I've been making a series of prints using fixed-out
Emaks (Fotokemika fiber paper). I've rolled over 150 prints using this
paper, so I thought I would review my experiences with it.
B&W Fiber Papers with the Dye Transfer Process
I prepare the paper by fixing it out (in the dark)
using Kodak Professional Fixer (CAT 197 1746). Use this hardening
fixer if you want to make test prints omitting the M1 mordanting
step. The fixer contains Alum, which acts as a mordant to hold the
dyes in the paper after transferring.
I mix the fixer at 120 deg F, and fix at that
temp. 6 sheets 20x24" with continuous interleaving and agitation for
10 minutes. If you are going to omit the M1 mordant step, discard
the fixer at this point. You may prepare 6 more sheets from the 1 gallon
fixer bath before discarding it, but it won't contain enough aluminum for good
results without the M1 mordanting step. You may use a non-hardening fixer
as well, but that will require using the M1 mordant for all
Follow the fixing with a 5 minute wash
(interleaving sheets, 3 water changes). Treat in Perma-Wash for 5 minutes
(same interleaving sheet method), and follow this with at least 5 15
minute washes (full water change between washes) in water (I wash in a tray
that is on the rocker). Hang the paper up to dry in a drying cabinent, and
then store in a film box under a weight to flatten. You don't have to dry
the paper, you can put it in the conditioner if you are ready to roll prints.
You may use this paper for test prints at this
point, M1 mordant isn't required for the test prints. If you don't
M1 mordant, you will get a slightly less sharp print, which will
loose more sharpness everytime you rewet it for retouching. Good for test
prints, not so great for final prints.
The test prints will be quite close in color and
density to the M1 mordanted final prints. The fixed out (but not M1
mordanted) paper will transfer the image very well, and can achieve a very
high density. Transfer at 100 deg F (heated granite slab is what I use)
for 5 minutes for a normal matrix, or 7 minutes for a dense matrix. You
will need to adjust the color slightly if you want to transfer to Kodak DT
paper, but this isn't too difficult to get a handle on.
You will notice that the Cyan dye appears quite
blue on the fixed out paper when it is wet. This is converted to a much
better Cyan hue upon drying in a heated drum dryer. In fact, the
Cyan on the Aluminum mordanted (M1 mordanted or not) are much better than on
Kodak paper, and don't suffer from the darkening / too blue Cyans seen on Kodak
paper. This yields much better dark blues, Cyans, and Greens on the
To make the final prints, you will want to mordant
the paper using the M1 mordant method. This is much more difficult to do
than simply using fixed out paper, but the resulting prints will be very sharp,
and can be rewet several time for retouching without loosing sharpness.
Mixing the M1 Mordant:
Aluminum Sulfate 536 g
Water to make 2,666 ml
Sodium Carbonate 107 g
Water to make 1,333 ml
With the solutions < 80 deg.
F, VERY slowly add part 2 to part 1 while stirring rapidly. Make
small additions, and wait for the solution to fully clear (white precipiated
re-dissolves). As you near the end of the mixing, add slower, and be very
careful to let the precipitate re-dissolve. If you add too fast, you will
get a massive amount of insoluable precipitate which can't be
re-dissolved. It is difficult to filter this out, but it can be done with
coarse filter paper and a vacuum flask with Buchner filter.
This is the mordant which contains the aluminum
which fixes the dyes into the gelatin coated on the paper. The
mordant will enter the paper, but it must be treated with a second solution
which converts the mordant to an insoluable form, fixing it into the bulk
of the gelatin. This occurs when the pH is raised (more basic) beyond a
Sodium Acetate 200g
Water to make 4000 ml (5% solution by
The pH of this solution is 8.60 when fresh
mixed. It will lower after some use. Add small amounts of Sodium
Hydroxide (1% solution) to adjust the pH to approx. 9.00 if you see the
pH drop below 8.00.
Use the two solutions for about 25 sheets of 20x24"
paper and then discard.
To mordant the paper:
Soak the paper in the M1 mordant while interleaving
/ agitating for 5 minutes.
Wash the paper for 5 minutes is water 80 deg
Soak the paper in the Sodium Acetate
solution while interleaving / agitating for 5 minutes
Wash the paper for 5 minutes.
You can then either dry the paper, or put it in the
conditioner if you are ready to make prints.
Do not use either the fixed out (not M1
mordanted) or the M1 mordanted paper after 1 month of storage. You will
start to see bleeding around the edges of the print when the paper gets
While the M1 mordant yields very sharp
prints, it does have some drawbacks. It is more work to
perform the additional step of mordanting the paper. The mordant has a
tendancy to deposit on the surface of the paper which will cause the Cyan dye to
slightly poison the matrices. This can cause an incomplete transfer
(slight blotches in high density Cyan areas may be seen), and/or an
unwanted sheen seen on the surface of the dried print. This is more likely
to happen if you use the mordant solutions for too long. If
you are getting back transfer and/or sheen on the surface, wash
the surface of the paper with a paper towel soaked in a very dilute
solution of PhotoFlo. Scrub the surface very thoroughly, and then wash
with several changes of hot water prior to placing the paper in the
conditioner. This mostly solves the problem with back transfer, and gives
you a very brilliant gloss surface.
The M1 mordanted transfers will probably exhibit
some Cyan dye retention in the matrices, mainly in the Cyan matrix, but a little
dye may back transfer to the Magenta and Yellow matrices as well. I
don't normally use a matrix clearing bath when working with Kodak paper, but I
have gotten into the habit of clearing all my matrices when working with the M1
mordanted paper. The fixed out but not M1 mordanted paper does not have
this problem so matrix clearing isn't necessary. Still, it is a good idea
to always clear the Yellow matrix to minimize pollution of the yellow dye.
Use the clearing bath by diluting the stock solution 1:10 with hot water. Soak
the matrix in the bath for 1 or 2 minutes, then wash in hot water until no
stain remains. Then put the matrix in the second acid rinse for 30
seconds, and then give it 2 short rinses in hot water before returning it to the
dye bath. If you do the every time, you will get more consistant color
from print to print.
The prints which result from these procedures are
very high quality. The image is very sharp and retouches easily without
losing sharpness. The paper is a beautiful bright white rather than the
yellowish appearance of Kodak DT paper. The gloss is higher, and the paper
is much easier to handle - it can be dried in contact with a blotter without
picking up fibers, and is easy to dry mount without melting the surface (both
can be problems with the Kodak paper). Finally, there is a dramatic
improvement in the purity of the Cyan dye after drying compared to the Kodak DT
This technique does add time and complexity, but
these days you can't order paper from Kodak. This essentially becomes an
unlimited supply, which liberates you to use the paper to make more test prints,
and therefore better final prints.
Regards - Jim Browning,