Why and how do I photo paper so its no longer sensitive to light for a diffusion transfer print?

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by 10986431, May 13, 2020.

  1. Hey there

    I am trying to make a print from film onto photographic paper without light so hopefully using a diffusion transfer print. Did some research etc and have enough info to attempt this but one thing though is that I have to fix and wash the photo paper so that it no longer sensitive to light. How do I do this exactly and why is this important? Would not just exposing it to light fix this? Clearly not but wondered what happened here. Also do I was it first then let it dry and then cover it in fixer? Any help much appreciated!
    William Michael likes this.
  2. AJG


    If you expose the paper to any light it will darken eventually. Fixing and washing the paper will remove the light sensitive silver salts that enable the paper to make normal darkroom prints. You need to fix the paper first and then wash it. The instructions on the package of fixer should tell you what you need for mixing dilution and times for fixing and washing. You will probably wear out the fixer faster than normal since the image on a B&W print consists of metallic silver and you are attempting to remove all of the silver salts. I'm still not clear on exactly what your printing process is, but if you need to make the photo paper insensitive to light thorough fixing and washing is how to accomplish that.
  3. You might want to do a little more research . . . The instructions above will allow you to remove the light sensitive material from photo paper, I have to ask why you are using photo paper for a substrate in the first place? I expect that water color paper would be closer to what you are looking for.

    I have never seen a diffusion print made from a negative.
  4. Thanks everyone!

    I am trying to recreate what happens in a Polaroid old fashioned peel apart but without the rollers etc. I want to take a photo and lay the negative onto photo paper and use a reagent to stick the two and get the transfer to occur. I've been told I need to fix and wash first I have been told.
  5. I'm still not sure why you need to use photo paper. But, I'm not familiar with this process (other than Polaroid) so, don't pay too much attention to me.
  6. AJG


    Back in the 90's I did some work with Polaroid transfer with color materials. I used Rives Arches cold press paper that was soaked for a while and then squeegeed to remove most of the moisture. Then the picture was taken and after a few seconds the 4x5 Polaroid was peeled apart and the negative was pressed against the the moist paper and gone over with a roller and allowed to continue to process for a couple of minutes. If you haven't looked at it yet, I strongly recommend that you look at New 55, which sells a new version of Polaroid Type 55, the B&W Polaroid product that made both a print and a useable negative. With some googling you should be able to find the accounts of their struggles to reproduce what Polaroid used to make in the thousands of sheets. The receiver sheet (what I think you're describing) was particularly challenging and took a lot of effort to come up with for the new product.
    William Michael likes this.
  7. Diffusion transfer print? That sounds just like the Dye Transfer Process where a negative made on pan matrix film transfers an image to a mordanted substrate usually paper. The transfer is achieved by the process of diffusion. Dye Transfer is a very deep ocean but rewarding to study.
  8. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Personally, I found the topic very interesting, I was previously unaware: thank you.
    Last edited: May 15, 2020
    10986431 likes this.
  9. This is very different from and much simpler than the dye transfer process. Dye transfer required three or four, CMY or CMYK, pan matrix internegs that were then coated with a dye and transferred to paper one at a time, in registration, building up the image one color at a time.

    If you are interest in learning more about the process, research the photographer Ctein who may be the last in the world practicing the process. Pan Matrix film was discontinued years ago and he bought a walk in freezer to store all that he could get. I'm not sure if a similar product is still being produced anywhere.
    William Michael and 10986431 like this.
  10. AJG


    I got into this for a client with a small restaurant/tea room in their Manhattan retail outlet. Over a very long weekend I photographed every item on their menu and did Polaroid transfers that were enhanced a bit with colored pencils by their graphic artist and then reproduced as their menu. The general effect was something like a watercolor but with some of the detail of a conventional photograph. It was a finicky process--if you didn't pull the Polaroid packet out perfectly evenly the streaking/uneven processing was even more evident than it was on a normal Polaroid print, and if the watercolor paper was too dry or too wet the transfer didn't work well either. I probably have a sample somewhere--when I find it I'll post it.
    William Michael and 10986431 like this.
  11. Wow! OK AJG that is such a cool project! i'm a huge polaroid fan so anything you have from that I'd love to see it.

    Ed_FArmer, I'm going to check this person out, thats so cool! Ctein, huh. amazing.

    I'll let you know how I get on also,


  12. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    It's interesting how sometimes that unique 'job' leads us to somewhere we would otherwise might never visit. Thanks again, interesting, very interesting.

    Thank you, too.

    ed_farmer likes this.
  13. You might see what is in the Polaroid patents.

    As well as I understand it, soluble silver bromide, or some silver compound, diffuses out of the negative,
    and into the receiving sheet. (I believe that is what they called it.) It is then reduced to metallic silver.

    My guess is that popular inkjet printer paper would absorb the diffusing chemicals better than
    fixed gelatin paper. I don't know what you do to reduce it to metal, but I presume that there
    is a chemical in the Polaroid paper to do that.

    For the Polaroid color peel-apart system, dyes diffuse across and end up in the print.

    Some will remember the need to coat black and white prints some time, maybe within
    hours, after peeling. There is a story that the first version of the color process required
    coating within seconds. After more work, they came up with the version that doesn't
    need coating.

    Then a later black and white version didn't require coating.

    Note also that Fuji sold the black and white version until not so many years ago,
    and the color version until a little more recently. They might have some patents, too.

    But the black and white paper goes back to the earliest Polaroid roll films, so
    the patents should go back that far, too.
  14. Three points:
    1) You can't use an ordinary silver-image negative directly for a diffusion print.

    2) A negative image will diffuse to a negative image, not a positive. The polaroid process uses a sensitivity destruction technique where the developer by-products inhibit the receptor from developing. To the best of my knowledge, you can't use an already processed negative. Not unless you re-sensitise it with a re-halogenating bleach.

    3) Only gelatine (fibre-based) photo paper will be suitable as a receptor. I'm pretty sure RC paper won't work because of its top coating.
    + 1 to that.

    P.S. you might want to look into the Woodbury-type process as well. This obscure process produces printing templates directly from a photographic print, and only requires a press capable of exerting several hundred pounds per square inch!
    Last edited: May 19, 2020
  15. "Why", you asked, and well you might.

    Just buy a good quality paper made for your printer, glossy or whatever you want.

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