Ancient Developer recipes

Discussion in 'Silver Gelatin Based Emulsion Making & Coating' started by ozwoodnbrass, Sep 21, 2010.

  1. ozwoodnbrass

    ozwoodnbrass Member

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    Greetings all . Having seen successful work done with homemade emulsions, I'm wondering if anyone has tried using ancient developer recipes ? And would you bother in the face of modern chemistry ?
     
  2. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Greetings ozwoodnbrass, and welcome to APUG. Speaking for myself only, I would not bother.
     
  3. alexhill

    alexhill Member

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    I'd try anything that has some promise to it given time. I've always believed that experimentation will lead to better photography. And I don't want 'better' photography to mean only technically better. There is a lot that can be of conceptual benefit like historical accuracy. Do you have any specific recipes you are talking about?

    Welcome to Apug!
     
  4. dwross

    dwross Member

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    The best developer recipe is the one that is 'best' for your film, paper, and overall process, i.e. gives you results you like best.

    From the beginning, developer recipe innovations have marched side-by-side with emulsion progress, so old emulsions may not give their best response with modern developers, nor modern emulsions give their best with antique developers. That said, old photographic recipes are an awful lot like heirloom vegetables and fruits. Once upon a time, there were hundreds and hundreds of apple varieties, and tomatoes, widely grown and readily available. Today, how many can you find in a typical chain grocery store? The heirlooms didn't disappear because they weren't tasty or nutritious. It's just that they didn't meet the requirements of industrial food production. It was much the same with developer recipes. Only a small number were suitable for being packaged in one or two yellow bags, then shipped to darkroom supply stores around the world. Fortunately, if you are willing to order a few oddball chemicals and mix your own brews, the possibilities really open up. Steve Anchell's darkroom cookbooks are a great resource.

    One word of advice, though. Unless you really hate a particular developer from the first go, don't jump around too compulsively. Work with any given recipe for at least a half dozen darkroom sessions, trying slightly different parameters each time. Speaking from slightly embarrassing experience, that's the only way to truthfully evaluate your workflow.

    Welcome to APUG. Hope to hear many tales of your experiences.
    d
     
  5. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I have several hundreds of pre WWI developer formulae, every company had their own and when you look just how many companies made plates, paper & then roll film just in the UK alone at that time and realise that companies in other European countries, North America etc had their own as well then the number must be well over a thousand or two.

    Most fit groups of quite similar types, many more modern Kodak formulae are based on those of companies they took over. However there are some older developer of possible interest but these are the ones that deviate from the norm, often from companies that just disappeared.

    Ian
     
  6. Alan Johnson

    Alan Johnson Subscriber

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    One I would like to try is Meritol. From reading old magazines it was very popular in the UK in 1946-52 (the magazines I have) and as a compound of Pyrocatechol a staining developer and paraphenylenediamine a grain solvent it should have interesting properties.It's not sold anymore though.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I used Johnsons Unitol a Meritol based developers back in the late 1960's & very early 70's. I suspect it was later reformulated.

    Meritol is definitely one of the important developing agents (combination product) that have been lost commercially, well never know some of the formulae. Edmund Lowe talks about it in his 1939 book on Developers and developers base on it were already very popular in Europe before WWII.

    Some pre-WWII books also contain some other interesting combinations for fine grain developers, Pyrogallol/PPD, Pyrocatechin/Metol, etc.

    Ian
     
  8. ozwoodnbrass

    ozwoodnbrass Member

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    Hi Guys Thanks for your response. This is an area I would like to look into. I intend to get into home brew emulsions in the future. But it will be quite some time yet. I have to restore the camera first and then build a darkroom and reacquaint myself with using it.