Help With Chemistry!!!!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Bighead, Feb 15, 2005.

  1. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    I am in final stages of completing my own darkroom. This space will be used by two photographers ALOT as well as the occasional friend. I have been using school facilities for some time... I am adept at mixing school chemicals (D76 and other basics) as well as using some Tmax dev. for Tmax film.... Thats about it.

    I own the "Darkroom Cookbook" and this place seems to be a great resource but chemcals are just a little intimidating to me. I'm torn between keeping things simple and experimenting with all kinds of stuff. I'd like to mix my own stuff as opposed to buying mixes.

    Is there a good developer that can be standardized easily and maybe tweaked here and there, to do other things? What are good, easy Stops and Fixes?

    Anyone have any advice on the matter?
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    D-23 is pretty simple. Not the cheapest developer to make but the difference is likely pennies per roll. You can tweak it with dilution.

    TF-2 is a pretty simple fixer.

    Stop? Water and vinegar. Pretty simple.

    If you decide to mix your own you can just lay in a few common chemicals and then mix up most things.

    Metol
    Hydroquine
    Sodium sulfite
    plus a few others and you'll be able to mix most developers.

    If you really wanted you could try a different developer with each roll. I wouldn't reccomend it but the only thing stopping you is your willingness to experiment.
     
  3. apratsunrthd

    apratsunrthd Member

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    At the risk of being no help to you, I'll throw in my 2 cents.

    You'll find that the type of film you use may yield radically different results in various developers. If I had to recommend one developer, that's fairly 'tweakable', it would be HC-110. Experimenting with various dilutions and agitation methods will provide you a variety of results for any film. Many would probably say the same of Rodinal though I limit my Rodinal use to slow films in an attempt to minimize perceived grain.

    The easiest stop for me is distilled water. Many will tell you it can yield uneven results, but I've never had uneven results due to the stop bath.

    I switched to TF-4 archival fixer about 6 months ago and I will NEVER use any other fixer. It's fast, consistent, and MUCH easier to get rid of while washing. Furthermore, if you ever get into using any of the Pyro developers, TF-4 is the fixer you will see highly recommended for them.

    I hope I helped somewhat.
     
  4. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    I'd like to experiment but I think I'm still wet enough behind the ears that I may not notice the differences... I think I want to keep a standard going for the most part... Try new things when I've run out of ideas on what to work on... You know?? I'm kind of a control freak and I think I value consistancy more than anything. I know, not great words coming from an "artist"...

    I'm steering away from Tmax films and am using mostly Ilford. I may use something slow one day and Delta 3200 the next...
    Thanks guys....
     
  5. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    This would be an opinion, NOT advice. I have only been at this for about 8 months, so very much the beginner. I like things simple, so I bought the raw chemicals and mix my own D23. I use it divided and develop both film and paper in it. It's simple, easy to mix, easy to use and cheap enough. My next self mixes are going to be stop and fix so that I can reduce darkroom odour.

    cheers
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    To begin with, buy the chemicals for D-23. Add borax and sodium carbonate to your shopping list - and a little potassium bromide is handy too.

    You will then have enough chemicals to use D-23 for fine grain, two versions of "divided" D-23 with different contrast and grain size, as well as "Beutler's" for maximum sharpness (and grain) with slow films.

    If I use stop bath at all I use citric acid in water.

    For fixer I will [blatant plug]recommend my own construct: OF-1. Find it in the Chemical Recipes section. [/blatant plug]
     
  7. KenR

    KenR Member

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    I have been mixing my own D-76 for several years now as per the formulas in the Darkroom Cookbook. I use the buffered version, with boric acid and additional borax and use the "spoon" equivalents for easier mixing, buying all ingredients from Photographers Formulary. It takes only slightly longer than mixing from store bought powder but I find that I know the age of the ingredients whereas when I bought locally, I purchased old (brown) developer on several occations. I guess if I was more consistant in my photographic habits I would be able to buy the correct amounts of developer, but I photograph in fits and starts and so need fresh developer at 10PM on a Sunday night, 3 or 4 months after my last purchase.
     
  8. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    Thats one I was looking for... A standard recipe with a good "tweak" factor.... I will give that a shot, at first.... Everyone, thank you for your advice thus far... Please keep the comments coming.
     
