Two bath development questions

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by aleksmiesak, Mar 14, 2012.

  1. aleksmiesak

    aleksmiesak Member

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    Hi there, I'm new on the forum. Have been lurking for a while and learning a lot but I finally built up some courage to ask a few questions. I have done my share of film development and printing back in college about 10 years ago. However, the progress of technology and speed of life had me sidetracked in the digital fantasy land. I've finally seen the light and have made the switch back to analog. So I've been collecting my gear re-learning a few things and I think I'm finally ready to develop my own stack of 120 rolls. Based on what I've read I'm leaning towards mixing my own developer based on Barry Thornton two bath method. So I wanted to pick your brains as to some tips and techniques you might have learned and would be willing to share. Here are a few of my questions but feel free to add any valuable notes you might have.

    Do you adjust his basic method based on film type/speed? I mostly shoot Delta 100 and Tri-X 400 for now but his website states that the method is forgiving to variety of films and speeds. Is that so? Or should I make adjustments for each. He also mentioned develop for approximately 4 minutes in each bath. Any firmer number on that?

    How should I handle prep and storage of the two bath solutions? Should I mix ahead of time and keep it for a prolonged time as a solution or is it better to make a fresh 1gallon solution batch each time and store the remaining bulk dry ingredient? It's cheaper to get larger dry quantities. I think I remember reading that I can reuse the baths for a number of rolls. Any experience on how accurate that is?

    Do you adjust any other steps based on the two bath development, i.e. fix, stop bath, etc? Or should I just go with the standard methods. I'd like to keep the rest of the process simple so I don't get too bogged down since I'm just getting back into it.

    Also, any opinions on which fixer, stop bath you like to use (or not use) would be helpful as the list of available products is quite extensive and I don't remember what I liked before. And it would simplify my already long list of items to pick up from Photographers Formulary here in Montana.

    Someone here has a great FAQ page link on their signature that has been a great help, don't remember who that is but you ROCK! Thanks so much for the info! :smile:

    Thanks for all your help! I'm sure I'll have more questions as the answers start rolling in but I really appreciate your thoughts.
    Aleks
     
  2. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I'd say it is fairly forgiving. I run Delta 100, Delta 500, and HP5 at the same times and in the same tank. The first bath does do some development (there is some detailed discussion here and on the Large Format Forum resources pages http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ on this and other divided developers), so extending the first bath time will have an effect. The second bath runs to completion, so 4-5 minutes will work.

    This is actually a complicated developer if you want to try modifications - first bath time, second bath alkalinity, so stick to the 4:4 at the usual 20C. unless you really need to make a change. I assume you are using the normal sodium metaborate second bath. This developer will not push the film speed, so plan on using box speed or up to a stop lower.

    I tend to be conservative on my capacity - it is cheaper to make up than the film! I mix around a litre of stock because that suits my tanks and the volume of film. Unless weighing is a real chore, don't make up solutions you won't use. It keeps, but the powders take up less space and weigh less. I have never driven the capacity to the limit. After a half-dozen or so films (35mm 36exp or equivalent) the volume has dropped enough that I start over.

    Any standard stop and fix will work. I use Kodak indicator stop and Hypam fix at the moment. I have plenty on hand.

    Graham
     
  3. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Member

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    If you want to get started with out the fuss of mixing your own chemistry, try some Diafine. Last night, I ran six rolls in Diafine that I mixed in May of 2010! I've put a ton of rolls through it, never replenished, and it still works fine. I'm going to add some new stock to it, though, just to be safe.

    Water for stop, or a very mild acid stop bath, and rapid fix, which will help get the pink out of the TriX film base (but not all of it, no matter how long you fix it or wash it.)
     
  4. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    For Barry Thornton's developer I mix up 1L of working developer one day before I want to use it. I then use it (undiluted) for 16 films and discard it (it is so simple, cheap, quick and easy to make). I only use Delta 400 and the time that works best for me is 4.5 minutes in each bath @ 20 C.

    The following processing sequence has worked reliably for me for many many years and also for the people that I have taught. It is not any 'better' than any other but gives every beginner a very reliable sequence to follow. Adjustments can be made later according to your personal needs. The fix, wash and then fix again part of the sequence gives negatives completely clear of the pink dye caste that so many people seem to have a problem with. You will never have 'blocked up' - meaning unprintable highlights with this developer and using this processing sequence (irrespective of how much additional exposure you give your films to capture very dark shadow areas).

