Pyro Stain bane

Discussion in 'Alternative Processes' started by Jarvman, Mar 23, 2010.

  1. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    I've been making some negs for pt printing using PMK Pyro. The first neg I exposed gave me a pretty nice print at a 17 minute exposure. However, it lacked shadow detail and so since then I've been giving an extra two stops exposure to lay down some more information. The shadows have a good separation of detail now. Only problem is when I've been processing them they have a very heavy stain as a consequence of the additional exposure. I am also overdeveloping by 20% to build the contrast. I know this is a blanket thing to be doing to every shot and is in no way ideal to get the optimum results. The overdevelopment is obviously heightening the problem. It's worked well for a low contrast scene which has given a nice neg but the negs of scenes with more contrast look bulletproof. Luckily I've taken duplicate shots. So I'm wondering, when processing the second sheets should I just go for a normal development time or should I scrap using pyro and try using regular dev? I'm not post-staining at all. I'm wondering whether the TF-4 archival fixer is exacerbating it too. I think I've read somewhere that Hypam reduces the staining. I've got one last shot at these which are for a project so I'd really appreciate advice with this! Cheers
     
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  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like you're getting more "background stain" than you want, which is a characteristic of PMK. I'd recommend trying a different pyro developer that doesn't produce as much background stain like ABC pyro (my preference) or one of the popular Pyrocat developers (probably better if you use a Jobo).
     
  3. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    Yeah, definately 'background stain' I've actually got some Pyrocat but haven't got round to using it yet. Thanks.
     
  4. MVNelson

    MVNelson Subscriber

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    I found PMK tricky to control stain density with accuracy and repeatability when making negs for pt/pd. At one point `the stain density seems to get out of sync with the exposed silver density and you get lots of base+fog stain density. On the other hand I found that developers like prescysol-ef and pyrocat-mc are a much easier to nail down the precise image stain without over staining the background. Also , building contrast/density is so easy that you don't have to resort to forcing the issue with a lot of "over-exposure" . I do like pmk pyro for "normal" silver printing. Just my experience :smile: ...
     
  5. payral

    payral Member

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    I had exactly the same problem and I stopped using PMK for ABC Pyro. I use it for more than 5 years now with very good results and I divided my exposure time by 5.
     
  6. wclark5179

    wclark5179 Member

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  7. Robert Hall

    Robert Hall Subscriber

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    Question: Are you using your old developer as a rinse as once suggested by Gordon? He has found, as have others, that it only adds to the overall stain not to the (wanted) proportional stain from the PMK?

    This can add to your exposure times, but over development even by a bit can really add to exposure time.

    BTW, what film are you using?
     
  8. bobherbst

    bobherbst Member

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    I am not surprised that your negatives are bordering on bullet-proof with the combination of two extra stops of exposure AND 20% more development. The combination is likely adding between 2-1/2 and 3 stops to your shadows and likely pushing the highlights toward the shoulder (translation – “bullet-proof”). The extra 20% development is like doing an N+1 development. This is appropriate for platinum or even carbon, but typically, film speed is increased, not decreased when applying N+1 development.

    If I understand correctly, your real dilemma is how to process the remaining negatives for your project. Since these negatives have already received an extra 2 stops of exposure, the only option in my mind to get a less dense overall negative is to use an ABC pyro formula for the balance of your negatives. The ABC formula contains no metol (which improves shadow density and film speed) and consequently, you tend to lose about a stop of film speed. This is exactly what you want to accomplish with these overexposed negatives. You may wish to still give them an extra 10-20% development. The ABC formula will yield a yellowish-brown stain, not green like PMK. I abandoned the ABC formula over 20 years ago in favor of John Wimberley’s pyro-metol formula purely because of the loss of film speed. The negatives looked beautiful, but I lost a full stop of film speed with ABC. This was long before Gordon published the PMK formula.

    Never use a post stain step and do not place the developed and fixed negatives back in a metaborate bath “to enhance the stain”. As you now know, stain is your friend, but it can turn on you and rapidly become your enemy in alt processes. Your choice of film will also affect how much stain remains on the negative. TMAX films stain very little. HP5, Tri-X, and Efke films take a good stain. Bergger BPF200 stains heavily. I do not recommend that anyone start working with any pyro developer on Bergger film. It behaves completely differently than other films and is difficult to get used to even for an experienced pyro developer. Also be aware that TMAX films react more to increases or decreases in development time than most other films. An extra 20% development for TMAX is a very large amount.

