View Full Version : Pyro Tray Developing and Even Skies
What do you do to help maximize the evenness of sky areas when tray developing sheet film in PMK? Is this as much of a concern in Pyrocat HD? In HC110? Thanks!! :)
I can only speak to Pyrocat HD, which when I tray develop, I use a Slosher type insert, and get very even development. I don't know why PMK would be any different.
For 4x5, I develop in a combiplan in normal light.
I'm not really a evangelist or expert for tray developing, though I do it in 8x10 with PMK or Xtol 1+1 or Xtol 1+2.
Doremus Scudder has provided the most useful advice on tray developing here before.
For tray use, I've seen edges get a little extra developed when developing many sheets at a time. If I do 1-2 sheets no problems, but if I do 5-6 I see some edge overdevelopment. I think in my case, it's because I'm sorting through a lot more film and causing more agitation bouncing off the edges of the tray. With a sheet or two, the developer stays more still and you don't get the wave action going. I do 8x10 in an 9x11 tray meant for 8x10 paper. I could do a bigger tray or develop fewer sheets at a time. That's what my options are. I've seen the symptoms to a much lesser extent with xtol. I don't shoot 8x10 in quantity, so I'll just do two sheets at once till I test advice sometime on unimportant negatives.
I've also seen edge uneveness from scanning. My Epson scanner is near a window and I think sometimes ambient light beams in sideways. I should build a dust cover for it that is also lightproof.
Why would this be a problem? I've never had a PMK issue in trays. My procedure:
slightly oversize stainless dimple-bottomed trays, so the film will fit either horizontal or
vertical per my position at the sink. Each 30-sec shuffle (emulsion up), I rotate the
stack all at the same time 90 degress, so each of the four sides of film takes a turn
being lifted in rotation. Have adequate solution volume. I bring the water to correct
temp, then add Dev A&B just before use.
IMHO there is no mystery with any developer or developing technique when it comes to even skies. It all comes down to timely and consistent agitation. If one is using a pyro developer in trays the general standard is to process fewer numbers of sheets per run and using a lower dilution strength that insures a process time in the 8-14 + minute range. Where I would normally process six sheets of a format in a tray I could drop down to three sheets per run particularly where the skies may have large sections of no clouds where any unevenness stands out like a sore thumb.
I use Pyrocat, ABC pyro, rodinal, Harveys 777 and occasionally Xtol. Never took to Wemberleys W2D2 or PMK.
I had trouble with skies when I used those metal sheet film holders that you use to dip and dunk in tanks.
When I switched to tray development more than 30 years ago, surge and uneven skies went away.
I use Pyrex bread pans for 4x5 film. They're sized, width-wise, just right to keep a stack of five or so off the bottom, making it easy to shuffle through from bottom to top.
I have not had a problem with skies on 8x10 in trays with regular agitation in WD2D+ and pyrocat-HD. The only time I have had a problem is when I tried to do stand development in a 4x5 tank with pyrocat-hd.
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