I have been using my Maco Ecomat TP5060 for drying fibre based darkroom prints since buying it new in 2002. It is fantastic at drying Ilford FB papers flat and takes up to 24 x 20 inch sheets.
Ilford FB papers are notoriously difficult to dry flat and the new 2014 papers are no better at this! That’s my only complaint about their fine papers.
I don’t like high gloss prints so my prints are dried against the drying cloth on the cover which also ensures that the print dries flat. Without this prints can crease as you stick them down. The dryer gives a muted gloss similar to what would be obtained from air drying glossy FB paper.
The drying cloth on my dryer had come to the end of its life, as judged by the hole towards the edge of the fabric. In truth it should have been replaced earlier but it still worked without blemishes to the print surface.
A quick look on Google found the web shop, www.macodirect.com, for the German manufacturer. Even better they had the required drying cloth in stock, complete with felt underlay. My wife Jan had already worked out how to make one using the old one as a template so this saved her quite a tricky job.
It arrived today, 4 days after ordering. It fits perfectly, as you would expect. I will just put a print or two through it to check all is fine then it’s full speed ahead again!
If you’re looking for a dryer for FB papers I suggest you take a close look at the Maco Ecomat dryers.
Ilford Photo asked me if I could provide prints with my images on their 3 new fibre based Multigrade papers for Photokina. This is the worlds largest photo and imaging fair, held every 2 years in Cologne in Germany (Tuesday 16th to Sunday 21st September 2014). My prints will be the only prints on display to promote these new papers. It feels quite a privilege to be asked to both make the prints and use my images.
In June Ilford supplied a box of 50 sheets of each paper, the window mounts and the frames. I printed my photographs and mounted onto conservation card as usual and then finished the framing, all signed on the print and on the window mount as usual.
These were all printed on 24 x 20 inch paper with images of 56 x 46cm (sorry about the mixed units but the paper is supplied in inch sizes and the images were in metric narrow black aluminium frames of 80 x 60cm). From each box 1 sheet was cut into test strips and I used 4 or 5 sheets to make the print for Ilford and a couple of spares in case of any problems when it came to the print finishing (not needed as it happens, all was fine).
Photokina is now almost here so it’s time to show the 3 pictures.
Here are the 3 photographs on the new Ilford Multigrade FB papers framed and hung on our gallery wall. All of the original photographs were taken on Mamiya 7 cameras with Ilford FP4 120 film developed in Ilford Ilfotec DDX film developer diluted 1+6 for 9.5 minutes.
The prints were all developed in Ilford Multigrade developer at 1+4 dilution for 2.5 minutes, then the usual Ilford Ilfostop stop bath at 1+19, Ilford Hypam 1+4 fixer, water rinse, Ilford Washaid for 30 minutes then final wash.
All are split grade prints, the only technique to use for creative printing with Variable Contrast papers such as the Ilford Multigrade range. In my view single exposure prints and pre-flash are old-style techniques for graded papers.
My prints are realistic to what I saw at the time I pressed the shutter button. The small amount of manipulation that I use is purely to compensate for small areas of brightness and shadows that need help to be rendered realistically.
The Photokina set of prints
Ilford Multigrade FB Classic Glossy
Spanish Steps at Night, Rome
Taken in December 2013 at night after a rain shower cleared the steps of people. Taken with the 43mm lens and a 6 minute exposure at f16 which removed most of the people walking across the view, just the odd bit of ghosting!
Night shots work well on FB glossy and the new Classic seemed sharper and even easier to work with than MGIV FB, my usual paper.
Printing: main exposures 14.5s grade 1/2, 3s grade 5
minor tweaks: +15s grade 0 bright wall on right, +5s grade 0 top of fountain.
Ilford Multigrade FB Warmtone Glossy
Leadenhall Market in London at night
This is used as a covered footpath and is a busy arcade during the daytime and early evening, especially weekdays. Taken late evening on a Saturday in March 2011.
Warmtone paper is great for old architecture such as this. This was probably my favourite of the set, it looks great on the Warmtone paper.
Printing: main exposure 12.5s grade 1 with -3s to cobbles, 10s grade 5
minor tweaks: +10s grade 0 left hand roof bright area.
Ilford Multigrade FB Cooltone Glossy
Wolf Creek View, Colorado
Snow covered trees and the view to surrounding hills from the ski area in southern Colorado with the greatest snowfall in most winters (about 12m), January 2011. An orange filter was used to darken the deep blue sky.
Cooltone with its blue-blacks was chosen to match the cold snow and ice of the main subject.
Printing: main exposures 5.4s grade 1 with -1s bottom left and -1s peak, 7.8s grade 5
minor tweaks: +1.5s grade 0 bottom right