Norma Smith

Norma Smith

Member, Freestyle Advisory Board of Photographic Professionals


Ms. Norma C. Smith is both an artist and an educator who has been working in the field of photography for over 30 years. She has also written many articles on various aspects of photography including a treatise on platinum/palladium printing and a column for Petersen's Photographic on darkroom basics. As an educator, she teaches workshops in darkroom techniques, platinum/palladium printing, handcoloring of black and white photographs and basic photography. Currently she is an instructor of photography at Art Center College of Design and teaches specialty classes through the Julia Dean Photography workshops. Landscape and still life are the subjects of her work. Her photographs are found in many private and public collections.


Toning Black and White Prints

Ask The Experts

Dear Lisa, The deterioration you describe probably results from using RC paper and not toning your prints. Properly processed fiber prints will last much longer than RC prints even if they are toned. That is why most photographers producing prints for the fine art market use fiber paper rather than RC. However, I have RC prints that are 20 years old and are still holding up quite well because of proper washing and selenium, gold or sepia toning. Where the prints are displayed is also a factor in longevity. I do not recommend an area where bright sunlight hits the photographs. Even fiber prints will not hold up under the rays of bright sun for very long. Archival framing is also important. Photographs do not like an acid environment. Therefore when mounting or framing use acid free board, mounting tissue, hinges and over-mat. By doing this you are giving your photographs the best chance of staying beautiful for years to come. Hope this information is helpful in producing long lasting images in the future. Yours truly,
Dear Tom, The problem you are talking about sounds like the result of not getting the fixer out of the photographs. Just laminating them will not stop the sliver and bronzing because the chemical is still in the paper. Laminating will seal them off from air pollution but without getting the fixer out of the paper you are still going to have the deterioration. My suggestion is to take the prints that are not showing the silvering and first re-wet them and then selenium tone them lightly (1/30 dilution for 1 to 3 min) to help preserve the silver and lastly archivally wash them. Archival wash requires the use of a hypo eliminator like Kodak Hypo Clearing agent, Nacco Rapid Wash L, or Permawash by Heico. The procedure requires a preliminary wash, hypo clear, final wash. The length of time for each depends on whether your prints are on RC or Fiber papers. Follow the instructions given by the manufacturer of the hypo eliminator you are using. Finally dry the prints on screens or in a blotter book. If your prints are on RC paper you can blow dry them. This procedure should extend the life of those prints that are not showing the symptoms you described. Hope this helps. Yours truly,
Dear Robert, The heavy fixer water theory was what I heard forever from fellow photographers. However, I remember that someone finally got smart and asked a scientist about specific gravity of fixer laden water. I can't remember the article but the answer given was,no. Fixer laden water is not heavier that plain water. If you want a better explanation, you might try contacting Photo Techniques magazine. There are several writers there that could probably satisfy your knowledge quest in this matter. Yours truly,
Dear Allan, Something acidic usually works, like a strong acetic acid or vinegar. Some surfaces might be sensitive to such treatment like soft rubber rollers in a roller transport processor. For that you might try Jobo's Processor Clean II. It is citric acid which is a little more gentle. I have found this safe on most materials but it works better when used with a long hot water soak. Give me some feed back on what you try and the results. Yours truly,
Unfortunately neither of those enlargers has been made for quite some time.I don't know any place that still has accessories for them. You could put a posting on the APUG web site. Or keep eye on ebay for a negative carrier. You might eve be able to get a whole duplicate enlarger very inexpensively. Another idea is to have one made. If you have a different size carrier take it to a machine shop. They can use the other carrier as a template and make you one for 2 1/4. Also, the Bogen enlarger carrier is similar to the one for the Holga enlarger. If you are in or near the Freestyle store you could bring your carrier and compare it with the Holga carrier and see if they might be close enough to work for you. Good luck,