Prescysol vs. pyro safety issues

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by ernie51, Jan 21, 2008.

  1. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    I am interested in trying a staining type of developer. My concern is that of my health and welfare. I know pyro developers can be tricky IE. Chemical burns and ventilation to prevent inhalation. The Prescysol developer tech sheet online just has the standard warnings for chemical use. I won't use pyro but how about Prescysol ? Any info or advice appreciated...Dennis
     
  2. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    If you buy a pre-mixed staining developer the risks go way down. It is the powder floating in the air that is the most problematic.

    Have good ventilation, as you should do anyway in any darkroom.

    On the View Camera web site in the Free Articles section is an article about the dangers of staining developers. Suffice to say that with even reasonable care, proper ventilation, and buying the pre-mixed developer, the dangers have been overstated. I know more people who've had a problem with Metol than with a staining developer. Metol can cause a skin rash but I don't hear people giving warnings about it.

    If you are interested in staining developers get a copy of The Book of Pyro by Gordon Hutchings. You can get it from Bostick and Sullivan or the Photographer's Formulary. In the same section of the View Camera site is an article describing how a staining developer works

    There are a variety of staining developers. Those of us who use any of them feel there are many advantages.

    steve simmons
    www.viewcamera.com
     
  3. lee

    lee Member

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    prescysol looks like an off shoot of Pyrocat hd to me. I do know that the part B chem is the same. I suspect that the maker of Prescysol copied the receipe of Pyrocat and renamed it.

    lee\c
     
  4. pentaxuser

    pentaxuser Subscriber

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    Well Dave Miller and several other users of Prescysol are still in good health or as well as can be expected for people of their age( sorry lads - had to get that one in!). I think if Prescysol which is two pre-mixed liquids which you add to water were to be a problem, we'd have heard of it by now.

    pentaxuser
     
  5. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    Thanks Steve. I guess it's a question of proper practises in the darkroom. I think it's the skull and crossbones on some of the pyro ingredients that concerned me. I'm thinking of using the pre-mixed Prescysol EF as it seems to have a slightly less toxic make up. My other concern is that I have a septic system, but from what I understand these chemicals are for the most part organic in the way that they breakdown. Any reason for concern here ?
     
  6. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Again, I am not sure that when properly used a staining developer is any more toxic than a non staining one, or any less environmentally friendly.

    It is amazing how much myth and BS gets put out about these developers. I have seen threads so full of misinformation that it makes me wonder.

    Anyway, get a pre-mixed solution, vent your darkroom as you should anyway, photograph and enjoy.

    steve
     
  7. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    Even with precautions there are risks. Certainly life without risks would be boring. It's like the old story. Ask the photographer "Would you give up one of your two eyes for consistently perfect negatives, or would you be satisfied with average negatives, keep both eyes, but have to wear glasses for the rest of your life ?"
     
  8. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    If you look for them you will find a number of exhaustive threads on this issue here. Folks who swear by staining developers make very strong cases that their proper use is no more hazardous than D76. The question for me is why do you want to use such a developer. Are your photogrpahs lacking in a way that you think a staining developer will remedy?

    I choose not to use chemicals that pose what I perceive to be a risk. I don't give a rat's rump about the counter arguments...staining developers will not make me a better photographer period!! Learning to see with greater sensitivity and the courage to take the photograph other's might not choose to take is a far more difficult and worthwhile path for me to pursue. I've concentrated on a particular, and generally successful set of procedures that tell me unequivocally whether or not I've made a worthwhile image. There are no magic bullets!
     
  9. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    I choose not to use chemicals that pose what I perceive to be a risk.

    All chemicals pose a risk. It is just a matter of balancing the gains from the downside. As I said, I know more people who have had a problem with metol that can cause a severe skin rash.

    Staining developers seem to create an intense emotional reaction among some people. In these cases it is sometimes with those who have a negative reaction but who have never tried one. Would it make you a better photographer, who knows.

    steve simmons
     
  10. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    It's all up to you in the end, Ernie. Personally, I mix my own Pyrocat HD. I'm careful, wear a mast when I mix it, have decent ventilation, and I've never had a problem. There really isn't much to it. If you're still not comfortable there's plenty of pre-mixed developers out there and they are all capable of producing excellent results. Good luck whatever you decide. All the best. Shawn
     
  11. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    I have been waiting to build my new darkroom (remodeling other parts of my house were a priority). In the meantime I have been researching various "looks" produced by different procedures. I settled on the staining approach because of the apparent ease of printing.(less burning and dodging etc.) as well as the "look" I am seeking.
    I'm just trying to get my ducks in a row so I can hit the ground running with a plan in place. My darkroom has been out of commission for a while, so it has given me a opportunity to reflect and decide to go in a direction I can devote some time to and explore. I don't expect to find staining as a magic bullet but an integral piece of the puzzle. I also am weighing the risks and benefits. There are as many ways of producing an image as there are opinions on these forums. That's part of what makes our pursuits so appealling. At this point I see no reason not to go ahead with the staining approach. Thanks all for your input...Dennis
     
  12. mark

    mark Member

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    I have two small kids and have to all processing in the bathroom. I had some worries about the pyro as well. After posing the question here I took the responses to a chemist and he agreed wiht what Sandy and others on this forum wrote.

