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Thread: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

  1. #21
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    Bob, I would be interested in hearing your comments.

    Below are a few photos from my recent flurry of film development activity. All were developed using Barry Thornton's 2 bath developer in Jobo Expert Drums on a Beseler roller base. The first photo is a 5x7 on Arista.edu Ultra 200. The second is from 4x5 HP5+. The third is a part of a whole plate negative made on HP5+ (The scanning area on my scanner is not big enough to scan the whole negative). Without film holders for the larger sizes, I just lay them on the glass emulsion side down and flip them in Photoshop.

    I regularly develop some combination of HP5+, FP4+, Delta 100, or Arista.Edu Ultra 200 together in the same drum. I print in the traditional darkroom, but I do quick scans to view on screen so I can decide which negs to print (sort of a digital proof sheet). These have had minimal processing in Photoshop so I feel comfortable putting them up for public view. In my experience, these negs will print well on grade 2 or grade 3.

    Sandy King recommends using Divided D23 diluted 1:1 for four minutes in each bath when used for rotary processing. My experience using Thornton's similar two bath formula supports this recommendation. Thornton recommended 5 minutes in each bath when processing sheet film using intermittent agitation. I found that the rotary processed negatives are too contrasty if the A and B baths are used full strength. This indicates that constant agitation has an impact on two bath developers, and that assertions to the contrary based on the idea that development stops once the developer absorbed into the emulsion during the A bath is exhausted are just plain wrong. Perhaps the constant agitation in the B bath causes some of the developer absorbed into the emulsion to go back into solution and work on the highlights.

    Based on my experience using Thornton's two bath for years, tray development with intermittent agitation using the two baths at full strength for five minutes in each bath resulted in a noticeably less contrasty negative than one processed at full strength for the same times with constant agitation. The constant agitation makes it easier to blow out the highlights, so I have to be more aware of the scene's contrast using the 2 bath with constant agitation than when I was tray processing the negatives.

    I wondered whether the increased contrast was due to development in the A bath. However, I don't think much development takes place in the A bath, even with constant agitation, since I mix Thornton's formula with 40g/L of sodium sulfite in bath A and 40g/L in bath B (sort of like Vestal's DD76). Diluting this 1:1 leaves only 20g/L of sodium sulfite and nothing else to act as an accelerator. Maybe one of these days I will run a few sheets through the A bath only and see if any development occurs, and if so, how much.

    Thornton suggested that you could use a different B bath in N+1 or N-1 situations. I have not tried the N+1 with the rotary processor, but have tried the N-1 formula. A few of my 4x5 negatives from a recent trip came out with blown highlights when processed normally. I mixed up some B bath with 7g/L of Sodium Metaborate instead of the standard 12g/L used for N processing. I diluted this and the A bath 1:1 and processed the backup negatives for four minutes in each bath The results were very good. There was much more detail in the highlights and I think the negatives will print well. (The third photo was processed this way.)

    I also found that the diluted baths are reusable for at least one day. I have run 30 4x5 sheets using the same baths with no problem, and discarded the diluted solutions at the end of the day.

    Photos (c) 2009 David C. Karp

  2. #22

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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    An article on Unblinking Eye, entitled Divided D-23 Developer, lists different development times in solutions A and B, according to N+1, N-1, etc.

    Isn't that approach inconsistent with the notion that one basic pair of development times is suitable for a wide range of negatives ?

    Am I overlooking something ?

  3. #23
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    The thing about Divided D23 that differentiates it from some of the other divided developers is that the first bath is the same D-23 that you could use to develop your negatives in a 1 bath developer. The Sodium Sulfite in D23 serves as both preservative and accelerator, so development clearly takes place in the A bath when using DD23.

    This is different than a "true" divided developer such as Diafine, in which little or no development takes place in the A bath.

    The version of Thornton's developer that I use splits the sodium sulfite between the two baths, so there is only 40g/L in the A bath. There should be very little development at that level. When tray processing using this formula, I found that I could combine films of extremely broad range of negatives in the same slosher and have very nice negatives across the board. Now that I have been rotary processing, things are a bit different. Scenes that I would have trusted to process normally in the tray are now blowing out. This is true even when the solutions are diluted 1:1 so that the concentration of sodium sulfite in the A bath goes to only 20g/L. That is why I tried the N-1 concentration of the B bath as described in my prior post. It works fine.

    There are still advantages to the 2 bath for me, even when rotary processing. It still seems that time is still not as critical as with a one bath. I was using X-Tol 1:3 before going to the 2 bath, and total time in the developer is shorter than with X-Tol. I think that there is still some compensation with the 2 bath, but not as much as when tray processing. Plus, I can still develop different films in the same drum for the same amounts of time and have good negatives for each.

  4. #24
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    I should have added this to the prior post.

    I believe the fact that DD23 is a fully formed developer when used as part A of a 2 bath accounts for Joe Lipka's recommendation of different times for N-1, etc.

    I have also used Diafine with roll film in tanks and 4x5 in trays, and found that you can develop different films exposed in different lighting conditions, all for the same time, and have fine negatives in each case. I have not tried it in a rotary processor.

    At some point I too intend to try Pyrocat MC as a compensating developer. I am interested to see how the stain impacts the prints, and if there will be a need for a weaker B bath in N- situations when using it.

  5. #25

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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    Let me organize my thoughts for you.

