How to dry fiber based prints from your darkroom.

As you maybe know, printing in the darkroom is big fun (if you have a good negative). Mainly I use RC coated paper from Ilford (pearl) and it gives very nice results for the regular prints.

In case however you want something more special then you should concider Ilford Fiber based paper.

It gives you very nice and deep blacks that will create a three dimensional look to your print. However the biggest downside is that when it is dried it curls like mad (towards the image).
I have tried several solutions and the one that works best for me is a bit more time consuming but will provide you flat prints ready for matting. Another advantage is that it does not require special tools or equipment.

This is how a fiber based paper from your darkroom will look like once it is dry. Not really flat is it?

So let’s find out what you need to do.

After you have washed your fiber based print it will contain a lot of water like a sponge. To get rid of most of the water inside the paper I use a roller to squeeze out most of it. First you place the fresh print onto some hard and flat surface (I use 6mm regular glass ) and make sure it is ABSOLUTELY clean before you start rolling with the beforementioned roller.
Reason is that if there is only a tiny bit of dirt on the glass surface it will become visible in your print and there is no way to get rid of it, so this step is very important.

Don’t push like mad onto this roller but with some pressure just enough to push water out of the paper. Then dry the edges of the glass with a dry towel so that the surface around the print is dry and clean.

This is the squeegee roller I use. It has a hard surface and will easily squeeze out water from the paper.

Now use the special aquarel tape (watercolor tape) and wetten it just a little bit. There is shiny side and a matt side on this tape. The shiny side is were the glue is. Wetten this side with a sponge like you would do with an old-fashioned poststamp. Not too wet !

If you make it too wet then the glue will creap under the paper and makes it stick to the surface. In case this has happened the only thing you can do is put the glass with its print under water until all is released again and carefully start over.
Don’t rush anything.

Sponge (lightly wettened) and aquarel tape and pair of scissors to cut the tape to the correct length.

Now you are ready to tape the print to the surface.
Do not place the tape too close to the paper edge since it might not hold, since what will happen now is that in the next 24 – 48 hours when the paper is drying it will shrink and it will shrink quit a bit. So it means there will be quit some force pulling on the tape.

Fresh print taped to the glass carier. (2 prints can go on 1 carier. One at the top and one at the bottom)

Once the print is dry (at regular room temperature it might take 24 – 48 hours, so don’t rush anything) and the tape remained on the glass you can use a sharp knife to cut alongside the edge of the print. There will be a small amount of tape remaining on the paper which, afterwards, can be cut off if you like. I just leave it like it is.

Cutting along the edge of the paper

Important note: While drying, place the glass with its print FLAT on a table. This gives the best results. What you will endup with is a very nice and FLAT fiber based print ready for matting.

Flat print after 32 – 48 hours of drying.

Once you are finished you have to clean the remaining tape from the glass surface. Just wetten it with enough water and use some sort of knife to remove the tape (see picture) . It goes off really easy if you wetten the tape enough. Now it’s ready for your next print.

Final TIP: I use the glass carier on both sides.

Cleaning the glass carier for your next print.

Happy Printing !! Keeping the analogue spirit alive.

Hope you liked this small article. In case you have other ideas just let me know in a reply.

Epson scanner V700/V750 banding issue

In general I’m very happy with the output quality of my film scans on my Epson V750.
The software I use is produced by Hamrick and is called Vuescan and it does an excellent job when scanning B&W or Colour Film in Medium format or 4×5 inch large format. But this blog is not about the Veuscan software but about some issues I had with my Epson V750.

Funny enough I only noticed this problem when I started home developing Colour film (Kodak Portra 400). So I started searching the internet and found lot’s of complaints about so called banding.
Next step was to analyse my own scanning procedure and I came to the conclusion that I have this “banding” problem as well but only in certain cases.
First lets have a look at a scanned medium format (120) image from Kodak Portra 400 film to see what we are talking about.

Image 1.
V750 Scanner banding

In the above image I clearly marked the area where there is the actual problem. Note that this banding will ONLY be visible in areas like sky or very light (maybe overexposed) areas when they are close to the negative (clear) border. These light areas show up as dark areas on your negative obviously.

Also note that the banding will only be visible, B&W and Colour negatives , when they are placed in the right hand side film strip of the film holder. The Epson V750 medium format film holder can hold 2 film strips at the same time making scanning larger amounts of film very handy. The new Epson V800 or V850 have 1 slot only which is exactly in the middle. Maybe this is done on purpose to make sure this banding does not become visible. Possibly the inner life of the new V850 is more or less the same as the older Epson V750 I have. Who knows. Anyway, let’s stay focused.

Addtionaly it will also be visible when the negative border (which is clear) is not fully covered by the film holder. So if you move your negative to the right as much as possible, making sure the film borders are fully covered on the right hand side , the banding should be much less or maybe even invisible. See image 2.
This is the most simple solution and will eliminate the banding issue in most cases. It helped a lot in my case but still not 100%. And if you shoot expensive medium format film you want the best quality. Right?

Image 2.
The film negative has now been moved so that the clear borders are being covered by the film holder. The banding is almost completely gone but 1 line is still visible.
Image 3.
Epson V750 film holder with paper mask

Another easy solution is shown in image 3. Here I cut a mask from thick paper and placed it on top of the filmstrip. This now makes sure no light is passing along the edges of the actual image on the negative. The borders and a small amount of the image is now covered.
Since I modified my medium format film holder I place Anti Newton glass on top of this sandwhich. So the actual order is Film holder > film > mask > glass.
See image 4 below how this sandwich looks.

The glass I used is NOT anti newton glass, but glass I cut down from an old picture frame which had both sides etched which works in the same way as anti Newton glass.
I will write my epxeriences and reasons for this glass modification in another blog.

The papermask has one downside. The actual image you will be able to scan will be slightly smaller. I leave it up to you what you prefer, bandings or a slightly smaller image.

Image 4.
Film holder with mask and “Matt” glass installed.
Image 5.
Scanned film negative but now with paper mask installed. The banding is completely gone now.
The streaks you see are from the sky and is not banding.

There you have it. Hope you liked this article which hopefull helps to sort out this issue.
Comments or other ideas to solve this banding issue are welcome since I still think this is a design flaw of Epson.