    Film development

    Fill a large bucket full with plain water @ 20C.

    Pre-wash / Plain water from the bucket @ 20C.

    Make sure that developers A + B are @ 20C.

    Stopbath / (I use Plain water from the bucket) @ 20C.

    Fixer / Dilute as per recommendation with water from bucket @ 20C.

    Wash / Plain water from the bucket @ 20C.

    Development process:

    Pre-soak into the developing tank.

    Start the clock (and keep it running for this sequence).

    Pre-soak for 2 minutes / four inversions in the first 30 seconds then 1 inversion every 30 seconds / tap base of tank after every inversion to release any air bubbles attached to film.

    Empty tank 15 seconds before developer Bath A is due to go in.

    At 2 minutes add Bath A / First 30 seconds constant agitation then 1 inversion per 30 seconds / tap base of tank after every inversion to release any air bubbles attached to film. My development time is 4.5 minutes (you may find you need to adjust this slightly to suit how your camera works, your way of metering and the type of enlarger you use (condenser enlargers require less development, colour/diffuser/multigrade light sources require more).

    Empty tank 15 seconds before the end of the development time for Bath A (pour into a jug for future use).

    At 4.5 minutes add Bath B / First 30 seconds constant agitation then 1 inversion per 30 seconds / tap base of tank after every inversion to release any air bubbles attached to film. My development time is 4.5 minutes (you may find you need to adjust this slightly to suit how your camera works, your way of metering and the type of enlarger you use (condenser enlargers require less development, colour/diffuser/multigrade light sources require more).

    Empty tank 15 seconds before (pour into a jug for future use) stop bath is due to go in.

    Add stop bath (I use plain water) / four inversions in the first 30 seconds.

    Empty tank 15 seconds before fixer is due to go in.

    Add fixer / First 30 seconds 4 inversions then 1 inversion per 30 seconds (Rapid fixer such as fresh Ilford Hypam etc for 2 minutes).

    Open the developing tank, remove film and put into a jug with plain water at 20C (from the bucket) and vigorously agitate until until there is virtually no more pink dye in the film.

    Return film to development tank and fix with vigorous agitation for a further 2 minutes (Rapid fixer)

    Remove film from development tank and put into a jug with plain water at 20C

    Empty the fixer from the development tank (and retain for later use) and then thoroughly wash the tank

    Prepare four jugs with enough plain water from the bucket to fill the tank (this is for a reliable variation to the Ilford washing sequence)

    Prepare another jug with plain water from the bucket and add wetting agent (this is the final rinse in the processing sequence)

    Return film to tank and add first jug of water / Invert 10 times and then discard water

    Repeat with second jug of water

    Add third jug of water / Invert 20 times and then discard water

    Repeat with fourth jug of water

    Remove film from development tank and place in final rinse (jug of water with wetting agent) for 3 minutes with no agitation / movement of film

    Remove film from spiral and attach drying clips (or pegs, etc)

    Pour final rinse down both sides of the film (start by pouring at the very top of the film and then lower to middle of film)

    Allow excess rinse to drain off the film

    Hang films to dry in a clean dry space.

    Enjoy your photography and I hope this post helps.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  5. aleksmiesak

    aleksmiesak Member

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    Wow, this is great help! Thanks guys!

    Graham, yes I am using sodium metaborate as bath B.

    Thanks David for a very insightful and detail step by step. I might have to print it out and use it as a guide since it is easier to follow then what I have written out.
     
  6. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    I just started to try out Thornton's 2 bath.
    I've only done 4 rolls so far but I am impressed with the results and simplicity.

    One thing I learned after the first roll was to not agitate in Bath B as recommended by some. I gave it 1 inversion followed by a good hard rap on the counter then let it sit until finished.

    I have found around 4 minutes in both baths is just about right for Acros and FP4 in 120 format and a diffuser enlarger.

    Also, I did not pre-soak as per instructions from other users.

    Good luck
     
  7. Leigh B

    Leigh B Member

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    Like Parker Smith said, use Diafine.

    Excellent two-part developer, not at all sensitive to time or temperature, so it's very easy to use in a less-than-optimum processing situation.

    I've used it for many different films over the years, and still use it for tray development of sheet film (Fuji Acros and Ilford FP4+).

