Divided developers

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Photo Engineer, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Seeing posts on APUG regarding divided developers for B&W and even for color, I feel moved to make one very important point for you who favor this method.

    A divided developer works by imbibing, or soaking up, part A and then carrying it over into part B where development takes place. It relies on imbibing the right amount of developer, and then it relies on exhausing it either by use or diffusion in the two step operation.

    Now, here are the problems.

    Divided developers are dependant on swell and thickness of the film. If either or both of these vary, then the results will vary regardless of the ability of the film emulsion itself to respond.

    If a manufacturer makes a film "X" and then improves its sharpness by coating less gelatin, then the emulsion is thinner and swells less. Regardless of the fact that may be the same emulsion, it will respond to a regular developer as desired, but will respond to a divided developer in a different, and less effective manner.

    If a manufacturer were to change from formaldehyde hardening to glutaraldehyde hardening, the coating would be as hard, but would swell slightly more in the latter case, giving more reactivity to a divided developer, but the normal reactivity to a normal developer.

    Therefore, you should very carefully examine each film for your divided developer before going ahead with a given project, or you may not get what you expect. Coating formulas change all the time.

    If Kodak or Ilford were to change the speed of the coating machine, for example, they would re-formulate the film to give identical results in a given developer. They cannot test all possible developers, so they have a standard release test. If the film works, it is sold, but this change, whatever it was, would impact more heavily on the divided developer.

    I suspect that is why modern films seem to work less well in divided developers. Among other things, they are much harder than older films by virtue of using a different hardener than the old formalin hardener. They are thinner, because t-grains are only 'two dimensional' rather than 3 dimensional 'rocks' or klunkers as we called them. Therefore, less gelatin has to be coated. The 3 D grains would stick up out of the gelatin if there was not enough gelatin to cover them. (that is a simplistic picture but you get the idea).

    PE
     
  2. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Not only do I get the picture I am better for being given the opportunity to have seen it. Thank you.
     
  3. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    PE,

    Very informative and helpful post. Thanks very much!

    I've advocated a divided developer (Diafine) for newbies when first trying to get them started because of ease of use. It's good to know that routine testing and retesting is called for when using it (at least until graduating to something like Pyrocat, that is).

    Once I get my darkroom back up, though, I'd been planning on using a divided Ansco 130 as referenced in this thread and this one as a paper developer. Assuming that paper emulsions are much thicker than film, is it safe to assume that paper is more likely to perform consistenly over time with divided developers than than is film?

    -KwM-
     
  4. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    KwM.

    NO!

    Paper formulas can vary in gelatin levels just as films can, but the limits of variation are lower than film. Even so, you would probably see it with a divided developer.

    PE
     
  5. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    ...so the only way to compensate would be to adjust the formula for part A of Ansco 130 to make it more or less strong, right? Any guidance about how to approach that, should one find it necessary? Or am I getting away from a possible subtext of your message which might be "divided developers -- not such a good idea with contemporary materials"?


    -KwM-
     
  6. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Divided developers are just fine AFAIK.

    I personally avoid them due to the potential for problem as noted above.

    I think that with appropriate testing, they are just fine for a given product. For example, with a 100 sheet box of 8x10, you could use 2 sheets cut into 4x5 and have 8 test sheets for the developer. Once the base line is established, the rest of that box, and every box with the same emulsion # should perform exactly the same.

    I see no real problem then if that is what you prefer.

    With all that I have to do in my DR, I have little time for this type of additional problem, you see. So, it is not that they are bad developers.

    PE
     
  7. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    I think that there is provided here, not said but extractible from it, the idea to, if you consider divided devlopment very important to you to buy large, relative to your useage, of those films that you use this method on and to make sure they are kept frozen and are of the same emulsion batch. When changing to a new batch test at least one sheet.

    Hey, life already has more uncertanties than I prefer.
     
  8. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    I agree about the film, but not about paper. I never met a divided paper developer I didn't like. Have used my old standby variant of divided Ansco 125 for years with a wide variety of papers, ancient and modern, graded and VC, and have never noticed any difference in the results that I could attribute to the developer.

    With graded papers, I frequently ran two Bath A trays--one with Ansco 120 (essentially Selectol Soft) and one with Ansco 125-- (minus the carbonate, of course) and was able to easily get intermediate grades by choosing one or the other for the first bath. Especially in darkrooms with hard-to-maintain temperatures, divided developers can be lifesavers. As you say, film is a bit more tricky, but in my experience, paper is a breeze.

