PYRO, PYRO, PYRO!!!

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by DanielStone, Dec 17, 2009.

  1. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    hey all,

    just got a nice firing up of information from M.A.S., and I'm now ready to jump into the world of pyro developers.

    right now I'm doing just 4x5, because that is what I have availablity to at the moment, but want to try 8x10 eventually(just need to get a few holders, and some cheapo arista film, maybe the efke 25). but I'm taking things slow.

    so, I'm looking to try and contact print mostly, but for some negs, possibly enlarge(4x5 only, 8x10 will be all-contact printing), with developing contact prints in AMIDOL.

    I've been reading up in M.A.S.'s "writings" about his version of Weston's Pyro, and I'd like to give it a try, eventually getting to the point of developing by inspection. I just wish I lived closer to some of you guys, I learn much better in person :smile:.

    so, any recommendations? I'm totally new to the pyro and contact printing scene, so call me SOAKED behind the ears :D. But I'm ready to learn, and get started. Just have to wait a bit though, cause my folks haven't given me the COMPLETE go-ahead to developing sheet-film in the tub in 4x5 hangers and rubber tanks(got 4 tanks and 8 hangers for $20 craigslist)

    suggestions/why you recommend what you do, etc... I don't have a huge budget by any means, its actually the other way around :smile:, but I've been looking at pyro dev's because of the low-cost, and overall quality boost that many claim they have gotten from them

    still trying to track down a copy of the pyro handbook by hutchings, if anyone's got an extra copy they could lend, or donate/sell cheap, I'd be forever in your debt! I'm just totally strapped for cash at the moment, got a few interviews though in the next 2 weeks for dead-end jobs, but gets some money to put towards retirement, gas in the tank, and film in my cameras :D!!!!

    thanks

    -Dan
     
  2. nworth

    nworth Subscriber

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    Pyro was one of the first developing agents. It still works with modern films, but most of the traditional formulas can be somewhat difficult and unpredictable, as they were in the early days. Hutchings "The Book of Pyro" will give you a feel for some of the problems. (You might try Photographers' Formulary, Bostick and Sullivan, or Amazon.com to get a copy.) His modern PMK formula works well, however. King's Pyrocat-HD is another formula (using pyrocatechol instead of pyrogallol) which gives similar, predictable results. The most frequently cited traditional formula is Kodak D-1, ABC Pyro. Films developed in Pyro are somewhat self-masking due to the staining effect of the developer. They generally print very well, either by contact or projection. Film speed is somewhat slower in pyro developers than in MQ developers, like D-76.

    Azo was the last big name contact printing paper, but Kodak discontinued it a couple of years back. I understand a replacement has been introduced by michaelandpaula.com, but I don't know anything about it. Check the website. You can make contact prints on enlarging paper, using the enlarger as a light source. But the look and behavior of silver chloride based contact papers is somewhat unique. You can use amidol developers with either kind of paper. There are several kinds of amidol developers. All are short lived and have there quirks and problems, but they do produce nice results when handled carefully. Check michaelandpaula.com for formulas and ideas.
     
  3. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    thanks nworth,

    actually, I've been in touch with Michael on and off the last few days. He is a terrific source of information!

    thanks for the tips on the book, I would really like to get a copy. I'm going down to the library tomorrow to check out their copy of the PHOTO LAB INDEX, which Michael recommends as a resource.

    I'd really like to mix my own developer, so I can tweak it, but I might just end up going with one of the kits(liquid) from Freestyle.

    over time though, does the stain go away from the negatives, or have any adverse affects on the archivability of the negatives themselves?

    thanks

    -Dan
     
  4. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    There's Max Pyro created by Hutchings and available at Bostick & Sullivan.
    For Amidol, Moersch has a new Amidol formulae ; but apparently not yet available in USA.
     
  5. aluncrockford

    aluncrockford Member

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    I have been using PMK pyro in a jobo expert with adox 100 and it works perfectly I use 15mm of A and 20 of B , prewash for 3mins then process for 11 mins , wash fix and re use the dev for 2 mins then final wash , for contacts I use adox nuance warm tone in neutol WA , this combination gives me a very rich print quality and has a classic black and white feel. if you were in the UK Silverprint can supply all the above

    Hope this helps
     
  6. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    See this:
    http://tinyurl.com/formulary-pyrocat-mc-glycol-50

    It's a kit that will make 50 liters of working solution, which doesn't go bad for at least 2.5-3 years, IME. (Actually should last well beyond this, theoretically...) It's a high speed / high acutance pyro developer especially suitable for semi-stand development. (I don't use semi-stand development myself since I use MF. In my understanding, that method is more suitable in context of contact printing from LF film...)

