Fiber base dry-down : LUSENET : B&W Photo - Printing & Finishing : One Thread

I am an experienced printer of about ten years, but for reasons that would bore everyone, I've printed primarily, almost exclusively on RC. Over the past six months I've been printing a lot on FB, primarily Ilford Warmtone. Having printed so long on RC, I am having trouble adjusting to the darkening that takes place after the print has completely dried, and learning how to prejudge the amount of dry down when examining test strips.

I am very interested in the methodology other printers have developed to aid in this. If I heat dry the test strip with a hair dryer until bone dry, is that going to simulate the same amount of dry down as an air dried print? Or am I basically stuck having to reteach my eye as to what looks right.

Any advice is appreciated.

-- Paul Swenson (, January 05, 2001


Best way is to make a print and let it dry. Hang it in the darkroom and remeber what it looked like when it was wet. Different papers dry down differently. And it really doesn't darken as much as dry up. You'll get used to it pretty fast. Your eye will tell you. I'm sure there are some printers here who can tell you how much down to the .10 stop. Just use your eye. It's a much better instrument than anything else. James

-- james (, January 05, 2001.

Bruce Barnbaum says if you squeegee off the print and use a lower wattage light bulb to view it, dry down becomes a myth. It might be worth trying in your darkroom to see if it works for you.

-- Dan Smith (, January 06, 2001.

I'm consistently a poor judge of print dry down (even after many years of graded paper work) so I completely dry the test print with a hair dryer and then tape it into a crude mat and view it under the lighting conditions I think it will hang. It's extremely time consuming but yields (for me) the most consistent results.

... and no, from my experience, it will still dry down a little bit more than your quick dried sample.

-- Doug McFarland (, January 06, 2001.

The amount of dry down depends on the paper. Some papers dry down a lot, some papers not at all.

One way to see is to take a dry print and rewet half of it. Squeegee or otherwise remove the surface water and compare the halves.

-- Terry Carraway (, January 06, 2001.

I use the microwave oven. An 8x10 for about a minute and a half usually works. The print tone will change but the actual density in the highlights will stay the same.

-- Jeff White (, January 06, 2001.

I find that Ilford MG Fiber has the least of all dry down difference (maybe 5%). Kodak Gallery, about 20%. My favored, The old Ektalure was similiar at about 15% - 20%. I used Oriental but not enough to calculate a definitive time. Some of the Forte papers are about 10-15% drydown so it really depends on the look you want/paper you prefer. To answer your question... I think the best way would be to retrain your eye.

-- Scott Walton (, January 08, 2001.

Thanks for all your responses. They've been helpful. My most recent session printing some 20 x24 FB prints was more successful. I slowed down, made sure the test strips were completely dry with a hair dryer, and tried to be consistent about the light I was judging the prints under. Their actually seemed to be very little dry down when compared with the heat dried test strip. Again, thanks all.

-- Paul Swenson (, January 08, 2001.

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