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Thread: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

  1. #1

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    ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    After many, many years of both 4x5 and 8x10 use and time/temp development I've just started playing around with DBI using ABC Pyro and single-sheet at a time tray development. My question is: After developing one sheet of 8x10, can the developer be re-used for subsequent sheets or should I mix fresh with every sheet? I ask because I'm more concerned with aerial oxidation of the developer vs exhaustion.

    Thank you for any insight provided.

    Kind regards,
    Alan

  2. #2
    Daniel Stone's Avatar
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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    TBH, I'd shoot a few "test" sheets and do some preliminary testing of your own, in your own darkroom.

  3. #3

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan9940 View Post
    After many, many years of both 4x5 and 8x10 use and time/temp development I've just started playing around with DBI using ABC Pyro and single-sheet at a time tray development. My question is: After developing one sheet of 8x10, can the developer be re-used for subsequent sheets or should I mix fresh with every sheet? I ask because I'm more concerned with aerial oxidation of the developer vs exhaustion.

    Thank you for any insight provided.

    Kind regards,
    Alan
    While I haven't used ABC Pyro and can't say from direct experience, I did take the workshop with Michael and Paula earlier this year and they were pretty clear that ABC oxidizes quickly (as you state). I would tend to think the answer would be you should mix a fresh batch, which is what they emphasized, but maybe someone with actual ABC experience can chime in.

    Which film are you using, and are you using a green safelight (I've been looking for a reasonably priced green filter that would fit a 5x7 safelight, or some other readily available size, but seems easier said than done) or infrared monocular?

    FWIW, Paula demonstrated the shuffle development technique with at least four 8x10 sheets and made it look pretty straightforward. I've tried it once so far and it's not too hard, although perhaps expect to scratch some film in the beginning.

    Sorry I can't offer further insight but I'd be very curious to hear more about your impressions (and learning curve) with DBI.

    Carl

  4. #4

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    Hello Carl,

    Yes, ABC Pyro begins to oxidize quickly; as a matter of fact, as soon as I added solution C, stirred and poured into the tray it took only a few minutes for "swirls" of oxidized developer to form on the surface. I am developing HP5+ and using a Kodak #3 Green filter to inspect the neg beginning at about 8 minutes. I contacted Michael (he is always so helpful!) and he strongly advised that I develop 4 sheets (as you said) at a time via the shuffle method. He said that I could probably do another 4 sheets immediately thereafter, but that would be it. I used to develop both 4x5 and 8x10 years ago--before the mid-90's when I got a Jobo CPP2--using the shuffle method, but after some experience with the Jobo I realized that I wasn't getting even development in trays. Funny, though, I never noticed this in my prints so I guess it really doesn't matter!

    Anyway, bottom line is that I'm going to return to the shuffle method and see how it goes with ABC Pyro. I've used other staining developers for many years--mostly Pyrocat-HD and WD2D+, a bit of PMK--but I really like the minimal general stain with ABC so I'm going to push forward. The biggest issue I have right now with DBI is properly judging the negative at each inspection point. I went back and re-read Michael's writings and various posts on the Azo Forum, and I think my problem is that I'm just not holding the neg correctly in relationship to the light. My safelight is a 10x12 about 4 feet off to the side and Michael recommends that it be behind the sink (that is, in front of the photographer) and about 15-30 degrees off to the side. I'll just have to see how it goes...I may move mine.

    Kind regards,
    Alan

  5. #5

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    You might find this article helpful: Infra Red Monocular: Seeing in the Darkroom

    It lets you view "...the entire process: development, stop bath, fix, etc. You can do tray development with ease, with far fewer scratches and with total confidence"

  6. #6

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    Hi Alan,

    Yes, now that you've spoken to Michael I do remember them saying you could re-use the developer for another set of negatives. I've been using Unicolor drums (and lately PyrocatHD) on a motorized base but that limits me to two 8x10 sheets at-a-time and after a while the sound (of the noisy motorized base) starts to annoy. Alternatively, I've also sometimes used PVC tubes and Steve Sherman's extreme minimal agitation method -- but that's even slower at one sheet-at-a-time (although I've had up to 3 tubes going at once).

    My first shuffle method experience was with 4 sheets of 7x17 HP5 in PyrocatHD. I shuffled continuously and got even results. I did get some scratches but feel I know more or less what I did wrong. Beginning with 8x10 or smaller would be easier and with practice I think it would be possible to minimize scratches (but, then, what do I know?). I hope to try again soon but since I only have a relatively small space on my bathroom floor to put out trays (I don't have a darkroom) I mostly reach for the Unicolor drum.

