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schmidtjas
28-Aug-2012, 12:53
I've begun reading Steve Simmons' book on View Cameras as well as Ansel Adams' "The Camera". I plan to try to develop at home in a makeshift darkroom (bathroom at night with towel under the door). I'll be shooting Ilford HP5 which is what is available locally in 4x5 sheets to learn on. I also have access to both Kodak and Ilford chemistry locally, so that is what I would like to stick to. My plan is to develop one sheet at a time. I'll probably attempt to scan using my Epson Artisan to get a rough positive.

My question is does anyone know of a good resource on setting up a VERY basic minimalist darkroom? I've been researching on this board, and the internet as a whole and have come up with a start.

From what I understand I would need:
-3 Trays or tanks or something to dip into (advice on this for a single sheet would be great). I may look around at the local dollar store to see if I can find something. I don't want to waste too much chemical.

-3 tongs from the dollar store for trays or maybe a frame for dipping if I went for an upright tank, they seem to be on eBay

-Developer (Kodak D-76 or possibly Ilford?)

-Stopper - Kodak Indicator Stop Bath or Ilford

-Fixer - Kodak Kodafix

-Kodak Photo-Flo (is this that important?)

-A clip of some kind to hang the negative to dry

-a few measuring tools

Will these items be enough? I don't intend to worry about the "dry side" (enlarger) right now. Most of the videos etc I've seen use 35mm

schmidtjas
28-Aug-2012, 13:19
I've done some more looking and it looks like combiplan would be a good system, but might be over kill for my needs. I like the idea of deep trays as opposed to shallow trays.

Kevin Crisp
28-Aug-2012, 13:23
Forget the tongs, you will damage the film. Shallow trays as used for paper development are fine, develop emulsion side up. Developer is typically one shot but back to back you can do multiple sheets within a reasonable amount of time. You aren't dipping the film, I suggest constant agitation - check the Kodak website for the TMAX100 tray development instructions, that's what I use for everything and I get very even development. It is basically lifting the tray gently from 3 different sides within about 8 seconds.

Leigh
28-Aug-2012, 13:36
From what I understand I would need:
-3 Trays or tanks or something to dip into (advice on this for a single sheet would be great).
-3 tongs from the dollar store for trays or maybe a frame for dipping if I went for an upright tank, they seem to be on eBay
Trays, not tanks. Tanks take way too much liquid, and require hangers to hold the film.

Tongs should not be metal, because you don't know if it will react with the chemistry.
Traditional material is bamboo, but plastic will work OK.


-Developer (Kodak D-76 or possibly Ilford?)
For tray development I highly recommend Diafine. It's a two-part compensating developer, so it needs two trays rather than one.
It has several advantages over most other developers, including:
1) It can be used at any temperature from 70F to 85F, and requires no temperature control or stabilization within that range.
2) Development time is constant; 3 to 5 minutes in each solution for all films, with no change in results
3) Very minimal agitation, meaning you can let the sheet sit undisturbed for 30 to 60 seconds at a time. No constant agitation.

These characteristics make it ideal for tray use where close temperature control is not normally available.


-Stopper - Kodak Indicator Stop Bath or Ilford
-Fixer - Kodak Kodafix
-Kodak Photo-Flo (is this that important?)
Yes, all the normal post-development stuff.
I would add a hypo clearing agent like Perma-Wash after the fix. It greatly reduces the required wash time, to a couple of minutes.
Photo-Flo is highly desirable, as it reduces the likelyhood of water spots. It's quite cheap due to its very high dilution ratio. It's just soap.


-a few measuring tools
Be very careful about contamination, particularly of the developer.
I prefer to have two completely separate sets of tools and vessels; one for developer and another for other chemicals.

If you elect to use Diafine, add a third set for Solution A. You must be very careful not to contaminate it with anything.

You also need a timer of some sort, either one that beeps every 30 seconds, or a multi-step programmable.
Keep lights out until halfway through the fix period.

That should pretty well cover you.

