U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: Cutting polymer plates

Re: Cutting polymer plates

zphoto@montana.net wrote:
Last message of the day, I promise!!! Man am I getting my
$10 worth.
We're getting your $10 worth and then some Chris, as always. So good to have your wisdom flying in remotely. :-)

Susan, I cut the plates with the school's big honkin' cutter
thingie whatever it is called. I tried scoring it with an
exacto, and bending back and forth, but always it would end
up being uneven and then my negative would sit unevenly on
the plate and leak light through. They require a lot of cut
power! Honestly, Susan, since I have to go into town to cut
the plates, I ended up just ganging a whole bunch of
different test things on one plate and using the whole plate
instead of cutting. What is another 10 or 20 bucks when
you've already spend 700??? I'm kidding.
Honkin' cutter = very good solution

Question: How particular are people about keeping their plates in the dark when handling/cutting? My newest batch I've been a little picky about in terms of keeping them out of the light sort of as a test. The results so far have been greater plate tone, presumably due to their "fresher" state and greater sensitivity. Used to be, I'd cut them in all conditions short of being in full direct sunlight -- ambient or reflected light was OK. Now I'm not so sure that was a good idea. David Hoptman would recommend only cutting plates in a dark room under safe lights. Seems like a reasonable precaution to take. What do others do/think?

Now, speaking of plate tone--the funny thing is that I was
printing this one plate for a person in the collaborative
group. He wanted the plate to look just like his original. I printed it three times for him--the second time I loved
it, with nice heavy plate tone. He wanted the background
"white." So each to his own, I suppose.
Plate tone is indicative of the process and has a certain aesthetic appeal. It's certainly a way to affect apparent contrast and other qualities of the print and can be controlled via several different methods all listed in Dan Welden's book "Printmaking in the Sun" (p. 86). One is to flash the plate for 1-5 seconds of sunlight to decrease plate tone.

The layer on the KM73s is much thinner than the layer on the
solarplates, and the solarplate surface is bumpier/more
textured, so I am surprised that you all think KM73s have
more plate tone?? But I'll accept your truth over Diane's...
The general consensus for the KM73s seems to be they have 'no plate tone'. I believe, (but haven't proven) it's because they're simply more sensitive and can 'burn out' faster under ambient or controlled exposure light sources.... I've recently seen some of the most dramatic plate tone I've ever seen (from any plate) in the KM73s, which I attribute to my keeping them in a darker environment than I have in the past. Not sure if that's really what's going on. I may test that.

Sorry to mix posts, but Jon, you said this:
Too much exposure to the aquatint and you burn out
highlights, however. Too little and the plate gets to be sticky and
mucky in the shadows.

Dan Welden says more aquatint exposure, the more the
highlights hold detail (I mean, up to a certain point
because overexposure in general results in a white plate). Do you find this not true? Because I found that when I
increased my aquatint from 1mn15 to 5mn in the 10mn total
exposure I got more detail in my highlights.
I agree with Dan and myself...and you. How's that? ;-)

I was speaking of extremes -- specifically in the case when one is trying to narrow down an exposure range for screen/positive.

Overexposing the aquatint to a degree gives finer dots overall, providing a higher key print with better highlight detail. Overexposing dramatically blows out highlights and eliminates most, if not all, plate tone, at least in theory. Getting smaller dots through overexposure is not the same thing as using a screen with smaller dots however. Making them smaller through overexposure sacrifices the shadows and richness in the blacks to some degree.

And what book is your friend Angela writing??
Thanks for asking Chris but I don't know that she's shared the working title with me... and if she has I regret to say I don't remember it. She plans on featuring the work of a couple dozen photographers, including some on this list, with an emphasis on their techniques, I think!

And as far as why I say "luck" with no mottling, I have
found that with UVBL whenever I assume mottling is gone, I
get some in the next plate. But I have exposed 3 plates now
with powdering the positive and not the plate, with no
mottling. The images were busy, tho. I still think is is
I know the feeling. Just when I think I have it cured, some appears. I'm feeling very hopeful about Susan's spray coating suggestion/approach with regards to the Pictorico, however. Printing a new plate tomorrow and am praying my patches haven't merely transmogrified into aerosol spittle...or worse. Will report back.
If our tax refund is good, Amergraph here I come. If it is
not, oh well.
There is no substitute for proper equipment. I'm hoping for you and your refund!