Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 18 of 18

Thread: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    248
    Post Thanks / Like

    Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Thinking of getting back into darkroom printing again after a long absence and I would like to use water instead of a stop bath. I know I'm probably going to get a number of replies that state that water won't be as efficient at halting the development but back in 1997 during a darkroom course, we all used water instead of stop bath. And I never had any issues with my prints and nobody else in my class had any issues either that I was aware of. And years later, the prints are fine.

    Though my query relates to how long my print should be in the water tray. It's been so long that Ive done this kind of stuff that Ive forgotten a lot of the fine details. I note that Ilford recommend 10 seconds for the stop bath. In the case of using water, would it be wise to leave the print in there for longer than 10 seconds?

  2. #2
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    pegelli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    3,267
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    I haven't printed in a dark room for ages but what I remember is that anything acidic will stop the development process. Since most fixer is also acidic just skipping the stop bath is I think the best way to avoid using it at all. Only your fixer will need replenishment or replacement a little sooner due to the carry over of developer. A compromise might be a water bath inbetween (I would also start with 10-15 seconds) but you need to realise that at some point it will become a weak developer solution, so that also needs to be replaced much more often then real stop bath.

    Last but not least, just put a little vinegar in the water bath to make it slightly acidic, but that is getting closer to using stop bath, which you are trying to avoid.

    What is the reason you want to avoid using stop bath?

  3. #3
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    8,747
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    As pegelli intimated, the primary advantage to using stop bath is to prolong the life of the fixer. Stop bath is essentially just a very mild solution of acetic acid ... you could splash a little white wine vinegar into 32 ounces of water and have the same thing without the indicator color change of actual stop bath.

    Using water instead reduces the alkalinity of the print somewhat but isn't as effective ... the developer hitting the fixer ultimately kills the fixer by slowly neutralizing the pH.

    For resin-core papers, a few seconds in the stop bath or intermediate water bath is enough since the paper barely soaks up any developer. For fiber based papers, with water only, you want to soak it through the intermediate water bath more thoroughly to pull its alkalinity down before plunging it into the fixer.

    If you do use just a water bath, be prepared to change it frequently. I'd say every 10 8x10 sheets or equivalent print area.

    Stop bath is not expensive...

    G

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    248
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by pegelli View Post
    Last but not least, just put a little vinegar in the water bath to make it slightly acidic, but that is getting closer to using stop bath, which you are trying to avoid.
    Not a bad idea and worth trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by pegelli View Post
    What is the reason you want to avoid using stop bath?
    Basically, I just got used to using water when I was doing b&w darkroom printing on a regular basis in 1997. It was a normal part of the routine and I never had any issues with it. Also to reduce costs. Some say that stop bath is cheap but obviously, it would add up over time if you kept replacing it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    For resin-core papers, a few seconds in the stop bath or intermediate water bath is enough since the paper barely soaks up any developer. For fiber based papers, with water only, you want to soak it through the intermediate water bath more thoroughly to pull its alkalinity down before plunging it into the fixer.
    I'll be using RC papers so looks like I won't need to be as thorough with the water bath.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    606
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Apologies if this is obvious, but you used the words "leave it there" - be sure to agitate for the whole time.

    Quote Originally Posted by tribal-warrior View Post
    Also to reduce costs. Some say that stop bath is cheap but obviously, it would add up over time if you kept replacing it.
    Ummm... the Kodak indicator stop bath that I used in my darkroom session yesterday, to fill an 8x10 tray for printing on RC, cost me about 11 cents. One tray is fine for the whole session, so there's no need to "keep replacing it" within a session. OTOH, my tray of fixer cost about $1.40. Trying to save pennies on stop bath at the risk of prematurely losing the effectiveness of the much more expensive fixer, and with consequences that may not be detected until some prints start deteriorating later on, seems a questionable bargain.
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 4 Weeks Ago at 07:50.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    606
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by Godfrey View Post
    For resin-core papers...
    Not that it matters for the OP's question, but FWIW, RC = resin-coated: the core is paper, the coating polyethylene.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    293
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    There is a thread over on Photrio on this subject. It has been going on for 15 years and they are no closer to agreement.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    606
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by faberryman View Post
    There is a thread over on Photrio on this subject. It has been going on for 15 years and they are no closer to agreement.
    Found it:

    https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...portant.98559/

    Lots of interesting detail amidst the wrangling. One thing I hadn't appreciated is that the issue isn't just clearance of unexposed silver, but also of retained developer agent. For example, one of the comments from Ron Mowrey, who worked at Kodak:

