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Fresh Developer: New Paper and a Lesson Learned

I had been planning for some time to move on to 12x16 fiber printing. All my fiber-based prints to this point were 8x10 and my larger 12x16 prints were RC. So this was the next step. I ordered some of the new Ilford MG FB Classic and while I was at it I also ordered Fomabrom Varient VC FB 123 based on some comments on forums. The Ilford I hope will be similar to the Cooltone I have used in the past which exposes and develops very closely to MGIV Deluxe RC paper.

I bought the Fomabrom in part because of the positive comments and also the semi-matte/velvet might make it good for hand coloring. So today I set out to try out this new paper. I have learned not to assume that papers will be the same. For instance Ilford Warmtone emulsion has a much slower low constrast emulsion than the cooltone version. So I cut down the 12x16 into 2x 8x10s and turned the remaining strip into test strips.

The print I started with is one of my brother's which he took in Santa Fe New Mexico during the Fiesta de Santa Fe which celebrates the reoccupation of Santa Fe by Don Diego de Vargas after an Indian revolt had ousted the Spanish Conquistadors in 1692. It is celebrated every autumn since then with a parade. My brother took a few pictures of the participants of the parade who dress as they would have in the 1600's in New Mexico.

Here is the finished print.
Fiesta de Santa Fe Children (Glenn Morse)
f11 #5 32 sec Fomabrom Var 123 8x10 Selenium toned 1+19.

Getting here was a little more difficult than I expected. I ran the normal split filter test strips. I chose f8 as an intermediate value.

Test Strip1 f8 #00

Test Strip1 f8 #5
Right away it is way too light. OK so the paper is a lot slower. I don't remember reading that but not everything sticks in my mind. So open up the aperture. I need 3 stops from the looks of it but I only have 2 so f4.5 it is.
Test Strip2 f4.5 #5

Test Strip2 f4.5 #00
Hmm, not much better. I am starting to panic. Is the paper bad? My developer log says I have only used half. So I try test strips side by side with the MGIV RC I know well with the Fomabrom.
Test Strip3 f4.5 #5 Foma

Test Strip3 f4.5 #5 MGIV
Not conclusive but indicative that the developer is old. The color is muddy. Looking at my developer log It was mixed at the end of June so it is probably oxidized. Now to confirm. Mix a fresh batch of Universal PQ 1+9. Redo the test strips.

Confirming Test Strip f4.5 #5
 Eureka this is it. Now get the f-stops back up and some proper test strips.

Test Strip4 f8 #00

Test Strip4 f8 #5
Looking at these I decide to stop down further (f11) and expose only the #5 filter for 32 seconds. The result is the print at the beginning of the post.

So a lesson learned. I next made a 12x16 print on the same paper at twice the exposure (64 seconds) which turned out very well. I do like the paper. Slightly warm with deep blacks.