Two of these images from the Greenbank Radio Astronomy site have been printed before on a different paper and appear in earlier postings. It’s interesting to compare how the lith developer chemistry interacts with the emulsions of different papers to create radically different effects on the same image. (Click on the “rocketpunk” tag at the bottom of the post to compare this with older versions)
The images in this post were made with Moersch Easy Lith developer on Arista EDU RC paper. In the earlier images they were made using the same developer but printed on Fomatone MG Classic paper. The former usually results in a very high contrast, super grainy and gritty image with a slight yellow-pinkish hue to the highlights, while the latter gives me a smoother, dreamier image with more of a brownish-pinkish color, with out-of-focus areas progressing to heavier grain.
As a result I tend to choose different papers for different types of images depending on what type of atmosphere I want to portray.
As manufacturers tend to start or stop producing certain papers without notice it can be tough to find good papers for lith printing sometimes. Some years ago my favorite lith paper was made by Kentona, but they stopped making it suddenly and so I had to search for new options. Many common papers such as Ilford Multigrade or the old Kodak paper (if you find any) simply do not work with lith developer at all and are only suitable for standard black and white printing, so searching the net for advice while experimenting with various brands and models is necessary.
And the same goes for lith chemicals…
Normally I just post interesting photos with no explanation and let them speak for themselves, but I thought this might be interesting to those who wonder about the process.
With chemical print photography, you can go through a lot of paper to get a final image you want to keep. In this case, I made five prints before I got something close to what I wanted.
This can go on for as long as you want it to keep going on, until you run out of paper or chemicals or time. At some point I stop trying to overcook it and move on to another image. I will spend more time on an image I really love or where I am trying to learn something or achieve a particular effect.
These five images represent about two or two and a half hours of work in the dark room, including washing and drying the prints. Paper isn’t particularly cheap, either. These are some of the reasons many people stick to digital, along with the fact that dark room access can be hard to find as well. I get that. But this process is fun and rewarding for me, at least. On a computer you could do what I did above in a few minutes by moving some sliders around, I am guessing. There’s a camera app on my smartphone that can do this while you’re riding the Metro train. But it never looks quite as nice as it does on real silver emulsion to me.
Maybe in the future I’ll do some more “how it’s done” type posts like this.