Are Farmer-reduced prints permanent???

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by wieslaw1, Aug 27, 2003.

  1. Reducing the density of prints in a Farmers solution is a well known
    practice, sometimes used locally, to achieve sparkling white tones in
    highlights. Are such practices safe from the point of view of
    photographs permanence?
    Probably it depends on a particular photographic paper. Below is one
    example. The prints were made in 1978 on some kind of Ilford RC,
    matte, paper available then. The portion on the right was reduced in
    Farmers reducer, the part on the left was not. Obviously the process
    is not archival as evidenced by stains developed over time. Similar
    stains developed locally on other Ilford prints, subjected to
    localized reduction about the same time.

    It is not often I am using Farmers solutions, but I do not find
    stains on any other photographs in my archive. Majority of my prints
    are on fiber papers of various origins, and either they are neutral
    to the process of reduction, or I do not have prints which were
    reduced.(I do not keep written records on this process). Any
    comments, please.
  2. There are an awful lot of photographers that use Farmers Reducer to great effect. I don't think that would be the case if the procedure was not archival.<p>I believe there is more of a problem with your posted prints then meets the eye; I don't think Farmers is the culpert. Rather, and I'm guessing here as I didn't process the prints 25 years ago, I believe there is a fixer/washing issue that should be looked at.<p>So if you do some really solid research into the archival properties of Farmers Reducer and B&W prints I believe you'll find that the Farmers is not the cause of the prints yellowing.
  3. Did you fix and rewash the print after bleaching? Perhaps obvious but some one has to ask! Also the RC papers at that time usually had developer incorporated into the paper and the new current papers are vastly superior to the old ones.
  4. According to my old recipe book Farmer's Reducer uses hypo (sodium thiosulphate) as part of the formula. That would seem to preclude the need for additional fixing.

    OTOH, there's a recipe for IR-4 iodine reducer that specifically calls for rewashing and refixing after use.

    I've never used any reducers on RC prints but did recently torture-test some Agfa 312 RC test strips by rubbing concentrated Ilford Hypam fixer directly onto the surface and leaving it for several hours. At the very least there was yellowing; at worst the image was gone under the droplets.
  5. It's essential to re-fix the image after bleaching. The fixer
    immediately accelerates the bleaching process, then stops it
    cold. And fresh fix does this best. As for the post about RC
    papers w/ dev. incorporated; if the papers were not FULLY
    developed, the developer was left in them. More than likely,
    that's the cause of degradation. But basically, the world's best
    printers use bleach, so, no, it doesn't shorten the life of a print,
    all things being equal.
  6. Jim - you are totally wrong. IT IS Farmer’s REDUCER PROBLEM.

    Did I washed my prints? Don’t make me laugh.
    I placed the reference on the left of the picture posted for a reason - the image is clear (unaltered) isn’t it? Why the picture on the left was washed and the one on the right not washed? They were processed at the same time.

    PS. The only stains which ever appeared on my prints, caused by improper washing, were when I was about 8 years old. This was 53 years ago.

    Jeffrey - “Did you fix and rewash the print after bleaching? Perhaps obvious...” - Obviously not refixed. There is no reason for fixing after reducing in Farmer.

    Gary - NO, it is NOT essential to refix after FARMER. Your argument about the paper not FULLY developed does not hold in view of the reference provided.
  7. "...Don’t make me laugh..."
    Sorry Wieslaw, we were trying to help you. Since you appear to have all the answers I'll go somewhere else...cheers
  8. Well, I've been meaning to brew up some Farmer's Reducer anyway for use on some of my fiber prints. When I do I'll torture test some of my recent RC prints as well, subject 'em to accelerated aging and see what happens.
  9. " Obviously not refixed. There is no reason for fixing after reducing in Farmer. "

    " Gary - NO, it is NOT essential to refix after FARMER."

    I'm sorry, Wieslaw, but you've been misinformed. Refixing and washing, or at least a VERY long wash, is essential after using Farmer's reducer.

    The reducer contains Potassium Ferricyanate and Sodium Thiosulfate ("Hypo"), which reacts with the silver to form Potassium Ferrocyanate and silver/thiosulfate complex, as well as some Silver/Iron/cyanate complexes. It is essential to remove these compounds, as they will otherwise react with each other, the emulsion, the paper, air etc. over time and produce a brownish stain.

    The most practical way of removing these compounds is by refixing, followed by a proper wash.

    So all the suggestions you have received here have been correct - with the exception of underdevelopment, which shouldn't give that kind of stain anyway. It IS a fixing/washing problem - but AFTER the reducing. Remember that there are different compounds formed when reducing than in normal processing, so washing times could very well be longer than for un-bleached prints.
  10. I have never heard about the need for fixing the prints after reducing them in a Farmers reducer. Washing is sufficient. Obviously, the process in not archival at least on some (RC) papers.
  11. Don&#147;t be sorry Ole!

    The information regarding the procedure for print reduction in Farmer&#147;s solution I gathered from the sources below as well as from my own experience. The procedures described are essentially identical:

    1. "ORWO Rezepte", Veb Filmfabrik Wolfen, DDR, 1964. - This is a 200 pages publication issued by one of the worlds major film manufacturer. (ORWO - formerly Agfa Wolfen.)

    2. "Nowoczesne recepty" (Modern Photo Prescriptions), E.J. Kwasniewski, Krakow 1950, 120 pages.

    3. "Fotografia, Technika i Technologia", Tadeusz Cyprian, WNT, Warszawa 1963, 520 pages.

    4. "Vademecum Fotografa", Edward Sommer, Warszawa, 1954, 350 pages.

