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Thread: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

  1. #1

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    Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    Hi all,

    Sorry for yet another tray processing thread, but I have a specific question regarding tray processing single sheets of 8x10" film (at this stage Bergger Pancro 400) in PMK.

    As background, I've only ever tray developed a couple of times– using D76 only to test my technique–and at the advise of friends I did four sheets at once. My technique was not up to much as there were quite a few scratches on the emulsion. Streaking / banding wasn't so bad, but there weren't really any flat areas of tone to test that side of things properly. I constantly agitated by lifting bottom one out of soup, rotating 180 degrees, and putting it on top of stack. I patted the film down gently with my fingertips to make sure it was submerged, then lifted the next one out from bottom to do the same.

    I want to process one sheet at a time because the type of work I'm making is very slow going, and I want to make sure each step of the process is very consistent as well as offering minimal risk of scratching, etc. I want to use PMK because it pairs well with the Bergger Pancro 400 by all accounts, plus I like what I see from examples of other film processed in this developer.

    As with most people asking about tray developing, my question really is about or at least boils down to being about agitation.

    Am I correct in thinking that after a 3min pre-soak, I should slip the sheet of film into the PMK emulsion side up, gently padding it down with my fingers. Following that, the great debate seems whether or not to continuously but gently rock each corner / side of the tray to agitate–working way around each side of the tray as to alternate the direction / motion of the waves–or to follow the same regime as I did with multiple sheets; that is to lift film out of the developer, rotate 180 degrees and place back in the developer patting down with finger tips for the duration of the development cycle.

    I have read so much conflicting information about single sheet tray processing, with some agitating as either way described above; others following essentially a cycle akin to tank processing, with agitation once every min for ten seconds; and others stand processing, etc. Some even warn against it altogether because of streaking. I guess it must boil down to personal preference based on experience and adapting to idiosyncratic workflow choices. As I'm a novice at tray processing let alone using PMK, I thought it best to ask for some clear advise and warnings etc if I'm doing single sheets, listen and take note, then simply get stuck in. My only hope is that I minimise the mistakes, so I can simply get on with making the pictures and being able to predict how the processed negatives will turn out.

    THanks,

    Tim

  2. #2

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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    Why not Brush Development? Single sheet processing is easy and doing it this way gets clean negatives.

    Submerge in the developer, emulsion side up. Then gently brush side to side, then up and down. Then again going from the opposite direction as the first. You go back and forth, not all in one direction. Don't get in a hurry and no downward pressure. Gently, quietly and repeatable. Clean sky areas without density differences. Learned from my Uncle - who learned from Jorge Gasteazoro who used to be on these forums and apparently was quite a character. The development using a brush does get good results

    You are already in the dark doing one negative at a time. Why not try it? Nice Hake or Richeson magic brush works well.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  3. #3

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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    1st use an 11x14 tray for 8x10
    2nd - My preferred method of agitation which I have used for 75+ years is to lift each corner in sequence every 30 seconds. I lift about 1-1.5 inches.

  4. #4

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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    I shuffle stacks of film in trays. When developing one sheet, I try to replicate my agitation scheme (once through the stack every 30 seconds). After an initial 30 seconds of continuous agitation by lifting and rotating the sheet, I lift, rotate and resubmerge the sheet once every 15 seconds. I believe this best approximates the amount of agitation a sheet would get when shuffling in batches, since there is agitation when you lift the sheet out and resubmerge it and agitation when you place the subsequent sheet on top of it. BTW, this is with PMK and 4x5 film.

    As for evenness of development: not creating turbulence, areas of more/less agitation or standing waves in the tray is key. Using a larger tray than your negative is indispensable here. Also important is not pushing the negative down too quickly (causes turbulence and more agitation at the edges) and neglecting to swish your fingertips around the middle of the negative (to keep this area from getting too little agitation). This with shuffle-agitation. With tray rocking (not my preferred method), the challenge is to not set up standing waves. Being random rather than regular and making sure your agitations are vigorous enough seems to the the key here.

    Batch developing with 8x10 negatives is something I have never done, but my experience with smaller negs is that practice and care (and a modicum of dexterity) are needed to avoid scratches. Maybe some 8x10 tray developers will chime in here with their methods.

    Best,

    Doremus

  5. #5

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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    Thanks all, I appreciate people taking the time to reply with such a novice question...

    I've been shooting large format for over a decade, but almost never black and white. I'm enjoying being back in the darkroom!

    Brush development sounds interesting. I'll certainly give that some more research and give it a go.

    In the meantime, I guess it's mostly about simply trying and learning. I'm still a bit torn between methods, i.e. emulating the shuffle method with one sheet or lifting alternate corners of the tray. For some reason the latter seems a bit easier, but I can imagine this method needs really careful technique to avoid standing waves, etc.

    Anyway, any other tips on using PMK / Pyro developer? I know gloves are a must, but anything else?

    Thanks again,

    Tim

  6. #6
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    I shuffle only three or four 8x10 sheets at a time every 30 sec, emulsion up in 1 liter volume of pyro, being very careful to prevent a corner of any sheet from
    contacting and scratching another sheet. The tray is oversized, about 11x14, with a dimpled bottom. On those rare occasion when I do only one sheet, I gently rock it, slightly lifting up a different corner about every 10 sec. Practice and consistency are the clues; and for me at at least, not being tired and stupid when I do it. If I'm just plain worn out that day, it can wait.

  7. #7

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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    Tim,

    Do you have the book on PMK Pyro by Gordon Hutchins? Mr. Hutchings has a specific procedure for processing single negatives in a tray with PMK Pyro that works very well. If you are serious about using this developer I would highly recommend getting the book, there is a great deal of helpful info in the publication.

  8. #8
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    There's nothing different developing PMK from ordinary developers like HC110 or D76. I use exactly the same rotational cycles. Only the overall time potentially is different.

  9. #9
    Randy's Avatar
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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    I have not tried the brush method on normal panchromatic films yet, only on 8X10 Xray film. A soft 5" wide hake brush left very faint marks (scratches) in the emulsion of the Xray film - I am guessing due to the extremely soft nature of the emulsion. I have no idea if this would happen to normal panchromatic films if the brush comes in contact with the emulsion.
    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/52893762/bigger4b.jpg

  10. #10

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    Re: Single sheet tray processing (8x10") with PMK

    X-ray film seems to lack a superhardened topcoat, which makes it extremely vulnerable. Regular films do have this topcoat, but its hardness varies. It seems to me that e.g. Foma/Arista.edu films have a somewhat softer topcoat than Kodak films, which may influence the risk of damage with brush development.

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