Does MGWT Glossy Fibre Surface Scratch Easily?

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Rafal Lukawiecki

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I like Ilford MGWT glossy fibre, very, very much. After a decade+ of using MGIV, I have switched to MGWT, and it has been my main paper for at least two years. I like the DMax, the handling, the durability, the feel, the toning (OK, would prefer it to be a little cooler after Se, but it's OK), and the surface. That lovely, organic gloss, that is not plasticky, and when dry-mounted—in my opinion—looks wonderful.

But, that very gloss seems to abrade just a bit too easily, and I am not sure if it is my handling, chemistry, or just the nature of the paper. If you use MGWT FB gloss, please let me know if you have ever noticed the very faint scratches, which can only be seen in areas of smooth tone, best of all a smooth dark shadow, when lit with strong, oblique lighting, such as from a single halogen lamp? Or, if you ever photographed a print, and it was lit, perhaps, by studio lights at 45˚ angles, they would show up too.

What causes them? Gentle but thorough wiping, say with a Kinetronics brush, a soft brush, a soft lint-free cloth, or a handling glove. Try this, on a freshly made, dried print, that has a large area of black (you can just expose a sheet to bright light and process): with a cotton glove, or one of those brushes, or a soft cloth, rub gently an area in circles a few times, not many, maybe 2 or 3 times. Then look under oblique lighting. Can you see the faint scratches?

If not, I wonder what is the difference, what am I doing wrong, and what is the cure. I have tried different fixers, Ilford Rapid to neutral, but I have not tried hardeners, yet. I am thinking of using a hardener to see if the issue goes away, but I am curious if others have observed this.

Of course, if you do not touch your prints, after processing, this is not an issue at all. But if you need to dust them, before dry-mounting, as I do, it means being very careful and accepting some dust as a way of avoiding the risk of scratching.
 

DREW WILEY

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I haven't noticed anything different in this respect from my other papers. Hasn't been a problem for me. I use TF4 fixer, which is non-hardening.
 

MattKing

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Do you tone everything? I use hardener after toning.
 

ROL

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Well, in my experience, yes. Glossy is much more susceptible to light scratches than matte surfaces. Glossy is a hard taskmaster revealing any printing defects with great ease. Large areas of black are incredibly difficult to keep pristine. I use air to remove dust, and occasionally a very light touch with a cotton glove or Q-tip to remove recalcitrant specks. One of my main enemies is the roll cutter during trimming of prints for presentation. I'm also careful not to drag mat pressing board over the print surface during mounting. I've thrown away many otherwise good prints due to such imperfections during final inspection (ouch). If you think strong, oblique spot lighting is scary, DO NOT, UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES, look at your print outside in full sunlight!

To sum up: That's why only real men print glossy. :tongue:
 
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No, it is not prone to scratching more than anything else out there.
 

ooze

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with a cotton glove, or one of those brushes, or a soft cloth, rub gently an area in circles a few times, not many, maybe 2 or 3 times. Then look under oblique lighting. Can you see the faint scratches?

Yes, I have experienced the same issue. When spotting I wear cotton gloves, and when trying to wipe away dust from the surface of the print I have introduced hairline scratches. I also think that MG WT is especially prone to this, hence I'm extra careful when handling this paper.
 
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Rafal Lukawiecki

Rafal Lukawiecki

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Everyone, thanks for your feedback. I should have added that I have not noticed these scratches on MGIV, but that could be because it is not as glossy, or because it scratches a little less easily—or because I have not been looking hard enough at it. That lovely super-gloss of MGWT invites extra attention.

Do you tone everything? I use hardener after toning.

Matt, I tone pretty much everything, in KRST, and I use a non-hardening fixer prior to that. John Sexton suggested to me that I ought to consider using a hardener in a fixer, but I have not done so yet. I am inclined to try hardening after toning, but I thought hardeners were an additive to a fixer. I could not find a stand-alone one in the Darkroom Cookbook or elsewhere, other than a reference to formalin treatment, which sounds like an unusual route, nowadays, to follow. May I ask you what preparation you use post-toning, and what is your procedure? Did you see a decrease in these hairline occurrences on MGWT? Alternatively, I will try hardening fix then toning, and pay the price of longer washes, if that improves surface durability of this paper.

