View Full Version : Questions for Steve Sherman and Sandy King

Robert McClure
5-May-2005, 20:17
I thought it would be better to publicly ask my questions in this forum so that others could participate in addition to Steve Sherman and possibly Sandy King (whose research and test results Steve Sherman heavily relied upon in his recent article).

The combination of stand development (and using Pyrocat HD) followed by printing on Azo (as presented in Steve's recent VCM article, "Controlling a Negative's Genetic Make-up") truly captured my imagination. As a relative newcomer I have a few questions. Thanks in advance, guys.

What, exactly, are adjacency effects? Relation to micro contrast? Why do "...the combination of diluted developer, extended time in developer and reduced agitation" cause adjacency effects?

Steve Sherman cites Sandy King's comment that the stand/dilute developer/extended time/reduced agitation technique was "fraught with dangers." What, exactly, are the dangers (beyond spending one's entire life in the darkroom)?

I don't care that I'm biting off more than I can chew. I just want a print that I can really be proud of. I've made a bunch that were underwhelming. Yes, I know I don't have to go through all this stuff to get a good print. (After all, Adams did it.)

It's just that Steve's article truly captured my imagination.


John Berry ( Roadkill )
6-May-2005, 00:07
I tried the stand development. Haven't got it dialed in yet but it looks like it could be a good thing. The only negative result I had was where neg was up against the frame of my carr hanger it did have a loss of density. If I know I'm going to stand develop, I'll compose for that possible need to crop the edge.

Gem Singer
6-May-2005, 03:06
Hi Robert,

It would help you to understand about adjacency effects (edge effects) and stand development if you would read "The Film Developing Cookbook", by Steven Anchell and Bill Troop. I think Sandy King got a lot of his inspiration for formulating Pyrocat HD developer from the information contained in that book.

I have recently begun to use the combination Formulary Pyrocat HD and 8X10 Bergger BPF200 film, developed in J&C tubes. I have been contact printing the negatives on Ilford Multigrade Warmtone fiber based paper, using the light from my Zone VI variable contrast enlarger head. So far, the results look outstanding.

Robert McClure
6-May-2005, 05:25
Thanks very much, Eugene and John. This is helpful. I will get hold of "Cookbook" and educate myself more. Have not been able to locate Sandy King's article related to Stand/Semi-stand via google. Can someone point me to it?


N Dhananjay
6-May-2005, 05:27
Adjacency effects refer to changes at the edges where a band of low density meets a band of high density. It is similar to the sharpening that is done digitally, although it utilizes physical and chemical means. Assume you have a picture with a band of light meeting a band of dark. When you are developing this negative, if you have adjacency effects, they will exaggerate the edge where these two bands meet. The reason for this is the local exhaustion and migration of developer and by-products. Obviously, in the light area (compared to the dark area) where more silver halide is being reduced to silver (remember on the negative, the greater the density the lighter the area on the print), more developer is being used up and more developer by-products are being released. On one side of the junction, you thus have more developer and less by-products than on the other side of the junction. This results in the migration of the developer and by-products across the junction. Since some developer moves from the dark area just to the side of the junction to the light area, this developer will slightly increase the density in the light area just besides the junction (i.e., make it lighter). Similarly, the by-products (which are typically bromide and thus act as a restrainer) will move from the light area to the side of the junction across the junction and slightly reduce the density in the dark area just besides the junction (i.e., make it darker). Notice what has happened. Objectively, you have two bands, each having a uniform density. On the negative, each band no longer has a uniform density but at the edge where they meet, there is an adjacency effect - the edge of the dark band is darker and the edge of the light band is lighter. In other words, there is increased contrast at the edge. The human eye tends to interpret local contrast with sharpness and so the edge 'appears' sharper.

You will notice that the mechanism discussed above sounds like uneven development - remember, objectively, there is no enhanced contrast in that scene. The difference is this is a form of controlled unevenness i.e., an unevenness related to the image which makes the image look sharper. This is the source of the dangers associated with stand development. In order to get adjacency effects, you have to reduce agitation. The mechanism depends upon local exhaustion of developer and release of by-products and the task of aggressive agitation is to reduce such local exhaustions and keep a constant and even supplyof fresh developer across the entire film surface. Thus the trade-off. As you reduce agitation, you get increased adjacency effects at the risk of greater uneven development.

A few other points are worth noting. Some developing agents are particularly well-suited for edge effects. For example, most tanning developers are already very sharp developers for multiple reasons - they are surface developers, thus reducing the effects of irradiation, the tanning and hardening prevents migration, but the tanning also introduces fairly pronounced edge effects. Pyrocat HD uses catechol, which is a tanning developer and does produce very sharp results. Remember you need contrast in the inital image for adjacency effects. Subjects that work best tend to be subjects with lots of fine detail with good variations in brightness. This is also good because some slight uneven development is less likely to be noticed in such pictures where there is a high degree of abrupt changes in density. A picture with large bands of even densities (e.g., a large area of sky) will not benefit much from adjacency effects (since so little of the picture visually relies upon edge contrat) and any uneven development will be very easy to notice in the large even bands.

Cheers, DJ

Gem Singer
6-May-2005, 06:20

The articles you are seeking are located at www.unblinkingeye.com . Click on "articles". Scroll down. There are two articles by Sandy King about Pyrocat HD, and one of them describes stand development.

Jim Rhoades
6-May-2005, 07:16
A bit of an add on question to the stand devevopment. Has anyone tried this with hangers in 3 1/2 gal. tanks? Or 1 gal. tanks for 5x7. It seems to me that with the ultra long times and little agitation that surge marks from the hanger's would be a moot point.

Why is it just tubes?

