HP5 in D-76 = Thin Negs?? What am I doing wrong?

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

  1. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    I recently decided to test Tmax & HP5 with several developers and dilutions for application in black & white portraiture. Starting with HP5 i exposed 2 sheets of film for each 1/3 f-stop between Iso 200 & 400 inclusively, using a Wisner Technical Field 4x5 with a Rodenstock Sirronar-S 150mm lens. I metered using a Seikonic L-398 ambient light meter. I decided to start my developer tests with D76, 1:1 - 10 mins @ 20-deg C, Jobo Expert Drum, bi-directional agitation setting "F".

    The resulting negatives, though thin, seem to have all the shadow detail i could want, and the highlights, though perhaps slightly under pronounced, are most definetly there.

    I tried contact-printing these negs using a contact printing frame and Oriental Seagull FB-VC Glossy. I dialed #2 on my Saunders VCCE XLG enlarger, set the lens at f/11 and ran a test strip for d-max using a blank strip of film which I processed together with the exposed sheets. I got 12-seconds for D-max, and started printing off the negs, one by one.

    The results were, well.. baffling. Each and every one of the prints was dark! Surely HP5 rated at iso 200 should not yield dark prints! (or thin negs for that matter). So now as I see it, I'm left with two options:

    1) I can consider the negs "under-exposed" (which i don't truly believe they are as I've got tons of shadow detail) and re-shoot, rating HP5 at ISO 100 -160.

    2) I can print above d-max for the important shades, and then use contrast to acheive my blacks

    As I'm not entirely sure which way to go here, any help and insight would be most appreciated.
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I suspect the development time is on the short side. Standard times for HP5+ in D-76 1+1 should be around 13 min at EI 400. If you've got shadow detail, and you've determined print exposure for Dmax correctly, but everything looks dark, then you need to push up the highlights, and longer development time would do that.
     
  3. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Great minds, think alike - thought not always at the same pace :smile:

    David I always thoroughly enjoy reading your posts and replies, finding them insightful and intuitive. Believe it or not I just spent about an hour or so dwellign on this (even passed up a movie with the lil lady) and couldn't put my finger on what was wrong until just a moment ago!

    Immediately I fired up the jobo - lucky for me I shot 2 identical sets and still have the second. I was going to increase development to about 12 mins but will go with 13 minutes (as per your recommendation) just to be on the safe side. If the highlights get blown out, I can always reduce the time.

    Another thought that occured to me was to increase agitation - perhaps to #2-3? Though with traditional emulsion that might yield coarser grain.

    Thoughts?
     
  4. jon koss

    jon koss Subscriber

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    Hmmm... not sure of the definition of "should" and "standard," but Ilford calls out 11 minutes for D-76 1:1 at @20C. My limited experience with the combo puts 13 minutes squarely in the "push" range. Are you sure that your temperature control is up to snuff? Have you run a calibration check on temps? How about fogging from safelights or other sources?

    Did you do the test strip at say, six bursts of 2 seconds each, but then switched to a single burst of twelve seconds for the final exposure? This can be an issue also.

    Hope this helps. Not gospel, just some suggestions.

    j
     
  5. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    J,

    ilford calls for 11 minutes when processing manually, suggesting that processing time be further reduced by 15% or so when processing in rotary drum. ilford is also situated in England, testing with their water and who knows what else! :smile:

    Temperature is controlled by a practically brand new Jobo CPP-2 processor unit, with lift. Accuracy of processing temperature is furthered by the Expert Drum and it's hollow-core system allowing the cylinders which hold the sheets of film to be individually bathed by the tempered water. I should also point out that this unit has given me fairly consistent results with other work so I'm pretty confident in the accuracy of the tempering bath.

    As for fogging, I presume you are referring to the paper. I don't suspect the paper is fogged as I've done quite a few tests on this batch, and in the same environment. One such test just earlier tonight to determine d-max exposure.

    Also, when I test for d-max I never use bursts of light precisely for the reason you mention - inherent cumulative errors. I always use a consistent stream of light and slide a dark sheet of cardboard down the glass pane covering the strip of film & paper, at regular intervals. In this case, 10 x 2 seconds.

    I'm confident that David Goldfarb is right on the money. I'm tempering the JOBO as I simply don't believe I'll get to bed before solving this caper. Thank you for the insights - I'll post my results.
     
  6. gbroadbridge

    gbroadbridge Member

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    I've found that subtracting 15% for jobo processing is too much. I use 10%, and this is after adjusting for solution temperature.

