Recommended reading about developers?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Jedidiah Smith, Mar 13, 2012.

  1. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Recently purchased yet another darkroom setup, this time mostly because my daughter wants to get into it. At the same time, she saved up her own money and purchased a chemistry set, the real deal - with alcohol burner and everything :wink: just came in the mail today.
    Long story short, I was thinking about trying to make some developers from scratch with her, but I know literally nothing about how to do that. My developing to date has been limited to: D76, Xtol, Perceptol, HC110 for films and Dektol for papers. In other words, prepackaged stuff and just add water.

    Is there some requisite reading - maybe a website, or I'll buy a book to share with her - that goes into detail about developers and what chemical does what reaction in the developing process? It might be a fun project for her and I to try and make one from scratch, and then compare it to a known quality like D76 on the same film. Just thinking out loud here...
    ...on that note, do you all think the "best" developers have already been made, or are there still secret combinations out there waiting to be unlocked? Thanks for any discussion,
    Jed
     
  2. Helinophoto

    Helinophoto Member

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    Based on what I've read about the Darkroom Cookbook, it will explain the basics behind a typical developer and how to make one.

    But the area of "edible developers" is still a field of much research and debate:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/44642-edible-film-developers.html

    A little knowledge about chemistry seem to be needed when it comes to determine if a food substance can be a good developer ingredient. :smile:
     
  3. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    By far the best two books are Jacobson, Developing 18th Editition and Steve Anchell's Darkroom Cookbook 3rd Edition.

    Ian
     
  4. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    Mixing your own developers can be rewarding and a lot of fun. It can be very easy - some of the simplest formulas have so few ingredients that it isn't much harder than mixing D76 from a packet. You do need some lab scales, though.

    The experts have been working on developers for many decades, so I doubt there are too many breakthroughs for the amateur to make - but as various chemicals become restricted due to Health and Safety or terrorist considerations (or hysteria ;-) there is a whole area of possibility to try and get somewhere near to what the traditional formulas did but with less toxic ingredients (or even edible ones!)

    My favourite book is C.L.Jacobson "Developing" - Focal Press ISBN 0 240 44770 0.
    I have the 17th Edition. I don't know how many editions it went to...

    It is long out of print, but you might find it second hand.

    Be warned, though, it is possible to get so engrossed in playing with developers that you have no time at all for any photography ;-)
     
  5. Robert Ridyard

    Robert Ridyard Member

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  6. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I'll second the Darkroom Cookbook, as a good basic one to start on that gets you started with the understanding of the different 'ingredients' and how they interact.
    Jacobson 'Developing' I also have (18th ed I think) it is a very good second book.
    British Journal of Photography annuals also have formulae in them.

    As to the web, I think Unblinking Eye is one place worth a visit.
    Apug used to have articles , some of which dealt with developers from scratch, and might still have. I have not poked around there for quite some time.
     
  7. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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  8. Jedidiah Smith

    Jedidiah Smith Member

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    Thank you for the replies. It would just be a fun project with her, and she is getting into the stage where mixing chemicals is "cool, Dad". :D
    I'll see about getting that Darkroom Cookbook then. Sounds like 3rd edition is the latest?
    Also, I was considering ordering Way Beyond Monochrome 2nd edition - I know one of the contributers on here wrote it, and I was thinking I may as well try to learn all this properly at some point. :wink: Does anyone know if it has good info on developers as well?
    Thanks,
    Jed
     
  9. BobD

    BobD Member

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    Anchell also wrote The Film Developing Cookbook which has even more info on developers than his Darkroom Cookbook
     
  10. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Do you have a good scale? If not, you might find out the cost of one before investing in the book.

    I don't mix from scratch, and others can help you with this, but just a thought.
     
  11. albada

    albada Member

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    These days, you can buy cheap electronic scales for under US$20. On amazon.com, search for "gram scale .01g", and you'll see many choices, mostly from American Weigh Scales (AWS). I have two and they work great.

    Mark Overton
     
  12. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    Way beyond monochome is a great book.

    It will give you the best bang for the buck of any B&W printing and paper and flim calibrating guide I have ever read.

    I don't recall it discussing developers other than standardize your process with the one(s) you are using.
     
  13. skahde

    skahde Member

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    The Film Developing Cookbook may be the easiest stepstone into making your own developers. But be careful. It's positively adictive and may seriously distract you from actual photography. :whistling:
     
  14. bpenn

    bpenn Member

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  15. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Film Developing Cookbook and the Darkroom Cookbook.
     
  16. Kevin Caulfield

    Kevin Caulfield Subscriber

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    "Way Beyond Monochrome", by Ralph Lambrecht (of APUG) and Chris Woodhouse, has a brief introduction to photographic chemistry, together with a formula for D-76/ID-11 and some other formulae for paper developers, etc, but recommends "The Darkroom Cookbook" by Anchell, and "The Film Developing Cookbook" by Anchell and Troop, for "the whole gamus of darkroom alchemy with all its opportunities and alternatives".
     
  17. kb3lms

    kb3lms Subscriber

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    +1 for the "Film Developing Cookbook." Tells you just about everything you would want to know.

    Jacobsen's "Developing" book looks pretty good. I just picked that up from the internet archive.

    Jason
     
  18. steven_e007

    steven_e007 Member

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    A Kindle version?
    Oh Joy!!! Can't think of a better bedtime read!
    Thanks for the tip :smile:
     
  19. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    I can :smile: The first Edition from 1940, left it in Turkey for pool-side reading though.

    Joking apart it's interesting as it shows how things had changed in respect to film dvelopment between 1940 and 1972 (18th Edition). Unlike many later authors Kurt Jacobson was a working Photo-chemist and was later active in developing new colour processes for Pavelle, so it's a book written with deep insight into all aspects of developing which won't be matched again.

    Ian