    OK, here it is. VII P 204. I had to go through VI until I got to it in VII. I don't keep track of these things. Sorry. In the graph on this page and the brief associated discussion, Grant is testing hypo retention in monobath processing. He and others (cited in the discussion by Haist) find that hypo washes out just fine, but surprisingly HQ does not. There is no easy test for Hypo or Metol and Metol should actually be worse. So, my work went on to find if PPDs were retained. Boy, howdy, were they. PPDs caused pink stain in color materials if there was not an acid stage to extract them.

    The bottom line is that a water stop may work but must be running water or acid. This is true for B&W and color. This is old history to me from about 1969, where we found the problem in color and I was called back from Christmas vacation to work on it for color paper, namely Ektaprint 3.

    Yes, developing agent is a problem and can cause brown stain in B&W and pink stain in color. There is more than this short note can express.


    https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...7#post-2156859

    If you do go with water, change it frequently. Like, after every print.
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:51.

  9. #9
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    8,747
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Not that it matters for the OP's question, but FWIW, RC = resin-coated: the core is paper, the coating polyethylene.
    LOL! Of course ... that's an autocorrect rewrite. I just didn't notice.

    Eco-pro stop bath costs $14 per gallon at B&H, and is mixed 1:31. So $14 makes 32 32oz trays of stop bath. Each tray will likely provide good stop action for 50-100 8x10 prints. So, being conservative, call it 50 8x10 prints per try of solution, or 1600 prints.

    That's a tiny bit less than a penny per 8x10. I'd call that pretty cheap, even if you're printing in pretty good volumes. You'll spend more than that in exhausted fixer from not using a good stop bath...

  10. #10
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    248
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Apologies if this is obvious, but you used the words "leave it there" - be sure to agitate for the whole time.
    Perhaps my choice of words was wrong but my plan was to agitate.


    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    One tray is fine for the whole session, so there's no need to "keep replacing it" within a session.
    I wasn't suggesting replacing it within a session. I never said that. I was referring to replacing it over a period of time like several months etc or a year. Obviously, stop bath does need to be purchased every time it's replaced with more stop bath.


    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    OTOH, my tray of fixer cost about $1.40. Trying to save pennies on stop bath at the risk of prematurely losing the effectiveness of the much more expensive fixer, and with consequences that may not be detected until some prints start deteriorating later on, seems a questionable bargain.
    Since I'll be developing paper negatives from my pinhole camera which realistically, I can only load at night (when it's fully dark), I would probably only process one or two 'prints' per session (and again only at night) so the fixer will not really be ruined all that much, if any. Of course one must also consider how long the fixer can remain usable in storage. I did read recently that developer is only usable for about two days which seems extremely brief to me. Then again, that might depend on the particular type of developer. I sincerely hope that fixer lasts longer than that to make using stop bath worthwhile.

  11. #11
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    293
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    And so it begins.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    606
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by tribal-warrior View Post
    Since I'll be developing paper negatives from my pinhole camera which realistically, I can only load at night (when it's fully dark), I would probably only process one or two 'prints' per session...
    OK, so if that's your intended usage I can certainly see why you prefer not to use chemicals one-shot.

    Quote Originally Posted by tribal-warrior View Post
    Of course one must also consider how long the fixer can remain usable in storage.
    From the data sheet for Ilford Rapid Fixer:

    Unreplenished ILFORD RAPID FIXER working
    strength solutions should last for up to:-
    6 months in full tightly capped bottles
    2 months in a tank or dish/tray with a floating lid
    1 month in a half full tightly capped bottle.
    7 days in an open dish/tray.

  13. #13
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    pegelli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    3,267
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by tribal-warrior View Post
    Since I'll be developing paper negatives from my pinhole camera which realistically, I can only load at night (when it's fully dark), I would probably only process one or two 'prints' per session
    Have you considered using paper tanks (e.g. Jobo) instead of the old fashioned tray developing? For two sheets per day you'll be wasting a lot of chemicals in the trays while tanks can use as little as 100 ml (and keep rolling the tanks to have the small pool of liquid wet the whole surface) . Developer might even be "one shot" (helps consistency) and you could even do the same with fixer.

    I used a similar set-up in the past for the Ilford Cibachrome positive printing papers and it worked very well, very consistent results with a low amount of chemicals per sheet.