    - Leigh
     
  8. msonelson

    msonelson Member

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    Hey Aleks, This is Ray. I have some Diafine in the cupboard when you get over to Missoula and want to give it a try.
     
  9. aleksmiesak

    aleksmiesak Member

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    Thanks guys, I might give Diafine a try one day. And Ray, it's good to know you have some as well if my mood strikes me to try it.

    However, my goal is to get into mixing my own with some help from "The Film Developing Cookbook", "The Darkroom Cookbook" and some tips from a friend. The Thornton's method seems like an easy way to get into that with a simple three ingredient recipe so I'll most likely be going that route for now.
    Aleks
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2012
  10. Harry Lime

    Harry Lime Member

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    I love Barry Thornton's 2-bath and have used it for about 4 years now as my standard developer. I shoot Tri-X and TMY-2 400 exclusively, mostly at 400asa.

    For push processing Tri-X or TMY-2 to 1250 or 1600 I use Diafine . I've also developed Delta3200 in Diafine with good results.

    Both developers are close to foolproof and deliver excellent results. The nature of a 2 bath developer makes it next to impossible to blow out the highlights while delivering plenty of shadow detail.

    Both of these are my preferred developers, although I will still use XTOL or DD-X in a pinch. Sometimes raw chemicals can be difficult to come by
     
  11. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    I mostly use a Jobo with it, and do not pre-soak.

    Metol is the hardest ingredient to obtain, followed by sodium sulphite. The metaborate can be synthesised using hardware store borax and sodium hydroxide in a pinch. But Aleks lives almost on top of (for US Western States' definitions of close) Photographer's Formulary, and shouldn't have too much trouble obtaining chemicals :cool:

    Graham
    Graham
     
  12. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    In a two bath developer there is theoretically no development in the first bath. The film absorbs developing agents in the first bath and when immersed in the second bath, which is alkaline, development takes place. What you get is what you get. You have no control as to film speed and contrast.

    There is however what are called divided developers. Due to the alkalinity of the first bath some development does take place. When the film is transfered to the second bath development is completed. In such sevelopers you have some control as to speed and contrast. However, like a conventional developer you must be aware of the developer temperature and how long film remains in the first bsth. An example of this class of developers would be divided D-23.
     
  13. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    Not to question, but my reading seems to indicate that the contrast control can be obtained by varying the time in Bath B or by adjusting the amount of Sodium Metaborate in Bath B.

    I think Thornton suggested making 3 different Bath B's with 12, 15 and 20 grams of Sodium Metaborate in order to increase contrast when needed.
     
  14. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    If you have 3 different bath's B then you have in essence 3 different developers. If you change the amount of borax in D-76 is it still D-76 or something different. For a particular bath B formulation the speed and contrast are locked in. This is the main reason why people use these developers. They don't have to watch the temperature or the clock. If you want control then use a conventional developer. There is no perfect developer that will you everything that you wish.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 17, 2012
  15. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    There is no perfect developer that will you everything that you wish.

    I beg to differ. If you know what you want and have 'pinned down' your working methods and work in a consistently methodical way, then most developers can give you everything that you wish. For me, since the past 11 years this has been one camera, one lens, one film and a two-bath developer. When I make a photograph, I know exactly how a straight print will look and then proceed to interpret it further at the printing stage.

    Best,

    David.
    www.dsallen.de
     
  16. aleksmiesak

    aleksmiesak Member

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    A lot of food for thought here, I really appreciate it. Just to keep things simple for my first time back developing my own I'll be sticking to Thornton's method and take good notes. I'm curious about the contrast thing so I will be trying other methods as well to aid in getting the effect I desire. It's a going to be a long and fun process getting to a method that I'm comfortable with and that gives me the results I want.

    Thanks for your input.
    Aleks
     
  17. mwdake

    mwdake Member

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    That's a good point, I never thought of it that way.
     
  18. davekarp

    davekarp Member

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    I have used the Thornton 2 bath and like it. I modify it to put 1/2 the Sodium Sulphite in each bath, instead of all in the A bath. I have also used the -version of the B bath to reduce contrast. It worked.
     
  19. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    Stick with the Thornton recipe and times until you know that you want to make changes.

