Extraction from The American Journal of Photography by Various

“The drying of a photographic print after the final washings have been completed is a simple enough matter, and yet it is possible for the most exasperating failures to occur at this stage of the process; the disappointment experienced being all the more keen because the work is in a certain sense finished.

Those unacquainted with photographic neatness’s might easily imagine that all that was necessary was to take the print out of the water, and lay it aside in any convenient place to dry. They would soon find out, however, that if the substance with which the wet print came into contact were capable of communicating any impurity, the print would be sure to show in the form of stains. For instance, suppose that the prints were hung over wooden poles, or laid on wooden shelves while still wet, there would hardly be a possibility of escape from stains. This would be true in the case either of silver prints of any kind, bromides, or blue prints.

Silver prints on plain paper and blue prints are more manageable in drying than the other forms which are made on papers prepared with a contractile substance like gelatin or albumen. Supposing that the wooden poles or shelves before spoken of were covered with clean white linen or blotting paper, all those forms of prints having a plain surface might safely be dried there, but an albumen paper print would not do so well; if laid out flat on the shelf it would contract unequally, and be so crinkled and shrunken that there would be serious difficulty in trimming. Drying over the pole would be preferable, but the albumenized surface would be put on the stretch unequally, so that in the case of a highly glazed surface there would be fissures and cracks very detrimental to the finished result.

The best method of drying prints of all descriptions, and a very convenient and inexpensive one also, is the following: Provide a number of spring clothes-pins, a few yards of ordinary brass wire, and a couple of good-sized screw-eyes. Having selected a suitable place in the workroom where the prints will not be disturbed, screw in one of the screw-eyes to the wood of the window or door jamb at the height of the shoulder; pass one end of the brass wire into the eye and secure it, then string the clothes-pins on to the wire, and secure its other end by means of the other screw-eye at a convenient point across the room. Having brought the prints from the washing tank in an ordinary deep pan, select those of similar sizes, bring them together neatly, back to back, while in the water, then take them out and suspend the pair from one or more of the clothes-pins, according to the size of the prints. If they are very large, it may require three of the clothes-pins to fully support them, and avoid risk of the wet mass tearing by its own weight. While on the other hand, small sizes, such as 5×4 inches, may be held by a single pin. When the paper is very glossy, and the weather dry, the larger sizes may require to be pinched together at the bottom corners by an additional couple of clothes-pins, which will prevent the prints from separating until thoroughly dry.

Prints dried in the manner described will be quite flat, and free from stains of any kind. We need hardly add that the clothes-pins should be new and clean, and kept for this purpose only. If the prints are hung up to dry in the evening, they will be ready for trimming in the morning, when the end of the wire may be released, and the whole turned aside out of the way until the next occasion for use. If the wash-water is muddy, as is often the case, the deep pan in which the prints are transferred to the drying-room may be filled with clean filtered water, so that the collected mud in the paper may be soaked out before drying.

The warm weather we are now passing through reminds us of a few matters which have greatly eased our own labors in the printing-room, and simple as they are we will mention them.

It sometimes happens that there is trouble in securing pure whites in prints on albumen paper, an universal yellow stain covering everything. The best remedy for this is the use of alum in the printing bath, as originally suggested by the late Mr. Anthony, of New York. Care also must be taken that the paper is quite dry before being fumed. Operators are too apt to forget that as the thermometer rises, so does the amount of watery vapor in the air increase, and that sheets of paper will often dry more quickly on a bright day in winter than on many hot days in summer. The way the paper feels to the hand is the best guide, and some little attention is required to be able to tell accurately.

The question whether the strength of the silver bath should be reduced or not during warm weather is open to some discussion. If the paper be of first-class quality, and the bath contain alum, as before alluded to, it would be possible to continue making good prints having pure whites with the bath at full strength, by which we mean fifty to seventy grains to the ounce. There is no question of the fact that the sensitiveness of the prepared paper increases when floated on a strong bath, and that the compound which is then formed between the albumen and the silver is more prone to decomposition. It will occasionally happen, if the prints come out yellow, metallic-looking, and covered with minute black specks, that weakening the silver bath down to the strength of forty-five or even forty grains will cure the trouble. A strength of forty grains, however, we should consider a low one, and only to be resorted to for unusually hot weather or for particular kinds of paper, such as very thin and delicate Rives.

The paper should not be left in the fuming-box for too long a time in hot weather. If things are properly arranged for the purpose, ten to twelve minutes ought to suffice for thorough fuming. It is important, of course, that good strong ammonia be employed, and care should be taken that the glass stopper be well secured in the bottle. In a hot printing-room the stoppers of ammonia bottles are frequently blown out by the vapor and fall on the floor, leaving the contents of the bottle to lose strength rapidly.”

Ellerslie Wallace”

Source: Project Gutenberg
The American Journal of Photography by Various

Picture Pixabay


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