    If you take the time to get to know pyro, whatever formula you choose, you will find it can be very advantageous for moving between processes. I have routinely printed the same negative on Azo silver gelatin, platinum/palladium, and carbon with only minor adjustments in the printing. Except for the unique characteristics of each process, the images are almost identical.

    This forum is insufficient to cover all of the aspects of the various pyro formulas. However, you may be interested in visiting the “Writings” page of my web site – www.bobherbst.com. Since the 2nd edition of Dick Arentz’s book, Platinum & Palladium Printing, is now out of print, I have posted the appendix on pyro developers which I wrote for the book. Little has changed since it was published. You will also find the formula for a modified version of John Wimberley’s original WD2D pyro formula which I have used for 22 years with great success. John’s new formula, WD2D+ is an update to his original formula, and John recently published the formula in an article in View Camera magazine.

    Good Luck!

    Bob Herbst


     
  9. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Me too. No stain.
     
  10. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    Thanks Bob! I was actually reading your appendix in Dick Arentz book last night. I understand now that if I want to increase the contrast of my negs I should increase film speed because the shadows are receiving extra development too. I think I'm taking the adage expose for the shadows develop for the highlights a bit too literally, by neglecting that development has an effect on the shadows too! Do you think I will get away with using Pyrocat rather than ABC as I have none of the latter? Perhaps developing for normal time rather than N+1. That might result in some pretty flat negs though right? The other option was to develop them in D-76. I can't get ABC premixed in the UK. Suppose I could mix my own, there's a formula in the Darkroom Cookbook aint there.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2010
  11. bobherbst

    bobherbst Member

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    The ABC formula is in "the Negative", by Ansel Adams and you can find it on the web. If I recall correctly, it is basically pyro, sulfite, bisulfite, carbonate, and a small amount of bromide. I suggested ABC purely to help compensate for the extra 2 stops of exposure you gave the negatives. Using the ABC formula should kill about 1 stop of film speed. You'll have to decide what formula to use in the long run. I can't comment on Pyrocat-HD. I have no experience with it and haven't had the need to try it. I'm happy with my modified Wimberley formula and "if it ain't broke, I have no reason to fix it".

    Bob Herbst

     
  12. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Controlling stain with PMK means controlling oxidation. You'll know you're doing it right when the developer comes out looking the same as it did going in. The trick is filling the tank all the way (you can do this with the jobo if you roll it by hand) or using nitrogen gas - commonly available at welding supply houses. My base + fog on PMK negs is no more than what I get when using rodinal or d76. What's your process like?
     
  13. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    Sheet film in trays, not much chance of controlling oxidation!
     
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  15. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Owie! No wonder you're getting bad results! In sheet sizes 4x5 I use a combi-plan. It works really well if filled all the way up. I increase my agitation cycle to once every 10" to make up for the diminished surge during inversion.

    In 5x7 I used to use a jobo drum filled all the way to the top, then corked and hand rolled in the jobo trough. Then I graduated to nitrogen gas. More recently I discovered a 5x7 combi-plan which makes it simple once again.

    I screwed up more negatives with PMK before nailing my technique down. In the process I've tried out all the other pyro formulas from Rollo to ABC to WD2d and I still find a clean PMK negative to be my favorite.
     
  16. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    Hmm, I think it might be worth investigating drums if I'm using pyro formulas then. I'm going to try a neg in pyrocat tonight and see if that works out ok, either way I'll buy the raw chemicals for ABC tomorrow and try that solution out. Phew.
     
  17. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Keep in mind that with the Jobo you need to insert the sheets into the tank already wet, at least with PMK. I can't remember where I picked up this tip and I know it sounds crazy but it's the only way I found to get consistent stain all the way across the negative. Fill the drum all the way with water, insert the film in the dark. Kind of a PITA which is why I prefer the combi-plan. Also, with the jobo considerable amounts of PMK are needed to displace the volume of the tank. This is not an issue if a proper nitrogen gas technique is employed.
     
  18. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Have a look at my article on staining developers at http://unblinkingeye.com/Articles/PCat/pcat.html You will find a history of pyro developers and some specific information about a few staining developers. The article was written some years back and there have been some new developers introduced since then, and some modifications to existing ones, but the basic information in the article is still sound.

    I developed the Pyrocat-HD formula in 1997-98 to overcome the problems of the existing pyro staining developers in rotary development systems, such as Jobo, BTZS tubes and in drums. The stain of Pyrocat-HD (and Pyrocat-MC) is almost neutral in color, and B+F (or general stain) is very low without modification of the developer, which is necessary with some pyrogallol based formulas when developing with continuous agitation. The reducing agent in Pyrocat-HD (and -MC) is pyrocatechin (or catechol or pyrocatechol) which is much more resistant to stain from oxidation than pyrogallol. It is possible to modify pyrogallol formulas by adding more sulfite or ascorbic acid to control general stain, and this has already been done in the case of Rollo Pyro.

