The process

It is quite possible to lith print using the traditional three-bath plus wash system (developer, stop bath, fixer and wash) normally used for black and white print processing (see Figure P.3). You only need to make three changes to your normal way of working.

Figure P.4 Print color change resulting from increased exposure and reduced snatch development. Exposure times: starting at the top 20 seconds and increasing one stop at a time until the bottom print, which was exposed for 640 seconds.

Firstly, substitute diluted lith developer (1 part developer to 4 parts water) for your usual black and white developer.

Secondly, you need to alter the way that you determine when a print is developed. Normal black and white processing procedure requires you to transfer the print from the developer to the stop bath at the end of a particular time period. Lith printing requires you to 'snatch' the print from the developer when the shadow areas of the print develop to black. In effect you pull the print from the developer when the print develops its blacks but before the print has fully developed.

Thirdly, you will need to increase your normal print exposure by between 1 and 4 stops, or between 2 and 16 times the original exposure time.

Printing using this method produces images with the characteristic lith printed color and grain structure, but the results can be difficult to control and often hard to repeat. The difficulties occur because the timing of the last 10% of the print's development is critical. Snatching the print too early results in a print that is flat and lacking in rich blacks. Snatching the print too late means that midtones, and sometimes even highlight areas, are developed to black.

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