Jim Jones
28-Aug-2012, 13:38
Photo-Flo or a substitute is important. Also, use distilled water for the final bath unless you have an unusually pure water source. Check kitchen wares for trays. They should be a little larger than the film. If the bottom is slightly uneven, it helps when lifting the film out of the tray. You need more than three trays. I use at least five: one for a pre-wash, three for chemicals, and one for a holding tray after the fix. After all film is in the holding tray, the pre-wash, developer, and stop trays can be dumped and used to finish the wash. Having extra trays helps avoiding contamination. You should have an accurate thermometer. If chemicals, wash water, and trays are all stored at toom temperature, and the room temperature is within maybe 65 to 80 degrees F, an accurate wall thermometer might do. Consistancy is more important than absolute temperature accuracy. Clothespins strung on a wire suffice for drying film.

Leigh
28-Aug-2012, 13:43
You need more than three trays. I use at least five: one for a pre-wash, three for chemicals, and one for a holding tray after the fix. After all film is in the holding tray, the pre-wash...
DO NOT pre-wash if you're using Diafine or other two-part developers. Pre-washing will kill the development action.

Two-part developers work by absorbing the first part into the dry emulsion, then putting the film in the second solution to activate development.
If you pre-wash, the first part cannot diffuse into the emulsion, so there's nothing for the second solution to work with.

- Leigh

schmidtjas
28-Aug-2012, 13:47
How should a sheet be handled in the dark? The tutorial at the root of this site seems to imply just using your hands - is the chemistry safe to use regular kitchen dish gloves or even bare hands?

Leigh
28-Aug-2012, 13:59
Kitchen dish gloves are much too bulky, and destroy your sense of touch.
I use nitrile gloves just to avoid getting finger prints on the film.

The chemicals are safe for most people to use their hands.

Be careful moving the sheets from one tray to the next.
Pick up a sheet using the gloved hand in the developer and drop the sheet into the stop bath without letting the glove enter the bath.
IUe tongs to move the sheet in the stop, take it out and put it in the fixer, without getting the tongs in the fixer.
Then use the fixer tongs to move the sheet around there and move it to the wash.

When using tongs, be careful to grab the film by a corner, outside of the image area, and don't bend or twist the film.

An alternative to this procedure would be to get some 4x5 film hangers, bend the arms up so they'll lay flat in the trays, and use
them to transport the film through the process. You need not remove the film from the hanger until the final wash is done.
You can even leave the film in the hanger and hang the whole thing up to dry if you wish.

If using hangers, don't raise the film straight up from the liquid. That may pull the film out of the hanger. Tip it up then out, gently.

If doing multiple sheets you must use a dry hanger for each.

- Leigh

Greg Davis
28-Aug-2012, 14:38
If you look up a documentary film about photographer Abelardo Morell there is a scene where he develops 4x5 Ilford film in a hotel bathroom in Paris using trays. It may help you figure out how to set things up when needed.

archphotofisher
28-Aug-2012, 14:41
Here's my two to bits 8.5 x 11 trays for 4 x 5; 11 x 17 trays for 8 x 10, trays should have some ribs on the bottom to keep the film off the tray bottom. The film will get sucked to the bottom of the tray without ribs. I always develop a minimum of three sheets of film; it allows one to get a rhythm going while shuffling the sheets in the developer. I've always used my bare hands but if you have seen Brett
Weston nails they were black, as he and his father were amidol user’s on very regular basis. I was always afraid stopped bath so I used tongs. Then back in the fixer with bare hands, I would usually turn the light on after a minute in the fixer see how all turned out.

G

jeroldharter
28-Aug-2012, 18:44
You might look at BTZS tubes (even a single tube) as an option. They are sold new at The View Camera Store. Fred has good YouTube videos showing their use. Once you put the film inthe tubes, you can process with the lights on which is convenient for a makeshift darkroom.

MMELVIS
28-Aug-2012, 19:19
4x5 setup

4 5x7 trays (http://www.freestylephoto.biz/012057-Arista-Set-of-4-Developing-Trays-Accommodates-5x7-inch-prints-White?cat_id=1603)

Rack for trays (http://www.walmart.com/ip/20552616?adid=22222222227014935145&wmlspartner=wlpa&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=&wl3=13703868670&wl4=&wl5=pla&veh=sem)


Work Bottom to top or top to bottom what ever your choice is
1)Developer
2)Water
3)Fixer
4)Water

Move one negative at time between trays
Rock tray a few times every few seconds
Can leave a few negatives in the final tray until you have finished a batch if needed
I only do one negative at a time
I use thin latex gloves from CVS, the local drug store

Leigh
28-Aug-2012, 19:25
2)Water
Water IS NOT a proper substitute for stop bath. It should only be used for that purpose with developers that specify it.