  9. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    D23, 7.5 grams metol and 100 grams sodium sulfite,
    is a complete film developer in itself. You then use
    a bath 2 for further development; some alkali?

    Do you use two bath for both film and paper?
    Is that second bath the same for the two?

    I compound all chemistry used and use
    all one-shot. Dan
     
  10. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hi Dan,

    Yup - same for both paper and film, I guess it's "divided" development because I do a soak in the D23 for approx 3 to 5 min for film and 1-1/2 to 3 min for paper, then I put it into the second bath for times which vary according to whether or not I've deliberately (or mistakenly :smile:) over or under exposed the film. The second bath for me is sodium metaborate, which I think Ole has identified as Borax and which I seem to remember also being called "washing soda"? The idea (short and simple) is that a short bath in "A" gets the developer into the emulsion without any real developing happening, then the activator in "B" gets the developing going, but the absorbed developer is soon exhausted in the highlights, so they don't get all burned out, while it keeps working in the shadows and you end up with good shadow detail.
    I know that there are people here in APUG who can describe this correctly for you - far better than my amateur attempt here.

    Oh yeah :smile: I have also used Rodinal one shot and I liked it, but it's a liquid, and I'm sure it will freeze in cold enough weather. The only reasons that I wanted to learn to mix from dry chemicals is that 1) I will have a need in the future for chemicals that I can "pack" into the bush and use even in cold weather. This D23 stuff seems to fit the bill and it's cheap, and 2) dry stuff should be more rugged to pack and have an almost indefinite shelf life with less danger of spillage

    cheers eh?
     
  11. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I hope I haven't done that - you list three very different alkalis there!

    Metaborate can be made by mixing borax and lye at a very exact ratio, and is more alkaline than borax. "Washing soda" I believe is sodium carbonate, which is even more alkaline.

    All these alkalis can be used as bath "B", however. They will also give different results!
     
  12. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Correct, Ole -- borax is sodium tetraborate (usually the decahydrate, crystalline form is what's available). Sodium metaborate has been sold commercially as Kodalk, or Kodak Balance Alkali, and it somewhat self-buffering as well as being slightly more alkaline than borax. Washing soda is sodium carbonate, some places in Europe it's referred to as "household soda" and its primary use is for alkalizing laundry water to improve the action of detergents; it's more alkaline yet than either borax or sodium metaborate. Since, at least with metol, increasing alkalinity results in increasing activity, you can tailor how much development takes place in shadows in the second bath with a two-bath D-23 process by using one or another of these chemicals -- borax will give less increase to the shadows by the time the highlights exhaust, metaborate somewhat more, and carbonate the most (of these three).

    FWIW, a true "divided" development would have little or no alkali in the first bath -- D-23 made with, say, 20 g of sulfite, just enough for preservative function, instead of 100 g would qualify -- and the effect of that first bath is solely to saturate the emulsion with unactivated developer; very little or no development takes place even with a long soak (a few divided developers contain strong restrainers in Bath A to prevent premature development from taking place). The second bath then activates the developing agent carried over in the emulsion (and in the case of a reduced sulfite D-23 should contain the remainder of the sulfite that would otherwise have gone in the undivided developer as well as an alkali chosen to provide the effect desired). Such a true two-bath developer is very insensitive to time and temperature as long as minimums are observed -- temperature above about 65 F and time of at least three minutes in each bath is typical for two-bath "divided" developers -- and usually provides moderate to strong compensation due to local exhaustion in highlights.

    Another advantage of a true divided developer is that Bath A can be reused indefinitely and optionally replenished by simply replacing lost volume with fresh solution, while Bath B can be kept fresh by discarding and replacing an equal amount to that required to top up Bath A (the classic method of replenishing Diafine) -- or both baths can be reused until the volume loss on Bath A is excessive, then both discarded and replaced with fresh solution. With some divided developers, one needs to also watch for oxidation of the developing agent -- Divided D-76 is one where brownish discoloration of Bath A may be cause for replacement, just as it would be with stock solution of conventional D-76. Discoloration of Bath B is generally unimportant with true divided developers.

