I went back into the darkroom yesterday to try lith printing again for the third time. I was especially excited to try lithing the Prinz Bromal Linen paper from 1975. I thought it had potential to turn out pretty neat. I had kept the enlarger at the same settings as I did the 5×7 contact prints the other day, so I already knew how long a regular exposure was on that paper. To do the contact print, I made an exposure of 4 seconds onto the Prinz paper.
Since lith prints require a lot longer exposure, I exposed the paper for 32 seconds, which was a three stop increase. From what I’ve read, people recommend overexposing the print for 2 or 3 stops for lith printing. I went for three in hopes that, since this would be the first lith print of the day, the increased exposure would kick my lith developer into gear and start making magic right away.
I put it into the developer, and seven minutes later I had this (Whoops! Just now realized that I had flipped my negative!):
I had not anticipated how the texture of the paper would affect the way the final lith print looked. I’m not too keen on this print, because a lot of detail is lost in the texture, however, you can see that the paper actually liths well. Notice how the print that was developed normally has all of that light gray fog to it? The lith process, because it develops the dark tones in the paper earlier than the light tones, actually cuts through that fog. Which is awesome! I might try using this paper again for lith prints, especially since it reacted with the developer quickly, but probably for images that aren’t as detail heavy as this one was.
While I was developing the Prinz lith prints (I made two), I was also trying to get a 5×7 lith print on Arista II Grade #3 paper to develop. That didn’t go so well. I wound up getting only a faint olivey-peachy tone on that paper. Other paper that didn’t work: Luminos Flexicon VC RC Pearl. That’s a paper I haven’t ever used before at all, and even though it didn’t work for lith printing, it looks like it might be great for regular printing.
Since I was waiting for the Arista II paper to do, well, anything, I went ahead and did a contact print with another paper I haven’t tried before: Kodak Kodabromide F2 postcard papers that expired in 1970. This is really neat photo paper that is postcard sized (hence the name), but also has a standard postcard design on the back, with an area for a stamp and an address. I hadn’t worked with this paper before, and probably really should have made a test strip to see what kind of exposure the paper needed, but I figured that it was the same grade as the Prinz, and only a few years older, so I did a contact print of one of the 5×7 negatives with a 40 second exposure. The 5×7 negative was larger than the paper, so parts of the original image were cropped.
After 22 minutes in the developer, it looked like this:
That’s the kind of result I’ve been looking for! Kodabromide for the win! I have more Kodabromide in various weights and sizes, so it’ll be interesting to see if it all liths this well, or if I just get this result for the postcards.
Next, I wanted to try using some 70 year old Agfa Cykora paper. I hadn’t ever gotten into this, either, so I didn’t know what to expect. My first print, while problematic, was also promising:
This was in the developer for 17 minutes. I would have yanked it a lot earlier, but the rhino’s head hadn’t developed at all. The paper did this weird develop from the middle thing, and also had lines running the length and width of the print that didn’t develop at all. I’m guessing that that came from a seam in the protective black envelope that held the paper.
So, I gave the Cykora another shot. Just so you can see how fogged this paper is, here’s my test strip that I did for the next print. I exposed the paper in increments of ten seconds.
That’s what the paper looks like developed in regular paper developer. I figured a regular exposure of 25 seconds was as close to correct as I could get with this. I decided to expose the paper for the lith print for a total of 3 minutes, a little bit under a 3 stop increase.
After nine minutes in the developer, I yanked the print. This is the final result.
Yay! How awesome is that? It’s so cool to think that this process can make papers that are outdated and fogged produce fantastic, toned prints.
I think I’m going to do one more day of regular black and white printing, another day of lith printing, and then move on giving color printing a shot again. I’m excited about all of it.