    Larry
     
  9. Photo Engineer

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    Larry, just to use an example for you, many paper types contain incorporated developing agents and many do not. Their response to divided developers will differ sharply! This is because the incorporated agent diffuses out in the first bath and the paper is designed to work with it present.

    Another example might be an RC and a baryta paper, or two baryta papers from two manufacturers with no incorporated developer. Depending on silver and gelatin levels, these 4 products could react vastly differently to divided developers, but react the same to something like Dektol.

    But, as I always say... "Use what works for you".

    PE
     
  10. Les McLean

    Les McLean Subscriber

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    I have to agree with Larry on Divided Developers, a description that seems to be the fashionable way of referring to Two Bath Developers. For 25 years I have used all manner of two bath developers in in conjunction with numerous papers in my print making and have never been disappointed with the results. I think we are in danger of getting bogged down in technical and manufacturing speak when, in my opinion, we should be making prints, developing films and making judgements with the eyes and heart. Certainly I am not critical of people like Ron imparting knowledge and years of experience in the manufacturing side of photographic products, but the final judgement should come from the sensitivities of the photographer and not from techno speak. Consequently, if it works for you my advice is to disregard the techno speak.
     
  11. Photo Engineer

    Photo Engineer Subscriber

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    Les, I agree. See the last sentence in my post above yours.

    PE
     
  12. kwmullet

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    Just wanted to add a report that I mixed up a divided Ansco 130 as per this post between 1-2 years ago, but haven't had my darkroom back up until yesterday. It being a Sunday, and not having any options for buying paper developer, I decided to try my old and somewhat oxidized divided Ansco 130 a try.

    FIrst I ran an unexposed piece of paper through it to test for chemical fog. Then, I exposed a piece of paper to room light and ran it to test for activity, and they came out as paper white and maximum black, respectively. Then I (or rather Dianna... she got to use the darkroom first) started running prints, and as expected, during a minute in bath "A", no image came up, then promptly after a few moments in bath "B" (mixed fresh... just 3oz of A&H Washing Soda and 1L water) the images came up with great tonality.

    If this stuff can sit in a bottle in an un air-conditioned room for the better part of two years, and work like this, I'm sold.

    -KwM-
     
  13. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I've been using divided 130 for about a year now, based on posts on APUG - same A solution over that time. I've used it with Ilford MGIV and Kentmere Bromide (both of which have incorporated developers) and JandC Polywarmtone (which does not have incorporated developers).

    Since I'm too cheap to turn on the air conditioning or the heat, my darkroom temperature can vary greatly. This method of developing seems to overcome the need for precise temperature control.

    So far, this is my second favorite paper developer - second only to MAS amidol.
    juan
     
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  15. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    This is interesting but I missed the motive of splitting the 130 in the first thread. I assume you can control the contrast a little by pulling it from the B bath sooner or leaving it cook longer? or no, you are looking to bring out better separation in the high and low values of the print? or is it simply that you can leave it for a long time, thus preventing your glycin from spoiling in powder form?
    Best regards,
    James
     
  16. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Dividing the developer serves to extend the useful life, and also to provide for maximim repeatability. I've read here (haven't gotten a chance to use it that way yet) that divided print developer is great for batch processing in print exchanges, especially things like postcard exchanges, where you want to process a stack of prints at one time. Just make sure everything gets well-soaked in "A", then well soaked in "B" and they will should be very uniform in comparison.

    Also, from what I've read, the only way "A" will go bad is when it's carried off the print into "B". As long as you've got enough volume of "A" to process prints, it should work just the same (AFAIK, YMMV).

    "B" is nothing more than grocery store stuff -- just three ounces of washing soda disolved in water to make on liter of solution. WHen you're B is used up, just make more on the spot.

    To my mind, the only downside is you need room for one more tray (unless you're doing single-tray or Nova processor development or something like that).

    -KwM-
     
  17. blackmelas

    blackmelas Subscriber

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    Repeatability sounds like a great benefit. I'll have to try it for the next postcard exchange. I must have ruined half a dozen trying to batch process for Round 6.
    Thanks,
    James

     
  18. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Thanks for the feedback juan and -KwM-

    Glad to hear the recipe is working for you!
     
  19. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    I should probably add that I used regular Ansco 130 1:1 for paper, so when I mixed the A solution for divided 130, I diluted the formula with another liter of water, making a working solution of 2-liters. That's what I've been using for a year.
    juan
     
  20. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Hrm... I wonder if I could carry the idea of having a divided developer over to the two bath developer arena? Would there be merit in mixing up Ansco 120 (sans carbonate) and using Ansco 130 (same deal) as soft and hard developers, respectively, then using a common "B" bath with them?

