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Friday, January 31

More on the Fixer shock

Argentinian reader, Hernan Zenteno, asked some very good questions in a follow up comment to my previous post about it being better to leave a fixer laden fibre-based print to dry than give it an insufficient wash. Rather than try to reply in a comment, I thought I'd post some information here.

Hernan asked, "Did the authors say how much time can last a print processed like that? And with what kind of fixer, rapid fixer, normal fixer. I mean, there are fixers that are more acid than others. I never heard a thing like that and I doubt a lot of the efficacy otherwise this would be used a lot of times. Maybe is one of that methods that works ok in theory but not in the real world because maybe humid in the ambience can alter the thing or temperatures, or whatever."

The book from which I excised this controversial information is Basic Photo Science by H J Walls and G. G. Attridge. It's quite a technical volume and much of it is dry and only of interest, I'd imagine, to photographers who also happen to be chemists. Times move on and it's possible that the Walls and Attridge theory was superseded at some point. However, the revised edition of the book was published in 1977 and it's a Focal Press publication so I think it should carry some weight.

Below are the relevant passages from the processing chapter. It starts at the paragraph headed Print Permanence. I didn't bother scanning page 210 because, as you'll see, page 209 goes on to talk about  colour print permanence.

That's about as much information as there is in the book concerning this topic. I don't think it answers all of Hernan's questions but it might be useful to other readers with similar thoughts. I feel like I should add a disclaimer here along the lines of "true print permanence is only achievable with proper fixing and washing and leaving a print soaked in fixer to dry isn't a substitute for that." :)


Andrea Ingram said...

Argentinian reader eh? You are having us on now :-)

Hernan Zenteno said...

"If, however, the utmost image stability is required it is usually necessary to fix and wash the photograph." This comment in the third page give some clarity to this method. Is better not wash at all to get an image stable for some years. Or at less better than one that was poorly washed. For archival results we must continue with the known methods of washing. Would be interesting know the best ways to wash efficiently and whith the less amount of water for fiber papers. With machines I knew the cascade washers where the best in the 90´s. I haven´t one. I stopped to use my enlarguer because the problem that was for me wash the prints. I have no tap water in my darkroom. So, this is a call for any experience printer of the XXI century.

Bruce Robbins said...

I know, Andrea, it's scary the reach the internet has. I've probably got readers in about sixty countries.

imagesfrugales said...

Hi Bruce, I bet you have readers from a lot more than 6 countries. E.g look at the flag counter on my Caffenol blog, it's unbelievable but true:
Scroll down until you see the flags on the right side.

Thank you for your informative and entertaining blog on analogue photography.

Best - Reinhold

Bruce Robbins said...

Thanks Reinhold. I keep meaning to give Caffenol a go but there are so many developers to try. :)

The country figure I mentioned was 60, btw, rather than 6. People come from all over the globe which, as you'll know, is one of the nicest things about a blog.