    If you're mixing your own D-23 anyway, it might be worth trying it as a true divided developer -- you'll probably find you like it, and you can still tailor the action by using Bath B made with sulfite only, borax, metaborate, or carbonate, in order of increasing levels of shadow development for a constant highlight density (given constant exposure, of course) (though the sulfite-only Bath B might require additional time in that bath compared to the others).
     
  13. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Check out my article in the "Chemistry Recipes" section on Divided Paper Developers. In addition to formulas, it gives a description of the technique and its advantages.

    If you like to play around a bit, I experimented for awhile with a developer I called D-23C. I reduced the amount of sulfite considerably and added a bit of ascorbic acid which is also superadditive with Metol. Worked well. But later, I became more attached to the Phenidone/Vitamin C formulas that Pat Gainer worked on, and that he and I and others have given formulas for in other posts on this forum. I rarely use Metol anymore or Sulfite (one of the more expensive chemicals in your arsenal.)

    Larry
     
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  15. Maine-iac

    Maine-iac Member

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    Actually when Bath A is only slightly brownish or yellowish, it's fine. Most Bath A's will oxidize to a light brown fairly quickly, but will stay potent for several months. I replace my Bath A's about every six months or so.

    Larry
     
  16. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    Gainer Vitamin C

    The Gainer Vitamin C developers are easily made as seperate stocks and by changing dilutions very nice for paper and film. I have worked with the metol versions only. Very, Very inexpensive.
     
  17. John Bartley

    John Bartley Member

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    Hmmm...now I wish I'd stayed in school :sad:

    A quick guess here. Will a stronger alkali cause a faster development in the "B" bath due to more vigourous activation of the developer?
     
  18. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Yes, stronger alkali causes increased activity with almost all developers. In a divided developer, however, this is limited by local exhaustion in highlights, so you will see less increase in contrast compared to what you might see in a conventional developer with a change to higher pH. What you likely will see in divided developer is a slight increase in mid-tone contrast, plus a change in the character of grain (borax tends to soften grain anyway, compared to carbonate). This is modified, of course, by the amount of sulfite present in the B bath.

    Yep, lots of variables -- but FWIW, Anchell & Troop consider the Divided D-76 that puts half the sulfite of the original D-76 formula in each bath as the best of the lot, using the original borax alkali.
     
  19. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    Borax is an alkali though it does not serve as such
    in D76. I say that though the sulfite is half the usuall
    amount, as you have stated. Borax is though
    an alkali. Is that all you ment to say? Dan
     
  20. jim appleyard

    jim appleyard Member

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    Could you share this D-23C formula with us?
     
  21. Donald Qualls

    Donald Qualls Member

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    Some confusion here, I think -- what you're saying is correct of sodium sulfite, which is the only alkali in traditional (undivided) D-23, but D-76 has borax as the accelerator, making the pH higher than sulfite would alone. The Divided D-76 I was referring to has the metol, hydroquinone, and half the sulfite in Bath A, and the remainder of sulfite and the borax in Bath B -- and in fact likely would produce some very slow development in Bath A alone (just as D-23 does with only metol and sulfite), because the sulfite is slightly alkaline.

    In general, unless there's a buffering agent present, the pH of a solution is determined by the strongest alkali present -- so if you have both sulfite and borax, the borax determines the pH and we use the shorthand of saying the borax acts as the accelerator or alkali in that developer. If there were (for some reason) both borax and sodium carbonate, the carbonate would act as the alkali because it produces a higher pH than the borax (one might do this with very low levels of carbonate to produce a graded developer, which will exhaust from high activity to low via neutralization of the tiny amount of carbonate, allowing pH to drop to that provided by the borax -- though I've never heard of a developer that does this). Sulfite, in most developers, acts only as a preservative (and silver solvent, if there's enough and the developing time is long enough), because there is a stronger alkali present in sufficient quantity not to be neutralized during development.
     
  22. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    We like to think that the second bath of two can only work while the first bath remains in the emulsion. It might be illuminating to use the 2-bath in the normal manner and use the remains of the second bath as a single solution developer for another piece of film. My money says you'll get an image after a while. Might start a trend among the masochists who leave film in weak developer for hours under the guise of stand development.
     
  23. Bighead

    Bighead Member

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    WOW!!! You guys are insane.. My head hurts after reading all of that... So maybe I should try a divided D23 or D76.... Experiement with the Bath B's, which will cause increase/decrease in contrast and grain??
     
