your dry prints will be darker than the wet prints, so you need to take this into consideration when printing. I print until I get the print I like, then reduce exposure time by 10%. This works well for me; others like up to -20%. You'll have to see what works for you.

    I usually use a dilute selenium tone for deeper blacks and archival purposes, but occasionally I mix it stronger for a color change. I save my prints that dried down too dark for sepia toning. My favorite is to bleach a print half way, sepia tone it, and then selenium tone it.
     
  5. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I am absolutely going to try that. I always have a sheet of foamcore someplace, and artist's tape out the wazoo. I pretty much use Agfa 118 (when I need a matte finish) and Ilford MC IV (glossy), the latter curls worse for me.
    This is exactly the way my husband has drilled it into me. I still find it the hardest thing in the world, when I'm holding that "perfect" wet print for inspection, to go back and reduce that time! :lol:
     
  6. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Just like print dryers, make sure you don't contaminate the foamcore, and then pass fixer on to future prints.
     
  7. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Good point. :salute: Hmmm. I should probably get one board and just keep it in the darkroom by the print washer, and use it for that alone.
     
  8. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    All I did for my cleaning was throw it in a tray of hypo for a few minutes, then I poured the hypo out of the tray (leaving the print in) and put the tray under the faucet for 5 or so minutes while agitating, wobbling, pouring, etc. Anything like a half hour or hour just seems ludicrous to me. Not to mention a horrid waste of water. I do understand that fiber will soak up a lot more (thus the issue with curling), but is all that washing really necessary?
     
  9. Hertz van Rental

    Hertz van Rental TPF Noob!

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    Washing is essential. It is to remove - or reduce to a minimum - the processing chemicals in the paper. Fix is a complex sulphur compound - it breaks down over time to release sulphur and by products. If left in the paper and emulsion it will convert some of the silver in the print to silver sulphide, but it does this unevenly to cause brown blotches. It will also discolour the paper base. all this can happen in a short space of time - a few weeks in extreme cases.
    You do not need to wash the print in running water - but it is the best method.
    You can put the print into about 12 changes of water if you prefer, leaving it in each for a minute or two with agitation. Use of hypo clearing agent can also help.
    It is not that fibre soaks up more liquid (it does) but that, because of the structure, chemicals actually permeate the fibres of the paper. Use of optimum processing times reduces this problem - don't leave it in the chemicals for longer than you have to.
     
  10. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    So it seems that the residual fixer is a problem. Weird how chemistry works...I probably did about 20 changes of water while I washed out. I have more than enough hypo to go around, my "mentor" is giving me a gallon he doesn't need.

    In either case, I used around 500ml of 1:4 hypo in a tray for the two sheets that I did and left it in for two minutes approximate (There was once a time not long ago when I would be anal about time). Does this sound appropriate? Should I use more hypo? Could I increase the capacity past two sheets if I was pumping out more prints or should it be one-shot? Thanks!

    Also, I just picked up some of my RC contact sheets to decide what to do tonight, and darn do they feel fake! I think I might have fallen in love ;)
     
  11. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Do you mean "hypo clear"? "Hypo" is another name for fixer.

    You can get a hypo-check that you apply to a margin or border of your print to see if there is any residual fixer left. More and more folks are trying low water usage methods of washing, and finding them to be archival. I have a print washer that can handle up to 11x14, but when I wash 16x20s I soak them in a tray, replacing the water every 5 minutes. When I was using Kodak fixer I did this for an hour. I have switched to TF-4 fixer, which doesn't seem to require as long of wash times.
     
  12. sbalsama

    sbalsama TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I do mean hypo clear. I'll have to be sure to specify in the future! I suppose is hypo is fixer and hypo clear is supposed to clear the hypo then...hey that makes a world of sense. Never even noticed nor was told that before. Thanks!
     

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