    ABC Pyro is a very old formula and I definitely would not recommend it for rotary processing, or for that matter for any negatives that are to be enlarged since it tends to give very large grain.

    All things considered you might also try developing the remaining negatives that are two stops over-exposed with a non-staining developer like D76 1:1. You will still have more shadow detail than needed but you will have a much lower B+F with over-exposed negatives with a non-staining developer than with a staining one, and this will translate into much shorter exposure times with UV processes.

    Sandy King
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2010
  19. colrehogan

    colrehogan Member

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    I have never read anything like the post quoted above anywhere. I develop with Jobo tanks and have no darkroom (I use a Harrison tent). I do a pre-wash of my film before adding my Pyrocat-HD to the tank.
     
  20. frotog

    frotog Member

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    That's cool...just passing on what works for me. Keep in mind that I'm passing on technique for PMK per the OP's original query (did you read it?). BTW...sorry to hear about the drkrm.!
     
  21. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Diane,

    With some tubes and drums the film fits so tightly that if you load the film dry and then pre-soak and develop the the solutions will not fully reach the back (or base) of the film during processing because it is so tightly pressed against the inside of the tube/drum. If this happens it may be very difficult to remove the film after you finish processing. I have this very problem when developing 5X7" film in home made ABS plastic tubes so I always wet the film first, then insert it in the tube.

    With other tubes and drums where the film has a looser fit in the tube/drum (or where there are ribs or chananels ) I do not find it necessary to pre-wet the film before loading it because the solutions will wet out the entire back of the film during processing.

    Sandy King
     
  22. bobherbst

    bobherbst Member

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    Quite correct! And this is why I have always emphasized that consistency of processing is critically important when using pyro purely because of the oxidation/stain variable. Many people are not consistent in their processing technique and therefore can't control the stain.

     
  23. frotog

    frotog Member

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    ...Not to mention the vexing problem of uneven stain on the base side that sometimes shows up as slight lines of higher density where the negative touches the ridge of the cylinder (at least in processing 5x7 in a 3006). With the 3000 series tanks I know this to be the case when using PMK and rollo pyro, ABC and WD2D. I've yet to try Mr. King's formula in the Jobo and so do not know if his formula is dogged by this problem.
     
  24. sanking

    sanking Restricted Access

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    Uneven stain on the base side is a potential problem with any pyro staining developer if the base side does not get good solution flow during development. The issue is that many films have a clear gelatin coating on the base side that will stain in the same way that the emulsion side will stain, the purpose of which is to prevent excessive curl and/or to serve as a retouching base. If the base side does not get an even flow of developer this will show up as uneven staining. The severity of the problem is dependent on the thickness of the base coating as well as amount of stain. It may help to use a weaker dilution of the developer, or to mix the developer with a bit of tetrasodium EDTA, but in some cases you may have to switch to a non-staining developer to completely eliminate the problem.

    This type of stain is different from oxidation type stain that can be prevented by choice of developer or by processing technique. In the early days of PMK it was found that development in Jobo gave a very high general stain. One of the earliest solutions that worked to prevent this was dividing the developing solution into two parts and replacing with fresh solution at the half way point. Later it was found that adding small amounts of sulfite or ascorbic acid to the working solution would also reduce oxidation stain, though this will be accompanied by more energy, which requires shorter development times. The primary difference between PMK and Rollo Pyro (originally introduced by Harald Leban back in the late 1990s as ABC+) is that the latter contains ascorbic acid, along with a bit of bromide.

    Sandy King
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 24, 2010
  25. WolfTales

    WolfTales Member

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    I'd recommend using non-pyro developer for the other negative until you get the hang of manipulating PMK.

    Keep oxidation to a minimum and very little after bath, if at all any. I usually add another 5, 10, or 15 seconds when I do use it. Stain intensifies in the wash.
     
  26. frotog

    frotog Member

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    Thanks for this. This is consistent with my experience as I've noticed that the more careful I've been in thoroughly washing the base side down, the more consistent my overall stain. I've worked with the EDTA but did not like the results as much as straight pmk - reduced edge effects and a slightly more compressed neg. to my eyes. If flow over the base side of the neg. with staining developers is this critical why recommend using a jobo at all? The easiest path to clean pyro negatives for me has always been inversion with a full-to-the-brim combi-plan or patterson tank.