August 2010

Monthly Archive

Inkjet Palladium

Posted by on 30 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Palladium

Here are some of my pigment toned ziatypes — each of them sensitized over an inkjet print (separately shown at the back of each print). These prints are larger than my previous trys (40 cm the longer dimension), and I found myself having a hard time coating them evenly with the synthetic brush — I used hake brush instead…

Jalo Porkkala: A Scottish Landscape, pigment toned ziatype.
(This is a bit uneven print due to problems with brushes; the coating was started with synthetic brush and continued with a hake).

Jalo Porkkala: A Martian Landscape, pigment toned ziatype.

Jalo Porkkala: A Norwegian Landscape, pigment toned ziatype.

Jalo Porkkala: An Oklahoman Landscape, pigment toned ziatype.

Pigment Toning

Posted by on 29 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Palladium

I wanted to try toning ziatype with inkjet pigments, and printed different tone charts to be overprinted by ziatype. I was looking for inkjet hues, which, combined with the standard (Afo plus Lithium) ziatype, would produce tones similar to gold, cesium, and tungstate toned prints.

Why am I doing this? Because I find it difficult to get the tones that I want with the zia chemistry. When I mix chemicals for a toning effect I often get low contrast, low max density, and other issues… But if I do the toning with an inkjet printer, I just print the toner print (a colorized version of the image) and sensitize with ziatype over it.

Below I have a colorized image file (on the left column) and a ziatype printed over it. I was surprised to notice how saturated the toning color should be, to have just a subtle effect in the final print.

Inkjet¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬† ¬† –> ¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Inkjet + Ziatype

This is an inkjet tone effect similar to some gold chloride added to the zia sensitizer.

Here you could think you’re looking at an effect achieved by using tungstate in the sensitizer.

This looks the same as plenty of gold was added to the sensitizer.

What is the best in pigment toning (IMO) is that you can choose any color you want, and  even use many different hues in the same image. And if you use the best quality pigment inks, the longevity should be just about as good as with any chemical toner.

I’m making some larger pigmented ziatype prints now, hope I can post some JPEGs here tomorrow…

Steaming Palladium

Posted by on 17 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Palladium

I made the first prints of my trusty old “standard test negative” with Dick Sullivan’s Ziatype printing-out palladium process. The first one is printed with perhaps the widest used ziatype method, the chemistry consists of ammonium ferric oxalate and lithium palladium. Palladium prints are usually considered as warm tone prints, which is normally true with the developing-out palladium. Ziatype is a “new historical method” and capable of producing beautiful, platinum-like neutral tones.

The weather type had changed, and my dimroom was dryer than yesterday, only 42% relative humidity. I made the mistake of drying the paper too dry. It seems that too dry paper cannot produce a proper printing-out image. I have noticed that if I only keep my exposure time constant, I can often save images exposed on too dry paper by “steam developing” them; I gently moisten the paper from back over a humidifier, for several minutes sometimes. This works fairly well, but if I overdo steam development (although it sometimes may seem a good way to lower contrast) the print will be flat and gray…

A basic, neutral ziatype print. There are very delicate split tones from warm shadows to cooler highlights, very nice when viewing the print in person. This one was exposed on too dry paper, but was steam developed 4 minutes.

I also wanted to see how my “Gold Extra” mixture would look on this image (see the previous post). A good deal of gold chloride was added to the sensitizer to produce these lavender and bluish tones.

The colors looked more intense when wet, but the dry-down effect mutes them. This print was also steam developed for about two minutes.

My inkjet negatives for zia look wild on the light table; they are very dark, seemingly lacking contrast in highlights, with very contrasty shadows. But we should remember we are working with the UV light, and the negative’s UV density may not have much to do with its visual density…

The negative for the “Gold Extra” print, and the shape of the correction curve that was applied to the positive image.

Days After

Posted by on 15 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Palladium

After a few days ziatype testing¬†I’m feeling kind of crazy — printing the tiny gray patches over and over again… but I keep saying to myself it’s not wasted time, I’m learning all the time about this process and its chemistry. I had to try the different chemicals and their mixtures to find out their effects on the images. After this testing I’m supposed to be ready¬†to choose the suitable ziatype method for any particular image.

ChartThrob test prints on my desk.

But, before proceeding to printing real photographs, I wanted to make more tests on the paper humidity. Definitely my first tests were printed on too damp paper (see the previous posts). I know the humidity is part of the process, but I wanted to see what will happen when the sensitized paper is fully dried.

So, I coated a piece of Guarro paper, let the sensitizer soak in for a few minutes, and force dried the paper with a hair dryer, with the cool setting. On my exposure unit I can watch (through a yellow safelight window) the forming of the printing-out image. It seems that when the paper has proper humidity the image prints out even and steady, but if the paper is too dry the printing-out image comes out grainy and blotchy — that’s exactly what happed here with the dry paper.

Exposing a dry ziatype paper. The printing-out image appears grainy and uneven. (Picture taken through the yellow safety window of the exposure unit)

The print exposed dry, just before going to the clearing bath.

After processing the print doesn’t look so blotchy any more, but the maximum density is not very high.

OK, I’m beginning to learn the differences between dry and humid papers, and, more importantly, learning to dry my papers just right, so that they are a bit moist but dry enough to be safely contacted with the negative (I don’t use the acetate mylar between the paper and negative any more). On the tests below my typical drying procedure was to let the coated paper sit for awhile (until the wet shiny surface turned to matte), and then blow dry it with a hair dryer (the coated side only, dryer set to cool) for 3 – 5 minutes. The relative humidity in my working area ranges between 60 and 75 % at this time of year.

