I must start with results or it will take too long to get there, as it did in my darkroom. Here’s most of what I’ve learned about Ilford/Harman’s new Multigrade Art 300 black and white paper. It is a whole new kind of printing paper, technically inbetween conventional fiber-base and RC papers. It comes up quickly in the developer and the prints wash more quickly than what Ilford now calls “baryta FB,” but not so quickly as RC papers.
Conventional FB processing, although with luck it works, is no way to handle this paper. I had to learn an approach that’s new to me. After development and the stop bath, it works best with quick fixing—just one minute in a strong, non-hardening rapid fixer. The directions that come with the paper specify Ilford
Multigrade Fixer or Hypam diluted 1+4: one part stock fixer plus four parts water. Another way is to fix for just 2 minutes in Multigrade or Hypam fixer diluted 1+9, but when I tried that, thinking it was conservative and safe, it got me into trouble. Except for this paper’s persistent tendency to stain, and to produce bleached areas within the picture in spite of careful handling, I feel I almost have it under control now. About one print in every four or five still shows such defects in my darkroom for no known reason. The paper seems somewhat temperamental. Or it might be any of a multitude of unknown variables.
My guess is that these defects may result from new- product bugs that need to be worked out, as happened around 1970 with early RC papers. Mating a radically new all-cotton art paper base to Multigrade’s triple emulsion (low-contrast, high-contrast and curve-con- trol) might well pose unforeseen problems.