I received some test samples from Carol over at Hahnemuhle and here is my first try. When I share about my experiences of products I used and my process, I like to not only show images that worked well but also ones where I had failures. I find that people can learn more from my mistakes than images that were successful.
I usually use Fabrino Artistic Natural White. I like Fabrino because it is easy to coat. It’s almost idiot proof because it soaks everything up very well, but that can also be a problem. Because it soaks so fast, you have to coat it very fast. The other problem is that it takes so much more solution to coat it. The color of the paper can also be an issue. I find the Natural White is a little too warm and the Extra White is almost blinding and too bright. The new Hahnemuhle is a perfect balance between the two.
When coating, there is nothing more frustrating when you don’t coat fast enough to cover the area and you have to toss the paper with all the chemicals in it. That’s why with Fabrino; I use a higher drop count than usual. The new Hahnemuhle paper uses significantly less solution and takes more time to soak in allowing you to easily cover the surface. Since it does take longer to soak in, I found myself over brushing the paper and it showed on some of my first tests to determine the maximum black. I got lazy with coating Fabrino and I guess it’s time to improve my coating skills.
Fabrino paper sometimes can be very forgiving of all my mistakes, where as I find with Hahnemuhle it is less forgiving. After I coat my paper, I wait for the paper to dry to an even matte color, and then I hang it in front of a fan. The drying time for Fabrino is 2 minutes drying on the table after coating and 2 minutes in front of a fan. For the Hahnemuhle, I waited 4 minutes on the table and 3 minutes with a fan and the negative still stuck to the paper. After that, I dried the Hahnemuhle paper a couple minutes longer and had no problems.
When it came to developing, with my first print I did not pour the developer on properly and got waves (UPDATE: this had nothing to do with the developer, it was sticking to the negative) in the Hahnemuhle so that’s another area where I need to improve my skills and got lazy with Fabrino. When I clear my images, I use a Citric Acid bath and two EDTA and Sodium Sulfite baths and found that there was a slight fogging in the whites (UPDATE: I now use eual amounts of citric acid, edta and sodium sulfite in three bathes for 5 minutes each. The fogging was actually due to old Ferric Oxalate. With fresh FO is clears extrememly well). This may just need to be cleared differently or might be more sensitive to external lights
When I make my digital negatives, I use they method taught to me by Carl Weese. I use the Color Density in the Advance Black and White with Epson to control the highlights. With Fabrino I regularly printed at the max +50, but I think with the Hahnemuhle I need to take it down to maybe +40. The image above has a little more contrast than the actual print. When developing, the image looked very grainy when I first poured the developer on it, but that goes away as it develops.
As for printing times, I use a UV LED light box I made myself. The printing time for Fabrino and Hahnemuhle was exactly the same for me. I found the blacks to be slightly less then the Fabrino but only really noticeable side by side. The Hahnemuhle is also more neutral in color. (UPDATE: For a warmer color use Potassium Oxalate 180g, Potassium phosphate monobasic 60g, Distilled water 1000cc, the higher the temperature, the warmer it will be. I am usually at around 100 to 120 degrees.) I am printing with Ferric Oxalate and Palladium only for these images. I like to get it as close to perfect with just those two before adding any contrast agent. Often times I do not use any NA2. The other major difference between the two for me was the sharpness of the image. The Fabrino has more texture and a little more soft. The Hahnemuhle to me was much sharper and crisper.
In the end, with more time and paper to perfect the process, I see myself using the Hahnemuhle only unless I want a very warm image then I would use the Fabrino. Thanks again to Carol for the samples. I am looking forward to getting the paper.