With the ziatype it should be possible to acquire remarkable variations in color, from very warm reddish brown to cool blue and greenish blue hues. I’ve done my gray-patch printing on several different papers and noticed that papers can have their effects on the print color too. But mainly the color changes are made with chemistry mixtures. So, more chemicals are needed; such as gold, cesium and tungstate.

More chemicals to the setting.

On the grounds of the previous tests it looked like something was wrong with my process; ziatype should naturally be a long scale process, meaning that from a normal negative targeted for modern photo papers I am supposed to get a low contrast print. However, my results looked quite high in contrast. So, I’m wondering what could be the issue here. It shouldn’t be the paper, I have tried many types already and the results look similar. To find out if it is the chemistry, I made more test prints.

In the very basic ziatype process there are only two sensitizing solutions: the ammonium ferric oxalate (afo) which is the light sensitive compound, and lithium palladium chloride (LiPd) for making the metallic palladium. The chemicals are easily mixed to distilled water, and there really should not be much that could go wrong here.

Anyway, I started experimenting by diluting the two solutios differently with water. The idea of this was to examine if there really is something spoiled or badly mixed in my chemistry, and try to find out about the effects produced by changing the chemistry proportions. For these tests I also changed my paper to Somerset, because I now have a feeling it is somewhat easier to coat and dry to the specific humidity. Here is a quick review of the results.

1) Solution #1 has been diluted by substituting water for half of it. I don’t see any dramatic changes; the Dmax is a bit lower and the print tone warmer. Lowering the contrast with diluting solutions doesn’t seem to work — well, maybe a little bit — 11 – 12 steps are readable from the Stouffer 21-step tablet, instead of the 9 – 10 steps of the full strength chemistry.

2) Here the palladium part of the chemistry has been half diluted with water, the afo solution unaltered. Dmax is definitely lower, the print is uneven all over, with weak Dmax.

3) Here’s another try from the #1 dilution. This time I encreased the exposure by 50%. A very nice Dmax, and the longest scale that I have got so far — 12 discernible steps on the Stouffer. Think I will stick to this paper / chemistry combination for a while.

Finally, before starting to print photographs instead of boring gray chart tests, I wanted to try the different mixes of the chemistry, just to get an idea of the colors that ziatype can introduce. The correction curve has been created for the basic Afo + LiPd mixture only, so except for the first test, the ChartThrob tonalities are way off from optimum here. Each mix of sensitizer will need a correction curve of its own…

1) Somerset paper, ChartThrob negative (with a correction curve) printed with an Epson 1800. After several tests I ended up to make my basic zia mixture: Afo solution 3 parts + water 1 part + LiPd 4 parts. I don’t add the Tween surfactant any more.

2) When aiming for a little warmer print tones, cesium palladium solution can be added to LiPd: Afo solution 3 parts + water 1 part + LiPd 2 parts + CePd 2 parts.

3) By adding gold to the sensitizer the print highlights take a cold bluish tone, while the shadows don’t change much: Afo solution 3 parts + water 1 part + LiPd 2 parts + gold chloride (5% sol.) 2 parts.

4) A little bit of tungstate added will also warm the print (not as brown as #2) and lower the contrast: Afo solution 3 parts + water 1 part + LiPd 4 parts + sodium tungstate (40% sol.) 1 part.

5) My “Gold Extra”, more gold added, results to more prominent split tones: Afo solution 5 parts + water 1 part + LiPd 2 parts + gold chloride (5% sol.) 4 parts.

6) According to Sullivan and Weese (The New Platinum Print) gold and tungstate together mixed in the sensitizer will produce green tones: Afo solution 3 parts + water 1 part + LiPd 3 parts + gold chloride (5% sol.) 1 part + sodium tungstate (30% sol.) 1 part.

Ziatype Day Two

Posted by on 07 Aug 2010 | Tagged as: Palladium

I’m a bit puzzled by my ziatype results from yesterday… the contrasty nature of my ziatype sensitizer and the drastic curve needed for correction keep disturbing me. To be sure the troublemaker is not my paper I made more small ChartThrob test prints on several different papers: Canson, Somerset, Saunders… There were differences in tonality and Dmax, but they all showed the same basic character: blocked shadows and quite high contrast.

Then really weird thing happened… I found a few sheets of COT 320 paper; should be excellent for iron processes like cyano, vandyke, platinum, and obviously, ziatype. I decided to make a small test print on it too, and poured my zia sensitizer on the paper, ready to start spreading it around with my brush. It took a few seconds until I started to brush, but in that time the liquid put a permanent ugly stain on the paper. It was impossible to even out, the paper was ruined, and I didn’t even try to expose it.

Sensitizing COT 320, the first try.

The paper behaved like a blotting paper, the solution seemed to sink in and remain there … I made another try with another piece of the same paper… This time I started brushing really quickly after pouring.¬† Not any better… I could avoid the pouring marks, but the coating was all blotchy and uneven. Didn’t expose this paper either.

(And yes, I am absolutely sure that it was COT 320 paper, straight from the factory package.)

Sensitizing COT 320, the second try.

Anyway, I then made on Guarro one more test print with cesium (palladium) instead of lithium. This gave me warm brown tones, and just a bit lower contrast. There was already a correction curve created for the negative, so the chart tones look quite ok…

A cesium palladium test ziatype, from a tonally corrected inkjet negative.

Basically I have curved my workflow for the neutral lithium palladium and the warmtone cesium palladium, against all odds, and should be good to print some photos now. If there is something wrong with my process, it will be consistently so through this batch of chemicals.

Consistency, I say to myself, will be my ultimate guiding star! ūüėČ

To be continued…

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