View Full Version : Highly Dilute Paper Negative Development for 8x10?

Michael Heald
4-Dec-2005, 04:24
Hello! I have been experimenting with an 8x10 pinhole camera with a pinhole of 0.032 inches and a focal length of 12 inches. During initial testing, there have been no light leaks; coverage looked good.

To learn, I am using paper negatives - AGFA Multicontrst B/W paper, developed with 100cc of Ilford PQ Universal developer, processed in an 8x10 Unicolor print drum rolled by hand on my sink countertop.

I've taken the test shots in my backyard during bright sun mid-days. I've adjusted the exposure times (significant reciprocity failure!) to get reasonable shadow detail. However, the highlights are blown at the recommended development time of 1 min 30 deconds. I've tried one minute, with marginal improvement of the highlights on the paper negative. Even underexposing the shadow detail still results in blown highlights!

I suspect that the problem I'm having is the contrastiness and smaller tonal range of paper, especially compared to the 4x5 TMax I was using?

I have a couple of questions.

1) Should I pre-soak paper negatives?

2) Would highly dilute development with extended development time and minimal agitation keep the shadow detail and bring the highlights under control?

Once I think I've learned enough, I'll probably switch to EFKE 25 and contact print it since it has low red response, which should give me a pleasing image with the soft pinhole effect. Best regards.


Don Sparks
4-Dec-2005, 05:28
I tried some pinhole 5x7 stuff a few years ago and film developer worked better for me then the paper developer.....better tonal range and less contrast.

Brian Ellis
4-Dec-2005, 05:37
If this is all just a learning process why are you struggling to get good negatives using materials you'll never use again once you learn whatever it is you're trying to learn? And if excessive contrast is the problem, why are you photographing under such high-contrast conditions (noon-day sun)? I'd suggest switching to lower contrast lighting conditions if you insist on continuing with paper negatives or better yet forget about paper negatives and learn with the film and chemicals you'll eventually be using for your real photographs.

But to try to answer your questions, I don't think pre-soaking would do anything for your paper negatives. The purpose of pre-soaking film is to promote even development but that isn't your problem. Highly dilute developers or two -step development procedures such as divided D-76 can be used to reduce film contrast so something like that might help with your paper negatives. I used to develop lith film, a very high contrast material, in Dektol or D76 diluted to something like 1-6 to help reduce contrast.

4-Dec-2005, 07:26
hi michael

i haven't used paper for pinhole photography in a while, but i use paper negatives in my 8x10 pretty often.
the best thing ( as brian said ) is to shoot in lighting conditions that are less contrasty - i usually go out on an overcast
day or when the light is dim. i rate my paper at about asa 6 +/- and underexpose it a little bit to get a thin negative. contrasty negatives are ok for film, but with paper you'll just get a postitive print that you will have trouble with -- whether you scan them and invert, or contact print.

as for development -- i pretty much use ansco 130 as my stock developer. i haven't exeperimented with the stuff you mention, so i really can't comment on what you are using. i like ansco 130 because it can be pretty well oxidized ( black as coca cola ) and still give you very good results. i usually use the black stuff that is olde from a previous printing session and dilute 1:2. the image will appear after about 30 -45 seconds and when i want to slow things down a little bit, i put it in a water bath. at the end, if i want to boost the contrast a little bit, i also have a fresh bach of developer in a tray, and i put the negative in that for a little while.

both of these were made that way:



good luck!
- john

Mark Fisher
4-Dec-2005, 08:20
I'll second or third the recommendation for film developer. I have a foamcore camera that is set up for paper negs and I found film developer best. I used HC110 in an open tray at the time, but I'm sure most any thing would work.

Have fun -- Mark

jonathan smith
4-Dec-2005, 14:14
Glad to see a tip about using film developer for paper.

I was using paper in the 8x10 camera to see what would happen. Most scenes were too contrasty. I assumed it was because of the orthochromaticness of paper vs. panchromaticness of film. Anyway, I tried a green filter and got much better results.

Haven't tried using film developer, got to try it now.

Good paper negs could easily be scanned in the computer, with any scanner, and printed/maniuplated from there. Then you can shoot 8x10 for just 75 cents a shot.

Donald Qualls
4-Dec-2005, 15:42
Changing developers won't help paper negatives much -- by the time the highlights are fully darkened, they'll tend to block, because you pretty well have to let paper develop to completion to get full density. One thing that will help a lot is to preflash the paper -- test to find the maximum exposure (under an enlarger, or with a very weak bulb at considerable distance) that won't quite produce a visible graying of the paper, then give that exposure before loading the paper into the camera or film holder. This will increase the paper speed by about one stop, and thus avoid having to give so much exposure you blow the highlights before the shadows have any separation.

Also, you'll generally get better results with a softish graded paper than with multigrade -- Grade 1 or even Grade 0, if you can find any. Otherwise, the color of the light your paper sees in a scene will change the contrast locally; you'll have green objects like leaves recording at lower contrast while blues will record harder (though it's rarely that simple because most natural objects are continuum reflectors -- that is, they have very broad relflection curves instead of narrow spikes at well defined wavelengths). The down side here is that, while your multigrade paper is (sort of) orthochromatic, graded paper is blue sensitive, like wet plate negatives.

You might look at getting some ortho film -- this has the same spectral sensitivity as your multigrade paper, at least approximately, but doesn't change contrast with color and responds well to development controls; some varieties are actually cheaper than enlarging paper, and the resulting negative contact prints more easily.

Jay DeFehr
4-Dec-2005, 22:04
Your paper is developer-incorporated, so changing developers is not likely to help much. Why not go straight to the material you'll eventually use, so that what you learn will be of practical value, instead of an approximation?


Darin Cozine
5-Dec-2005, 02:02
since you are using a multicontrast paper, how bout trying one of the contrast filters to lower the contrast?

or you could also try a standing developer technique.

another option is pre-flashing the paper.