should I use tongs?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by BetterSense, Mar 5, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,167
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I actually have tongs now, but I'm in the habit of just using my fingers to pick the paper up and transfer it between trays. I prevent cross-contamination by rinsing my fingers in the final water-rinse tray and drying them on a towel. It just seems so much more lazy that using tongs. Are my fingers going to fall off from the photochemicals?
     
  2. trexx

    trexx Member

    Messages:
    296
    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Location:
    Tucson
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Yes your fingers will fall off, but worst then that you will ruin sheets of paper. Of course you will not know it until you go and pull them from the dryer, there is a finger print in the corner.

    Also I know of some old timers that cannot work around Metol any more.

    And BTW don't you have BetterSense then that.

    TR
     
  3. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    1,008
    Joined:
    Mar 19, 2005
    Location:
    Scotland, UK
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    28,185
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    Should you use tongs? Only if you want marks from the tongs.

    Use your fingers and rinse you hands or use good disposable rubber gloves.

    Steve
     
  5. tiberiustibz

    tiberiustibz Member

    Messages:
    1,748
    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Location:
    Tufts Univer
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Ansel Adams used fingers for 80 years...

    I think the worst thing is the chapped fingers and the smell of photo chemicals on your hands. I don't think they'll fall off. I'm more hesitant around color chemistry, but fishing for a test strip in an 11x14 tray in the dark sometimes requires drastic measures. I use fingers for fiber paper to prevent damage. No finger prints yet. As long as you wash your hands well before mounting so you don't get fix residue on your dry prints.

    And trexx, you have quite the sense of humor.
     
  6. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,258
    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2005
    Location:
    Los Alamos,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you are getting good results with no stains, your technique using your fingers is working, and you can continue. However, some (not many) people develop sensitivity to developers. Also, your technique may change in time, and your results may get worse. I use tongs mostly because I'm used to them. It's worth mentioning that there are tongs and then there are tongs. Some designs I find unusable. A lot of people have done great work using fingers. If it works, don't worry about it.
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    7,244
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Yes, you should use tongs or nitrile gloves. The least exposure possible is best practice. Anecdotes are just that.
     
  8. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

    Messages:
    1,960
    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2005
    Location:
    Wisconsin
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I hate tongs. They are good for nothing but ruining a fine print, especially with larger paper sizes.

    Use your finger with latex or nitrile gloves or better yet single tray processing.
     
  9. srs5694

    srs5694 Member

    Messages:
    2,722
    Joined:
    May 18, 2005
    Location:
    Woonsocket,
    Shooter:
    35mm
    As a couple of others have mentioned, some people develop sensitivity to metol, so minimizing exposure to it is wise. Most print developers include metol, but a few don't. Agfa Neutol Plus (but not others in the Neutol line) and Silvergrain Tektol are both phenidone/ascorbate (PC) developers that are metol-free. If you just can't keep your hands out of the developer, you might want to switch to one of these developers, or brew your own PC developer (DS-14, E-72, etc.). Some developing agents (like those used in color chemistry) are worse than metol in one way or another, so I'd be even more wary of using bare hands with them.
     
  10. Erik L

    Erik L Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    648
    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Location:
    Grand Juncti
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I didn't use tongs for a long time and then suddenly I became allergic to one of the chemicals. Itchy raw flaking skin that took weeks to clear up. It is painful and disgusting looking so now I use gloves and tongs:smile: These chemicals so far are the only things I have come across that I am allergic to. My opinion would be to play it safe, you only have one liver:smile:
    erik
     
  11. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    2,247
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Didn't your mother warn about this? They won't fall off, but they'll get hairy.

    Some folks use tongs, others don't. I do because I don't know what the chems are going to do to me in the next 40 years; already having 30+ in the darkroom now.

    BTW, why does Spock have pointed ears? So he can count to twelve! Spock was digital before anyone!
     
  12. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    7,244
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    What happens is that you become sensitized to the chemical after repeated exposure, so it isn't exactly an allergy. It is a cumulative thing. Once you become sensitized to one chemical, others may follow in a cascading effect, eventually driving you out of the darkroom. It is best not to head down that road, so be smart, and avoid dermal absorption or any other kind of avoidable exposure. I don't freak when I get some of something on me, particularly because I keep my overall exposure to things as low as possible. The darkroom is a pretty benign place if you stay smart about things.
     
  13. gerryyaum

    gerryyaum Member

    Messages:
    475
    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Location:
    Canada
    Shooter:
    Med. Format Pan
    I have to wear the gloves also because of the metol (does weird stuff with th4e skin). The gloves are a pain in the butt to work with but it is bettter than the rashes.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. Erik L

    Erik L Member
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    648
    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Location:
    Grand Juncti
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Good advice for sure! Sometimes I long for the care free times however:smile: I'm not too anal about it, just aware of the inevitable outcome of putting my fingers in the developer
    erik
     
  16. Anscojohn

    Anscojohn Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,712
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    *****
    Use tongs.
     