    I may look for a 10x12 safelight (what kind is yours, btw?) as the green filters for that size seem fairly common on eBay. Michael has a smaller (ca. 5x7'ish) green LED light of some kind about 3 feet away. I've thought about using an infrared monocular, as Ken suggests (would be curious to see on in action). They emphasized it takes a few runs to recognize how the negative should look but sounds like you're almost there. Reading through the Azo forum archives HP5+ and ABC Pyro seemed like a very good combination.

    Carl

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    Hello Carl,

    I'm pretty sure my 10x12 safelight is a Paterson, but I bought it 40 years ago so don't quote me. Yeah, the green filters in this size come up quite often on eBay. I have a few test runs under my belt now and judging the negative is coming quickly. So far, I'm really warming up to the HP5+ and ABC Pyro combo, but you have to be careful because this combo seems to build contrast rather quickly; I'm using a 2:1:1:15 dilution at 75F which puts my N development time at about 10 mins (in trays using shuffle method.)

    I can't even imagine working with 7x17; that's LARGE film! Years ago I toyed with the idea of getting an 11x14, but I'm so enamored with 8x10 contact prints that I just stuck there.

    Thanks for the conversation.

    Kind regards,
    Alan

  8. #8

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    Hi Alan,

    I was desperate to develop that 7x17 (in 16x20 trays) at the time. I was borrowing the camera and only had two holders available so I just went for it because it would have been impractical to do them otherwise, say, one at-a-time.

    I've done some quick scans of the 7x17 negatives on my V750 but my ham-fisted attempts at stitching the two halves together was only partially successful (at least, so far). But removing the scratches was not a problem. The HP5 and PyrocatHD combination was definitely not bad, at least with scenes of normal contrast. What intrigues me about your experience will be how ABC does with scenes of lower contrast, for example, and how you think DBI helps with judging development time in those instances. I'm keeping notes!

    What paper are you using?

    11x14 contacts are indeed impressive (I do one negative at-a-time in the Unicolor tube w/rotary base).

    I'll look into Paterson safe lights.

    Thanks.

    Carl

  9. #9
    Steve Sherman's Avatar
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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    ABC Pyro is rooted in Pyrogallic acid, it is more unstable, produces a larger grain pattern, and is considerably more expensive when compared to Pyrocathechol rooted developers. ABC Pyro, PMK and Rollo Pyro are all in the family of Pyrogallol Pyro foumulas. All produce a Green stain, hence the Dark Green safelight for DBI.

    Pyrocathechol based developers are more stable because they reside in a higher PH solution leading to lower chemical fogging due to aerial oxidation, more conducive to a second run of film with the same developer. The grain pattern is considerably tighter, considerably more inexpensive when mixed from scratch. An Amber stain is produced which is easier to see when using the DBI method. An Amber stain is more favorable for separating high light contrast than the Green stain of Pyrogallol based formulas when using modern day Multi-Contrast enlarging papers

    Contact printers may not be as concerned with increased base fogging or a larger grain structure, however, those enlarging Pyro negatives will definitely benefit from a clearer film base and a higher acutance and tighter grain pattern.

    For a comparison of a Semi-Stand Pyrocat processed neg versus a ABC Pyro Tray processed negative which has been stitched together see this thread.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...-7x17-negative

    Cheers


    Real photographs are born wet !

    www.PowerOfProcessTips.com

  10. #10

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    Re: ABC Pyro, DBI, and Tray Development

    Carl - Living and photographing mostly in the desert southwest I rarely face a low-contrast scene! I've read on MAS site that evaluating a low contrast neg is somewhat easier when viewing via transmitted light holding a finger up behind the neg as a point of dark reference. I guess I'll have to see how that goes if/when I ever have one of those negs to develop. Currently, I'm using mostly Lodima developed in Amidol for all my 8x10 contact prints.

    Steve - my experience over many years with staining developers is a bit different than what you've described. PMK provides a rather strong yellow/green stain, Pyrocat (I've used both HD and HDC varieties) provides a rather strong brownish stain, and ABC Pyro provides such a subtle stain that it's hard to recognize it as a stained negative, unless compared to film developed in something like D-76. I guess I would say it's "brownish", but the general stain is significantly less than PCat. As for its reputation as being unstable, IMO that may stem from not using fresh Solution B. I mix Solution B just prior to use using fresh Sodium Sulfite. I've just started using ABC Pyro so I may eat those words someday. I haven't noticed any issue with grain in my 8x10 contact prints.

    Kind regards,
    Alan

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