    5. "The Print, vol.3", A. Adams, New York Graphic Society, 1976, 120 pages.

    There is no mention whatsoever about print refixing after it has been reduced in Farmer&#147;s solution in any of the above sources. Do I need to quote more references?

    Interestingly, A.A. provides advise worth to be noted: "To avoid the possible stain, even after prolonged washing, another print reducer is advised.", p. 116 in Ref.5. That suggests that stains after reducing in the F. solution are to be expected.

    OK guys, if I have been "misinformed" and you have a better knowledge and/or qualifications than the authors of the above references, please give us the proof. In view of the references quoted it has to be a SOLID one. No urban myths, no gossips and no more washing arguments here, please!

    Lex - this is an experiment I would expect as the next step. Very much welcome, but do not accelerate it. Bring the results here in 25 years.
  12. I'll admit that I've never used Farmer's reducer myself. Nor have I read any of your references, except "The Print". And while "St. Ansel in the Dark" was a magnificent darkroom worker, his grasp of chemistry was perhaps somewhat less magnificent?

    What I do know (from experience, as well as a degree in chemistry) is that it is essential to get all silver and iron salts out of the emulsion after any kind of reduction or bleaching. This can be done with prolonged washing, with HCA followed by a (slightly shorter) wash, or by replacing the HCA with a plain hypo bath (thiosulfate and sulfite). I know which method I would prefer...

    By a sheer coincidence I came across a forgotten pack of Ilfospeed matte in my darkroom about a month ago. It was probably from the late seventies - 1978 would be a good guess. Since I never throw anything away without a very good reason, I gave it a try. To my surprise it was still as good as new! So if anyone wants to try to reproduce this effect, I still have a few sheets left.
  13. No, no fixing is needed after reducing in Farmer’s solution. I read somewhere on internet that resin coated papers are not as good for reducing as the fiber papers are, but the author did not elaborate on this.

    Regarding the experimenting with your old Ilfospeed Ole, perhaps Lex will do it. He likes old, mature, stuff, like good red wine.
  14. True, tho' right now I'm drinking a cold Miller High Life.
  15. I suggest you ask Bruce Barnbaum, he bleaches many of his prints.
  16. Apparently there is no unequivocal answer regarding the permanence of resin coated vs. traditional prints reduced in Farmer’s solution. Print permanence is related to the chemical interaction between all the ingredients of the emulsion and the environment over prolonged period of time, not on the fact whether famous photographers are using given process or not.

    Ole - if you have an access to the lab and are curious to do it, I suggest you take a Ag metal foil or a wire, weigh it on an analytical balance, and put into an aqueous mixture of Na-thiosulfate and K-cyanoferrite for 10 minutes or more, but the solution is unstable. The Ag-treated solution now contains higher concentration of all those ion complexes present during the normal reducing process so the reaction (below) should accelerate. Weight the Ag sample after drying. Now, cut 2 slices of the Ilfospeed you have, put one exposed, and one not, into the solution for the time of your choice. (The latter one in darkness).
    Thoroughly wash the samples and dry. Waite and observe any changes. Hopefully, the results should be available sooner than in a decade!
    You may also apply this procedure to a non RC paper for comparison.

    If the traditional papers are more stable than the RC papers after Farmer’s treatment, I suspect that perhaps the organic coating is the culprit. It may somehow absorb? those complex ions.

    An obvious action is to ask the manufacturer, so I am going to write to Ilford and enquire. We need to solve this dilemma if we want to use the reduction as a standard darkromm procedure.

    At the very end I will talk to BB as suggested by Hans. To be continued. Thanks.
  17. Interesting! I've never used Farmer's Reducer but I am wondering if it would help in rendering that crystalline texture of snow I'm obsessed with. I posed the question of archival-ness of prints bleached with farmer's reducer to Eastman Kodak, since they make the stuff. The reply I got was that they recommended a sponging of the area with clean water for "long term" preservation. Thats it---no re-fix or additional washing. Am I confused!
  18. What kind of papers, traditional, RC or both?
  19. They didn't distinguish between RC or fiber.
  20. Fixing is required after reducing.

    Darkroom Dynamics, Jim Stone, 1979 pg. 14, "...Immerse the print again in fixer after bleaching to clear the yellow stain. Follow with your normal washing procedure."

    The Print, Ansel Adams, third printing 1983, pg 138, "When the reduction is complete to your satisfaction, rinse the print well to remove the reducer solution, and then immerse it for a few minutes in a fixing bath (this can be plain hypo if all the solutions and wash water are cool). Then rinse, treat the print in Hypo Clearing Agent, rinse, and wash it thoroughly. The fixer should minimize the possibility of yellowish stain which ferricyanide may produce, especially when toned."

    Ok, now that I have my accredited sources in place. Plain Hypo is a must. Prints should not be toned prior to reducing as discoloration will occur. Treat the print the same as you would as if you had just developed it and sat it in a holding tray after initial development, in other words, it requires full fix and wash.

    You can stain a print beyond recovery, which is why you reduce in stages. Excessively returning to an area will cause stain. Thiorea is said to reduce staining, in reality it also reduces the action desired.

    Fiber based papers are more receptive to the action than RC paper. This leads people to stain RC with reducing.

    I must say I found Wieslaw Zdaniewski to be rather pompous in his follow ups. My reply is for the benefit of those who have not used reducer yet.

  21. In re-reading the entire thread I can even understand how Wieslaw Zdaniewski would come to his conclusions. However, noting the date of the books referenced, there was a lot of research into archival issues in the late 70s and early 80s that would not have been addressed in those volumes cited by him.

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