  17. ozphoto

    ozphoto Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    1,631
    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2006
    Location:
    Adelaide, SA, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Groups:
    I use tongs, however you need to make sure they are cleaned thoroughly after a print session otherwise you'll end up with tong marks staining a really lovely print! :sad:

    For larger sizes though, I use my fingers but do wear latex gloves - cheap and easy to dispose of afterward, as you'll end up damaging the print if you use tongs.
     
  18. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,978
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Please do not listen to "I've used my fingers for xx years and I am fine"; they are in the same boat as the "I've been smoking 40 cigarettes a day all my life and I'm fine" brigade... Contact dermatitis is not something you want - at all. I have seen it and it does not look at all like fun.

    Do you clean the bathroom by smearing the cleaning fluid on your hands and wiping the tiles? Would you mop the floor by standing in the bucket and shuffling around with your feet? I suspect not. Keep your hands out of the chemicals.

    Tongs or nitrile/latex gloves are the way to go. I use tongs: one each for the dev, stop and fix. The stainless steel ones that self-close are the best I have found. I do not get stains.
     
  19. bsdunek

    bsdunek Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    1,548
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2006
    Location:
    Michigan
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    As with eating, fingers were invented before tongs. That said, I use tongs - bamboo with rubber ends. I never have a problem damaging prints, although sometimes, it's hard to pick up a print.

    The handle end of my tongs come in red, yellow and blue. I use them in that order in developer, stop and fix. That way they don't contaminate. I do wash them well after each session.
     
  20. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    3,758
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2004
    Location:
    Melb, Australia
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use tongs but am not paranoid if my fingers occasionally contact the chemicals. I can imagine that dermatitis and other similar afflictions could be very painful. A lot of people have mentioned tongs damaging prints, but if you print with borders as I thought most do, you should be able to grab (with the tongs) the print by the border.
     
  21. Bob F.

    Bob F. Member

    Messages:
    3,978
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2004
    Location:
    London
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Good point: no need to get paranoid. I just rinse off accidental contact with the chems, drying my hands on paper kitchen towels I keep above the sink and don't worry about it.

    On a similar vein, rinse away any spills in the sink etc before the liquid evaporates leaving powder behind that might become airborne - I'd rather spill some developer on my hand than inhale the powder in to my lungs...
     
  22. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,924
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    :DI would use tongs but I wouldn't good in them!:D

    Jeff
     
  23. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber
    Ads Enabled

    Messages:
    23,925
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Now is the time to start using tongs and/or nitrile gloves.

    If you get into the habit now, it will be a lot easier than trying to unlearn decades of less than optimum habits.

    That being said, there is no reason to be paranoid about it. All those who say that they've gone for years using their fingers without any bad effects (myself included) aren't lying - they are just more likely to run into problems tomorrow.

    Matt
     
  24. Curt

    Curt Member

    Messages:
    4,623
    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2005
    Location:
    Pacific Nort
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've got some stainless steel tongs hanging within inches of my trays but don't use them much, I've used the bamboo rubber tipped one's but I'm allergic to bamboo and rubber, just kidding of course. I remember the my first time using tongs, I had a really nice print slip out and splat, face down on the floor. I still like to use my right thumb and finger.

    For Amidol though I use Nitrile gloves, I hate them but use them.
     
  25. Graham.b

    Graham.b Member

    Messages:
    197
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2008
    Location:
    Swindon,,,,,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    There is one way around this, and that is to get a Nova slot printer. The only things you see is a couple of pin holes. I have a 12x16 and if a bigger print is needed, the tray's have it. But still with tongs and a lot more care in handling. I fine FB paper more of the trickery one, but practice.

    Graham
     
  26. Phillip P. Dimor

    Phillip P. Dimor Member

    Messages:
    1,059
    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2004
    Location:
    Westport, MA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I've just about always used my fingers. I do have a bucket of water that I keep handy, fill it up when I print and I just dunk my hands in and then wipe with a clean towel when you're done (and walking towards the enlarger to print again)

    I've ruined many prints with thumb marks, until I dunked my hands and wiped. Even dunking between the developer, stop and fix sometimes. No need to really dry in between, just the end.

    My college darkroom teacher had the worst allergic reaction i'd ever seen to metol. Her hands were bad. Real bad. She didn't care, she didn't use tongs or gloves. Her hands were habitually dry and scaly/cracked/chapped..

    The only tongs i'd consider after having suffered with bamboo tongs a short while are the Kostiner stainless steel ones (if you can find them). Easy to grasp the paper, hard to marr your prints if you grab it on the very edge of the paper.

    Kostiner made some great stuff for a while.
     
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies. If you have a Photrio account, please log in (and select 'stay logged in') to prevent recurrence of this notice.