Torn on Pyroct HD w/35mm TX

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by MMfoto, Dec 4, 2005.

  1. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

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    I've been using Pyrocat HD for my 35mm TX negatives for most of my work in the year, year and a half. I've pulled my best results from TX using this developer. The liberally exposed, full range, negatives I like have given me prints I am very happy with. This is a great combination for 35mm, period.

    What is giving me cause for doubt, however, is that I am not perfect. I do not always estimate my exposure correctly. I shoot in difficult lighting. Ocassionally I even "push" my negatives.

    Printing less than ideal negatives sometimes requires making prints with accentuated grain. Printing at high contrast grades from weak negaives for example.

    What I'm driving at here is that although the perfect print from the perfect Pyrocat/TX negative has a very minimal, "masked," grain sructure, that grain, when unmasked is, well, clumpy, confused, unattractive. To be blunt.

    I can say the same thing for Pyrocat HD and HP5.

    I thought I would share my experience with you and inquire as to your overall experience with Pyrocat HD and 35mm films.

    Thanks!
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Why use only one developer? If you like Pyrocat-HD under certain conditions, then stick with it for those conditions. If you need more speed for other conditions, try a developer like Acufine or Microphen for more speed.
     
  3. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

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    Why using one dev ? I do, to have the same result and feel on my prints.
     
  4. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

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    You are missing the point. "Better results" for me equals attractive grain structure when grain structure is an inherent part of the image. The grain produced by Pyrocat HD and the films that I use is unnatractive to me when it is rendered apparant by exposure/printing cercumstances.
     
  5. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

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    Good question. I don't. There will always be a time when I reach for one of several developers. But I do have a need for a standard that a body of work is base on. The nature of 35mm being what it is, you can't always pick and choose how you will handle every situation. That is one long roll of film, and as I said, I make mistakes.
     
  6. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Why not try a roll of Delta, Tmax or something else? For that matter try another developer too. I like Xtol.
     
  7. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    My rodinal negatives have big, attractive grain, like boobies at spring break.
    Seriously though, it is hard for me to imagine that you would be happy with any underexposed negative.
     
  8. John Bragg

    John Bragg Member

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    The best rule of thumb to produce glowing negatives that minimise the underlying grain structure is to overexpose slightly and under develop.Try rating TX at 200ASA and cut your dev time by 20% as a starting point. You should then find the kind of negs you seem to prefer are easier to achieve. Have a look at the late James Ravilious pictures, made using this technique and ancient Leicas with uncoated lenses. Tri-x was his favorite film and handled this way,the results are stunning !!!
     
  9. Claire Senft

    Claire Senft Member

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    If you are going to choose a different developer it should be for a reason. Ask yourself this question: "If I choose a developer that is more forgiving of poor exposures in difficult lighting conditions what will it do to the negatives that I have properly exposed and developed?" I would recommend learning how to control your exposures in the difficult situations before switching to a different developer. Seek out those difficult conditions that are giving you problems and learn how to handle them. There are good reasons for using more than one developer. One reason for changing may be to secure a different type of gradation. I can not recommend being less than competent with 2 developers as being better than being less than competent with one, although it can be recommended as a way to confuse youself.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The two-developer solution (one for general use, one for speed) works for me. I limit the materials I use in general with the goals mentioned above--to attempt to produce a consistent body of work--but trying to make a certain developer/film combination do something it can't do isn't really a better solution, if it produces only negs that aren't worth printing, or that require adjustments in at the printing end to make up for problems at the shooting end. Of course you could decide that producing a consistent body of work means not shooting under certain lighting conditions, but if you want to shoot under less than ideal lighting conditions, you need to figure out how to produce a printable negative.

    For large format, I find that ABC Pyro and RAF pyro-metol are nicely matched, giving similar tonality but with RAF producing greater speed (and grain, but for LF this isn't as much of a problem). Both of these developers are too grainy for 35mm, unless you're after that effect, but you might try to find two developers that have a similar affinity.
     
  11. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Regardless of what film/developer combination you use John's advice to overexpose and underdevelop slightly is very sound, IMO.

    I agree with what others have said about matching film and developers to specific circumstances and needs. However, this presumes a rather more sophisticated degree of control and more knowledge than is often the case with persons struggling with issues such as overexposure and/or overdevelopment.

    I am not sure what system of exposure the originator of this thread is using, but my advice to almost anyone would be to invest in a good hand-held meter and learn to use it well in both reflective and incident modes. I personally recommend the incident system as the most fool proof for beginners, and flexible enough for very advanced users as well, but that is another story.

    Sandy

     
  12. john_s

    john_s Subscriber

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    If the original poster is finding Tri-X tricky in low light situations, TMax400 will be trickier as far as shadow detail is concerned.
     
