Developing Changes

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by brofkand, Nov 18, 2008.

  1. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Hi all,

    I am looking to expand or change my processing ritual. I've been "doing it by the book" for a while now, and I would like to know if there's something I could do to get different (not necessarily better) results. More/less grain, more/less highlight/shadow detail, etc. Here is my ritual currently (btw, I use steel tanks and reels). I mostly use the Arista II Agfa film (I still have quite a few rolls left), but I also use Arista EDU Ultra and TMY occasionally (when I develop 120 film).

    -Pre-soak with constant agitation for ~30 seconds or so (tap water)
    -Developer: 1:18 dilution, 12 minute develop. Agitate for 8 seconds every minute. (I use Arista liquid concentrate developer).
    -Stop: tap water, ~3 minutes, constant agitation
    -Fix: 1:1 or 1:2 dilution, 5 minutes, agitate every 8 seconds. I use Arista powdered Rapid Fix.
    -Final stop, process similar to stop after developer
    -Wash: Remove lid from reel, allow it to fill up with fresh tap water, and let it flow for 5 minutes, dumping out tank about every minute.

    I realize this is a fairly vanilla setup. The only thing I would like to change is I would like to see a bit less grain. The images I've been getting are pretty grainy for 400 speed film, I think. I can scan in a print and show you if you care to see.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

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    I would recommend trying a different dilution with your developer or perhaps trying a different fine-grain developer such as Ilford's DDX which comes in a liquid concentrate or Perceptol if you feel up to mixing powders. A change in developer is a fairly big step and you may need to do a little bit of testing to get development times that produces negatives that have all the same characteristics in terms of contrast but finer grain. For instance, DDX is a speed-enhancing developer giving you more detail in your shadows. Perceptol on the other hand will sacrifice speed for finer grain which may require you to expose your film differently (eg at a lower EI in order to pick up detail in the shadows).
     
  3. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    You could use a dev which gives finer grain like Microdol-X/Perceptol. These devs, argueably, give a less sharp appearance. There are also staining devs which "mask" grain. But, the best way to decrease grain is to move to a bigger format camera.
     
  4. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Thanasis: When you say different dilution, what would you recommend? I'm not really open to changing developers at this point since I feel comfortable with Arista's dev. I know how it reacts to temperature changes, how long to develop to push or pull, etc.
     
  5. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    Your variables are:
    - Film Exposure
    - Developer dilution
    - Developer temperature
    - Developing time
    - Agitation
    1. Film exposure - you can play with exposing your film at different EIs for various effects. Try grossly overexposing your neg and underdeveloping for a pretty flat look. Or try underexposing your film and overdeveloping for a lot of contrast.
    2. Developer dilution - the more you dilute your developer, the less active it becomes. This can benefit for compensating effects where your shadow values continue to develop normally while your highlights develop less rapidly. Or the other way around. A less dilute developer is more active, which can help flat lighting.
    3. Temperature - Same analogy as above. Hotter = more active. But watch it and play within reasonable temperatures. The film can only handle so much, and the whole chain of processing chemicals should ideally be the same temperature, unless you are looking to purposely reticulate your film. If so, develop in warm developer and use a very cold stop bath.
    4. Developing time - Same analogy as dilution and temperature basically.
    5. Agitation - in my opinion the most interesting one. When you reduce agitation, especially when using dilute developers, and agitate every 3 or 5 minutes, you start seeing some pretty interesting changes. Highlights are held back, your agitation largely determines what your midtones are going to look like, and shadow values usually develop very very nicely.
    Print your negs very often to notice the differences.

    I really like your approach with sticking to the same materials while altering your methodology. That's the way to go to fully understand film development.

    - Thomas
     
  6. seawolf66

    seawolf66 Member

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    In my mind there is only one way to get less grain shoot low ISO speeds , Not that there is not a place to shoot higher iSO speeds, MySelf I use FP-4 rated at ISO 125 but shoot it at ISO 50 , and I use ID-11 cut to 1 to 3 with a 9-1/2 developing time , all this amounts to is experimenting with the film you use and the developer you use
     
  7. brofkand

    brofkand Member

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    Thomas,

    I really like the idea of unerexposing and overdeveloping. So, I would shoot my 400 speed film as if it were 200 speed, and then develop for 400 speed?

    I love contrast in B&W pictures.

    I also like the idea of diluting more and developing longer with more agitation. I'll have to do some research and play around with some rolls of film.

    Thanks!
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    You have it switched around. If you want to underexpose and overdevelop, you need to shoot the film as if it were a higher speed film (e.g. 800 ISO), and then develop it for longer than normal.

    You will lose some shadow detail.

    Hope this helps.

    Matt
     
  9. Thanasis

    Thanasis Member

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    Hi brofkand,
    I've never used the Arista developer so I am not sure of it's characteristics in grain vs dilution so perhaps I gave you bum advice in dilution having any noticeable effect on grain size with this particular developer. In my experience though with ID-11, I have noticed a decrease in grain size with 35mm Tri-X film when I develop it in stock solution as opposed to 1+1 or 1+3 dilutions.