View Full Version : Need some Pyro advice

Tim k
26-Jun-2014, 08:13
A couple of months ago I decided to make the switch to FP4 in Pyrocat HD. Prior to leaving for the summer I did a quick test shot in the back yard. I did 2+2+196 in an inversion tube, (a little like the BTZS tubes but more like a taco in a tube), minimal agitation, first minute continuous gentle inversions, then 5 seconds every three minutes, for 15 minutes, 70 degrees. The test shot was perfect, seemed a little too simple.

Fast forward to now. I shoot a 4 stop waterfall scene. Ambient was f22 @ 30th sec. Shadows f11, and the water f45. I shoot the shot at f22 @ 30th at 100 iso. 100 was just a guess as well. Develop the same as at home. The negative comes out extremely thin. Almost no density in the shadows, and even the water is thin, but printable.

Obviously I need more exposure or more development.

But the question for you Pyro guys, am I way off with my 15 minutes? I was unable to find much data relating to tank inversion developing. 15 minutes was just a guess for a starting point.

I have not done film speed tests.

Thanks for your time.

26-Jun-2014, 08:58
Tim, it seems like a 5 zone scene as described, but no matter, if shadows were placed correctly, as seems the case, FP4+, which I also shoot at 100, should have been exposed adequately, at least in regards to the shadows. I have experienced the same thin but barely printable behavior with pyrocat HD and Acros 100, and so ended my trifles with the developer. I am likewise interested to see more informative replies.

Ken Lee
26-Jun-2014, 09:36
Only one negative doesn't make for a recognizable pattern, but...

Perhaps the negative was inadvertently underexposed. Mistakes happen occasionally, even to careful shooters.

Perhaps the developer was not mixed or diluted properly, or got oxidized or contaminated.

Perhaps the developer has reached the end of its shelf-life. How old is the concentrate ? Is it the version prepared in water, or in Glycol ? The Glycol version has very long shelf-life, while the shelf-life of the water-based version is more... finite.

26-Jun-2014, 09:50
I had a similar experience back in April. I had an opened bottle of Pyrocat-HD that I had not used for 3+ months. I forgot to shake solution B before I developed my first few negatives. All came out thin. I realized this and my next batch (being the backups to the first 4) came out as expected. Glad I had the backups.

Peter Gomena
26-Jun-2014, 09:53
It seems to me that you were extremely lucky in your first test.

No film speed test, guessing at exposure and development time, using the developer at twice the normal dilution.

Waterfalls and surrounding wet rocks in my experience tend to be high-contrast subjects even in flat lighting conditions. It sounds to me that you underexposed your film.

I'm curious as to your statement that you had a 4-stop scene. The difference between your highlight reading and your ambient reading is four stops. That indicates a 9-stop subject brightness range if you were using an incident meter. You exposed halfway between the highlight and the ambient, which would underexpose your shadows significantly.

This all takes practice, and not much of it is guesswork unless you are very, very lucky.

26-Jun-2014, 10:04
Find some proven development scheme that works normal and well like 1:1:100, 1st minute, then 5 sec/minute for 10-11 minutes, then adapt from there.

Richard Wasserman
26-Jun-2014, 11:28
FP-4/Pyrocat is a wonderful combination. I develop FP-4 @ EI 100, in Pyrocat 1:1:100 for 15 minutes @72 agitating every minute for an average scene, which seems to be a bit on the high side of what most people do, so you really do need to test for yourself. It sounds as if you underexposed to me.

Tim k
27-Jun-2014, 13:05
Thanks everybody for your quick replies. My email notification must have been set wrong, and I was thinking nobody cared. So I was just plodding along without you. I did make a third exposure at the waterfall, and I developed it today. And it came out more to my expectations.

ROL, I get confused on the number of stops, I tend to count them like inches, 5 fingers 4 inches between them.

Ken, It seemed like such a simple exposure, and I took notes, thats why I was baffled. The developer was from Photo Formulary, about 3 months old, in Glycol. I was however convincing myself it was bad. I've been reading everything I could find, and it seems that there is some color shift when mixing A and B together, and I was getting zero color.

Gevalia, I did shake the A and B bottles this time, might be something to that.

Peter, I have done a lot of testing in the past, and honestly I don't think it did me much good. This time around I decided just to shoot a scene, evaluate and adjust, and move on. Fine tuning by the seat of my pants. Not sure we're on the same page on the meter readings. Ambient was f22, with a spot meter the shadows were f11, and the highlights were f45. I would call that 4 stops, perhaps 5. Average of the spot was f22. I did second guess myself as to the number of stops after I got home, it seemed a little too narrow. The day was quite overcast, the rocks dark, and there wasn't a lot of water, so some of the rocks could be seen threw the water.

jp498, that would be what a sensible approach. But I really like the pace of semi stand, and decided to start out there.

Richard, the negative that I developed today was for 20 minutes, with about 5 seconds at 6.5 minutes and 13 minutes. I got the info, off my massive development app, it was my best result so far.

As I am typing this, I looked over at my thermometer, much to my surprise its 155.6 in the living room. :-) Oh, crap.

So, in summary, I think I convinced myself that my developer is ok. Pretty much everything else is suspect. But, at least I got something to stick to one negative. Got to shoot some more, and see if a trend develops.

Thanks again for all the input, I really appreciate it.