How do I optimise neg development for alt proccess

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Falkenberg, Jun 16, 2008.

  1. Falkenberg

    Falkenberg Member

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    I have been shooting som FP4+ lately, but when I hav developed the negs, they dont give very good prints with alt process like cyanotype. Can I change anything in my development process to make the negs more suitable or do I have to look at myexposure or choise of film ?
     
  2. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    You might try a pyrogallol developer such as PMK or a pyrocatechin developer such as Pyrocat MC. These developers give negatives of higher contrast for processes that are mostly blue sensitive, yet are easily printed on VC papers.
     
  3. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I have done overdeveloping - up to 70-80% longer time for cyanotypes (Mike Wares cyanotype II) and that has worked out okey. Otherwise I am going to try Tanol and see if it works, and if so, I can use the negs for both silver and alt processes.
     
  4. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Pryo developers are good (but no post-developer staining baths!)

    My favorite method is to photograph high contrast subjects (7 to 9, or more "zones")...I like being able to use that kind of light for a change! I have been using FP4+ in Ilford Universal PQ Developer with success.

    I also have used Kodak (and Ilford) Copy film -- that stuff can yield a punchy neg! As long as the orthochromatic properties will work with the images one makes.

    Vaughn
     
  5. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    Firstly your film is fine - so long as it's fast enough for your subjects. There's no need for fancy developers as almost anything will do if you're experimenting. But you do need to optimise your development process and timings; and you need to optimise your exposure too. You need to make a negative with density that matches your process (which if I remember correctly is about a silver Grade 1 for cyanotypes), and both exposure and development effect negative density.

    The thing with cyanotypes is that they seem to block up very easily in both shadows and highlights, so you need good shadow detail on your negative and good highlights (i.e. not too dense).

    If you ask a more specific question in the APUG alt process forum more people will spot you and help...
     
  6. juan

    juan Subscriber

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    Alt process prints need higher contrast negatives, as a general rule. The way to get a higher contrast negative of a normal scene is to develop longer. Pyro developers will help because the stain helps block the UV light alt process emulsions are sensitive to, so you automatically have additional density in the negative. As you can see, it's a rather complex subject that will require a lot of study. I have found the Beyond The Zone System methods helpful in nailing down my longer development times.

    If you're just experimenting, I'd set up in a normal contrast situation, make three exposures, then develop one for your normal time, one at 50% more and one at 100% more. Then make prints. That should give you a range that will help you see the contrast differences. You may decide that you need to develop 200% more development. Good luck.
    juan
     
  7. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    No doubt that pyro is a fine developer, but it introduces as many problems as it solves. You don't need fancy developers to experiment with alt processes. I use Rodinal - and my prints are fine. And I did a workshop recently with someone who wanted to make a print from a Polaroid Type 55 negative. I've no idea what developer Polaroid used in these, but it didn't matter. We quite quickly made a beautiful platinum print using just the standard techniques. I'd strongly recommend staying with a simple developer and concentrating on learning the alt process. Later on you may feel the urge to try a pyro developer but at least by then you'll understand how the alt process deals with shadows and highlights, how much contrast control you've got, etc.

    As Juan says, try some test negatives with different exposures and developing times, then print them. If your shadows are blocked up then you're either under-exposing the negative, or over-exposing the print. Inspecting the negative to see what shadow detail exists will tell you which one is in error; adjust your process accordingly. When you've got your shadows sorted out (i.e. you're film speed is correct for your developer and your base print exposure is correct for your process) then move on to the highlights - adjust your development time until you've got your highlights working (you may need to make very slight adjustments to exposure when you're doing this because longer development times expand the shadows slightly, although not by much). You're now exposing for the shadows and developing for the highlights! And your negatives are matched to your alt process.

    A handy shortcut is, of course, finding someone who works with the process you want to try and ask them to show you - that'll save you lots of time and frustration. Presumably there are people in Denmark who can help you with this.
     
  8. Falkenberg

    Falkenberg Member

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    thanks for all the input. I have a lot of testing ahead of me. Any final thoughts on negs for saltprinting ?
     
  9. Ian Leake

    Ian Leake Subscriber

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    I haven't tried salt printing I'm afraid. I believe it requires a dense and contrasty negative that's similar to a platinum negative (though it's very possible that I could be wrong). My rule of thumb when using a new film or developer for platinum negatives is to expose at the box speed but develop for the time the Massive Dev chart recommends for N+1 (perhaps 40% to 50% longer than silver), and then adjust from there. Half the fun (and frustration) of alt processes is in the trial and error :smile: Good luck!
     
  10. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Salt prints are the longest scale of all the printing processes.
    Juan has given you the best advise for getting started with cyanotyoe and some of the other alt processes like VDB AND KALLITYPE. I use several films and find that FP4+ is unbeatable for these processes.
    For salt ptints you will need about double the contrast as that used for cyanotype. Once you have developed long enough to get really good prints with that process, you can start toward a good negative for salt by doing one or more of the following:
    double the concentration of the developer
    double the time of development
    increase the temperature of the developer to at least 75 deg
    Switch to a more active developer ( for example use your regular print developer to develop the film.

    Obviously any of these require testing before use on good negatives. I do my tests using film exposed under step wedges which gives me development time, contraast and the ability to draw film curves for comparison of processes.