Lith Printing: Part 1

17-11-10, Maastricht

The day my first lith printing adventure began. It was wonderful! So much more interesting that regular black-and-white. The book would’ve been handy to start with but I just couldn’t wait until it arrived. Google is your friend anyway (and the people who wrote about it of course ;-))

The influence you have on the photo by combining choice of paper, exposing (duration), developing (snatch point, temperature etc) and toning afterwards give you much more control and enable you to fine-tune more than with a regular black-and-white print. This makes this process a hell lot more interesting. Also the grain you can get gives more structure and feel to the photo, of course depending on your subject. I have a lot to learn and experience but I love it already!

The 2 golden rules in lith printing:

  • Image colour and contrast are related to grain size in the paper emulsion – which in turn is related to its stage of development.  Small grains of early development are soft and warm. Large grains of late development are hard and cold.  The progress of development is affected of course by dilution, temperature, time and freshness.
  • Highlights are controlled by exposure.
    Shadows are controlled by development (‘snatch point’).

Regarding the latter point I’d like to add that the whole process of Lith printing relies on a property of Lith developers known as ‘infectious development’. This is different to the way normal developers develop a black and white image. In simple terms, infectious development means that the darker a tone becomes, the faster it develops.  The faster it develops of course, the darker it becomes, and so it develops even faster still. This leads to an explosive chain reaction where the shadow tone development speeds away from the slowly progressing light and mid tones, which lag way, way, behind. The print is ‘snatched’ from the developer when it reaches the point required by the printer.

On to the photos of day 1 (well, the ones worthy of showing ;-)) They still have to be toned. Kodak Selenium toner I’ll use for this.

Paper: Rollei Vintage 131 FB Developer: Rollei Vintage Developer (Lith) 1+1+24 Exposure: f5,6 20 sec. filter 3 Development: about 5 1/2 minutes

Paper: Rollei Vintage 131 FB Developer: Rollei Vintage Developer (Lith) 1+1+24 Exposure: f5,6 20 sec. filter 3 Development: about 5 1/2 minutes

Paper: Rollei Vintage 131 FB Developer: Rollei Vintage Developer (Lith) 1+1+24 Exposure: f5,6 22 sec. filter 3 Development: about 6 minutes

Paper: Rollei Vintage 131 FB Developer: Rollei Vintage Developer (Lith) 1+1+24 Exposure: f5,6 22 sec. filter 3 Development: about 6 minutes

Some links to more information on lith:

Thanks for watching and be ready for stuff to come soon! Tonight I printed some more, also tried out FomaBrom 111 and my regular Ilford MGW1K paper. Will post results hopefully tomorrow.

The book I ordered from Tim Rudman arrived, only the wrong one. He most kindly offered me to keep the book and will send me the correct one. If you want a book with great examples of lith prints make sure to check this out; it’s beautiful!

Tim Rudman's "The World of Lith Printing"

Tim Rudman's "The World of Lith Printing"

Have a good night!

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