Yesterday in the darkroom

Two prints from a session in the darkroom yesterday afternoon. Both come from 4×5 Ilford FP4+ negatives, shot with the Intrepid camera. I set out to print the first, the teasel, using the split filtering technique, but I got better results using a single exposure at Grade 2.5 with some dodging on the teasel head. The paper is Ilford Multigrade IV RC, Lustre finish.

When I looked at this print when it came off the print dryer last night, I thought I would use it to practice with fibre paper. Nearly all of my printing so far has been on resin-coated paper, but I have quite a bit of fibre paper that I was lucky enough to be given some years ago. I’d also like to sepia tone this image.

However, this morning I noticed some chemical marks on the print borders, so clearly I hadn’t washed it for long enough (it had been in an archival washer for 7 minutes, which should be enough for RC paper). If I haven’t got my washing technique right for RC paper, then I need some more practice before moving to fibre paper.

I like the above image of a stargazer lilly, but I feel that it doesn’t have enough space on the top and the right hand side, so I probably won’t try any further prints of this negative. Again this was printed straight at Grade 2.5.


  1. Nice job Kevin. I have been ‘slowwwwwly’ working on some flower images too. As you are, I have been using the RC paper MGIV, want to use it up before going trying V. I had a similar issue with staining on the borders. It turned out the Nova did not have enough Dev in it to cover the whole sheet. Little top up and problem solved. If its trays I can’t help you there. I plan on getting the trays out again as I much prefer them. I know they take up lots more room but I find it much more pleasurable.

  2. Kevin, I like both of them but the second takes first place.
    7 mins is more than enough washing for RC paper. Staining on the edges is quit often chemical contamination from tray edges, tongs, fingers or just questionable fixing.
    All the above exacerbated when the print is toned.
    Best of luck tracking it down.

  3. Thanks David. After Steve’s comment above, I topped up the fixer slot in the Nova processor, have produced some more prints since then without any issue. Fingers crossed. I think the clips that hold the prints in the Nova processor (their equivalent of tongs) are a weak spot; if I move the print from one clip to another at each stage, that’s a lot of handling which may damage the print; but using just one clip from dev to stop to fix seems even more likely to lead to contamination. And sometimes the print falls of the clip and has to be fished out by using another piece of paper to stick to it …

  4. I use the same clip with each print as it goes through the relevant baths and just wash it at the end when the print goes into the wash. so far no problems.

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