    I dont have an expert drum, just a plain old CPE2 with a 1500 drum.

    I also rate HP5 plus at ISO 160, not anywhere near the Ilford ISO 400. I have no idea why Ilford rate that film at 400 when so many folks rate it closer to 200.

    Graham.
     
  7. Curt

    Curt Subscriber

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    I didn't read all of the remarks but what quickly came to mind was that If there is some shadow detail and the highs are not too high.
    Then you could Selenium tone the negatives.
     
  8. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    No good news...

    Well.. it's 4:39am and I'm throwing in the towel for the night, sadly, empty handed. I processed the sheets of HP5, exposed at EI 200 & 250 for 12 min 30 sec in the Jobo, again with D76 1:1 @ 20 C, bi-dir agitation "F". The negs are a bit denser this time, but marginally so. Again, pleny of detail in the shadows. Unless ilford HP5 is actually an ISO-50 film, I simply can't believe that my negs are underexposed. I'm shooting a female fair-skinned model with blue eyes - keep in mind that when i say "detail in the shadows", I'm referring to life-like texture in her ocean-blue eyes, and discernable strands of hair in the shadowy areas (shoulder pockets), just below and to the side of the neck, directly above the shoulder.

    For the hell of it, I printed an enlargement and played with contrast filtration to see what I'd get as I'm so frustrated with contact printing for D-Max. Truth be told, there's no replacement for a good, full tonal spectrum, negative. The test prints looked muddy and flat, and this at constrast #3 @ f/16.

    I'm going to try and reshoot sometime tomorrow, time and weather permitting. This time, I'll expose 3 full sets (2 sheets per set) for ISO 100 through 320 in 1/3 f-stop increments (there goes almost half a box of film -roughly 36 sheets) and start off with a 15 minute processing time.

    I know that more often then not, sheer stupidity and human error lies at the heart of bad results. I may not be the most meticulous of the bunch, but I certainly strive to be careful and consistent with all my processing. My developer is mixed with distilled water - one shot use. All loading/unloading is done in pitch black. The film was fresh - bought less then 3 months ago from B&H, and the developer was mixed a few days ago - kept in a tightly closed full stoppered bottle. Light was metered using a Sekonic L-398 (ambient meter) prior to every other exposure to ensure no appreciable change. I'm baffled - I simply can't think of anything else.

    Anyways - I'd like to thank everyone for their contributions to this thread and ongoing support. Please forgive the rant - after 5-7 hours of fruitless effort, I'm sure you folks can relate.

    I'll post results from the next set of tests as soon as I have them, and I'll check back as often as I can for your comments & suggestions.

    That's it for now - Thanks folks.
     
  9. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Thought I'd reply before hitting the sac as I just noticed your post. Selenium intensification makes for a great fix when one has a low constrast negative that is valuable or irreproducable. In my testing I'm trying to achieve optimum (as I see it) exposure and development for the type of black & white portraiture I find appealing. Though selenium toning would most likely beef up the emulsion somewhat, it's not something I want to be doing every day :smile:

    Cheers!
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    If you have a scanner, could you post a scan of a test print? That might reveal something about what's going on. Have you ruled out lighting issues? What's the contrast ratio?

    It could be that HP5+ just isn't to your taste and you're just after a different look. Tri-X is punchier. J&C 400 is like Tri-X with more manageable highlights. Neopan 400 is smooth with a lot going on in the midrange and highlights.
     
  11. Neal

    Neal Subscriber

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    Dear iserious,

    Could you have forgotten to account for bellows extension? (Something I must admit to on occasion.<g>)

    Neal Wydra
     
  12. Ronald Moravec

    Ronald Moravec Member

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    I would suspect the developer being weak. D76 is tempermantal if left in less than full bottles. In a partial bottle, it will first get strong, then die rapidly.

    It is very stable in full glass bottles.

    I run the expert drum fast for 30 sec, then slow to film speed. Faster rotation does not have a material effect on density.

    Just got it! You don`t have enough stock developer. If developer is exhausted, increasing time will not increase density. Four or 5 sheets is all you can process with the expert drum and diluted developer which is one of the reasons I don`t use mine.
    I suggest you try full strength D76. I use it that way even for 35mm.
     
  13. Keith Tapscott.

    Keith Tapscott. Member

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    Use the standard small tank times, I usually develop HP5 Plus for 11.75 minutes in a Jobo@20C/68F with #120 rolls. CPA-2 + Lift between P & 4 without a pre-rinse. I expose at EI 400.
     