  13. fhovie

    fhovie Subscriber

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    I would not use pyrocat on 35mm - use XTOL - just as sharp - full film speed and much finer grain - also pushes better. i use Pyrocat for 4x5 and 8x10 film - no grain problems there
     
  14. MMfoto

    MMfoto Member

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    I would disagree. I can't speak about target tests and "sharpness," but in regards to acutance Pyrocat HD is much much more acute than anything I've done with full strength XTOL. Can't argue about the grain though.

    BTW, everyone seems to have construed from my posting that I am in search of fine grain. I don't think that is remotely what I wrote. I love grain. If you have a formula for staining Rodinal please give it to me. I love Pyrocat HD. It pretty much has allowed me to have my cake and eat it too. I can expose liberally and still retain highlight definition. It is superbly "acute," has great tonality, and delivers full emulsion speed. You want to touch the images.

    That said, I don't think it gives a very pleasing grain structure as compared to other developers, and that is important to ME.
     
  15. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Rodinal is not a staining developer. I am not sure what you hope to gain by using a staining developer with an enlarger, the stain is certainly going to make the grain look a little muddy.
    You can protect the highlights with rodinal using semi-stand development. I am doing 1:100 for 30 minutes and following Mr Cardwell's agitation like he mentions here
    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=21907&page=1&pp=10&highlight=rodinal
    This combination will certainly give you that classic grain structure.
     
  16. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    Now you've triggered my interest. It is not difficult to add the stain of Pyrocat HD or PMK or any other staining developer to a negative that has been developed in Rodinal or D-76 or any other non-staining developer. Make sure your negative has been thoroughly fixed and washed. Bleach it in the same bleach you would use for sepia toning. Redevelop to completion in the staining developer of your choice.

    The bleach can be as simple as 1 tsp potassium ferricyanide + 1 tsp potassium bromide in 500 ml water. Bleach to completion. Wash in plain water. Redevelop. The original silver image will return with the same grain structure and the stain of pyrogallol or catechol will be added.

    This technique is useful on thin negatives. It may be worth your while to try NOT pushing the original development in Rodinal or whatever and then applying the bleach-redevelopment in Pyrocat. While many seem to think that stained negatives print at lower contrast on VC paper, they also seem to forget that the higher contrast filters have more effect. The contrast on graded paper will always be increased by the red-yellow part of the stain.
     
  17. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    I have heard of bleaching B&W negatives and then redeveloping in pyro sometime ago and then kind of forgot about it. What do you define as "bleaching to completion"?
     
  18. avandesande

    avandesande Member

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    Bleaching and redeveloping will do nothing to help a blocked up negative. So you loose even that benefit of using a staining developer. Why would you do this?
     
  19. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Why do you say this? You can develop the negative back to a lower or higher contrast. I have done this quite often with negatives that were originally too contrasty because of overdevelopment. Bleaching and redevelopment made them much easier to print, especially in the highlights.

    Sandy


     
  20. kunihiko

    kunihiko Member

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    I've tried bleaching and redevelopment method which suggested above.
    My old negatives were under developed, because I used to use a condenser head. After I switched to diffusion one, I've been feeling they are bit hard to be printed as I wish.
    I read another post about bleach-redevelop thing in APUG, I bleached and redeveloped most of my thin negatives with Pyrocat-HD and found that It works very well, sometime they are even better than normally developed negatives (maybe just for me).
    It is great that I can have second chance to control the development.
     
  21. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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  22. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Yes, if you don't redevleop to completion you will need to develop until the desired contrast is reached. This takes a little practice, but can be done visually, or you could run tests and calculate how long development needs to be to get to a certain degree of development.

    Years ago when I made three-color carbons I would often adjust one or more of the negatives to balance the set as closely as possible. I got very good at it after some practice.

    If you try this just make sure that the negative is well fixed and washed. If not, the negative will be irreparably damaged.

    Sandy




     
  23. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    Thanks Sandy, I'll give this a try. It sounds like just what I need for some very important negatives that are really hard to print. Time to run some experiments...

    Richard Wasserman
     
  24. gainer

    gainer Subscriber

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    My comment dealt with unavailable light, when normal development gives very thin negatives, often very frustrating because you can see what you want to print, but the paper cannot. Push processing, as many of you have seen, often does not produce what you would like to see. Also, when you are using roll film, you may have shots on the same roll that you would rather not push. Anyway, that is why I said to develop to completion. Sandy knows more about the possible uses of BRD than I do.

    You will know when bleaching is complete.

    Incidentally, if you are planning to redevelop to completion, you can use a mixture of catechol and carbonate and save your Pyrocat for other uses. You don't need sulfite or phenidone or metol. I think (it's been a while since I tried it) that 1/4 tsp of catechol and 1 tsp of sodium carbonate in 500 ml will do the trick. Just don't mix it today expecting to use it tomorrow or even an hour from now. It cannot cause any fog that was not in the original negative, but it will stain that fog along with the image.