Glossy is much more susceptible to light scratches than matte surfaces. Glossy is a hard taskmaster revealing any printing defects with great ease. Large areas of black are incredibly difficult to keep pristine. I use air to remove dust, and occasionally a very light touch with a cotton glove or Q-tip to remove recalcitrant specks.

I will try the Q-tip approach, thanks for sharing, Ben. It is, indeed, the few recalcitrant dust specks that require more attention. I have been lucky not to scratch with top boards in the press—yet—but thanks for that warning, too. As for air, I need to investigate having a bottle of nitrogen etc, as I'd rather not fight oil from compressors. I wish I could avoid having to invest in another tool.

Today, I may look at my prints in the sunshine. Usually, we don't have too much of it in Ireland, though.


Yes, I have experienced the same issue. When spotting I wear cotton gloves, and when trying to wipe away dust from the surface of the print I have introduced hairline scratches. I also think that MG WT is especially prone to this, hence I'm extra careful when handling this paper.

I always wear soft, washed cotton gloves, and I found that a very gentle wipe with a so gloved finger is, so far, the best way to deal with the sticky specks of dust, but yes, it can introduce a hairline scratch.

Drew & Thomas, thanks for sharing the opposing view. May I ask if you have looked at a larger black, or a smooth dark shadow area of an MGWT fibre gloss print in sunshine, as Ben suggested, or some other strong, angled light, and then checked for the same on a paper such as the regular MGIV? I am not trying to deny your statement, as you are clearly very experienced photographers and printers, and I have every reason to believe you. I would only like to qualify the comparisons you have made with other papers, with regard to the type of illumination under which you have examined them, vs. your post-processing technique, as, perhaps, I could do as you do, and I would not see the hairline scratches, anymore. Many thanks for that and I apologise if I am in any way being annoying by pressing on this point.
 

Bob Carnie

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I have been using Warmtone since it was launched in the 90's.

I am with Thomas on this one, I have not seen any scratches that I would consider a manufacture flaw, I have seen myself and staff create them with sloppy mounting tecniques and yes if you drag anything over the surface no matter how soft you could cause scratches.

It handles very much like all other papers I have used.
 
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Rafal Lukawiecki

Rafal Lukawiecki

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Thanks, Bob. I wasn't considering this issue as a fault of the manufacture, but as a general question about the innate character of its wonderful surface.

...yes if you drag anything over the surface no matter how soft you could cause scratches.

May I ask you how do you dust it prior to dry mounting, or before framing, especially in areas of smooth, dark or black shadow? Air?
 

Jerevan

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Bob, just curious: does that mean you don't squeegee the prints - just flop them all wet on the drying rack?
 

MattKing

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Rafal:

There are formulas out there for hardeners.

Until recently, I have been following a suggestion that PE made some time ago. I just use a bath of hardening fixer after toning. And then of course I re-wash. It is easier for me though, because I mostly print on RC.

An alternative is to use Kodak Rapid Fixer for fixing, because the Part B hardener comes in a separate bottle. Use the fixer without the hardener for fixing, and then use the hardener separately for hardening.

Greg Davis started a thread here on APUG asking just this subject, and then got the telephone advice from Kodak to dilute the Part B hardener 1+13 before use. He didn't have any capacity information.
 

Bob Carnie

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I use canned air from a distance to take of dust .

Thanks, Bob. I wasn't considering this issue as a fault of the manufacture, but as a general question about the innate character of its wonderful surface.



May I ask you how do you dust it prior to dry mounting, or before framing, especially in areas of smooth, dark or black shadow? Air?
 

Bob Carnie

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Bob, just curious: does that mean you don't squeegee the prints - just flop them all wet on the drying rack?
No I do squeege very gently I might add one side only and that would be the emulsion side then lay face down on screens
 

Jerevan

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Aha, thank you very much for the answer, Bob. I do the same as you then.
 
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