Howard Bond on Pyro - again

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Tom Hoskinson, Aug 22, 2004.

  1. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The following is a direct (and complete) quote from Howard Bond’s article, “Pyro Effects, Further Tests Show More, But Still Limited Effects” published in Photo Techniques, September/October 2004.

    “Conclusions
    Preparation of this article has shown me that pyro does indeed produce less-visible grain and greater edge sharpness, although the latter may not be apparent in moderate enlargements and with some subjects. I understand why pyro’s depression of high values appeals to photographers who are determined to use Tri-X, in spite of the lower contrast in the shadows inherent in its curve shape. I don’t see how users of films with rather straight characteristic curves – such as T-Max, FP4+, HP5+ and Delta 100 – can embrace pyro, because of its depression of high values and loss of local contrast there. I have also become aware of a big obstacle to the comparison of two photographs of a subject when one negative is developed in pyro: there is no way to know what fraction of the stain is acting as a VC filter and what fraction is acting as neutral density. This makes it impossible to know what density range the pyro negative should have to match the other negative.

    The fact that famous photographer A used pyro and made remarkable photographs is not a reason for choosing pyro. One can easily cite famous photographers B, C and D who used or are using other developers. No doubt all of them could switch developers and still make remarkable photographs.

    Now that I am better acquainted with pyro, and since I don’t use Tri-X, I see ample purely photographic reasons for ignoring it. There is no need to take into account the fact that 2 grams constitutes a fatal dose or the concern of my biochemist friends that pyro may destroy dopamine producing brain cells.
    ”

    The first two paragraphs show me that in spite of his latest efforts, Howard is still “out in the weeds.” He clearly still doesn’t grasp the real technical issues.

    Howard’s last paragraph really annoys me. “There is no need to take into account the fact that 2 grams constitutes a fatal dose…”

    Overlooking for the moment that Bond cites no scientific data to support this human toxicity speculation, it implies that one would need to ingest an enormous amount of PMK Pyro working solution (at least 2 liters) if one were bent on pyro induced suicide by drinking PMK. In the process of drinking 2 liters of PMK, one would also consume 12 grams of sodium metaborate, plus 0.2 grams of Metol and 0.4 grams of sodium bisulfite. Then, of course, there are all the oxidation products, etc.

    If you drank 2 liters of one of Bond’s favorite developers, D-76 (diluted 1:1), you would consume: 5.0 grams of Hydroquinone - a very close (and toxic) benzene ring relative of pyrogallol, plus 100 grams of sodium sulfite, 2 grams of Metol and 2 grams of Borax.

    When working with photographic chemistry, always practice chemical safety!

    Protect your skin, mucous membranes and eyes!

    Protect your respiratory system!

    Don’t ingest any of the processing solutions!

    Oh, by the way: "...pyro may destroy dopamine producing brain cells"

    Gee, I always thought that was the Amidol myth...
     
  2. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

    Messages:
    965
    Joined:
    Mar 4, 2004
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It also amazes me that a man can manage to get published for his "analysis" of a developer, but argues that one cannot make a direct comparisson of Pyro vs. D-76 due to VC paper.

    For cying out loud, man, have you never heard of GRADED PAPER?????
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

    Messages:
    4,532
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I wonder, is this 2 gr/kg? if so then it is way more than a couple of liters of developer one has to ingest.

    I have not read the complete article and when it gets here I dont think I will get the magazine. PT is fast becoming another digital magazine, and the Pyro debate has become stale IMO, if you like it use, if you dont then dont, no big deal....IMO.
     
  4. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    1) In my experience, this is self contradictory. Pyrogallol based developers with no metol produce dramatically sharper negatives precisely through the mechanism whereby grain visibility is actually enhanced. In other words, the penalty one pays for greater edge sharpness (acutance) is more grain. This is virtually a proverb among those of us on APUG who have used ABC pyro extensively. By the same token, in a Pyro-Metol-Kodalk (PMK) formula, grain is masked by the exact mechanism which softens edge sharpness. The metol "smears" the silver halide crystals somewhat. You can't have it both ways.

    2) I must agree. But, the fact that great photographers, famous or not, made remarkable photographs with pyro is a good reason for trying it. After they try it, most serious photographers seem to then find the good reasons for choosing it.
     
