pyro and vc paper

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by steve simmons, Apr 12, 2004.

  1. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    There have been comments bouncing around the internet about pyro developers not working for vc papers. This is a fallacy. I and many others have been printing PMK negs on vc papers for 20 years. Just increase the developing time.

    Good films for PMK include FP4+, Tri-X, Acros, HP5+.

    steve simmons
     
  2. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Steve, I suspect that one issue with this "problem" stems from the fact that many people get their development numbers from a chart. With this approach, I'm not surprised that there are comments about pyro being difficult to print with. With the selection of films, papers and variables involved, it stands to reason that not testing materials is a possible cause of these comments.

    I had this type of comment about Efke 25 and ABC pyro, and ended up corresponding about it off list last year. It turns out that the film development figures being used to print were given by a friend and were intended for the Van Dyke process.

    I think a bit of time spent in testing would have helped to prevent the problem. It would be curious to see how many of these comments stem from a lack of thorough testing.
     
  3. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Steve,

    I think that the comments that you have taken issue with have to do with the stain color of certain developers. It appears to make sense to me that if green is a color that is used to reduce contrast on VC materials then a greenish stain would seem to do that as well. If you want to pay me for an article that covers this aspect of certain staining developers then I would be happy to write it. The article I have in mind would be supported by densitometric testing of not only the negative but also the VC paper.
     
  4. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Steve,

    I think that the comments that you have taken issue with have to do with the stain color of certain developers. It appears to make sense to me that if green is a color that is used to reduce contrast on VC materials then a greenish stain would seem to do that as well. If you want to pay me for an article that covers this aspect of certain staining developers then I would be happy to write it. The article I have in mind would be supported by densitometric testing of not only the negative but also the VC paper.>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Again, I, Gordon Hutchings, and many others have been printing stained negs on vc papers for 20+ year w/o a problem. The poster just above you probably has the answer - that too many people rely on a chart to get a dev time w/o doing their own testing. I satnd by my first post.

    steve simmons
     
  5. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    O.K. Steve...I understand. I may do some research along those lines anyway. Maybe someone else will pick up the article...good luck to you.

    Donald Miller
     
  6. sanking

    sanking Member

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    For a very comprehensive discussion of the issue of PMK with VC papers (with illustrations) see Barry Thornton's Edge of Darkness, pp. 95-100. Thornton's reasoning, and empirical testing, clearly show that the issue is much more complicated than previous comments on this thread suggest.


    Sandy King



    [/i]
     
  7. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

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    Agree, its a totally fallacious argument. My experience with pyro developers only spans a year, but I've printed negs developed in ABC, PMK, and Pyrocat-HD on several major brand VC papers from several of the popular films in formats from 35mm to 8x10. In several cases, I've done comparisons between a Pyro neg and the exact same shot developed in Rodinal or HC110. The pyro neg exposes and prints differently but what else is to be expected?

    Taking print exposure and development times from a chart? Who's touting that method? Sounds like a misapplication of something intended for an automated processing line.
     
  8. lee

    lee Member

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    I have been using and still use PMK for nearly all my film developing for going on 6 or 7 years and I almost always use VC paper. I found G Hutchins times would produce a slightly flat negative. I simply increased the time in the developer and viola. Really nice easy to print negs. What is the problem?

    lee\c
     
  9. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The only "problem" I've had eith Pyrocat-HD and VC paper is that it doesn't really translate well to graded paper. I find myself printing og grade 1 graded and grade 5 VC - which makes it more troublesome for burning and dodging. I now use mostly FX-2 for negatives intended for enlargement.
     
  10. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Lee,

    Let me first observe that Thornton was primarily a 35mm and roll film user and did not work much in large format. Therefore some of the issues he raises may or may not be relevant to your work.

    First he writes that he likes PMK with graded papers but not with VC papers. There are prints in the book made from the same PMK negative, one on Ilford grade # 2 paper, the other on Ilford variable contrast , filtered to grade two. Neither print was toned or manipulated in either way. The print on VC papers clearly has less contrast than the one on graded paper. Thornton estimates the difference to be about one full paper grade.

    Then he makes three points.

    1. He observes that in order to get the same contrast on VC #2 paper that was obtained on the grade #2 paper it would have been necessary to lengthen time of development. But there is a downside to extending development time: grain will be more noticeable, especially in the highlight, because there will be less grain masking. This seems logical because the extra yellow density that is created by extending development time provides very little if any printing density to the green low contrast layer so the extra printing density you add to the highlights by extending development time is primarily silver density.