Gem Singer
6-May-2005, 08:56

From what I have surmised, Pyrocat HD oxidizes quickly. Using tubes for sheet film, similar to using a tank for roll film processing, allows it to be used as a one-shot developer without the need to use the large amount of chemistry that would be required for a dip-and-dunk tank line.

I have been using Formulary Pyrocat HD developer with 4X5 Bergger BPF200 film in my little one liter dip-and-dunk set up. So far, I have only used slow, deliberate intermittent agitation, but not stand development. Perhaps I'll try stand development with the next batch of 4X5 negatives I process. I really like the look of a print from a negative that has extreme accutance and adjacency effects.

Jim Rhoades
6-May-2005, 10:25
I understand the problem of oxidizing with a large open tank. The way I understand the stand method is with a tube is using a near full tube. I use BTZS tubes w/ 2oz. in 4x5 and 8oz. in 8x10. A near full tube for a 8x10 would seem to be an equal or greater amount of chemistry to the eight 8x10 holders in a 2 gal. tank or up to 18 holders in a 31/2 gal. tank. A bit of Saran Wrap on top of the tank would hold down the oxidizing.

Do I need to go back and re-read the artical? (I will anyway) Have I goofed up how much chemistry is used in a stand tube?

6-May-2005, 10:25

I don't have an article on stand development. I just happened to have used it with Pyrocat-HD, noticed that it worked very well, and mentioned the fact in my article on pyro developers at Ed Buffaloe's unblinkingeye.com site mentioned earlier.

DJ has already answered the question about edge effects as well as it can be answered. Suffice it to say that the results vary a lot, not only by developer but also by dilution.

As for technique, there was considerable discussion of the issue of stand and semi-stand development about this time last year on Michael Smith and Paula Chamlee's AZO Forum, in the area on thread development. Both Steve Sherman and I contributed to the discussion, as did quite a number of other persons. In general what we found was that stand and semi-stand development does not work particularly well in trays or hangers but that the procedure does work fairly well in tubes. You just fill the tubes up and develop with them standing on end.

I use a modified form of semi-stand development that I call extreme minimal agitation. I divide the total time of development into four equal periods, agitate for 1.5 minutes at the beginning and four ten seconds at the beginning of the second, third and four periods. I find that this method gives very pronounced adjacency effects without some of the risks of uneven development often seen with stand development.

6-May-2005, 12:23
I read the thread on Michael A. Smith's site as it was developing last year and tried what Sandy now calls extreme minimal agitation as well as minimal agitation (agitate 1.5 minutes at the beginning then for 10-seconds every three minutes). I developed Efke PL-100 in tubes with Pyrocat HD at both the 1:1:150 dulution and 5:3:300.

I found the benefits that have been described, but I found two problems, also. First, if I had any significant amount of sky in the photos, I got very mottled development in the sky portions. Second, sometimes I would get greatly increased density along the edges of the negatives. This was more noticeable on 8x10 than on 4x5 for 2-1/4 x 3-1/4.

For the time being, I've returned to brush development until I've had more time to think about, and perhaps read about these problems.

6-May-2005, 13:21
"I found the benefits that have been described, but I found two problems, also. First, if I had any significant amount of sky in the photos, I got very mottled development in the sky portions. Second, sometimes I would get greatly increased density along the edges of the negatives. This was more noticeable on 8x10 than on 4x5 for 2-1/4 x 3-1/4."

I can understand the mottling in the sky areas, which is one of the main reasons I avoid this form of development whenever there is a lot of sky in the scene.

The greatly increased density along the edges of the negatives, however, is something I have not experienced. Could you explain how you were developing the film, and what kind of container you used.

Andrew O'Neill
6-May-2005, 13:30
I occasionally use stand development in tubes 4x5 and 8x10. I have found that subjects of normal to low contrast work better than high contrast (for me anyways). The dangers can be horrific mottling and streaking, which has happened a lot to me especially for stand with no agitation (only at beginning for a minute). If I do intermittant agitation (5 secs every 20 min, and removing the film and replacing inverted) helps eliminate this...but not always! Trays never worked but with intermittant agitation (5 secs every 10 min) it was good. It is important to make extra exposures just in case. When stand development works, it's fantastic.

6-May-2005, 15:20
The method I have been using is pyrocat hd in tubes, plastic pipe, with slow continuous agitation. After reading the article in VC I went to Michael & Paula's site and read the thread mentioned above. Earlier in the week I photographed a grain bin and took two shots inside. I decided to try the stand method with one of the negs. using my tube. I filled it up and put the cap on which ended up leaving some air space at the top. I slowly turned the tube over end to end for 1 1/2 minutes then let it stand for the remaining first quarter, following Sandy's method of agitation at the beginning of each quarter hour. Though I turned end for end for 15 seconds instead of ten. After an hour I stopped and fixed. There was a definite difference between the shot developed normally (continuous agitation) and the stand method. I have no way to measure the density (I have a densitometer but I don't think it will work for stained negs.) or to print them yet. If anyone is interested in seeing them I could send them out.

There is a note of caution here, when putting the film in the tube I left it towards the top open end and when I left the tube stand to develop I always left it with that end facing down to insure the developer would cover the film. There will be some developer loss when the cap is screwed on with air pushing on it. I suppose a small pin hole would releave this pressure but then you would have to seal this for the duration of development.

Thank you Andrew for your help with getting me started with times for developing Efke 25.

Robert McClure
7-May-2005, 06:08
I, for one, would like to see the photos. Many thanks!!

Robert McClure
9-May-2005, 06:43
Many thanks, guys!!

Once again, I really appreciate each and every response. I have been studying/reading/asking questions about all this while simultaneously re-setting up darkroom and preparing my camera, etc.

Best Regards,