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  15. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Ronald -

    I'm not really concerned with the freshness of the developer as relates to its potency. As I stated in my original post in this thread, the developer was mixed, using distilled water, about a week ago, and kept in a full or mostly full stoppered bottle (plastic/amber).

    Kodak claims that half-full bottles will keep for 2 months, and full-stoppered bottles for 6 months. As I mixed the developer only several days ago, unless we're talking about a bad batch - which I do not suspect, I think the problem lies elsewhere.

    Your second point however seems to bring out an interesting point. Again, I'm not saying that it's necesarily the problem, but it's certainly something I haven't considered and there's no doubt it's a valid point - the strength of the solution.

    Using a Jobo Expert-Drum 3006 (I believe that's the correct model) I add approximately 270ml of solution to the tank, of which only 135ml or thereabouts is D76-Stock. Given 5-6 sheets of 4x5 film per run, I would think that inadequate potency would yeild blotchy and unevenly developed negatives rather then thin ones - though I'm not ruling anything out. Also, given the foregoing quantities, there would be 15-25 ml of D76-Stock per sheet of 4x5 film. I'm not an expert, but I've processed hundreds of rolls of 120 film, comparable in actual area, in similar quantities of developer (albeit perhaps not D76) and often in more dilute solutitions without any problems.

    I've got 2 exposed holders remaining from the earlier batch, rated at EI 320 and 400 respectively. I'm going to try a run using straight, undiluted D76 stock, for 12 min @ 20 C - Jobo bi-dir agitation setting "F".

    I really want to take a moment to thank you for taking the time and submitting your input - even if it doesnt' prove to be the problem in the case at hand, it certainly had me thinking all afternoon and definetly something I won't soon forget in future application.
     
  16. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    David,

    I have an old Epson Perfection 1250 somewhere. I guess I could set it up and scan the print, though I'm not entirely sure what to scan. The image, printed to D-max on whichever paper, prints dark - hardly revealing anything (to my very humble and inexperienced eyes). If I were to print/scan an enlargement, varrying the contrast to yield something scan-worthy, it would probably mask the problem and defeat the purpose of the whole venture.

    I've actually had remarkable results with HP5 roll film in the past. Sadly, at the time, I hadn't kept a darkroom notebook and so I have no data to refer to. I guess that's probably what's gotten me so gung-ho on testing HP5 this time around. As for Tri-X, I've never really played with it but hear that it's comparable to HP5 and the results I've had with HP5 so far as certainly not indicative of anything but own inadequacies - hardly a fault of the fine film.

    I noticed that you are local - NYC :smile:

    I live in Brooklyn and find myself going to B&H photo pretty frequently. I'd be happy to buy you a cup of coffee and show you the negatives if you'd be willing to spare the time.

    Thanks as always
    Daniel
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    HP5+ and TXP are very different looking films.

    The Traveling Portfolio should be heading back to NYC sometime soon, so I'll be having a get-together at my place when it arrives. Keep an eye on the New York Regional forum and I'll make an announcement, and you can bring your negs, and there should be at least a few APUG types there with a few more opinions.
     
  18. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Ronald - Looks like it's Casino-Night for you Sir.

    Ronald - It sure looks like you hit the nail on the head!

    Not having recovered from the hours of frustration of last night's attempts, I set out to process the 4 sheets of HP5 from the remaining two film holders, left over from the old batch. Of the two filmholders, one was rated at EI 400 while the other was rated at EI 320. I loaded all four sheets into the expert drum, adding half a sheet of film for D-max test strip. The timer was set for 10 minutes, Jobo bi-dir agitation setting "P" @ 20-deg C. I poured in about 270ml of D-76 stock, which I mixed up a few days ago using distilled water. I hit the timer, and completely forgot about it!

    Heh! talk about carelessness!

    After what I can only guess was somewhere between 10-15 minutes, I jumped out of my seat realizing what had happened, and ran for the stop bath. I finished the process, fixing for 10 minutes, with 2 min hypoclear.

    Low and behold! Beautifully dense negative! Slightly underexposed for my taste (keyword there being "my taste", my room mate Ashley vehemently disagrees with me) but printing more then acceptably at D-max (Oriental Seagull VC FB Gloss).