    Hrm.. now that I write it all out, maybe not. Maybe the entire idea behind two bath developing / using a hard and soft developer is to develop by inspection -> distinctly contrary to the one-fixed-level-of-development provided by a divided developer.

    Thoughts?

    Btw -- I neglected to give Tom Hoskinson his due. Thanks, Tom, for answering all my inane questions about divided developers over the past couple of years. I got everything I wanted when we souped prints in divided Ansco 130 yesterday after the stock solution had been sitting on the shelf for months and months and months.

    -KwM-
     
  21. Photo Engineer

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    I'm working on a developer myself to address the problem of long life and large capacity. At present, it has about 4x the capacity of the same amount of Dektol and the same curve shape. It lasts in the tray about 4x longer as well.

    I'm still running tests.

    PE
     
  22. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Once upon a time I had a stabilization processor with which I used the Kodak paper and chemicals. The prints were very good. I fixed them before they began to turn brown and still have some. When the stabilization processor broke down, I developed the paper in a solution of washing soda.

    The Kodak paper was FB. Upon occasion, I would use ordinary FB paper and presoak it a few seconds in a very strong developer without the alkali. RC paper did not work well because, I suppose, the base + emulsion did not absorb enough of the first solution.

    A major difference between film and paper is that paper is ordinarily developed to completion. Film seldom is. The second solution can be made quite caustic for paper. With many if not most papers, there is a fair amount of leeway between full development and over development, fog being the limiting factor more than density. I have always found that if I had to "jerk" a print before completion, it was not a good print except for the purpose of telling me to expose less.
     
  23. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    If you'll look back on the first page of this thread you'll see where I've advocated doing exactly this. I used Ansco 120 and 125 (same as Dektol) rather than 130, but the results will be the same. Don't put the paper in both A baths, however. Choose either soft or hard, and then on to the B bath with the carbonate. For graded papers, it's a great way to get intermediate grades. Since I can do that another way with VC papers, I no longer bother with the soft Bath A.

    Nope, the whole point of the two-bath is that in Bath B, whatever amount of developer the latent image soaked up in Bath A will develop to completion in Bath B. You will not see a visible image in Bath A, even if you leave it there all day. The latent image will only soak up as much of the developing agent as it needs. In Bath B, it "pops" almost immediately, and develops to completion in less than a minute. There's nothing to inspect. It just happens. That's why it's so easy and so repeatable. Print 10 run through the chemicals will look like Print 1 providing you gave the same exposure under the enlarger.

    Larry
     
  24. kwmullet

    kwmullet Subscriber

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    Actually, the way I read your post was that you saw that as an OPTION of doing either a soft or a hard. I'm talking about putting a print in one developer for a bit, then when you have the desired effect, putting it in the other. In that situation, I don't see how you could do it with a divided formula, since it requires development by inspection.

    Actually, Larry, I was using the term "two bath developer" in the sense that Les was using it above, to describe a process where you have a hard developer in one bath, and a soft developer in another.

    I meant that in a wholly different way than DIVIDED DEVELOPER where you've got all of the formula but the carbonate in one tray and the carbonate in another.

    With TWO BATH developing, you have two trays, two developers.
    With DIVIDED developer, you have two trays, one developer (divided between the two trays)
    With TWO BATH DIVIDED developing, you would have potentially three trays, if all but the carbonate for the soft developer was in one tray, all but the carbonate for the hard developer was in a second tray, and the third tray had carbonate.

    The thrust of my post was wondering if a TWO BATH (two developer, one soft, one hard) situation could be used in a DIVIDED (all but carbonate in one tray and carbonate in another) arrangement.

    I doubted that it would be useful, because if you use BOTH the SOFT and the HARD developer on the same print, alternating between the two, it requires that the image come up during inspection so you can pull it at just the right time, not that the emulsion soak up some developing agent which would then be activated by the carbonate to a fixed level of development.

    shoot. I should have never made that post in the first place. Where's that time-reversal knob?

    -KwM-
     
  25. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I test papers for incorporated developer. The last two
    tested were Forte Polywarmtone and Kentmere Fineprint.
    Not a trace.

    Have you tested the three papers you've mentioned?
    My method is to expose then develope with a carbonated
    only solution; a certain real world test. A gram in 125ml
    of water will do a 5x7. Dan
     
  26. Petzi

    Petzi Member

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    Does this apply to Tetenal Emofin?