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I am closing the case of lith printing today. As I am writing a small manual of alternative printing processes, and there were just a few things that needed checking, I made a few more prints from digital negatives. I was trying Moersch Easy Lith developer this time, with different dilutions and developing times. With the Moersch chemicals it seems that starting lith printing is quite straightforward and fun… the instructions following the chemicals are clear and simple, and by following them there really shouldn’t be a reason why not succeed right from the first prints.
The first prints in a freshly mixed lith developer normally don’t look anything special, the developer has to age a little bit. I made a couple of “aging prints” on the Silverprint Proof VC glossy paper, a budget price RC paper. They actually looked quite niceÂ warm tone prints — even without the lith effect.
A print on Silverprint Proof VC paper, developed with Moersch Easy Lith developer, dilution A 2oml + B 20ml + water 1000ml.
Gradually, as the developer ripened more, I got some quite lovely pink, red and yellow highlight tones, while the shadows developed coarse and funky lith grain. I used Fomatone and Forte papers with Moersch Easy Lith developer and Lith Omega for stronger highlight colors.
Jalo Porkkala: The Power Station, lith print.
Paper: Forte PW FB, developer: Easy Lith 8 min. + Lith Omega 4 min.
Jalo Porkkala: The West Pier, lith print.
Paper: Forte PW FB, developer Easy Lith 10 min.
My modest lith experiments were continued with printing another older negative, originating from 1982 or so. The 4×5″ negative was scanned and enlarged, colorized as before and printed on inkjet transparency. The inkjet negative was then contact printed under an enlarger’s light.
The prints were developed in the used developer from the previous printing session, the developer was replenished by adding a little fresh working strength developer.
As it seemed the exhausted developer wouldn’t work well any more I felt more experimental ðŸ˜‰ : near the end of the developing time the darkroom’s white fluorescent tubes were turned on for a few minutes, then turned off again, and developing continued. As a result there is quite heavy “pepper grain” effect – tiny black specks all over the print – because of fogging during development. Also there is a wide horizontal stripe going through the print due to uneven development – the print was left in the developer without agitation for a long time:
When printing black&white in the darkroom, there are always people who, no matter what instructions they get, can’t wait to fully develop the print but snatch it from the developer when it “looks right” in the safelight (and usually will be disappointed with the tones later in proper lighting). Well, there is a suitable printing technique for “snatchers” – lith printing, where the success is based on the skill to stop developing at exactly right moment ðŸ˜‰
You can practise lith printing using many conventional papers – some of them work for lith better than the others. The principle is that you overexpose the paper by 2 to 3 stops (compared to normal process) and develop it in highly diluted lith developer. Typically you will gain a combination of soft, warmly tinted highlights and contrasty, grainy shadows – much of this depending on the paper used.
To get started with lith printing there are good instructions by Tim Rudman on the web. Also in Christina Anderson‘s excellent Experimental Photography Workbook there is a chapter of lith (and many other techniques to rip off new dimensions from standard b&w papers). Silverprint in UK have materials and useful info on their website.
I tried lith the other day, by printing an old 35 mm negative on Bergger and Forte papers, which were developed in Bergger BER-01 lith developer. The picture was shot in 1986 on Tri-X and the film developed in D-76 (the classic combination).
This print was then exposed at F:4, 120 sec. and developed for 11 minutes. This resulted some typical lith look: contrasty shadows and (in this case, the Bergger paper) pinkish highlights.
Here’s the first print that I’m satisfied with, at the end of the printing session. There’s something about the mood I was hoping to get with lith printing. Bergger paper again, F:4, 200 sec., developing 11 min 15 sec.
This is a print from the next day, the developer was kept in an airtight container overnight, but it was exhausted already a little bit. The paper is Forte Polywarmtone FB Plus – it’s variable contrast, so it can be adjusted with filtering. Here I wanted to filter flat (180Y, about grade #00), my intention was to develop for long, thus raising the contrast. Exposure was 180 sec. at F:2.8, developed for 16 minutes.
Not exactly what I was expecting, but anyway another favourite of mine, although quite different from the previous one. It is soft, very grainy, kind of mystical…
Think I will try to regenerate the developer and do some more printing one of these days. To be continued…