    Lesson learned = Go figure!? Could it be that there indeed was not enough D76 stock in 270ml of solution mixed 1:1? Or could it be that it just needed a bit more time? I'm guessing the former, and I intend to test this out in the next few days.

    If someone knows of a resource where I could find out exactly how much D-76 stock (and other developers if possible) is required to completely develop a square-inch of film, it would solve this mystery once and for all, and I would be most appreciative.

    Ronald... Looks like you've won yourself a new luggage set!

    I'll post results from forthcoming tests as I seek to reproduce tonight's success story.

    A big thanks to all who contributed.

    Cheers
    Daniel
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Good catch, Ronald.

    How much D-76 per area of film? Well, it would be normal to process a 35mm roll in 250ml of D-76 (1+1), so that's equivalent to 125ml per 4 sheets of 4x5", but in an inversion tank it wouldn't oxidize as quickly, so maybe it's best to stick with what you're doing with 270ml D-76 stock, if it works. On the other hand, (1+1) should give you better acutance than stock with D-76.

    There are people who use D-76 (1+3), so that would be 63ml stock per 4 sheets, but I'm not sure how well that would work in a Jobo.
     
  20. Heinrich

    Heinrich Member

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    Hallo,

    from the technical paper Kodak has on its web side:
    "Don’t reuse or replenish the diluted
    solution. You can develop one 135-3 roll (80 square inches)
    in 473 mL (16 ounces) or two rolls together in 946 mL
    (one quart) of diluted developer (1+1)."

    4 and half 4x5 sheet film equal approx. 1 135-3 film roll. From the technical manual it can be taken that the minimum volume of Developer needed is 270ml Developer per 135-3 film roll. If you use a 1+3 dilution you need 270ml D76 plus 810ml water.
    If you use less the developer will get exhausted and the film is underdeveloped even if you increase the dev. time.

    I made the same mistake and learned my lesson, always go for the data sheets.

    Regards
    Heinrich
     
  21. Heinrich

    Heinrich Member

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    sorry,

    I forget to mention that the developer I am refferiong to is is D76

    Regards
    Heinrich
     
  22. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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  23. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Given that (2) sheets of 8x10 is, as you pointed out, equivalent to (8) sheets of 4x5, Kodak's recommendation of 1 L - D76 1:1 per (2) sheets of 8x10, should in theory be enough to develop 8 sheets of 4x5. This solution contains only 500ml of D76 stock. It would follow that 500ml / 8 sheets = 250 ml / 4 sheets.

    I used a total of 270 ml of D76 1:1 developer solution, containing no more then 140ml D76 stock. It appears the mystery is solved. :smile:

    Some things I wonder about...

    I've read quite a bit on the forums about D76 1:1 and even 1:3 for greater accutance. The maximum amount of solution which can be used in-Jobo is, to my knowledge, 1 liter. At 1:1, that's 500ml of D76 stock, more then enough for 6 sheets of film. But at 1:3, we'd be looking at 250ml of solution - the bare minimum quantity for a mere 4 sheets of film!

    Is it fair to conclude that D76, at 1:3 - 6 sheets, cannot be processed in the Jobo? Or is there a workaround?
     
  24. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    But how consistent would that be?
     
  25. voceumana

    voceumana Member

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    In short, I think the answer is "yes" you canot do this. But I don't use a Jobo processor, just their tanks. I agitate by hand inversion.

    If the process provides continuous agitation, then you probably won't get any increased acutance. Increase accutance comes from edge effects, that are inhibited by agitation. Somebody who uses this processor might provide be able to provide more details.

    The first time I used by Jobo tank, I loaded the lower reel with 6 4x5's and the upper reel with 6 4x5's. I used only as much solution as the tank said I needed for 12 sheets. It was only after I processed, that I realized that much solution didn't cover both reels.

    Interestlingly, there was not a trace of uneven development. Apparently covering the film during the inversion allowed the emulsion to absorb enough liquid to develop evenly.

    Now, I just load the lower reel, and the upper reel serves to keep the lower reel in place. I use enough liquid to cover the lower reel (because I haven't taken the time to make a spacer).

    I use more than enough developer concentrate to fully develop the number of sheets, and dilute it with enough water to cover the lower reel. I extend my developing time to allow for the increased dilution. I don't use more liquid or load the upper reel because it gives enough space for the developer to fully mix during agitation. This evenly distributes the development byproducts, avoiding streaking, blotching, and other development problems.

    You seem to be very interested in these processes. I recommend (HIGHLY) the book Film Developing Cookbook by Steve Anchell and Bill Troop. It is more than worth it's price for anyone who wants to understand film developing.

