View Full Version : Large Print Dev. Dilution - Again.

John Layton
7-Mar-2018, 17:00
Gotta cut to the chase here with trying to develop 30x40's in 2 gallons of solution. I need more time...which implies greater developer dilution, something I've never really gotten into. I mess around with film developer quite frequently...but almost never do this for paper, beyond going with a manufacturer's "maximum dilution" recommendations.

At any rate...my thought is that I'd dilute some Moersch 4812 from its current 1/14 to twice this, adding enough water to make it 1/28. I'll then run some tests...anticipating that I'll need to perhaps double my developing time (from three to six minutes) and that I may also need to make some adjustments for what will likely be a reduction in contrast.

If someone with some experience doing this could let me know that I'm on the right track...or could steer me right on this - it would be much appreciated. Thanks!

7-Mar-2018, 17:20
I'd suggest lowering the temperature of the developer to maybe 60 degrees. Many years ago it was my experience that this greatly extended the developing time without changing the D-Max or contrast. I was doing Lith printing at the time, and this was my way of slowing down the final part of the development of Lith paper to have more control as to when to pull the print from the developer. Tried this after reading that W Eugene Smith had problems when he was processing his prints in Japan. He wasn't able to get the developer up to 68 degrees and his developing times were going from 2-3 minutes to 8 or so minutes.

7-Mar-2018, 19:46
But if the temp is below about 64deg, the hydroquinone becomes inactive, and the dev has trouble producing Dmax blacks, resulting in a weak print...

More dilution is needed, but you will not necessarily lose contrast, it will just take longer to develop a print to finality...

Steve K

7-Mar-2018, 22:44
Check out information from Bruce Barnbaum. He uses more dilute developer and longer times. His books have information on it as well as a lot more that make them worth having in your library.

Doremus Scudder
8-Mar-2018, 03:04

Print development time depends a lot on print exposure too. Most modern papers react to extended development simply by speeding up (i.e., the curve shape stays the same, just gets displaced to the right on the H&D graph). I use tweaks in developing time to, in essence, make small changes in print exposure all the time. My normal developing times are between two and five minutes in good old normal strength Bromophen or Dektol. Five-minute prints in normal-strength Dektol look just fine and exhibit no fogging (just make sure your safelight is good for this long...).

What I'm trying to say is: If you dilute (a good idea) and then standardize on, say 4 minutes for print developing time, you will simply end up adjusting your exposure so that the print looks good at that time. And, if you need a bit more time for a bit more density, you can likely go up to 6 minutes or longer before the paper starts to fog. You may want to use a bit stronger working solution than you suggest as a starting point (say 1+21 instead of the 1+28 you suggest), and use the longer developing time, with the appropriate exposure to make good prints at that dilution. This will ensure you have enough developer for a session and may help with your unevenness problems, since the print will "come up" in about the same time as in full-strength developer, but gradually build density through the rest of the longer developing time, thereby (hopefully) getting much closer to full development over the entire print.

Worth a try, IM-HO :)


John Layton
8-Mar-2018, 08:18
Doremus...my gut tells me that your (1/21) recommendation is about right - but I will start by going to 1/28. When I test I like to purposely go a bit too far, then pull back to what works best. Nice to see where limits exist.

I'm thinking that Moersch 4812, with its great Dmax potential, will lend itself well to extended dilutions and times.

At any rate...have been searching the web and consulting my library - and am surprised by the lack of data or even general guidance regarding the extending of print developer dilutions and times.

So...I will now do some tests - starting with a control strip with "normal" time/temp/dilution...then go right to 1/28 and do a series of strips using the same exposure/contrast values as with the control - but at different development times. Will see if I can push things too far and then back off...but if I cannot get a satisfactory d-max and scale, I will then work from scratch and, while leaving the dilution at 1/28 - see if I can achieve good d-max and scale with exposure, contrast, and developer time adjustments, again seeing if its possible to go "too far" with this, then pull back. If things are still not working...I will then try your recommended dilution of 1/21, and repeat the series. I'll chime in again here with some results. Fingers crossed!

8-Mar-2018, 09:43
John, IMHO you do not need to increase dilution, just adjust your exposure time for the longer development. I know when I go from 2 to 3 minutes I need to adjust exposure roughly -6%, etc. If you're still presoaking then I feel a 3 minute development is way too short and the main cause of your problems--not enough time for the even displacement of the presoak with developer. Just increase your time to 5 or 6 minutes. I'd be surprised if this doesn't fix your woes. I'd also be surprised if 6 min produced any chemical fog.

8-Mar-2018, 15:18
"I'm thinking that Moersch 4812, with its great Dmax potential, will lend itself well to extended dilutions and times."

Why not an Amidol based developer. Supposed to be very good for blacks.

John Layton
8-Mar-2018, 15:42
Oh...so close - but not quite! Diluted the Moersch 4812 to 1/28 - tested fine at 6 minutes. Needed to presoak (5 mins) to flatten the rolled paper (previous attempt at reverse-curling paper was a disaster). Very faint island of slightly lighter density...with one faintly defined edge - arrghhh!

Lloyd, I'm on your page regarding displacement of pre-soak.

So I will wait until I can cobble together funds to go with a 50 sheet box of 30x40 (8+ bills - ouch!) and give things another try, with no pre-soak - and perhaps up the volume of developer to make things a bit smoother in terms of dry paper entry. I suppose I could fabricate some troughs which would take advantage of a roll-caused curl - but at this point I feel that flatness would be a good thing...and I'm feeling a bit stubborn about wanting my single tray system to work!

8-Mar-2018, 16:09
I forget what size, but they have long wallpaper troughs at contractor suppliers, in plastic, cheap...

Steve K