    Get the premixed kind or use a mask and mix it where there is a heck of a lot of ventalation (i.e use common sense)

    clean any spills before they dry. (common sense)

    use gloves when you develope to avoid the possibility of getting it in broken skin. (common sense)

    Never leave any chemicals at baby height (common sense)

    So I decided that if I used common sense I would be fine.

    After using it for a while I decided that the pyro made getting a usable neg for POP printing was easier than getting one with a non staining developer. Especially since I was using a film that did not react well to increased development. Who knows. I could be full of crap and the pyro amke no difference what so ever but I use it any way.
     
  13. Kirk Keyes

    Kirk Keyes Member

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    I already wear glasses. So where does that leave me??
     
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  15. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    Well Kirk, I looked at your web site and I guess there are some that don't have to make that trade....they are already there.........Dennis
     
  16. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    As has been said many times, a little common sense goes a long way.
    As for developers, If you want to save a little money, roll your own; for convenience buy the ready made version.
     
  17. Snapshot

    Snapshot Member

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    I've been using pyro for almost a year now. At first, I was terribly afraid of getting poisoned by this toxic substance. However, I learned that by exercising a modicum of common sense, you can ameliorate much of the safety issues it can present to you. In addition, I personally believe that the hazards of pyro are somewhat exaggerated, at least when compared to other photochemistry and photochemicals that people interact with on a daily basis.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2008
  18. Trevor Crone

    Trevor Crone Member

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    Indeed common sense is called for as is basic safety precautions.

    I've been mixing my own PMK pyro for a number of years and more recently Pyrocat-HD. I take the precaution of wearing nitrile gloves (little more durable then standard latex). It is also considered prudent to wear eye protection and a dust mask when mixing toxic dry powders, in case they become airborne.

    Take your time when mixing chemicals, be as accurate as is humanly possible and also stand up while doing so, never sit down. As a laboratory technician for 40 years, sitting down while mixing chemicals was considered a cardinal sin. If I saw any of my subordinates doing so I certainly pointed this out to them.:mad:

    Sorry for the mini-lecture but old habits die hard:smile:
     
  19. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    I strongly believe that the penalty for a healthy lifestyle is your bankrupted kids changing your diapers!!!:tongue: Try it, see if you like it and make it another arrow in your quiver. Priorities Ernie - your life or your art!!:D

    On Jovo's point, I actually think materials can make you a better photographer. The difference between a "good" and "great" image is subtleties and the materials, or their combination, can add subtleties to your performance that enable you to better express yourself. That's not to say that materials obviate the need for creative vision - it's just that you have new means to better convey that vision. Good photography, like any other art form, requires both art and craft. I've seen many boring, technically perfect photographs - I've also seen many well-seen photographs that were ruined by poor execution.
     
  20. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    I have done a lot of soul searching and decided my images were lacking a certain emotion I am trying to convey. I am willing to go in a slightly different direction by using the staining approach along with some further manipulation to achieve a subtle but significant change in my images. How many times have you viewed and image that was good but not great. Usually it's the inability of the photographer to evoke a feeling or emotion because there is something missing. That's where I am at, and it is extremely frustrating. I think now I have all the elements in place to produce some powerful images. Sometimes it's necessary to find the proper vehicle to carry your voice. What started as a question here of chemical safety has turned into a way to justify going in a new direction. I appreciate the therapist present here to help analyze my approach. Certainly using "common sense" can make this method safe and viable.
     
  21. jovo

    jovo Membership Council

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    Yes, to a degree I think that's true. If exceptional clarity and detail is part of the aesthetic you're trying to accomplish, then razor sharp lenses will certainly be better than less sharp ones, as will, perhaps a yet larger negative. OTOH, if lugging around an 8x10 camera makes it less likely that you'll be mobile enough to get what you're after, then there's been a tradeoff that isn't helping. I have yet to see a print from a stained negative that I thought warranted the effort....in fact, I've found such prints to be less brilliant and interesting....but that's my aesthetic at work.
     
  22. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    John, I appreciate your input and am envious that you are comfortable with the process you use to express your vision. I am hoping to find a process that allows me to do the same. Some time success is found on the road less traveled. Time will tell if I am able to achieve that which I seek. Thanks for your insight and I will take your warnings to heart.
     
  23. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Did you know that human urine contains pyrocatechin?

    Pyrogallol and pyrocatechin (or catechol as some call it) aren't all that dangerous. Reasonable care mitigates the risks.

    Hydroquinone is quite dangerous too. We use it without batting an eye.
     
  24. BobNewYork

    BobNewYork Member

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    "Did you know that human urine contains pyrocatechin?" - PhotoJim

    You're my hero! I'm about to try to convince the wife that a good night out with the boys is saving money on expensive developer!! Wish me luck!!:D

    John V: I hear you. I do use 4x5 - but, though I often covet an 8x10, I know I'd photograph less with equipment that bulky. It's a little like the toy cameras. My initial reaction to the craze was "what a load of c#!p"; but I was recently forced to admit that I really do like some of the work done with them. Not all' but then, I'm a big fan of Ansel Adam's and Edward Weston's work - but some of their images do nothing for me. I guess if there was a universal formula for good art it just wouldn't be art. :smile:
     
  25. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Again, if you haven't done so go to the Free Articles section of the View Camera web site. There is an article on how staining developers work and safety issues with staining developers.

    steve simmons
    www.viewcamera.com
     
  26. ernie51

    ernie51 Subscriber

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    sSteve, Yes I did read said article and found it valuable in my research.. Thanks