VDB prints and fixer reuse

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by cesrig, Sep 25, 2009.

  1. cesrig

    cesrig Member

    Sep 4, 2008
    Medium Format
    I'm about to get started experimenting with VDB prints and just received the kit from Bostick & Sullivan which includes a 250g bottle of sodium thiosulfate crystals. I've read plenty about the actual process but nobody seems to say much on how many times the fixer solution can be reused (if at all). Our lab uses only rapid fixer so I'd like to keep reusing/rationing this stuff until I can get some more.

    Lastly, would using hypo check in the fix contaminate anything for the print? If anyone can help, thanks!
  2. smieglitz

    smieglitz Member

    Oct 18, 2002
    Climax, Michigan
    Large Format
    You want to mix the hypo (sodium thiosulfate) to a 2% solution and use just enough to cover the print. Fix with constant agitation for 1.5 minutes then dump and repeat the fix step with another volume of hypo just covering the print for another 1.5 minutes. The second fix can be recycled one time and then dumped. (IOW, the second fix becomes the first fix.) Don't try to extend the solution or reuse it more than one cycle. Hypo is cheap in this dilution.

    Rapid fixers will bleach VDBs as will Kodak Rapid Selenium Toner even when diluted 1+500. KRST has a large ammonium thiosulfate component and the image of a VDB print is very fine and susceptible to bleaching by strong solutions of thiosulfates.

    I think Hypo-Chek is a potassium iodide solution. I wouldn't use it for the weak VDB hypo solution. I wouldn't try to extend the hypo. I've been using the fix procedure above for about 20 years and haven't had any problems with prints changing after processing.

    You can probably buy bulk hypo at an aquarium or swimming pool supply rather inexpensively, or so I've heard. Hypo is one of the least expensive components in photographic processes. Bulk packaging really cuts the cost down. 5 pounds should cost under $20 and will last a very long time when doing VDBs.