    Charlie
     
  26. stormbytes

    stormbytes Member

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    Hi Charlie,

    First off, thanks for the elaborate response. I'm aware of the Darkroom Cookbook and will certainly consider buying a copy, finances permitting.

    As for the "meat & potatoes" :

    I find, and sadly so, that most photography books (and I have collected about a dozen so far) I've encoutered are much too focused on excentric and specific processes, pointless theories and elaborate essays - so elaborate, that their practical value is lost amidst their lenghty overtures. All this when a surprising number of traditional photographers - supposedly the target consumers for such books, are missing the fundamentals!

    In the 5 or so years in which i've pursued what could be called "conventional photography methods", I've found most books confuse me far more then they are helpful! Sure theory is great, and it's important to understand the fundamentals, but what is more important, imho, is to actually experience those fundamentals at work, and that could easily be assembled in less then 100 pages.

    I don't claim to be the brightest crayon in the box, but I'm certainly no moron. After wasted years of pouring over Ansel's pointless and long-winded theories, written in a language that is obviously meant for the English Lit major, and spending hundreds if not thousands of hours trying to put these to use, densitometic work until i'm blue in the face - I haven't got a single photograph to show for it!

    All this, until 3 conversations in the last year, ultimately changed my life.

    The first was a conversation with a fellow from Melbourne named Steve, on IRC-Undernet's #Apug. I remember joining the chatroom that day, having completed yet another frustrating session, wasted time, film and chemistry on a round of pointless densitometry; doctrine from the Church of Ansel Adams. Steve chuckled warmly at me and said, "You're shooting portraiture - why don't you forget about all this and get yourself an ambient meter, then do whatever works!". That day a seed was planted in my mind - why not scrap all this nonesense, take the camera out and shoot some real frames!

    In the weeks that followed I read a number of articles on various b/w photography related subjects, one such article authored by the famed Michale Smith on the Azo/Amidol combination. I'd seen some Azo work and thought it might be worth trying out. I called Michael that day thinking I'd order a box or two of Azo. What ensued was a very interesting conversation with a remarkable individual - and there I got the 2nd best piece of Photo advise I've heard to date.

    I told Michael of my hardships and what he said was both shocking and comforting. "The best way to use a densitometer is to GET RID OF IT!". Michael explained that portraiture was a field in itself, and required qualitative testing for the film and developer combination that would yield the desired results. He was warm, caring and patient - but above all, he was clear, concise, and very practical.

    From that day forward, my photography took on a whole new meaning to me as I was back in control. A control that I'd until-that-point lost to the humility that is expected of one, before the "doctorine of the greats". Having understood the fundamentals, today my testing is geared towards finding what works for me, and for my tastes. And I can say that I've had more success with this mind frame in 5 weeks, then in 5 years of aiming to mimic "the greats".

    I've no doubt that in the right hands, The Darkroom Cookbook is indeed an invaluable resource. For the time being however, I'm going to focus on testing and understand a handful of commercially available developers. I think that'd keep me busy for quite some time.

    On a tangent -

    2 books I did find invaluably simple and practical - for the beginer, are:

    1. The Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker
    2. A book - I forget the titled, by Henri (or Harry?) Horenstein. Truly remarkable, in simple language, hands-on all the way

    Finally - as for my testing with D-76: I originally thought to test HP5 with D-76 stock, 1:1 and 1:3. I appreciate your comments about accutance being closely tied with agitation method - and that Jobo processing would seem to defeat the purpose. You've saved me some time/money! :smile: I remember reading a post about the same issue with Rodinal. I firmly believe that one can tailor their process, be it in-Jobo or hand processing, to achieve almost any result with most common developers. I'm happy to say that I think this post will conclude my testing for HP5 in D76 - finding that for my work in portraiture:

    HP5 rated EI 250, processed in D76 Stock (65ml/sheet of 4x5) at 20-deg C, in-Jobo, agitation setting P (bi-dir) for 13 minutes gives me exactly what I was after. Excellent key low-values, and highlights are well within printing range - This on Oriental Seagull VC-FB Gloss.

    I want to thank all the folks that contributed to this thread, from whom I've learned quite a number of new things and pitfalls to avoid in the future. We've got a strong community to which I'm proud to subscribe.

    - I can feel the flames for the AA comments i made earlier :smile:

    Cheers
    Daniel Balfour