  5. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

    Messages:
    3,894
    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2003
    Location:
    Middle Engla
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I rather get the impression that Tom's not impressed!
     
  6. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Quite right Dave!

    I am impressed by logical reasoning processes that lead to well designed experiments which produce useful data.

    I see no evidence of that in either of Howard Bond's pyro articles.
     
  7. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

    Messages:
    4,532
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Well, Kirk and Sandy have been going round and round just to agree on what kind of densitometer and what values should be used when testing staining developers with a step tablet. These are two knowledgeable people and they cant seem to reach an agreement. Methinks designing a good experiment and publish it will always leave someone unhappy. Is the debate really worth it?

    To add another kink to this, how about doing a test of unsharp mask vs stand development. From what I have heard those who practice SD seem to swear by it and the sharpness it produces.
     
  8. Francesco

    Francesco Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Location:
    Düsseldorf,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I get the impression, on reading the article, that Monsieur Bond did not expose as much as I would expect in order to make educated and experienced decisions about any film-dev combo. What are people's opinions about this? I believe testing in the lab is one thing and it is another to actually expose the film-dev combo to real-world variables (i.e. wind, water, shake, timer, agitation, etc, etc, etc.). How many sheets does one need to expose before a conclusion about the combo can be made? In my case, my first 100 sheets of Efke PL100 did not close the deal for me with Pyrocat HD. I merely saw its potential. I nearly gave up because of Efke's extreme fragility. My guess would be between 100 to 150 sheets of real world photographs qualifies someone to make informed, PUBLISHED decisions about whether a fil-dev combo is useful or not. I sincerely hope that Monsieur Bond did just that amount - but I suspect otherwise.
     
  9. Francesco

    Francesco Member

    Messages:
    1,020
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2003
    Location:
    Düsseldorf,
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Jorge, I do not own a densitometer (anymore - sold it 6 years ago). I did want to compare my normal agitation procedure (i.e. continuous but gentle tube agitation) versus minimal agitation (a less extreme form of semi-stand dev). I was convinced to try this by people who swear by SSD, partly to make my own conclusions and partly to, hopefully, prove them wrong. My test was very simple: expose two sheets for each scene, develop one using my normal way, the other using minimal agitation. I have about 70 pairs of 8x10s for comparison. Well, you know my motto all too well "one neg, one shot". And you also know which agitation method I have settled on. I am not much bothered by apparent sharpness issues, althought that is there too. I was more interested in which method produced the better local contrast. For me, the only way to find this out was to use up film and then print both to compare. This is the kind of data I like to see people come up with when they compare film-dev combos.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    17,922
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I liked the chickens. You can't argue with the chickens.
     
  11. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

    Messages:
    3,879
    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2004
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Jorge, IMHO, YES! That is the way science is supposed to work. Honest, sincere debate and critical review of the experimental results are fundamental parts of the process. I am only unhappy when the results are a useless dead-end.
     
  12. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

    Messages:
    4,532
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I agree Tom, but in science we at least have a set amount of procedures where we all agree give the correct data, here not even that is agreed.

    I for one fail to see why someone will try a compare staining negatives and use VC paper. I said it before and say it again, the paper should be a fixed parameter so that the color of the stain does not play any role other than density properties. Once again we see Bond using VC paper. What comes next? Another article named "Pyro and graded paper" to make up for the mistake done here?

    You know what, I would be more interested on article that defines the parameters and the appropriate measurement procedures, at least this way we can all start from square one in agreement. Seems to me everybody does the testing their own way, and as such, nothing is ever clarified. Look at the last 3 months, VC and CA had their test, PT had 2 tests, and yet....no definite findings one way or another....it is really becoming tiresome, at the same time this thread is going, there is another about the same thing in the LF forum with a complete opposite opinion than yours. Who are we to beleive?

    Really, Pyro is becoming another putrfact dead horse we keep beating on, and on, and on......
     
  13. photomc

    photomc Member

    Messages:
    3,575
    Joined:
    Jul 20, 2003
    Location:
    Texas
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Funny, this came up..I have a sub (for now) to PT and saw the article. There were other articles in the issue that interested me more and I decided to save myself the bother to read the complete article after glancing over Mr. Bonds conclusions...It is his opinion, he is entitled to it. Not that I agree, but since I have no experience with any of the Pyro developers, it will not change my mind. I still plan to try Pyrocat-HD and really don't care what Mr. Bond thinks.

