Thanks to all for the advice re masking Pt/Pd prints last week. I printed again over the weekend and the Rubylith mask worked well. The edge is a little softer than I would like but I remember it is about the same as film edges used to print (before I printed from digital-internegs for a few years). Perhaps I am just used to the crisp edge of a digi-neg print.
Another problem persists though. Remember I mentioned that my father had modified my contact printing frame so as to create more pressure because I suffered soft bands across the frame? Well, that modification definitely improved things, but I am still getting, even with incremental exposure, soft areas.
I am printing 5"x7" pyro developed Tri-X in the middle of an 11"x14" piece of Cranes Weston Diploma Parchmont (old stock bought from Bostick + Sullivan, not the newer stuff from Butler Deardan). I finally decided I wanted to use this paper in this size for this series which I hope to exhibit.
1) I've only ever printed Pt/Pd on Arches Platine before this and i've never had softness problems even before the frame modification.
1.5) The paper was buckling quite a lot when being coated. I reduced my drop count by a reasonable amount and am using 6 drops sensitiser, one drop contrast agent (NA2 or whatever it is) and 7 drops metals.
2) By incrementally building up the exposure (2mins exposure, lamps off for 1-2m; 2m exposure, lamps off etc) I can significantly reduce the corrugations that appear in the paper after the 10m exposure. I still think the problem is connected to paper weight and heat in my pizza oven.
3) I am resting the paper for a full ten minutes on a plastic rack over a tray of water after blow drying the sensitiser, and resting again for 5 minutes after exposure is complete.
4) I am centering the paper/neg etc in the printing frame. My last idea for remedying the problem is to place the paper sideways in the printing frame right underneath one of the springs.
5) I have to basically stop printing this series until I solve this problem as I simply cannot afford to keep printing otherwise perfect prints that have small soft patches on them. Any paper or Pt/Pd chemistry I need I must ship from the US and it is very expensive. I have a stack of ten or so that I must throw out that could otherwise be hung in the gallery.
I'm getting desperate. I have upwards of 20 negs to print perfectly and more to shoot for my first solo show but it's hardly off to a great start....
It's late now...
Thanks for listening,