    First, in spite of many favorable comments about continuous agitation, I have formed a different mindset. My first attempts were with a motor base for the Kinderman tank and my results were not the equal of what I was getting with intermittent agitation. This was in the 70's so it's a long held attitude (I certainly would never claim to be a fact)

    I experimented with a number of compensating approaches trying to control the harsh lighting of the SW desert where I lived at the time. Two bath, water bath, ultra-dilute, tried them all.

    I pretty much settled for the Adams formula. The two bath fit all the requirements. Cheap, mix it yourself for pennies, effective with long scale (high DR) subjects. For normal shots I used HC-110 (B).

    I went digital for 5 or 6 years before coming back to large format. By then the darkroom was long gone or in storage. I was in a different house w/o a proper place to easily set one up. So I then went hybrid, wet film developing/digital printing.

    So I began working to optimize film development for scanning.

    First the scanner has an impact, what I did for my consumer scanner was very different as to what I do for my current cezanne. Secondly, I am somewhat well trained in Adobe Suite as my primarily source of income (when my clients pay me) is in 3D and video.

    I tried stand development, high (ultra) dilution and other approaches. The attempt was to limit DR while getting good detail in the shadows.

    Sandy King wrote an article in View camera that flooded back old practices. I tried it and found it worked well. I played with time, his timing worked very well. I worked with agitation, and found minimal agitation enhanced edge effect. I reduced sulfite for two reasons - one is that sulfite can cause fine grain because it dissolves the grain (at expense of sharpness) and secondly activates the metol in part A(pH issue).

    Since I was targeting a scanner and not wet process, I wanted a capping process that self limited the density of the developed negative. Tapering shoulder with a decent straight line in the mids.

    Adams agitated too much from my reading and understanding of his process. My belief was bath A should begin bringing up the density across the board shadows to highlights. I use a fairy normal agitation, 30 second, then one agitation cycle every minute. Since the sulfite in A will activate the metol, we get partial development. At 4 minutes we are well short of development to completion.

    Bath B where I seen suggestions of continuous agitation to no agitation, was where I spent time experimenting. I found initial agitation of 15-20 seconds was enough to move the process forward w/o staining/streaking. After that, I wanted minimal so the chemistry moves to exhaustion on the highlights, but progresses on in the shadows. I do one intermediary agitation at the midpoint of time for B (ie at 2 minutes). While no agitation is in theory best, I think it doesn't hurt and evens out any streaking or lack of agitation issues.

    I use a covey of combiplan tanks in a dip and dunk fashion. There is an article on the main page of this site on the general technique. I use 4 tanks. Though realistically only 2 are needed for part A and B, I also do no more than 12 sheets per liter of solution. Maybe more could be done, but since I'm mixing the chemistry myself its nothing cost wise.

    The key to how it works for me is

    I have soft but long scale negatives

    I can mix many films in a batch. IE I have processed FP4 and Delta together in the same tank. Working on T-Max now.

    My scanner is very capable

    I use photoshop on a daily basis and have good control of what it can and can not do.


    hope this helps,

    bob

  6. #26

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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    David, what is the purpose of the sulfite in Part B?

    Kodalk doesn't need a preservative, I don't believe.

    I know folks who use a salt to help the gelatin but I haven't found that to be so. May be a water issue. I suppose.

    bob

  7. #27
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    Thanks Bob.

    The Thornton formula is very similar to yours. His formulation was: Bath A - 6.5g metol, 80g sodium sulfite. Bath B - 12g sodium metaborate. All brought up to 1L. So, a bit less metol, a bit more sodium sulfite and sodium metaborate.

    I decided to try splitting the sodium sulfite after reading that Vestal did this in his DD76. Anchell and Troop mention that they felt that this was the best approach for DD76 without explaining why. I thought about it for a while, and guessed that the reason might be to have less development in the A bath, and to goose up the development in the B bath by adding the extra sulfite to the developer absorbed into the emulsion. Alternatively, perhaps it was a gelatin issue for them. I am not a chemist and I don't play one on TV (), so I just winged it. I don't know if it works for any of these purposes, or what is really happening. The negatives look good so I just kept doing it after my initial experiments.

    The long scale negatives that work so well for scanning also work very well for darkroom printing. Most negatives print very well on grade 2 or grade 3 paper.

    It is interesting that you also found different results between intermittent and continuous agitation using 2 baths. It makes you wonder about Anchell's and Troop's assertion that rotary processing is ideal for 2 baths. It does work, and based on my experience recently, it does work pretty well. However, I agree with you that it works even better with intermittent agitation.

  8. #28
    Jim Graves Jim Graves's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    Thornton does briefly discuss lowering the Sodium Sulphite (his spelling) in Bath A, but for the specific purpose of increased definition and without adding the remainder to Bath B: "If you want to opt for really high definition at the expense of grain, you can cut down the sodium sulphite in Bath A to as little as 35 grams, but you will need to change to about 12g of sodium carbonate [presumably from sodium metaborate] in Bath B." [Edge of Darkness, p. 95.]

  9. #29
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    Hi Jim,

    I do recall that discussion in Edge of Darkness. That formula would give results similar to the Beutler high acutance formula, which is not what I was after, or what I am getting.

    There are some photos I have in mind that would really benefit from that sort of developer, but for most of what I do I think it would be too much.

    Have you tried it?

  10. #30
    Jim Graves Jim Graves's Avatar
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    Re: Anybody using Pyrocat-HD or MC as a Compensating Developer?

    I haven't tried his 2-Bath formula. I have used his DiXactol for compensation development as a 2-bath and as a 1-bath when I want to develop more than one type of film and like the results.

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