    2. The highlights have much greater yellow/green stain than other tonal areas and for this reason are softened more than shadow areas. Again, the reason is that the yellow/grain stain does not provide any printing density for the low contrast green layer of the paper.

    3. The second feature is a two-edge sword. It works well in some circumstances by allowing us to retain highlight detail in very high contrast situations, but in others situations it results in muddy highlights. And extending development time does not improve highlight separation.

    Thornton’s observations make perfect sense to me and they are absolutely consistent with my own observations. When I first started to print with PMK using VC papers the most immediate and obvious difference between it and other developers was the fact that it was easier to print certain high contrast scenes. However, with time I began to notice that there was a certain loss of separation in the highlights. Perhaps they were not muddy, as Thornton suggest, but they simply lacked the kind of clarity and snap I was used to. Eventually I quit printing with all silver papers and the question became somewhat mute for me, as it is now I guess.

    In my opinion there is no argument but that PMK (and Rollo Pyro), both of which produce a yellow/green stain, render tonal values in the highlights and upper mid-tones differently than both non-staining developers and staining developers such as Diaxactol and Pyrocat-HD that give brown staining. Depending on the lighting conditions and contrast of the scene phographed this difference could be an advantage or disadvantage in making the final print.

    Sandy King
     
  11. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Ole,

    The issue is not that Pyrocat-HD does not do well with graded papers. It is simply a matter of developing the negative to a DR that corresponds to the ES of the paper, as with all developers. The issue is the same as for PMK and all other pyro staining developers, i.e. a different density range is needed for printing with graded papers and VC papers.

    What I would advise for people who want to print on both graded paper and VC papers is to develop for the ES requirements of the graded paper, and then adjust contrast by filtration for the VC paper. How much adjustment you will need to make will depend on the specific developer/film combination.

    Your message suggests a printing difference of four grades, i.e. #1 for graded papers and #5 for VC papers. That does not sound right to me. I have never observed a difference of more than two grades with any of the pyre staining developers, and typically the difference has been less than a full grade.

    I will say that I am very familiar with FX-2 and consider it one of the very best non-staining developers for silver printing. Unfortunately it lacks the energy to provide the needed contrast in my development for alternative printing so I have been using it less and less ovdr the years. But if I ever went back to silver printing (not going to happen) and wanted a non-staining developer (not likely) FX-2 would be first on my list.

    Sandy King
     
  12. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Sandy,

    Thank you for sharing Thorntons theory and the results of his testing. I am heartened that my thinking on this matter hasn't been totally off base.
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I agree completely, Pyrocat-HD does indeed do well with all papers. But with my LF enlarger with hand-held contrast filters (I use Yellow and Blue), it is a little frustrating...

    The difference in grade I reported isn't exact - as I said just now I use "split grade" printing. But the difference is certainly a lot more than one grade! Maybe I'm overdeveloping? Or maybe my lightbulb is too yellow?
     
  14. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Ole,

    I don't want to interrupt Sandy and your dialogue. Please forgive me for doing so. My question that arose is the variable contrast filters that came with my Durst 138 S enlargers. These seem to work very well in progressive steps of contrast. They seem to be made from Kodak filters that have been enclosed in a glass envelope. I place them immediately ahead of the heat absorbent glass ahead of the light bulb and before the condensers.

    There happens to be a set of these filters up for sale on Ebay now.

    Sorry for the interrruption. Good luck.
     
  15. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks, Don!

    I'll have a look and see what I can find. One of the reasons why I prefer graded paper is that it leaves both hands free for burn&dodge on the big enlarger - and the contrast is - if not variable - at least adjustable by chemical trickery. which is a challenge I happen to enjoy, unlike attemptin things that realy need four hands...
     
  16. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    Ole, is there some possibility of setting up a frame that would hold your filter while you do something more productive? Perhaps a frame from a different make of enlarger could be adapted.
     
  17. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have split filter printed with my Durst. If one is careful the filter drawer can be opened and filters changed without disturbing registration.
     
  18. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    The filter holding frame could be made easily enough from scrap. I used to pop the red filter out of those swing away things and use it for VC filters. Theres also the little plastic gizmo that kodak sold with the polycontrast set that clamped to the lens. I never liked those, clumsy and inelegant.