  24. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    I don't know what you mean by "in general", but this is not really right.

    The pH of a solution is not determined by the strongest alkali present, the pH of the solution is determined by the equilibrium of the hydrogen ions donated (or accepted) by the compounds in the solution. Of course, one must consider relative concentrations of these compounds in the solution, as well as the alkalinity (or acidity) of each compound.

    "unless there's a buffering agent present, the pH of a solution is determined by the strongest alkali present" is wrong. You can easily make a solution that contains both sodium sulfite and sodium hydroxide and the pH can be much closer to the pH of a solution that contains a lot of sulfite, as opposed to one that conatins a lot of hydroxide.

    Buffering is a measure of a solutions resistance to change it's pH. Chemicals which are pH buffers are weak acids or bases, acids are proton (H+) donors, and bases are proton acceptors. Acids and their conjugate bases are in equilibrium, since equilibria are related to the properties of the reactants and products. So once you put these compounds into solution, they react and the solution comes to equilibria. It really has got nothing to do with "the strongest alkali present", as that statement does not take into account the concentration, i.e. the ratio, and the resulting equilibrium of the compounds present.

    And in the case of solutions that conatin both carbonate and borax, they are both are pH buffers, so then what does that mean in reagards to what you said?

    So if you have both sulfite and borax, the borax does have a greater alkalinity than the sodium sulfite, and it is even a better buffer, but depending on the amounts of each in solution, the pH may range from around 7 if there is a large excess of sulfite, to above pH 9 for a large excess of borax. You can get any pH you want in between those two values with different ratios of those two compounds.

    Or take solutions of carbonate and bicarbonate. A solution that has a high amount of carbonate and a very low amount of bicarbonate, will have a pH of abound 11. As you add more bicarbonate (or acid to convert some of the carbonate into bicarbonate), the pH of the solution will lower. When you have equal amounts of carbonate and bicarbonate in solution, the pH will be about 8.3. Continue on making solutions that have a great excess of bicarbonate over carbonate in them, and you will get a solution that has a pH of around 7.0.

    Even though the carbonate is a stronger base (and it has a greater alkalinity for a given amount) than the bicarbonate, it's not which is stronger, it is the ratio of them in the solution that determines the pH.

    The same goes for different ratios of borax and carbonate. The pH of a solution containing both borax and carbonate will reach an equilibrium pH - one that is somewhere between the pH of pure and concentrated solutions of each of these compounds.

    And therefore, you can't make statments like "If there were (for some reason) both borax and sodium carbonate, the carbonate would act as the alkali because it produces a higher pH than the borax." This statement does not take into accound the amount of the borax or the carbonate, and it completely ignores the fact that any solution of these two compounds will reach an equilibrium.

    It's not like the carbonate does all the pH work, and once that gets used up, the pH of the solution jumps down to the pH of the next "strongest alkali", the borax. Doesn't happen like that. (I do note that you do not say it drops in a big step, but you seem to imply that it does.)

    The pH of a mixture of carbonate and borax will change continuously as acid is added to it (or even stronger base). There is a continuum of pHs there that can be made, and you should consider a solution that contains both borax and carbonate (or any other compounds) to be a mixture that has a distinct pH based on the equilibria of the concentrations of those two compounds.
     
  25. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    Kodak packaged products are now dated so you should not receive old chemicals.

    Commercial products produce excellent results and unless you need some special effect not obtainable, I would invest in good glass storage containers instead.

    Another thing to consider is metol will age on your shelf. I costed Dektol and D72 in a gallon size and there was no cost savings based on Photographers Formulary costs a few years ago.

    Learn to print well before branching into unknown territory.
     
  26. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    I've got news for you and Mr. Qualls. Sodium sulfite has
    a GREATER alkalinity than borax. One-shoters don't need
    borax. The borax is there to absorb OH ions produced
    by the oxidation of hydroquinone; ph maintanance.

    The ph of bicarbonate and borax are nearly the same;
    9 plus a tenth or two depending on the data you read.
    The ph of sulfite runs above those two, up to
    several tenths, also depending. While on the
    subject of depending, who have you two
    been reading? Maybe A & T? Dan