Let me state right up front that I love the prints I make with Arista EDU Ultra Glossy/Fomabrom Variant papers.
This is the forth and possibly last installment of a series of entries that chronicles what is turning into a love-hate relationship with these wonderful papers.
First, what I love. Printing just plain seems easier than it has ever been using other papers. Not sure why. And I love the look – neutral to slightly cool with a bright white base. Super highlights, deep blacks and fantastic shadow detail. Perhaps it also has something to do with the print developer I started using around the same time I began experimenting with these papers. That would be Photographer’s Formulary Liquidol developer. Use of the new developer began out of necessity when I finally used up the last bag of my old standby Zone VI developer. As previously mentioned Liquidol is said to be a replacement for that fine product. As the name implies it’s a liquid concentrate that mixes 1 part to 9 parts water and develops most papers in roughly 1 minute. I am now completely happy with the developer and it’s my standard. And here’s a plug – I can’t say enough about Photographer’s Formulary. They really care about analog black and white photography … and their customers! I recently received a bottle of Liquidol that had begun to leak in its shipping box. I called the company and a replacement was quickly shipped and delivered to me, no questions asked! We photographers need to support companies like Photographer’s Formulary that produce great products and stand behind them.
Ok, now what I don’t like. I have gone through several hundred sheets of these two papers. Perhaps I have just had some particularly bad luck with the batches I have received. In some cases I have had cases where the emulsion starts to peel from the edges during development. At other times this annoying problem occurs when the paper hits the selenium toner. I tend to tone only when I have a lot of prints. My procedure is to develop, stop, fix, rinse, wash, dry, then store. My next step is to gather the prints I want to tone, then do a water pre-soak, fix again with pure hypo, selenium tone, hypo clear and do a final wash prior to drying. As with my last go around I reported on earlier I experienced some serious peeling of the emulsion at the edges of the paper.
But wait, there’s more! In some cases when developing prints I have noticed what looks like small scratches in the print surface. Perhaps the emulsion is extremely delicate and easily scratched by fingernails, etc., or it comes this way from the manufacturer. I don’t know and can’t figure it out #@$$#%^!
Here’s what I do know. It’s frustrating, not to mention troublesome when you spend $100 (Arista Foma rebranded) or $128 (Fomabrom) for a one hundred-sheet box of 8×10 paper and have to deal with these problems. On the other I hand I enjoy printing with the stuff (mostly) and am captivated by the results I get. Yes I know … I probably wouldn’t have these issues with Ilford products, but what am I supposed to do? It’s like being hopelessly in love with someone who has issues. There’s no choice … you just can’t let her/him go.