    It seems the more I learn about these things the more I find it is best to try something that interest me and leave the nuts and bolts to those that enjoy these things - or at least enjoy the debate. I find that my work looks more like I want it to using Rodinal, semi-stand development. Does it work for everyone, Heck No! I have seen some work here posted by folks using HC110 that I think is really Great.

    Now, I would like to try some of the masking techniques that have been described, but as of now have not done so...I mean there are some really good works in the galleries done by Jorge, Francesco and others that don't seem to need masking or stand or semi-stand development...so I guess Mr. Bond found something that works for him and since he is in the business of writing articles thought he would find a way to demonstrate WHY his method is best. Someone will agree with him and follow his path, most here do not.

    Nothing to get worked up over for sure, bad press for PT? Probably, let the vendor that advertise in the mag know, that will get more attention than anything. Me, I have no interest in the article and will not bother to read it.

    IMO
     
  14. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

    Messages:
    3,219
    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    "It is wise in any case not to make too much of the issue of developer choice, since the effects of variations are perhaps not as vital as many suppose them to be." -----Ansel Adams, The Negative

    Let's talk more about the pictures, and less about how we make them.
     
  15. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I am going to take a different position on this because in spite of the misinformation about the toxicity of pyro, and his conclusion, with which I don’t agree, Mr. Bond's latest article in Photo Techniques is actually quite good. I think he did ask some of the right questions and his methodology is sound. Just for the record, he compared in the article both VC and graded silver papers with several different developers and films, and his sensitometric data amply supports many of his findings, including the following.

    1. In printing with VC papers PMK negatives give highlight compression, which according to Bond results in darker, flatter highlights.

    2. Graded papers print the same with both PMK and conventional developers.

    3. TRI-X is one of the best films for use with PMK when printing with VC papers because its rising curve compensates for the highlight compression.

    Bond is not saying anything that some folks on this list who understand pyro developers don’t already know but so far as I know he is the first person to back up all of these findings with sensitometry.

    Sandy
     
  16. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

    Messages:
    2,894
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Yes, and Ansel himself has several examples in "The Negative" where he used pyro for one reason or another. He even gives the formulas for ABC and a PMK predecessor in the book.

    Bond's statement about great pictures being taken without pyro is the one absolute truth in the article. I find all this pursuing of the magic bullet very boring. Its sort of like marketing fishing lures; every one of them is guarenteed to catch fish. But it doesn't gaurentee the user will know how to use it.
     
  17. dr bob

    dr bob Member

    Messages:
    871
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Annapolis, M
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
     
  18. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

    Messages:
    2,894
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    USNA?? Heck of a thing to fight about.
     
  19. juan

    juan Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,699
    Joined:
    May 7, 2003
    Location:
    St. Simons I
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Obviously, Alex, you have never played a double-reed instrument. I, as a former bassoon player, understand completely the absolute necessity of such a fistfight. I only hope neither of the combatants was hit in the lip. Ha.
    juan
     
  20. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

    Messages:
    17,922
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Woodwind players can be viciously competitive. When I went to music camp as a kid, I recall cases of bent keys and sabotaged reeds on challenge day, when you got the opportunity to move to a higher chair in the orchestra and get a shot at a solo. Fortunately, I play the trombone, so there aren't so many flashy solos to compete for, and it's more important to be able to make a good blend with the section.
     
  21. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

    Messages:
    3,268
    Joined:
    Jun 17, 2004
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    Jorge wrote, "... in science we at least have a set amount of procedures where we all agree give the correct data, here not even that is agreed."

    Yes, Jorge, I agree completely! And that has been my motivation in my posting in many of these pyro-related threads.

    And I also agree with Sandy on Bond's latest article. It was MUCH improved over the first one he published. And I also agreed with his findings - until he started making poorly stated claims about the toxicity of pyrogallol. Actually, the closest data I've been able to find ( http://ntp-server.niehs.nih.gov/htdocs/Chem_Background/ExecSumm/Pyrogallol.html ) says this for an acute poisoning of pyrogallol: One case of poisoning and death was reported from percutaneous absorption of an estimated 10 g (79 mmol) of pyrogallol (a dose of 143 mg/kg [1.13 mmol/kg] based on a 70-kg body weight).

    Anyway, until that point, I thought he did pretty well.

    Kirk