Re: humidity in your darkroom........

From: [email protected]
Date: 01/11/04-12:42:18 PM Z
Message-id: <>


And not only are your prints better, but I'll bet your cigars are tasting a
lot better too!

It's funny how we read articles on the Web and books and magazines and posts
on this list and somehow tuck the information away in our little brains.
When my printing went South late this fall, I finally had a lightbulb go on
inside my head, and no matter how dim it was, it was taxed by the amount of
darkness in there, but that's another story—anyway, I remembered how much Carl Weese
had stressed the importance of humidity and comments by Dick Sullivan
regarding the phone calls they would get in the fall at Bostick & Sullivan from people
complaining that their printing had suddenly declined in quality. If I
remember correctly Carl and Dick at first thought it was possibly due to
temperature drops people were experiencing in their darkrooms out in the woodshed.
They ran some tests to see how temperature affected it. While doing that, they
realized that along with the temperature drop, came a drop in humidity.
Once they tested printing at various levels of humidity, they found the real

Since I have my little hygrometer here to glance at once in a while, I'm
amazed at how quickly humidity can drop in the winter near Chicago. If my
humidifier runs out of water, it can go from 50% RH to 20% RH in a heartbeat. When
I am coating and printing I boost it to 60%. I wonder how many processes
are so dependent upon humidity? We've had a pretty mild winter so far—if we go
into a period of sub zero weather I may have to hang my magic brush on the
wall and read a good book for the duration—or organize my negatives.

On the other hand, it's embarrassing when you over do the humidity thing and
your emulsion sticks to your negative and the glass on your plate burner. Of
course, that has never happened to me—I think I heard about it from Sandy King
—but of course, it wasn't Sandy—must have been a friend of his.

Mark Nelson

In a message dated 1/11/04 10:27:53 AM, writes:

> I know most of you see this as a conspicuous variable, but for some
> reason, I had not given it much thought until Mark Nelson stressed its
> import.  So I went to the local smoke shop to purchase a hygrometer for
> $7.99, the kind that goes in your humidor if you like cigars, and
> discovered to my dismay that the humidity of my darkromm (aka my
> bathroom)  was a dismal 14%.  No wonder my nose hurts.  So I got a
> cheapie humidifier and ran it for an hour before I coated - getting the
> humidity up to at least 40%.  I also used Mark's suggestion of passing
> the paper over the humidifier immediately before coating. You will not
> believe the difference in my prints.  Rich, rich, smooth, dark blacks,
> even on unsized Crane's.  And NO bronzing!  None!  My Arrggghhhyrotypes
> have transformed into argyrotypes, and I think I can make this deadline
> after all.
> Of note, I compared several papers - unsized Crane's, sized Crane's.
> Buxton, and Rives BFK.  The unsized Crane's was surprisingly the best,
> with the sized (by myself)  being the worst.  Buxton was second, and
> Rives was third, not so great.  The best print so far has been on the
> unsized Crane's with and extra .5g Sulfamic Acid added to 50 ml of
> Argyotype sensitizer.
> It's funny it was such a simple thing.  Kinda like when your car dies
> and you bring it to the shop and ther like, um, you need a  new switch
> so your car knows it's in park, when you thought you needed a whole new
> starter.
> So Judy I think you were definitely on the mark when you were discussing
> the bronzing your students were getting on the VDBs when they blow-dried
> - I theorize iron-silver processes greatly dislike dry air.
> Thanks everyone,
> Christine
Received on Sun Jan 11 12:42:42 2004

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