  14. #14
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    8,747
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by faberryman View Post
    And so it begins.
    Yup. Time to sit back and enjoy the show.
    Where the heck is the popcorn?

    G

  15. #15
    Member
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Posts
    248
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post


    From the data sheet for Ilford Rapid Fixer:

    Unreplenished ILFORD RAPID FIXER working
    strength solutions should last for up to:-
    6 months in full tightly capped bottles
    2 months in a tank or dish/tray with a floating lid
    1 month in a half full tightly capped bottle.
    7 days in an open dish/tray.
    I was referring to the storage and usability of fixer after it had been mixed and used in a previous darkroom session. For example, it's 're-usability'. How many times it could be reused over a period of time in it's mixed state (combined with water.)

    Nevertheless, thinking back to my experiences using a water bath in the darkroom years ago, there were a whole number of students in my class doing exactly the same thing. Stop bath was never used at all. And by the end of the sessions, there never seemed to be any adverse affect on the fixer, regardless of how many students were doing prints at the time. It might have been possible that the teacher was going out and buying fixer on a regular basis to keep up with the demand and the working system that he had imposed upon us but that's pure speculation.

    Quote Originally Posted by pegelli View Post
    Have you considered using paper tanks (e.g. Jobo) instead of the old fashioned tray developing? For two sheets per day you'll be wasting a lot of chemicals in the trays while tanks can use as little as 100 ml (and keep rolling the tanks to have the small pool of liquid wet the whole surface) . Developer might even be "one shot" (helps consistency) and you could even do the same with fixer.
    That does sound more economical and logical. Probably a better option for me. However, by not using trays, I won't be able to see the image appear in the developer tray. And that's the truly magical part of the whole process. That's one of the things that I was most looking forward to seeing when going back to the darkroom. Though perhaps I could do that once in a while as a special kind of thing.

    Actually, last night, I stumbled upon some youtube videos showing large format b&w sheet film being developed in individual open trays. And that really motivated me to try the same thing one day - develop some LF sheet film at home. I really liked the simplicity of it - just dealing with one individual sheet of film at a time rather than a whole, super long roll of film. Though after some thinking, I changed my mind. I don't think I'd be keen on working with open trays of chemicals in complete darkness. And organising a timer for each individual chemical in the dark would be tricky too. I think using a tank would be more practical.

  16. #16
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    pegelli's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    Location
    Belgium
    Posts
    3,267
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by tribal-warrior View Post
    I was referring to the storage and usability of fixer after it had been mixed and used in a previous darkroom session. For example, it's 're-usability'. How many times it could be reused over a period of time in it's mixed state (combined with water.)
    Ilford's documentation on Rapid Fixer also states that in diluted form (1+4) it can be kept for 7 days.

  17. #17
    Super Duper
    Senior Member
    Godfrey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Near San Jose, California
    Posts
    8,747
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    The magical bit of watching the print develop in the darkroom is truly fun. But.

    I switched many many years ago, probably two decades before I stopped doing darkroom printing at all (and that was 25 years ago at least), to using timed development rather than "by inspection" development, and the consistency of my prints improved by orders of magnitude.

    G

  18. #18
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    606
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: Using water instead of stop bath when printing

    Quote Originally Posted by tribal-warrior View Post
    I was referring to the storage and usability of fixer after it had been mixed and used in a previous darkroom session. For example, it's 're-usability'. How many times it could be reused over a period of time in it's mixed state (combined with water.)
    There are two factors affecting the continued usability of fixer. The first is elapsed time since the fixer was mixed for use (and exposure to air during that time). The numbers I quote refer to that - they are for mixed fixer, not for the concentrated solution in the original bottle.

    The second factor is how much silver has accumulated in the fixer. This is typically specified in terms of number of prints that have been put through the fixer. (Note also that capacity for FB prints is either lower or far lower than that for RC prints, depending on whether one uses one-bath or two-bath fixing.) However, any such number is a rough estimate, as the amount of silver that goes into solution with each print depends on what the print looks like - a high-key print with few dark tones and a large white border will deposit more unexposed silver into the solution than a very dark print with black borders.

    There are test solutions you can use to check the amount of silver that has accumulated in solution. Or you can just keep track of the number of prints - including test prints! - that have been put through each batch of working solution. And of course one should also keep track of the duration since the batch was mixed.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •