Lith is a difficult process to investigate. A plethora of variables and an inherent subjectivity in the timing of the ‘snatch point’ makes for difficulties in understanding causal relationships. There also seems to be some randomness in outcome. Of course, this is what makes Lith printing so absorbing. What follows is a series of posts for my own benefit in which I record my meandering attempts, mistakes and all, to make sense of the process. The process is repeatable, but the tolerances seem very fine.
Here I investigate 2nd Pass Lith using Ilford FB Classic, one of my favourite papers. Ilford papers are considered not to be particularly ‘lithable’ when compared to some other brands. One of the motivations for these investigations is to delve more deeply into the potential of Ilford papers because so many of the other brands of paper are disappearing.
I set out the photographic results and relegate the technical details to the end of the post.
All pictures straight from the Scanner
N plus Half Stop
Slight Lith effect; dark brown, aubergine on ivory colours
N plus One Stop
A full extra stop of exposure gives hint of sky and cloud. The second print was badly processed as I tried to ‘burn’ the sky only with the lith but I underdeveloped the barn.
N plus One and One-half Stops
Closer to what I am looking for in my current project….
I tried to add further development with Lith to the sky by pulling the print out of the bath and only dipping the sky section back in. The gap between the sky and barn is very noticeable though!
- Additional exposure creates a greater lith effect and more subtle highlight delicacy.
- The combination of heavy over-exposure with very light bleach back (7 second snatch point) shows promise. I will need to find a better way of burning in the sky at the lith stage. Perhaps it has to be only done when exposing the negative?
- Unable from these results to conclude on the level of bleach-back on the lith effect, due to an error I made…
For interest (!), here is a First Pass Lith of Ilford FB Classic
Quite interesting mottle effect- I left it in the Lith bath for 30 minutes then gave up. But it might tone nicely in intensifier…..Or it might redevelop in Multigrade ….
In Part 2 I will look at 2nd Pass Lith of Ilford MGWT.
The negative was on Ilford 120 FP4+ film developed in PMK/Pyro.
For “normal” development the negative was exposed for 9 seconds at grade 3. No split grading, burning or dodging or cropping. It was developed in Ilford Multigrade for 90 seconds at 20 C , then stopped in a water bath, fixed in FX 40 alkali fix, then cleared in a weak solution of Sodium Sulphite before being washed for 40 minutes. Lets call this process Normal development or ‘N’ for short. For the investigation prints were either exposed with plus a half stop, plus a full stop or plus one and a half stops.
The 2nd Pass Lith
The procedure for 2nd Pass Lith was as follows: The prints were soaked in warm water for 5 minutes, then put into a bleach bath for either a short time or a long time. The snatch points for short times were judged by eye – just enough to make inroads into the light greys. Typically this was about 20 seconds. The time for the long bleach was over 5 minutes, enough for the dark blacks to be affected. The bleach was a 30% solution of potassium ferrycyanide with potassium bromide.
After bleaching, the bleach was thoroughly washed off the print in a water bath and hose. This took about 5 minutes for each print. The print was then put into the Lith bath at a temperature of 35C. The snatch point was judged according to specific areas of dark tones. As the temperature of the Lith bath fell, I warmed up the prints in a bath of warm water (40C) before immersing in Lith.
After the Lith, prints were stopped in a water bath, then refixed in FX40, then cleared with Sodium Sulphite. The final step was the Wash for 40 minutes.
The Lith bath was Moersch Easy Lith at 20 mls A plus 20 mls B plus 100 mls Old Brown in 900 mls of water.