Please read the About section for an explanation of my procedure and list of caveats.
Foma Fomabrom Variant IV 123 was my favorite Bromoil paper for quite some time but as we all know, pretty much everything has an expiration date, and so is the case with this paper. Foma suggested Fomabrom 113 N (Normal grade, velvet, neutral tone) and Fomatone 133 Classic VC FB Warmtone (velvet, warm tone) as replacements for this paper. I was not able to obtain the former, but did purchase a pack of the latter from Freestyle Photographic Supplies.
The paper bleached quickly and completely.
Following the first soak the paper inked without much trouble. The expected lack of contrast led to a second soak. Inking the second time removed all of the ink as soon as my brush hit the paper, with the exception of the deepest shadow areas. I worked with a soft brush in an attempt to bring back the midtones and highlights to no avail until the paper had nearly dried out the second time, after which the paper again started to take the ink. I worked with a harder brush to try to clear some of the shadow areas with not the success I would have liked. Actually, the result was awful.
For a second print I figured that I would not rely upon a second soak, as this had led to an inability to obtain the contrast I wanted, and decided to soak the print at 80F (27C) to swell the emulsion to a greater extent. Working in this manner offers no safety net and while I did obtain a print, the inability to give it a second soak led to having to accept what had been completed without correction. As can be seen, the results were again equally awful.
My expectation at this point was that this paper was not going to work for me. I decided to give things one more try but this time switch ink. My thoughts were that if the ink was removed following the second soak then I would try a thin ink, which in my experience has annoyingly clung to the paper following the second soak to the extent that I have been unable to clear the highlights. My hopes were that these two issues would offset one another.
I decided to use Senefelder 1796 ink, which is not nearly as stiff as the 1803 version. I also again soaked the paper at 80F (27C). As this ink is not as stiff it is very easy to use too much ink, so my application was minimal – actually, it was more like a test to see how little ink could be applied. This appeared to work quite well. The initial inking exhibited the expected low contrast and blocking of the highlights. I resoaked the paper and used a sponge to clear the print while the print was still soaking. The highlights went away, the midtones cleared, and the shadows stayed. Actually, I had to work the sponge into the shadow areas to get to the detail that had been blocked out.
Reinking the paper allowed me to give some detail to the highlights and further clear and give contrast to the midtones. I had to resoak and reink the paper several times but the results were images that worked for me. The examples here are not completed prints, but examples of my work to this point. To really get what I need from this paper the next step will be to decide exactly what contrast offset should be used.
The advantage of using less stiff ink is that it opens the possibilities for mixing other colors, so I experimented with adding some Senefelder Raw Sienna 1923 into the black ink with acceptable results.
The scans on these two prints appear pink but the actual color is more brown.
The paper is acceptable for Bromoil, though it appears to need a less stiff ink than many Bromoilists might have on hand. The paper is readily available from Freestyle in three popular sizes.
The paper is multigrade, so pretty much any negative that can be printed can be handled by this paper.
This paper has a dual use as a warm tone paper (when toned with selenium).
For one giving this paper a try, using Senefelder 1803 will almost certainly offer disappointing results . For me, the less stiff ink results in less flexibility than the very stiff ink during the inking stage. This can be compensated by adjusting the exposure/contrast of the print and perhaps increasing the temperature of the soak.
Although I was sad to see the production of Variant IV 123 paper come to an end, this is an interesting paper and one that fits a slot in the paper that is available. With the proper ink this can be a very nice option.