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Thread: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

  1. #1

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    Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    By way of recent work on a different topic, I have noted contrary to what one often reads, I need to decrease development time when a pre-wash/soak is used versus without. There are of course a few variables involved here, including the film (TMX in this case) but I suspect this would generally be the case.

    It seems to often be assumed in the literature that essentially the initial dilution/gradient effect outweighs the fact the emulsion is wet (plus some swell). Perhaps in the days of unhardened/less hardened emulsions this was the case (or perhaps not) but regardless, my recommendation is to not blindly assume a pre-wash/soak necessitates a longer development time for the same contrast.

  2. #2
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    In most cases, much ado about nothing, unless someone goes to extremes.

    Like everything else, personally test and personally standardize both your presoak and your development times. The presoak length isn't nitpicky, though there might be a difference in final effect between, say, 30 secs, and a long 5 min pre-wet. I standardize on around 2 min. And older literature might be misleading, since thick emulsion films which retained more water no longer exist. Triassic-X and HP5 sheet films might be classified as semi-thick, but now most are distinctly thin emulsion.

  3. #3

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    I used to pre-soak all my film all the time years ago. Nowadays, I generally do a pre-soak only if using some non-standard development technique like minimal agitation, semi-stand, or stand development. I do, however, always use a pre-soak on the Jobo; mostly because it's recommended.

  4. #4

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    I pre-soak my 4x5 film for 2 minutes in a 1% Kodalk solution- that's just to keep the sheets from sticking together in the tray. I have no idea how it might affect development time, since that was determined with the pre-soak. Everybody's practice here will be slightly different, and yet they will still work.

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan9940 View Post
    I used to pre-soak all my film all the time years ago. Nowadays, I generally do a pre-soak only if using some non-standard development technique like minimal agitation, semi-stand, or stand development. I do, however, always use a pre-soak on the Jobo; mostly because it's recommended.
    Yes presoak with Jobo works for me- I was not getting even dev without one

  6. #6

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    That's interesting. Pre-soaking in 1% Kodalk would definitely accelerate subsequent development. But as you note, as long as you find a development time empirically including the pre-soak method, no problem.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    I pre-soak my 4x5 film for 2 minutes in a 1% Kodalk solution- that's just to keep the sheets from sticking together in the tray. I have no idea how it might affect development time, since that was determined with the pre-soak. Everybody's practice here will be slightly different, and yet they will still work.

  7. #7

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    Pre soak helps remove a dye layer with some films. Also helps with preventing Air Bells on the negative. If temperature control is monitored it can help with more even development.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    I ran into the same issue, Michael, perhaps two years ago or a bit less, when I was refining my times with the SLIMT technique, a pre-bleaching process for taming highlight density. I was stumped by the apparent increase in development, as shown in the lower values, when using the bleach vs. not -- entirely contradictory. It was our wise friend Doremus, who also uses SLIMT, who, in the course of some private message back-and-forth on possible variables, finally asked about pre-soak, making me realize that the several minutes of pre-bleach was, in that respect, a pre-soak.

    I used presoaking for my 4x5 processing in a rotary tank, for evenness, when I was using it a good deal, back when. I haven't yet had the volume more recently to see whether I'll stick with it. The water certainly came out black with HP5.
    Philip Ulanowsky

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  9. #9

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    Re: Pre-wash/soak and development time (B&W neg), or don't assume

    Thanks for this, Philip. Interesting how we sometimes discover little things in roundabout ways. And yes - Doremus is always helpful!

    I had used a pre-soak with certain methods and no pre-soak with other methods but this was the first time I had ended up with pre-soak/no pre-soak but otherwise identical processes, so it was an interesting sidebar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ulophot View Post
    I ran into the same issue, Michael, perhaps two years ago or a bit less, when I was refining my times with the SLIMT technique, a pre-bleaching process for taming highlight density. I was stumped by the apparent increase in development, as shown in the lower values, when using the bleach vs. not -- entirely contradictory. It was our wise friend Doremus, who also uses SLIMT, who, in the course of some private message back-and-forth on possible variables, finally asked about pre-soak, making me realize that the several minutes of pre-bleach was, in that respect, a pre-soak.

    I used presoaking for my 4x5 processing in a rotary tank, for evenness, when I was using it a good deal, back when. I haven't yet had the volume more recently to see whether I'll stick with it. The water certainly came out black with HP5.

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