    See my test results from 35mm film (to evaluate detail / grain) here:

    1. Beached Boat: http://www.flickr.com/photos/loris-medici/4150341084/sizes/o/
    (See tags @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/loris-medici/4150341084/ for info. This is from a cheap cubic grain ISO 100 B&W film not marketed in North America or Western Europe; Ilford Pan 100...)

    2. Beached Boat detail (~30x magnification): http://www.flickr.com/photos/loris-medici/4150341092/sizes/o/

    Regards,
    Loris.
     
  7. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    DAn, the Photo Lab Index's are rather full of inaccuracies and as such a very unreliable source.

    Ian
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    good luck with the pyro and amidol daniel.
    make sure you dispose of everything properly ...
    i wouldn't use the amidol in the tub,
    from what i understand it stains fingers, not sure what it would do to your tub...
     
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  9. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    As a serious Pyro devotee, my recommendation would be to start off with Pyrocat HD or MC. Fewer vices than earlier pyro formulations, more virtues, and longer lasting. Regardless of which variant you use, you have to mix it up one-shot and use it within a few hours (say 2 hours or so) of mixing or it will oxidize beyond usefulness and you'll end up with blank film. After you've gotten the hang of Pyro from Pyrocat HD, then feel free to go off and experiment with other flavors. Another reason to start with Pyrocat- you have less film speed loss than you do with others. Pyrocat HD is perfectly happy with one additional stop of exposure. PMK wants 2 stops, ABC Pyro wants 2+, maybe 3 (you'll have to do film tests to find out what works for you). If you're going to go to the extreme of using Amidol as a developer for paper, you really need to be using Lodima/AZO as a paper to get maximum benefit. AZO is no longer made, so if you can find some on Ebay it is very expensive, and Lodima is still quite expensive and a relatively unknown quantity at this point (only one batch of it has been produced so far). If you want to play around with the effects of pyro development, I'd suggest getting in to other alternative processes like Cyanotype, Van Dyke Brown, or Kallitype to save money and have more artistic flexibility. Cyanotype would be an easy one to sell your folks on as it just requires water as a developer, and it doesn't stain things. What you'll find through this process is regardless of the medium you print on, you'll have to tailor your exposure and development to suit the intended medium - a negative made to print well on AZO will not produce the same results on Lodima, nor on a silver bromide paper, and it will be completely wrong for cyanotype and the other hand-coated emulsions.

    I'd suggest the Bostick & Sullivan pre-packaged Pyrocat HD kits - all chemicals are shipped dry, which saves weight and cost, and ready-mixed - just add water and you're good to go.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 17, 2009
  10. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Daniel, for a little more you can buy a kit which will make 100 liters of working solution... Don't bother in trying to mix yourself (I do so only because - being in the opposite part of the world - I can't order from PhotoFormulary w/o inhibiting shipment cost and PITA customs checks), just buy the ready made glycol versions. (= Long shelf life.)

    Regards,
    Loris.

    P.S. Transfer the solutions to amber glass bottles with quality caps - if you feel unsafe with the original plastic containers - and you'll be pretty set...

    P.S.2. If you intend to mix yourself mind that dry Pyrocatechol is pretty nasty, you can smell it as soon as you open the container; I really didn't like the experience...
     
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  11. mark

    mark Member

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    Cut the crap down to a minimum. Don't mix your own until you get used to the entire process. You may find that you don't want to mix your own. I know I don't. For me it is an unwanted PIA. Clean up any spills right away. Good luck.

    Don't worry about the size of the neg. SOme of the most powerful contact prints I have seen were 4x5. Infact the one contact print I can't get out of my head was 2.25x2.25. Being confined to a smaller neg will force you to maximize your space and composition. It will also force you to eliminate the unneeded aspects and say only what you mean. These lessons will carry over to the larger formats where some people feel the need to pack more in. Anyone who says 4x5 is too small should probably not be trusted.
     
  12. rwboyer

    rwboyer Member

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    I second the vote for starting out with Pyrocat. Extremely cost effective, great results with every film I have tested or used, low general stain, decent speed - and... Easier for most folks to print on a variety of papers.

    Having said that I have extensively used PMK, ABC, and played with WD2D. All of them work - the issue with going with PMK first is the reaction you will get on some films/some scenes when printing on VC paper due to the green stain. PMK + some films will exhibit EXTREME highlight compensation/compression on VC paper. If this is what you actually want it can be great - if not it will look like crap on VC.