    The alkalinity of the first bath controls how much development happens from the metol at that step. The Thornton formula allows some bath A development. The alkalinity of the second bath plus metol exhaustion controls the shadow build up and the compensating effect.

    The Stoeckler article at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/twobath/ is very informative.
     
  20. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    When I stated that "there is no perfect developer" I was not indulging in hyperbole. The qualities that we desire in a developer such as film speed, granularity, resolution, ... are not independent but are all interrelated. If you attempt to increase film speed then another quality such as granularity or resolution will suffer. This problem is discussed in the following article, "The Genesis of Xtol", Dick Dickerson and Silvia Zawadski, Photo Techniques Vol 20, #5. The authors liken the desirable qualities of a developer to the corners of a pillow. Push in on one corner and another will pop out. Not only do they show that there is no perfect developer but also that there never can be one.

    I highly recommend the above article. At one time it was on the Photo Techniques website but no longer appears there. If you can find the article it is well worth reading.
    .
     
  21. An Le-qun

    An Le-qun Member

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    I'm sure its capacity isn't limitless, but I have never been able to run this developer to even near-exhaustion. I always seem to pull some bonehead stunt like pouring the used #2 into the #1 bottle, knocking one of them over, etc. before I extend the stuff too far. But I get a lot of mileage out of it before the screwup, typically.
     
  22. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    Hi Gerald,

    you are quite right that, when designing or choosing to use a developer, there are a number of interrelated variables such as film speed, granularity, resolution, capacity, acutance, etc. However, all of these are based on the idea of the 'holy grail' of increased film speed, virtually no grain, exceptional acutance, blisteringly sharpness and unending capacity.

    My main point was that, if you throw away this unachievable wish list and accept that you can't have it all, then any given developer can be the 'perfect' developer if it delivers the results that you desire. Thornton's two-bath developer gives me (subject to my own preferences) sufficient sharpness, acutance, fine grain and capacity that I get the prints that I desire. It provides a very consistent and reliable workflow that lets me concentrate on finding new images (knowing that I will get good results technically) and then knowing I have all the information that I need on the negative to realise my interpretation of the scene in the final print.

    The downside of a two-bath is generally stated as a loss of speed. Using iso 400 film this is no big deal as iso 200 is more than enough for me. However, when one undertakes rigorous tests to determine personal EI in relation to personal metering and development techniques, I have found that every developer that I have tested resulted in an approximate halving of the box speed if I want to achieve good shadow detail. My personal experience is that the biggest variables with developer choice are in regard to grain, sharpness and acutance and, for my taste, the most important of these is achieving minimal grain. For others, accepting some loss of detail in deep shadows is not a problem and these people generally report that they use the box speed.

    Going back to the OP, the Thornton developer processed as I indicated earlier in this thread will give good and repeatable results. If, after a number of films something is missing, then the OP has a strong foundation to post for further advice. For example, by explaining current technique and then asking how to achieve more speed, more/less sharpness, more/less grain, more/less acutance, etc. In my experience this is the best way for someone to rapidly advance their technique and, in doing so, swiftly move towards creating the basis for predictable results thereby enabling one to concentrate on the most important thing - making images and enjoying their photography.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  23. Gerald C Koch

    Gerald C Koch Member

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    Hi David,

    I agree, my only concern was with the word "perfect" and people getting off on the wrong path. Sadly there are still some that constantly seek a better developer at the expense of actually taking pictures.

    Jerry
     
  24. el wacho

    el wacho Member

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    if one of the op's priority's is speed the i suggest this modification ( to which i have tested and used )

    replace the 6.5g/L metol with;

    2.5g metol
    5g Hydroquinone
    0.25 phenidone

    i've used this ( it's basically from crawley's fx4 ) with 80g sod. sulfite/L and without the 1g Kbr/L with a B bath of sod. metaborate. ?f i was using sod. carbonate ( say 12g - 20g /L ) as the B bath, i may consider using the Kbr. ?'m used to having to print through some fog, knowing i got every ounce of speed but sometimes it can get a bit much ( the fog ) and i add some in. i was using this combination for when i had to shoot hand held 120. for tri x you can easily ei800. i was shooting gp3 shanghai 100 at 200. it was fine grained ( typical of 80g sod sulfite/L ), sharp and a nice 'S' curve look. i simply don't use this often enough because i mostly work with tripod relegating speed as the factor which i compromise on.