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Thread: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

  1. #1

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    Dec 2014
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    Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    I've just started shooting 4x5, and lately I've been focusing specifically on more architecture type work. I really enjoy a full tonal scale in the image. I've also been working on putting a few submissions together for HABS/HALS/HAER. I've exposed a lot of film but haven't processed any of it yet. I'm also going back to school so I have access to darkrooms, UV light sources, etc and would like to have my negatives be able to work for traditional silver prints, AZO (type) prints (using the new ADOX) and possibly to explore carbon printing and platinum and palladium. I understand that maybe this isn't possible but was thinking that maybe with PMK pyro or Pyrocat I may have more possibilities.

    My favorite film lately is TMX 400, though I shot a box of HP5 recently too. I have available to me for free Claytons F76 and fixer, but I'm also considering PMK Pyro or Pyrocat, which of course would not be free but are relatively economical. I also like DDX and Xtol a lot for my 35mm and 120 work, and am willing to try others. For some reason I'm into the romantic idea of PMK pyro and I feel it may do wonders for my highlights on buildings in the bright LA sun.

    I'll most likely tray process, though I believe the school has a MOD54/Patterson set up and I own the old school Kodak hangers and tanks.

    If you have a minute to check out some of my more recent images on my website here: http://www.pike.photo/los-angeles-20...fzbzt9coar2peg
    you can sort of see the tonality that I like in my images. These images of course are all digital but I would love to achieve better tonality than these.

    Any thoughts on a direction you might take on a developer?

  2. #2
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    Both platinum and carbon printing will take negatives that generally have too much contrast for silver printing. The staining developers do help some with this -- the stain providing extra contrast for alt processes, but lowering contrast with silver gelatin printing on variable contrast papers. I tend to expose and develop my negatives for a specific process, sometimes exposing two sheets of film of the same image and processing them for different processes (usually platinum/palladium and carbon printing).

    As long as you take normal precautions (gloves) with the pyro developers, they will serve you well. FP4+ is the film I prefer to use for general landscape work printing in pt/pd or carbon. It tends to expand better for me than HP5+, but HP5+ is a fine film, as most are. That is what is great about college program -- the opportunity to easily explore different materials/chemistry. Have fun!

    Looking at your LA images -- I do not know if platinum would ever give you the same feeling of light. Carbon certainly could (the fire-breather would be great image for carbon). While one can do double transfer carbon prints, the usual single transfer method (which I use) reverses the image -- not always wanted with images with writing in them, or with landmarks.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  3. #3

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    May 2018
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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    John, your photos remind me of this article:

    http://www.johnnypatience.com/the-zone-system-is-dead/

    The author recommends pushing 1 stop during exposure, and another stop during development. As is all thing film you have to test it yourself, but that's the allure of film.

  4. #4

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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    From another who is in the LA sun, I see you shoot in bright, contrasty conditions, and like your brilliant contrasts... You also seem to shoot a lot on-the-fly, where you have to work fast, so have less time to work out exposures due to rapidly changing conditions...

    I suggest that your choice of developer will not be as important as the dilution of a standard developer, where your contrast rise will be controled, has good latitude under varied exposure conditions, is not too flat to loose your brilliance, holds highlights and shadows well, and good film speed... Also are you are aiming to wet print or scan???

    A standard dev diluted to 1:1, 1:2, 1:3 would work well, and test them for finding your sweet spot... This should work for a variety of conditions...

    Steve K

  5. #5

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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    Steve, the wet print/scan thing is explicitly mentioned: wet printing, contact printing, pt/pd, carbon transfer. And therein lies the problem as I agree with Vaughn: a good negative for pt/pd is different from a good one for carbon and yet different than one for silver gelatin. You can compromise by aiming for good grade 1 prints and the you will get away with carbon if the pigment concentration is high and dichromate low, but you won't have much relief. Also you will limit yourself to the lower contrast on VC papers which I personally don't find optimal, although it can work OK. The best approach is still to tailor a negative to the desired print. Cutting corners in film photography never yields the best result. I am learning this the hard way, trust me.

  6. #6
    multi format
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    local
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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    hi mexipike

    you might like using ansco 13o, or sprint film developer both are great film developers.
    both are easy to mix & use and will give you a full scale negative.
    ive used 130 for IDK about 20 years for azo printing.
    they used to not allow staining developer (i think?) and it doesn't say anything about it in
    the current guidelines. i'd contact DC to make sure before you jump off the log.
    have fun!
    john
    ps. nice pix on your website !
    enjoy your coffee

  7. #7

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    May 2018
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    Somewhere between SoCal & Norway
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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    Hi John,

    I love the look of your shots on your website, sharp, well composed, nice tonality. As a recent part-time immigrant to LA, I'm looking forward to capturing many of the same atmospheres as you have here.

    For developing, I really like Rodinal. Despite it's tendency to be a bit grainy at normal dilutions (not something I've had a problem with, I think it's more a question of acutance), if you dilute it further you can manipulate contrast and tonality pretty well. 1:50 and up. Normally I shoot APX100 (have a stash), haven't yet figured out what I'm going to use if/when I move to 4x5.

    Good luck!

  8. #8
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    Quote Originally Posted by Mexipike View Post
    I've just started shooting 4x5, and lately I've been focusing specifically on more architecture type work. I really enjoy a full tonal scale in the image. I've also been working on putting a few submissions together for HABS/HALS/HAER. I've exposed a lot of film but haven't processed any of it yet. I'm also going back to school so I have access to darkrooms, UV light sources, etc and would like to have my negatives be able to work for traditional silver prints, AZO (type) prints (using the new ADOX) and possibly to explore carbon printing and platinum and palladium. I understand that maybe this isn't possible but was thinking that maybe with PMK pyro or Pyrocat I may have more possibilities.

    My favorite film lately is TMX 400, though I shot a box of HP5 recently too. I have available to me for free Claytons F76 and fixer, but I'm also considering PMK Pyro or Pyrocat, which of course would not be free but are relatively economical. I also like DDX and Xtol a lot for my 35mm and 120 work, and am willing to try others. For some reason I'm into the romantic idea of PMK pyro and I feel it may do wonders for my highlights on buildings in the bright LA sun.

    I'll most likely tray process, though I believe the school has a MOD54/Patterson set up and I own the old school Kodak hangers and tanks.

    If you have a minute to check out some of my more recent images on my website here: http://www.pike.photo/los-angeles-20...fzbzt9coar2peg
    you can sort of see the tonality that I like in my images. These images of course are all digital but I would love to achieve better tonality than these.

    Any thoughts on a direction you might take on a developer?
    PMK or Pyrocat hd or Pyrocat hdc would do very well with tmax 400. It's a good versatile film that will have a different look with every developer. PMK I had some bromide drag in the Patterson/Mod54, so I'd recommend pyrocat hd/hdc instead for that, or at least don't do what I do.

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    PMK and TMY400 are a marriage made in heaven.

  10. #10

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    Oct 2015
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    882

    Re: Thoughts on a good "multipurpose" developer

    FWIW, I love Delta 100 in F76+, if you decide to stick with that developer. If you decide on going the staining developer route, I'd highly recommend Pyrocat-HD over PMK; both FP4+ and Foma 100 are quite lovely in Pyrocat. As others have already mentioned, you will need to tailor the negative to the end result. The only silver paper I'm aware of that can handle the contrast range of a neg developed for, say, pt/pd is Michael A. Smith's Lodima. Oh, and if you're talking about Adox Lupex paper in my experience that paper, generally, requires a slightly lower than normal constrast negative.

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