- Leigh

Bill Koechling
28-Aug-2012, 19:45
You're getting good information here. I've used just my hands - no gloves or tongs - for 40 years but your skin may be different than mine. I always have a tray of water to dip my hands into so as to not contaminate from one tray to another. Just remember your hands will warm the chemistry especially during long sessions. That may affect your developing time.

After doing this stuff for a while it becomes an enjoyable dance in an amber glow and the aroma is your friend that you'll never forget.

welly
28-Aug-2012, 22:15
I know you said "single sheet" development but you might want to look at one of these at some point in the future - a slosher:

http://stores.photoformulary.com/-strse-241/Sheet-Film-Developing-Tray/Detail.bok

I started with just developing one sheet at a time, now I'm doing several. For timing, you might want to grab something like this:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/General-TI891B-Triple-Timer-with-Clock-/200806878192?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2ec105cbf0

It's a triple timer - you can set three independent alarms for your dev, stop and fix. The only thing it doesn't do, which would be great if it did, is beep at you every 30 seconds or minute so you've an idea of how far into the process you are. But aside from that, I've found it ideal.

schmidtjas
29-Aug-2012, 06:04
Thanks for the tips and clever tricks everyone

Kevin J. Kolosky
29-Aug-2012, 08:37
I would recommend Ilford's fixer, and that you try using plain water for the stop bath as well as a regular packaged stop bath. I use the water and don't see any difference whatsoever between that and using stop bath. Others may see a difference. Which is why you should check it out for yourself.

Get a couple of old negatives from somebody who doesn't want them anymore and practice your run a couple of times using plain water for everything. Put the negs in the film holders and do the whole thing from start to finish a couple of times with the lights on, and then a few times with the lights off. Do it the same way each time. You'll eventually get it and soon you will find out that its kind of fun!

Ben Calwell
29-Aug-2012, 16:29
I use Pyrex glass bread pans for 4x5. There's a certain size that keeps the sheets from touching the bottom, yet keeps them submerged. I do emulsion side down with these and have had no problems shuffling through five or six sheets. I put them in a water bath first, though, so that they are nice and slippery and unlikely to stick together when I put them in the developer.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 16:36
I put them in a water bath first, though...
As I've said before... DO NOT use a pre-soak with a two-part developer. You'll kill the developer activity.

Instructions for these normally specify no pre-soak.

- Leigh

David R Munson
29-Aug-2012, 16:38
Water IS NOT a proper substitute for stop bath. It should only be used for that purpose with developers that specify it.

- Leigh

After nearly ten years without acid stop, I can report no problems, no ill-effects of having cast aside the use of acid stop in favor of water.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 16:40
David,

It's hard enough to get a newbie started in photographic processing using standard techniques.

Introducing non-standard procedures benefits nobody.

Proficient practitioners do all sorts of things that vary from the 'standard'. That's called 'experience'.

- Leigh

David R Munson
29-Aug-2012, 17:22
I also don't see any need to require as absolutely necessary a chemical step that many of us have found to be quite unnecessary.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 17:25
If stop bath was unnecessary it would have disappeared from the market decades ago.
Photographers are a stingy lot, and not likely to waste money on superfluous items.

You've apparently not had much teaching experience.

When teaching something new, the worst possible approach is to give the student options.
That creates confusion and frustration.
You teach one method "by the book". Then you suggest avenues for personal exploration.

This is the responsible approach to teaching.

- Leigh

David R Munson
29-Aug-2012, 17:46
You've apparently not had much teaching experience.

And yet, I have, and in fact have found it best to not weigh down the student with any such information as is not necessarily necessary. I will not teach as compulsory anything that is not so. If I am instructing with certain variables, I will teach what I have learned as best with those variables in consideration. I will explain how my approach varies from that of others, but will teach my approach because that is what I am best at and therefore most qualified to teach.


This is the responsible approach to teaching.

