Brush development - some thoughts

Discussion in 'Ultra Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Kimberly Anderson, May 18, 2006.

  1. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

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    I've exposed and processed six sheets of 12x20 FP4 so far, and here's a short report.

    I am developing in Ilfosol S diluted 1:14 (more on that later...), in 16x20 trays. 9.5 mins @ 68-70ish deg. f., one sheet at a time.

    First sheet had tremendous underdevelopment in the center of the sheet, so I decided to go straight to the brush.

    I am using the Richeson 'Magic Brush', 2-inches wide and was brushing in random patterns all over the film for the entire development. After looking at a few sheets I went to brushing for a minute, resting for a minute, until the development was done.

    I have no scratches at all, and the development is very consistent, complete and most importnat of all, it is even in all regards.

    I am wondering if anyone has a different technique to share or any thoughts on why I would brush continually vs. alternating brushing/resting? Frankly I just thought my arm could use a rest, so I went to the brush/rest technique.

    The negatives are being rated at ISO 50, which I believe might still be a little fast.

    The negatives when developed are generally quite flat, except in areas of extreme overexposure, such as bright sky from inside a potato-cellar (very dark). My best exposure, straight late afternoon sun, high diffused clouds, moderate contrast range, still looks very soft & flat.

    I am using Ilfosol S because it is the developer that Ilford recommends with FP4. I am using the 1:14 dilution in order to fill the entire tray. I am thinking that the 1:8 dilution might be a little punchier for the development.

    Short of PMK, which I am tempted to jump into anyway, are there other developers and times which might result in a slightly contrastier negative?

    Just looking for some general feedback about the brushing development technique and maybe some ideas about rating the FP4 and development.

    Thanks!

    Oh...no prints yet, sorry. :sad:
     
  2. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Well, look a Pyrocat HD instead of PMK - I think you'll have better luck with it as far as even development is concerned, especially with such large sheets of film.
     
  3. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

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    10-4, thanks. :smile:
     
  4. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I use brush development for 8x10. I use a 2" hake brush - I think the bristles are softer than the Richeson and there's no need to keep them together as there is when coating an emulsion.

    I brush in a pattern - horizontally from top to bottom, then vertically from left to right, then horizontally again from bottom to top, then vertically again from right to left. I don't know if this method is any better than any other, but I've never had a negative that's unevenly developed.
    juan
     
  5. vet173

    vet173 Member

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    I second the pyrocat suggestion. I am now using pyrocat-p as it is easier to mix. Otherwise they are about the same. You should be able to get more speed also. I shoot Fp-4 at 100. If you are going to do intermittant agitation, start with ten min 1:1:100. I am now doing semi stand 1.5:1:200 agitatation once half way thru. 23 min @ 72. 1.6 DR
     
  6. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I say get a larger hake brush, it's what i use for brush developing my 8x10 (I use a 3" for that). No reason to waste a "magic" brush on developing your negs when a $5 of whatever hake brush will suffice.
     
  7. Kerik

    Kerik Member

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    I've been using PMK and Rollo Pyro with FP4 for MANY years. PMK when the light is harsh and Rollo when it's soft. I develop up to 3 sheets of 12x20 or 14x17 at a time in a tray. Face down, shuffling from the bottom to the top. I tried a quick side-by-side test with Pyrocat HD vs. Rollo using FP4 in soft light. The Rollo was the clear winner for me, although it was a just one-time test. I've had such great results with PMK and Rollo, that if it ain't broke...
     
  8. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I don't know what process you are developing for, but even it is for Pt./Pd. you could get plenty of contrast even in very low contrast scenes with a non-staining developer like D-76 1:1. Getting the right contrast involves nothing more and nothing less than understanding the necessary ES of your printing process, and how long you need to develop a given film in a specific developer to get the required density range.

    In other words, you don't need to switch developers, at least not at this point. You just need to increase time of development, or use a stronger dilution of the developer. It is really that simple.

    Also, do you have a lot of experience with brush development? If not, it really does not make much sense to me to be experimenting with a new method of development at the same time you are working with a new, and very large, format.


    Sandy
     
  9. Mike A

    Mike A Member

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    For processing 11x14 it's come down to using Pyrocat HD @ 1:1:200 semi stand in three separate trays with a 4" .99 cent foam paint brush although I hear a 8" Hake brush is better. The brush development was the best way I could keep from scratching the notoriously soft Efke film. I'm using night vision goggles during all this so a single tray is probably what you'll want to stick with.
     
  10. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

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    I am in complete agreement with this. I am getting a handle on the accuracy of the shutters, the development times, and just the basic physical operation of the camera. Lots to learn in a short time, but I feel I have a good grasp of it after 2 weeks of shooting. Quite a bit different than the 8x10, but mostly in terms of the physical 'grunt' it takes to get the camera operational, and the bit of a stretch it takes to focus.

    It is interesting to have to move around to the front of the camera to make any rise/fall adjustments and then move around to the back and see if you like what you did. Much different in that regard from the 4x5 I learned view camera movements on!

    Right now I'm developing for silver prints, but with the goal of pt/pd, VDB, carbon, etc... I want to establish a 'baseline' of comfort with all of the equipment, film and developing before I make my final tweaks for the negatives for different printing techniques.

    I'm not really sure that you need to have a lot of experience with the brush development to make it work well. The soft brush and gentle random brush strokes are giving me perfectly even development. Other than changing out the brush for a hake brush (I can't even find a decent hake brush in Rexburg, Idaho), I wouldn't change anything about the technique, or even second guess doing it in the first place.

    The results w/out the brush were disasterous, and I don't feel it's worth the risk of ruining more negatives just to try to get the agigation in the tray to work. Hake brush purchase coming up later today now that I'm back in Salt Lake for the weekend.

    Thanks for the feedback about the staining developers. I'll get some of it and prepare to use it in a while.

    I made two more views last night driving down yesterday evening. Photographed the Red Rock Pass where ancient Lake Bonneville drained northward into the Snake River valley. Should be a nice addition to my Great Salt Lake project.
     
  11. scootermm

    scootermm Subscriber

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    I have to reiterate Keriks comment of "if it aint broke" so if things are working for you one way, dont mess with a good thing.

    Michael for what its worth, if you continue doing the brush development, get a really large hake brush from jerrysartarama.com, for 7x17 negatives I use a 10" Mandalay Hake brush
    http://www.jerrysartarama.com/art-supply/catalogs/0064408000000
    only $10 and I usually buy two or three of them and dedicate them for negative development. tossing them as they get old and start falling apart.
    given the size of 7x17 and (your) 12x20 negs one thing to consider looking into is getting a small 7.5 watt safelight and green filter and you could experiment with dev. by inspection.
    Michael Smith has a very good article about it here:
    http://www.michaelandpaula.com/mp/devinsp.html
    after reading that article and just diving right in I found it to be pretty "easy" to learn.
    good luck with it. Sounds like you are really on your way and doing well with it.
     
  12. Mike A

    Mike A Member

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    Wow! thats resonable, I don't know why I had it in my mind they were much more expensive.
     
  13. Michael Meacham

    Michael Meacham Member

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    Mike,

    I, too prefer D-76. I mix it according to the package directions and then use it straight with no further dilution. I rate my B&W film at half what the MFG calls for when I expose it, but process at the normal ASA. I develop for 10 minutes at 68 degrees. If I am doing negs for alternative processes, I expose for double the time called for and develop for double the time, (20 minutes). I haven't tried the brush technique.

    Mike