VDB..too much contrast!

Discussion in 'Contact Printing' started by andrewfrith, Feb 10, 2004.

  1. andrewfrith

    andrewfrith Member

    Oct 10, 2003
    8x10 Format
    I've just printed a neg that seems to be printing with too much contrast as a Van Dyke..is there any stategy for lowering the contrast of my VDB coating for this particular neg. I double coated a sheet of Crane Platinotype and used a VDB traditional mix..
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Sep 9, 2002
    Bergen, Norway
    Large Format
    You can try:

    Different light source
    less exposure
    more exposure
    longer/stronger fix
    diluting the mix
    additional tartaric acid
    a hint (note: hint!) of oxalic acid
    different paper

    All - or none - of these may work.
  3. clay

    clay Subscriber

    Nov 21, 2002
    Asheville, N
    Multi Format
    Wow, if it is too contrasty for VanDyke, the negative must be armor plated!

    If you are really stymied, try reducing the contrast on your negative with the two-step farmer's reducer, which will remove more silver from your highlights than your shadows, causing a lowering of contrast. This trick has saved my bacon occasionally.

    Get the recipe from Ed Buffaloe's unblinkingeye.com site. Soak your negative for about five minutes, then transfer to the ferricyanide bleach bath, and keep an eye on it.(probably no more than 3-5 minutes) Transfer back to a running water tray and rinse the bleach off of the negative and then put it in the hypo tray and fix and wash.

    I would not try this unless you have some decent shadow density on your negative to begin with, since the shadows will be affected, but not nearly as much as the highlights. A one step Farmer's reducer will hit the shadows first, and is useful for reducing an overexposed negative. Since the process is irreversible, but repeatable, I would recommend doing the bleaching step in 2-3 minute chunks until you get your negative into line.

    Of course, almost all my negatives are perfectly exposed and processed, so I guess I should make clear that I have used this trick for the benefit of my evil twin, who occasionally gets sloppy.