The responsible approach to teaching is to be honest with one's students. Depriving a student of relevant information is rarely the honest thing to do.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 17:52
So you apparently feel empowered to put your ego before the welfare of the students.

That's your choice.

When students enroll in a course they expect to receive the best possible explanation of standard procedures,
i.e. those that they will find in general references on the subject being taught.

Deviating from such only causes confusion, and undermines confidence in the instructor, as it should.

- Leigh

Gem Singer
29-Aug-2012, 17:53
Leigh,

The problem is that the "book" you are teaching from is out of date.

Many things have changed in the manufacturing of film and processing chemistry during the last thirty years.

New requirements for shipping have brought about changes in film processing chemicals, as well as the technique or utilizing them.

Get hold of a copy of "The Film Developing Cookbook" by S.Anchell and B.Troop, and read it from cover to cover.

That book clearly explains the current thinking about today's B&W film and the methods needed to process it.

David R Munson
29-Aug-2012, 18:00
Leigh,

I feel empowered to put what I know best from experience ahead of what "the book" states as being true when I know otherwise. I am especially willing to do this when "the book" is based on what was considered to be correct circa 1960. Ego has nothing to do with it.

I won't lie - I often read your posts with the feeling of at least partial disagreement. We are of two different schools of thought, and that's fine. I won't continue to debate this particular point. We see it differently, and I disagree with you here, but whatever. Me calling you wrong and you calling me inexperienced etc over and over again proves only our willingness to bicker.

You teach how you see fit, and I will do the same.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 18:08
I often read your posts with the feeling of at least partial disagreement. We are of two different schools of thought, and that's fine.
We agree on some things, not on others. That's the way of the world.

- Leigh]

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 18:16
Many things have changed in the manufacturing of film and processing chemistry during the last thirty years.
That book clearly explains the current thinking about today's B&W film and the methods needed to process it.
The changes of recent years have not included changing the laws of chemistry.

Water does not stop development.

- Leigh

Gem Singer
29-Aug-2012, 18:32
Leigh,

I am well aware of the laws of chemistry. My undergrad degree in college was in chemistry.

I used to use an acid stop bath for FB paper, a water stop bath for film, and an alkaline fixer (FP-5) for both.

Did you read The Film Developing Cookbook ?

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 18:39
Yes, I have the Film Developing Cookbook, and read it some time ago.
No amount of printer's ink will change the laws of chemistry.

I made a simple statement above: "Water does not stop development."

Do you dispute that? Yes or No?

- Leigh

sully75
29-Aug-2012, 18:59
My negatives are much cleaner since I stopped using photoflow and started using TF-4 fixer. Also everything smells better and is much easier since I started using water for a stop bath.

Gem Singer
29-Aug-2012, 19:05
Leigh,

Of course water does not stop development. No one said it did. There is no need to completely stop the development of film.

A water stop bath merely washes out enough developer so that the fixer can easily complete the stopping of the development process.

Alkaline developer- neutral stop bath (water)- alkaline fixer-- keeps acid completely out of the process.

Makes it easier to wash the chemicals out of film, as well as paper. No need to use a wash aid (Wash aid is sodium sulfite. It is alkaline, and is used to neutralize acid stop bath and fixer). Also, doesn't reduce the amount of stain when using a staining developer (I use Pyrocat-HD).


Now, take your Prozac, get a good nights sleep, and you won't feel so feisty in the morning.

Goodnight.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 19:12
Of course water does not stop development. No one said it did.
Way back in post #13 I said:
"Water IS NOT a proper substitute for stop bath. It should only be used for that purpose with developers that specify it."

Note the word 'proper'. Note that I also said some developers require it. I did not say it could not be used.

If you use it, development continues until the fixer acts on the film, which may extend development beyond the intended duration.

What's Prozac?

- Leigh

RichardSperry
29-Aug-2012, 19:12
Fixer stops development. The "Laws of Chemistry" say so.

Go from developer to fix immediately, and development has stopped immediately.

Omit the stop step in total. You guys can keep arguing though about something that doesnt matter,,,I'm sure you will. It's entertaining.

Fwiw, I use water to rinse the dyes out. I'm going to worry about the added inconsequential imperceivable imperceptible development during that time,,,,after I'm dead, ok.

Gem Singer
29-Aug-2012, 19:20
Leigh,

Google "Prozac".

