Lake Pend Oreille Tugboat Lith

Lith of the old tugboat. Mamiya C220 65mm lens. Ilford HP5+. Ilford LC29 Film Dev

On the shores of Lake Pend Oreille in northern Idaho is the wreck of an old wooden boat. Small and stout it looks to have had a long and industrious past. Patched and renovated what likely started out as a steamboat it now has the stripped block of a V-8 engine. It sits abruptly on the shore and still exhibits a look of earnest determination even there upon the rocks and installed among the trees. It has been there as far back as the 1960's (probably much earlier) slowly rotting away.
While visiting my father we strolled down the road and found it there alongside the road. I took a number of photos and later when I bought some 16x20 Fotospeed lith paper I thought it would make a good subject to try it out on. The paper I bought was used so the 10 sheets had been reduced to 5 full size and an 8x10 off-cut section. Determined to conserve it I cut the 8x10 into four 4x5 pieces for testing. Later I would cut a full size sheet into four 8x10s.

The first 4x5 I exposed and developed normally as a test strip at 8-64 second intervals with the aperture wide open. This was to allow me to judge the exposure to over expose it by a number of stops. With this I determined the 'normal' exposure would be about 16 seconds

Test strip at wide open aperture.
The test was developed for 2 minutes in Ilford Universal PQ then stop bath and fixing. So my first test would be at 64" (+2 stops) over exposure.

The difficulty with lith is it takes a lot of time. The exposure is 4 or more times as long as it must be overexposed. Slow paper gets to be very tedious. (This paper was mercifully fast.) and the developing can take 10 - 15 minutes waiting for the snatch point. In the past I tried heating the developer to speed things up to great success. That time I used hot water from the kettle to mix the lith. Since this was the same batch I needed to heat it up. Lacking a hot plate I decided to micro-wave it in the bottle. (Wait a minute you are thinking this sounds like a disaster in the making.) Indeed this is fraught with problems. In a normal plastic bottle the air will expand and possibly rupture it. However I use the Kaiser expandable bottles.
Kaiser expandable bottle
This helps in a couple of ways, 1) you can eliminate most of the air by collapsing it (air expands the most on heating compared to liquid), and 2) any expansion that occurs will be accommodated. I heated the developer in 30 second intervals until 3 minutes of heating got it to 45 degrees C. I use Moersch EasyLith.

Judging the snatch point under a safelight is a difficult trick. It is almost worthless describing all the conditions of a print owing to the variability of the process but I will attempt to do so anyway. The first Lith test print came out quite dark. It was a 64 second exposure and was in the developer at 45 degrees for 2 1/2 minutes. Note the highlights have pinkish tone.
64 sec exposure 2:30 in hot developer
Next I tried a 128 sec exposure and snatched it at 2 minutes 15 seconds. By now the developer was about 40 degrees. This snatch was much sooner. The pink highlights much more pronounced.
128 second exposure faster snatch time.
With these under my belt I felt confident to work a larger print. I started with 128 second exposure.
1st 8x10 128 second exposure.
I also tried 64 seconds.
1st 8x10 64 second exposure.

This negative exhibited a problem I had seen when printing it conventionally on RC paper. The upper right and lower left corners lightened quite a bit. I burned these in the past but decided to dodge the center this time. I was unsure given the extreme overexposure in a lith if this would help.

Dodge 1

Dodge 2
 I learned that dodging can be effective in a lith print. Clearly it help balance the print in these two examples. As always the variability of a falling developer temperature combined with the subjective snatch point leads to a range of different outcomes making consistency difficult. I understand this is considered one of the charms of the lith process.

Next I wanted to look at toning so I put the test prints into Selenium 1+3 toner. I show the results side-by-side.

No toning

The toning in general removed the pink tinge and made it a light yellow color. Overall the effect was to lighten the print somewhat the opposite of what is usually expected. I also brings up the graininess and gives the print an old sepia look. I declined to tone the 8x10's however preferring the pink tone. 

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