What method do you use to achieve an archival print?

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Would like information related to various archival printing methods. What type of paper, developer, stop, fix, wash, how many times, for how long, etc. What has worked for you? Is there a commonly excepted definition of what an "archival" print is? Have you used a diluted bleach solution as a final wash? Thanks

-- G. A. Lair (laircrawford@earthlink.net), August 11, 2000


Fiber paper, ordinary developer and stop, fix 30 seconds in rapid fixer diluted 1:3, then 30 more seconds in a second fixing bath (same mix), 10 minutes in HCA then into the wash tank.

After an hour or so I hang them up to dry and for final decisions about "keepers."

For prints to be kept, Ilford MG gets a minimum of three minutes toning in Kodak selenium toner at a minimum strength of 1:4, Ilford MGWT gets eight minutes (for complete toning), then 10 minutes in HCA, then an hour wash.

What's the idea behind the diluted bleach?

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), August 12, 2000.

I use basically the same method but wash and dry between the fixing baths, i.e. after the first fix. After several days of printing, I then select the prints to be toned and set up for toning: Water pre- soak, second fixing bath, selenium toning bath, Hypo-Clear and wash. The prints go directly from the second non-hardening fix into the toner. Never any problems with mottling or staining. Take a look at Ansel Adams' "The Print" and the Ilford web site (www.ilford.com) for just about all you need to know.

Regards, ;^D)

-- Doremus Scudder (ScudderLandreth@compuserve.com), August 12, 2000.

I use the Ilford processing system with the one minute fix in rapid fixer, followed by a five minute tray wash, 10 minutes in Ilford Wash Aid, then another 5-10 minute wash. I then tone FB MG VI in 4:1 selenium for at least 5 minutes, and then a 30 minute wash. Depending on time, I often dry the prints and then decide later which I will tone.

The two bath fix is probably a good addition, I just don't have room in my sink for enought 16x20 trays to add a double fix sequence. I dump the fix frequently to be sure I don't exceed its capacity. I tray wash, but I usually only have one print at a time in the wash. If I ever get to a higher volume of print making, I'll get a good slot washer.

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), August 12, 2000.

I looked back at your question:

As to developers, I use Ethol LPD with no dillution. A couple of reasons I use this developer is the excellent blacks it produces on Ilford FB MG paper and even more important for me, it does not irritate my hands and lets me work without gloves. Ilford paper developer and Dektol do a good job, I just got a skin rash when I used them. Stop bath is 28% Acetic acid diluted to 2%.

No clue about bleaching the whole print. I do bleach prints using Potassium Ferrocynide from time-to-time, but only to lighten local areas of the print. When I do some bleaching, I usually by-pass the toning, as the bleached areas often split tone or get a yellow stain. I've not really gotten the hang of bleaching. I wonder if use of the Rapid Fix might be contributing to the staining and toning problem? Any body know?

-- Gene Crumpler (nikonguy@worldnet.att.net), August 12, 2000.

>> Is there a commonly excepted definition of what an "archival" print is? <<

In 1990, ANSI (American National Standards) apparently stopped using the term "archival storage" and no longer endorses the "archival" terms. In current ANSI use, photographic conservation terminology is in terms of "LE designation", for life expectancy.

Legitimate testing for long term stability (at least for dark storage) is pretty much beyond the means of the regular person. The only thing they can tell you is about photos that went bad during their lifetime; they can't tell you anything further about their photos that are currently pristine.

My best recommendation would be to stick with the specific recommendations of a major manufacturer; ie, such as the Ilford procedure a couple people referred to.

-- Bill C (bcarriel@cpicorp.com), August 12, 2000.

Ilford's Archival Processing Technique is based on using a non- hardened fix. Fix containing a hardner is more difficult to wash out. Ilford's method results in published 75% lower residual thiosulfate levels than the ANSI standard which is: 5 min in first fix solution, 30 min wash, 5 min in second fix solution, 5 min HCA, 2 min 1% sodium sulfite bath, 20 min final wash. The key to fixing fiber is the short time in strong fix resulting in reduction of fiber impregnated fix by-products.

-- Richard Jepsen (rjepsen@mmcable.com), August 13, 2000.

Richard wrote: Ilford's method results in published 75% lower residual thiosulfate levels than the ANSI standard which is: 5 min in first fix solution, 30 min wash, 5 min in second fix solution, 5 min HCA, 2 min 1% sodium sulfite bath, 20 min final wash.

Maybe my knowledge is incomplete, but doesn't the ANSI standard just specifiy residual hypo contents FOR MICROFILM instead of a processing sequence? And one usually infers that what's fine for microfilm should be OK for paper, too?

There is good evidence that a properly processed and stored FB print will easily last a hundred years, probably more. There are severeal ways to improve print permanence beyond this:

1) Low residual hypo (although the best current research - see Ctein - indicates that a slight sulphur contamination may even protect prints)

2) Toning/stabilisation: Prints treated with sepia, selenium, or gold toners are generally regarded as being stable. (Strictly, this will only hold for fully toned prints, but the shift in image tone is sometimes a reason why you apply partial toning only.) Image stabilisation w/o a shift in tones is achievable using Agfa Sistan.

3) Storage: Prints behind glass and in the sunlight are worst off. If you really want a print to last, store it in a dark, DRY place, and keep it away from any non-archival papers, solvent- or softener-oozing plastics, etc.

Hope I didn't forget an important point.

-- Thomas Wollstein (thomas_wollstein@web.de), August 15, 2000.

Actually from the Ilford web site today:

What is the ILFORD Archival Sequence?

The ILFORD Archival Sequence is a method of processing fiber base papers for maximum longevity while reducing the amount of water and time used. The method, which was fully tested more than a decade ago, requires the use of a non-hardening rapid fixer mixed at film strength. After the paper has been developed and stopped, it is placed in such a fixer for 60 seconds with intermittent agitation. Next the paper is placed in a running wash for five minutes, followed by an immersion in ILFORD Wash Aid (1+4) for ten minutes with intermittent agitation. The end of the sequence requires an additional five minute running wash.

Notice it uses 1 (ONE) minute of fixing, not the two 5 minutes fixing of a previous poster. They do not mention two bath fixing, however that makes a lot of sense based on other references and the problems with complex silver compounds.

-- Terry Carraway (TCarraway@compuserve.com), August 15, 2000.

To clarify:

Ilford's original recommended fixing time with _fresh_ non-hardening rapid fixer was 30 seconds. This was changed to one minute.

Barry Sinclair of Ilford wrote to me a while back that actually nothing had changed except that many people were using fixer that wasn't fresh enough for the paper to be fully fixed in 30 seconds, therefore the recommended fixing time was increased at a penalty of only an almost-insignificant increase in residual thiosulfate.

So the "unofficial" word is that as long as the fixer is fresh, as in freshly-mixed, and the stated capacity isn't exceeded, 30 seconds is ok for most papers while one minute won't do any substantial harm.

In any two-bath fixing system the first bath does most of the work; in this case the second bath ensures complete fixation and increases overall capacity. A total of one minute should not be exceeded.

In case you're not sure a paper is compatible with Ilford's method, a good test is to tone a print in strong selenium toner; if it stains it isn't fixed enough.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), August 16, 2000.

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