It's a medication that will help you get rid of your disagreeable attitude.

Now, goodnight, again.

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 19:21
Huh?

- Leigh

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 19:27
It's a medication that will help you get rid of your disagreeable attitude.
If I ever acquire a disagreeable attitude, I shall seek out Prozac.

Thanks for the suggestion. Nighty night. :D

- Leigh

David R Munson
29-Aug-2012, 19:45
FWIW, I prefer Xanax.

;)

Leigh
29-Aug-2012, 20:24
OK. The problem is that I made a statement in #13 without explaining it. My bad. Let's try again.

Water is not a proper substitute for stop bath in that it does not arrest the developing process.

Using a water bath, development will continue for some period of time, possibly throughout the water bath and into the fixer.
The exact results may be predictable for a given developer/dilution and process, but not from one developer/dilution to another.

For results comparable to a stop bath process, time in the developer may need to be reduced from that recommended when stop bath is used.

How's that?

- Leigh

Merg Ross
29-Aug-2012, 20:37
You have done your homework, and received some helpful information in this thread. To make life more comfortable in your "makeshift" darkroom, I would suggest that you skip the acid shortstop step in processing single sheets of film. It is unnecessary. Use water instead, and adjust your development time accordingly.

Keep your process as simple as possible, and use water between the developer and fixer. I have done so for fifty years, much of it as a professional photographer, and have never seen any disadvantage in doing so.

sully75
30-Aug-2012, 05:00
OK. The problem is that I made a statement in #13 without explaining it. My bad. Let's try again.

Water is not a proper substitute for stop bath in that it does not arrest the developing process.

Using a water bath, development will continue for some period of time, possibly throughout the water bath and into the fixer.
The exact results may be predictable for a given developer/dilution and process, but not from one developer/dilution to another.

For results comparable to a stop bath process, time in the developer may need to be reduced from that recommended when stop bath is used.

How's that?

- Leigh

For me the advantage of having one less mixture to have to get to the proper temperature has outweighed any advantage of using a chemical stop bath. It's very easy for me to keep a bucket of water at 68 degrees, more of a pain to keep the stop at 68 degrees while I'm also trying to temper my fixer.

I hadn't thought about the development continuing during the stop. I'll have to keep that in mind.

That said, my negatives looked pretty awful with lots of staining prior to switching from Kodak stop and Fixer. Water stop and TF-4 fixer w/ XTOL has given me beautiful negatives, without any difficulties.

Cor
30-Aug-2012, 05:21
I was taught to use water in between developer and fix for film, citric acid stop bath for paper. Although theoretically correct that water does not chemically stop development, using plenty of water and a vigorous rotation scheme will only add (neglect-able) very minor amount of density. And if you work methodically and always use the same sequence of processing that theoretical extra density is taken into account in your calibrated workflow anyway.

Processing for 20 years with 6-8 different film emulsions and about 6 different developers (not at the same time..;-)..) I did not notice any advert effects of a water stop, but perhaps I am not enough of a mierenneuker..;-)..

Best,

Cor

RichardSperry
30-Aug-2012, 06:20
mierenneuker

What a cool word.

Leigh
30-Aug-2012, 07:59
I was taught to use water in between developer and fix for film...
As with any process, it's wise to follow the manufacturer's recommendations, as I said way back in post #13.

Quoting from the data sheet for Ilford liquid developers:
"After development film can be rinsed in water but we recommend that an acid stop bath is used
such as ILFORD ILFOSTOP (with indicator dye) or ILFOSTOP PRO (without indicator dye)."

From the instructions for Diafine:
"Drain and rinse in plain water for about 30 seconds. The use of an acid stop bath is NOT recommended." (emphasis theirs)

- Leigh

schmidtjas
30-Aug-2012, 08:12
FYI I went ahead and tried it all out. My experience is documented in a new thread:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?94386-First-image-from-4x5-and-also-first-time-in-the-dark-room

Thanks for all of the advice in this thread, I'll definitely be going through the thread again and refining my process.

Cor
30-Aug-2012, 08:15
What a cool word.

thanks..:)..it ain't very polite, but it isn't very rude either in my language, it would translate to nitpicker, the literal translation I leave to your google skills..:D

Best,

Cor