View Full Version : Do you use different developers based upon subject

2-Feb-2006, 13:36
I am wondering if people are using different developers based upon what the subject matter is. One for portrait one for lanscape?
For example I have been using PMK for my 12x20 portraits. Is this the best considering the skintones tend to be flater. Or maybe someone has a solution for this?

Jim Noel
2-Feb-2006, 13:58
I am at least as likely to vary my film based upon subject matter. For instance, I use Tri-X for portraits since that was what it was originally advertised for and it does a good job here. I do not use it for landscapes because it will not expand far enough to make good negatives for some of the processes I like. I generally use FP4+ for these negatives.
As for developers, I do alternate based on individual images. PMK for scenes with a lot of important highlights, W2D2 for duplicating negatives, HC 110 dilutions from A to C for various general work. I have even been known to use PQ Universal to boost contrast, especially for flat desert scenes.

In other words, I believe a photographer needs to build a palette much like a painter. The palette will vary according to subject, lighting, final presentation, etc.

Bruce Watson
2-Feb-2006, 15:26
I use one film (5x4 Tri-X) and one developer (XTOL 1:3) for everything. I've yet to be disappointed in the results.

Ralph Barker
2-Feb-2006, 16:42
Yes, indirectly. I have "favorite" films for different types of subjects, and corresponding developers that produce the look I'm after with those films.

Michael Kadillak
4-Feb-2006, 07:36

All you have to do is test a developer and film combination and plot the relationship (or carefully look at prints of the same subject) to see how dramatically different the same film is with various developers. The text book best is the shortest toe possible and a long straight line middle section to your density range objectives. If you are an alt process or silver chloride paper printer the best films are clearly TMY, FP4 and PL100. Silver users can use virtually any film because the less demanding DR objectives are usually not in play even with plus development.

T Max 400 in Pyrocat HD is a marriage made in heaven but the same film in ABC pyro show me that this developer is best served for PL100 and not TMY.


Jorge Gasteazoro
4-Feb-2006, 08:09
I guess I am going to be the odd one out. I dont have different combinations and IMO endless experimenting with different developers and films tends to be counter productive. Have you considered that if your skin tones are flat maybe you need a little bit more development or raise the contrast grade of your printing method?

Ole Tjugen
4-Feb-2006, 08:27
More depending on intended use of the negative than subject...

If I intend VDB or POP prints, I'll use a staining developer to build enough contrast. Otherwise I'll stick with "non-staining", since the stain IMO only creates problems when going from VC to graded paper and vice versa.

One exception: I use a few "special" developers for extreme situations where nothing else will do. Like Windisch' compensating pyrocatechin developer for my shot of a solar eclipse.