Back Into the Darkroom . . .

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by ed_farmer, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. I stopped my serious B&W film work about 15 years ago. I'm in the process of opening up the darkroom and I have already been shooting some fresh film and processing some old exposed rolls that I have shot over the years. Almost everything that I used in the past is still available . . .

    I mostly shoot Tri-X in 35 and 120(6x7). Processed in PMK, water for stop and TF-4 fixer. All good.

    Paper is processed in Dektol, water, TF-4, Hypo clear and archival wash. Great.

    Paper? I used to use a lot of Zone VI in grade three. Gone. I also actually had a lot of success with an Adorama house brand paper that was warm tones and took sepia toner for a great look.

    What's the closest to the old Zone VI paper? I don't have a problem with VC paper but only print on fiber, no RC.
    carbon_dragon likes this.
  2. AJG


    I also miss Zone VI paper, probably my favorite paper of all time. I have been almost as happy with Ilford Multigrade fiber, and the convenience of variable contrast is certainly appreciated.
  3. I really don't have a problem with RC paper. In the early days there was no doubt it was inferior to fibre, but it improved noticeably over the years - plus I got used to how to process it.

    Last time I used Ilford paper it was MG IV, and I was reasonably happy with it, but I preferred Kentmere for its deeper blacks. Kentmere has now been taken over by Harman, but I think their paper is still available.

    However, whatever the paper, I found the developer to make much more difference. To my mind, there's no substitute for the old D163, although Dektol comes a close second. That and developing at around 75F and not the recommended 68F.
  4. I'll check for the Kentmere papers, thank you . . . The deep blacks is what I loved about the Zone VI paper. I don't know if they really contained more silver as was purported but they looked great.

    My problems with RC go beyond the old inferiority. I just don't like the look.

    Dektol is, I think, the only paper developer that I have ever used. I'll take a look at D163 though.
  5. Since I used non-RC papers when I was young, I suppose there is something sentimental about them.

    But the speedy washing of RC paper, and easier to dry, too, mostly makes up for it.

    There is a certain look of non-ferrotyped glossy non-RC paper that RC paper doesn't have.

    I have a good collection of new and old papers now, enough to last me many years.

    (Interesting that some old papers still work well, and some not so old, don't.)
  6. Good for you.!
    I am way late with my "advice", but here it is all the same.
    You will simply have to try a paper(s)
    I have used A LOT of
    Ultrafine Silver Eagle Fiber Base VariGrade DW Glossy Photo Paper - Ultrafine Silver Eagle Fiber Base Varigrade Black-and-White Photo Paper

    But also just as much of the Ilford Fiber VC Gloss.
    The Ultrafine frequently goes on sale for Very Cheap.

    But that is where we part company.....not that it will make a Huge Difference.
    I typically shoot 35mm HP-5
    Develop in Rodinal or Ilfotec HC
    For paper it is Ilford Multi Grade, water + citric acid, and Ilford Rapid Fix.

    I WAS using Photo Form Liquidol.
    It was great stuff, but i THINK i switched to Ilford because of the 5 Liter pricing.

    Anyway......welcome back to Traditional Photography :)
  7. Denny . . . Never too late!

    I'll check out the paper . . . I don't tend to do very much based on price. I'm more than willing to pay for what I want.

    Keep in touch . . .
  8. The issue that I have with fiber paper is drying the print so it does not WRINKLE BADLY.
    You need to find a heated dryer with an UNCONTAMINATED canvas tension cover.
    I never had much success with blotter books, the print still wrinkled.
    Or maybe I did/do not know how to dry fiber prints without using a heated dryer.

    As for film, I prefer medium or slow speed film. That gives me exposure latitude for daylight shots.
    Tri-X turned my SLR into a box camera, with only a single exposure setting for daylight; 1/500 sec @ f/16.
    Plus-X gave me 2 stops more adjustment flexibility.
  9. I flatten my prints in a mounting press although there are other methods.

    Developed in PMK, I expose Tri-X at 200, not 400.
  10. Sandy Vongries

    Sandy Vongries Administrator Staff Member

    The old ferrotype dryers work very well, prints face up or down, depending on the look you want. As Gary mentioned, the cloth cover(s) needs to be clean and uncontaminated- good darkroom methodology- well fixed and washed prints of primary importance followed by occasional washing of the covers. If you use the ferrotype for gloss, the plates need to be kept clean and unscratched. Still have a couple of the old dryers, but confess I mostly used the RC papers when they became available.
  11. I remember years ago, working in a darkroom with a drum dryer.

    I was told for RC prints face away from the drum, and for non-RC glossy towards the drum.
    As well as I remember, it worked fine that way.

    The two sided ones should also work that way.

    I think you want a lower temperature for RC, though, and I don't know if all dryers have a temperature control.
  12. RC papers don't really need to be dried. They dry quickly and flat without problems and certainly don't need to be ferrotyped.

    With fiber papers, you placed the face of the print toward the drum to get a glossier finish.

    I actually have a functioning heated drum dryer. I haven't tried to clean the apron but I never used the dryer much anyway.
  13. I probably wouldn't have used it, if it wasn't already there.

    Yes, they face away from the drum, so are not ferrotyped.

    But if you make enough prints, or print them fast enough, you need a place to put them while they dry.
    This way, they would dry fast, and I could just stack them.

    Not so many years ago, I was offered a free drum dryer. I didn't take it, as it won't fit in my darkroom.
    I suppose it doesn't have to go in, but there isn't a good place outside, either.

    Otherwise, a hair dryer works pretty well on RC paper. Somehow I got one along with some
    other darkroom supplies some years ago.

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