    Pyrocat has become my standard developer and PMK has become my special purpose developer. Both are very sensitive to your own personal development process and will probably take more calibration than you expect. Last but not least I personally think that PMK or ABC in tanks/hangers are a really bad idea.

    RB
     
  13. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    thanks everyone, I really appreciate all the answers!

    please keep them coming!

    I think I'll start out with the Pyrocat HD, just to get my feet wet :smile:.

    why do you not recommend hangers? Right now for 4x5 I'm working off my last box of TMY-2, and a box of Efke 25(loving this stuff!!!)

    -Dan
     
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  15. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

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    just a side note:

    I'll be contact printing these primarily for now, but possibly enlarging in the future, not totally sure about that one

    for 8x10(when I get a few holders), I'll be using either Efke 25 or the Arista EDU 100/200. I've read that these are re-badged foma films? How does the efke and Arista EDU films hold up in the pyro hd?

    thanks

    Dan
     
  16. rwboyer

    rwboyer Member

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    When it comes down to it - it's all based on personal experience and observations.

    LF in tanks with hangers is very difficult to get even agitation and is susceptible to some strange non-random flow effects when you try to deal with that. Both PMK and ABC in my experience are problematic if you do not have enough agitation and if there is any "pattern" or constant flow characteristics (not good at explaining this quickly but hopefully it is understandable) Pyrocat does not seem to be nearly as sensitive to this effect.

    You can have the same issue in trays but it is much easier to resolve with technique. The big issue with PMK is that it is both sensitive to agitation AND can be oxidized easily via too much mixing with air so getting your agitation dialed in can be a pain in the A$$. I personally found that Tray's work best for me for both PMK and ABC with sheet film and really full small tanks for roll film. I had issues with rotary.

    Pyrocat does not suffer from these issues nearly as much.

    RB
     
  17. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Arista.EDU / Foma holds up quite nicely in Pyrocat HD. That's my primary combination when shooting.

    Hangers don't work well because they tend to produce localized surge and therefore overdevelopment along the edges of the negatives. This isn't so obvious when enlarging because oftentimes the overdeveloped area is masked by the carrier and/or cropped during enlargement anyway. With contact printing, it becomes glaringly obvious.
     
  18. rwboyer

    rwboyer Member

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    Both of those films will work fine - I have been doing a lot of testing with Efke and Pyrocat in the 100 speed range for an 8x10 project that I have that will take A LOT of film. I started the testing with a couple rolls of 120 and a box of 4x5. Mostly because it is a cost savings from my usually Kodak favorites.

    There is nothing particularly wrong with the Efke (well I hate the flimsy base on the 120 and the backing paper fit is crap compared to Kodak) they do have their own aesthetic but...

    I will be sticking with Kodak 8x10 most likely TXP even though the Efke is cheaper for a bunch of reasons but nothing to do with Efke not working in Pyrocat.

    Here is a sample of Efke 100 in pyrocat (120)

    [​IMG]

    RB
     
  19. Loris Medici

    Loris Medici Member

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    Do some reading then decide the version of Pyrocat. According to me, again, go for Pyrocat-MC... :wink: Whatever version you decide in the end, definitely buy it "in glycol", not water.

    Regards,
    Loris.

     
  20. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    PM me your address and I'll send you some 510 pyro.

    Mike
     
  21. rwboyer

    rwboyer Member

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    Hey,

    Send me some to - I have been wanting to try it but did not want to buy the phenidone TEA or ascorbic acid as I do not use it for anything else at the moment.

    RB :smile:
     
  22. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    Be careful of typographical errors in the Photo Lab Index. They were legendary!
     
  23. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    Please bear in mind that it's very difficult to develop TMY by inspection because of the sensitization dye they put in it. Its magenta color is precisely complementary to the green safelight. I can't see anything at all when I try to DBI. I develop TMY by time and temperature, since I love the film so much.
     
  24. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Dan sorry it has taken me so long, I've got enough 510 pyro to let you do 1/2 doz (or more) 1000ml tanks.

    Got it all boxed up, it'll go out Monday morning.

    Have fun, and how did you like Jay's website... help?

    Thanks

    Mike
     
  25. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    It has been quite a while since Hutchings, among others, has recomended that the fixed and washed film NOT be returned to the used developer. It's effect is mostly to produce an overall stain which acts as a contrast reducing filter. Of course, if that is what you want, keep it up, but at least compare that process with simply reducing contrast (and possibly graininess) by shortening development a "tad".
     
  26. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Did your 510 pyro show up yet?

    Mike