Love of Lith

So, after a long period of not getting in the darkroom, I managed to get a session of lith printing a few days ago. It took longer than I thought for to get my eye back in, but I’m happy with a few of the prints.

I tried something a little different during this session, by using a higher concentration of developer, 40+40+1000 : A + B + Water, as compared to my usual 20+20+1000. I also used 200ml of old brown too (old, exhausted and oxidised developer) as compared to 20-40ml I’ve used in the past. I’ve found the addition of that much old brown gives colourful prints, earlier in the development cycle.

I’ve also enjoyed the shorted development times associated with this higher concentration developer, 6-8 minutes, as compared to 8-12+.

It’s a strange thing, waiting for a lith print to develop. I put on some music and sort of zone out, the process of waiting being almost trance like. Then as soon as the print is in the stop bath, and then the fixer, I become incredibly impatient. Minutes feel like hours. Eventually the time passes and I move the print to the water bath and turn on the lights.

Something I truly love about lith printing is the unpredictability of the process, something I’ve most likely mentioned before. Each time I make a print, I have a rough idea of what I’m after, but am quite often surprised!

Anyway, here are a few of the prints from this session.

Shot with a Nikon f100, Lensbaby Composer and the Edge 35 Optic on Ilford Delta 400 @ 400. Developed in Ilford DD-X 1+4 for 6 minutes @ 23 C. Border added in GIMP. Please excuse scan quality.

A Little Bit Of Lith

A lith print of trees. Taken at Lake Community Gardens, Isle Of Wight
Trees at Lake Community Gardens, Isle Of Wight – A Lith Print.

So now I’ve splashed some paint on the blank canvas of this blog, let’s jump right in. Lith Printing. What is it? Well it’s a wet darkroom process that’s best described in this article by Tim Rudman. The short of it is, it’s an infectious development process, where blacks get blacker quicker, the blacker they are. This is, however, a gross simplification, but it will do. If you’re interested in lith printing, Tim Rudman’s books (“The Master Photographer’s Lith Printing Course” and “The World of Lith Printing”) are the best place to start.

A lith print of a woman walking down a pavement with buildings either side.
The Mall – A Lith Print

I don’t remember when I first heard about lith printing, but what I do know, is that I was seduced by it. The deep blacks. The subtle highlights. The tones of the print. I liked the uniqueness of the individual images. No two lith prints are the same (though if you’re fastidious, you can make very similar ones). The same negative, printed several times and developed in the same batch of developer will turn out differently. There are so many variables that it can be an unwieldy beast to work with.

A lith print of some buildings
Union Street, Ryde – A Lith Print (taken with a lensbaby)

Then there are the developing times. Working at high dilutions of developer can lead to printing times in excess of 15 minutes, especially as the developer becomes more exhausted and oxidises. But as I said, it’s worth it! Suffice it to say, there will be plenty of lith prints on this blog.