Two tray developing

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Eric Rose, Nov 21, 2002.

  1. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I am interested in using a technique where you use two different concentrations of developer. One would be normal strenghth and the other very diluted. I understand this technique is certainly not new and is widely used by such photographers as Bruce Barnbaum.

    I don't know however which should go first, normal soup or diluted. And what the concentrations should be. I am trying to extend the tonal range of my prints while still achieving good contrast.

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    Eric
     
  2. steve

    steve Member

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    The usual method of working is to use the dilute developer (or when it was available - Selectol Soft) first.

    The idea is that areas with the most exposure (shadows, dark greys) develop quickly, while light greys and whites do not respond as fast. So, you use a soft working developer to make a full bodied print minus blacks. Then put it into the higher concentrate developer for a short period of time to develop the blacks and add contrast to the entire print.
     
  3. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    If Selectol - Soft is no longer available, what is a viable alternative? I generally use Agfa developer as I use Agfa MG paper. I wonder if a very diluted first tray would work followed by a normal second tray. Or is the second try at a higher than normal dilution to bring out the blacks quickly?

    This was never an issue when I was shooting 35mm but now I do mainly 4x5 and MF so am blessed with much better negs.

    I wonder if selenium toning my negs would give me the same results with out all the fuss with two developer trays. Has anyone compared the results?

    Eric

    ps. thanks for you help so far.
     
  4. c6h6o3

    c6h6o3 Member

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    "I am trying to extend the tonal range of my prints while still achieving good contrast."

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The easiest and best way to do this is to contact print your negatives on Azo and develop them in amidol with a water bath. You'll have complete control over the scale of every print and will use far fewer sheets of paper.
     
  5. steve

    steve Member

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    The use of Selectol Soft was as a substitute for having to mix the Beers Formula developers.

    I used to use Dektol (or Ektanol liquid) 2:1 in one tray and Selectol soft 1:1 in another tray. The print would start in the Selectol for 2 minutes until I had a "full print" and then I would transfer it to a water bath to wash the Selectol off the print. Then into the Dektol for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the blacks looked solid but the shadows weren't blocked.

    I haven't looked at the Photographer's Formulary website, but it wouldn't surprise me to find that they had formulated a replacement for Selectol Soft. Perhaps someone who does more B&W than I do now would know off-hand.

    In any event, you certainly could formulate Selectol Soft or the Beers Developers from standard photo chemicals available from Photographer's Formulary.

    The advice to use Amidol is also very good as it is a long scale developer and can be used quite successfully with graded paper. I've never used it with variable contrast paper and can't tell you how well it works with a dual emulsion paper.

    Again, maybe someone else like Ed Buffaloe would have some experience with Amidol and variable contrast paper.
     
  6. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the great advise everyone. Azo sounds neat but 4x5 prints are a tad to small for these aging eyes!
     
  7. Robert

    Robert Member

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    The darkroom cookbook includes a couple of paper developers that are supposed to me similar to Selectol . They look fairly simple to mix. Both claim to be usefull for two tray developing.
     
  8. edbuffaloe

    edbuffaloe Member

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    Ansco 120 gives results that are virtually indistinguishable from Selectol Soft.

    But I agree that an amidol developer with a tray of water is as good or better than two developers.
     
  9. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    I use a two bath developer when making enlargements. Both developers are from Tetenal; the first bath is Dokumol and the second is Centrabrom.

    Unlike the advice from AA concerning 2 bath developers, I like to use the higher contrast of the two as the first bath, which in my case is Dokumol. Depending on the image, I let develope in the first bath until the blacks are about 60-70% done, then transfer into the softer working Centrabrom (the Tetenal version of Selectol soft), and let the highlights further develope.

    I tried it the other way around, and got nothing but muddy looking prints. This is a great developer combination which really gives additional control to the final contrast/appearence of the enlargement.
     
  10. bmac

    bmac Member

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    Has selectol soft been discontinuted? I just bought some today at my local darkroom shop. They had a ton of it.

    Brian
     
  11. lee

    lee Member

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    wasn't the two bath developer mainly aimed at graded papers? The idea is that you can reduce the contrast grade to get "half"grades from graded paper. Seems to me with VC paper and split printing you can do the same thing. I could be wrong.\



    lee
     
  12. ann

    ann Subscriber

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    You can also take the two developers and combine them into one tray, which may give better control. Many folks like to use this combo even with todays papers.
    The split development can also open shadows in an interesting fashion. This method was used frequently with graded papers but can still be useful with VC.
    My dealer said they wouldn't be surprised about Selectol as they don't sell much; however Beers can certainly take up the void or as someone else suggested the Formulary may already have a version. I have a formula somewhere in the files that is "suppose" to be Selectol; quess i better drag it out .
     
  13. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Lee,

    as soon as you select a filter and expose your VC paper, you have in effect assigned that paper a gradation. Even if you use for example a 2 1/2 filter, by using the 2 bath development method, you can further influence the tonality of the paper.

    As for split toning, I do not have much experience in this area, but I don't think that split toning can be used a reliable source for influencing the shadow detail or over all contrast in a print, atleast not in a way that could be repeatable on a consistant basis.
     
  14. dancqu

    dancqu Member

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (erose54 @ Nov 21 2002, 11:44 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>"...a technique where you use two different concentrations of developer. &nbsp;One would be normal strenghth and the other very diluted." </td></tr></table><span id='postcolor'>
    I've the same in mind as I am switching to graded paper and a lighter
    brighter darkroom. You may be suprised how the choice of paper can
    make a darkroom out of a DARKroom.

    An article in Camer and Darkroom, seven or eight years ago, expands
    upon the subject. After years of using this and that developer he
    settled on a Zone IV. In one example he used full strenght for 20sec.
    then 1+4 to finish. He genuinely felt it a good practice. Dan
     
  15. matt.s.

    matt.s. Member

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    I often use a two bath development combination of ansco 130 & 120 developers in separate trays to control contrast with ilford galerie. This method gives a lot of flexibility
    with only one grade of paper ( #2 ). One can also get improved tonal separation from some negs by printing on a higher contrast grade and using only the soft working developer. Or conversely using a softer paper and ansco 130 undiluted or 1+1.
    I assume this would be useful for multigrade users also.
     
  16. lee

    lee Member

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    As for split toning, I do not have much experience in this area, but I don't think that split toning can be used a reliable source for influencing the shadow detail or over all contrast in a print, atleast not in a way that could be repeatable on a consistant basis.

    William,
    What I was refering to was not split toning but Split Filter Printing. I have an Aristo VCL 4500 that I mounted on D-2 and time exposures with a Metrolux II timer. I use the blue light for the shadows and the green light for the highlights. Everything I print is controlled like that and is very repeatable. I am just not sure that two bath developing is relavent to VC paper. Graded papers yes, but the caveat is graded paper is getting harder and harder to find and the choices are getting fewer and fewer. I wish it weren't true as I definately loved Agfa Broveria.

    lee/c
     
  17. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Sorry Lee, my mistake.
     
  18. baronfoxx

    baronfoxx Member

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    Lee

    your split filter printing is more commonly known as SPLIT GRADE PRINTING and is known widely in Europe in this way.
    A German company called Heiland make a split grade printing system which is tailor made to your individual enlarger which is very good but is very expensive.
     
  19. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council

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    I've been using a two developer regime for a couple months now with MG-IV Warmtone Fibre.

    Dev 1: D-73 (2:1). A hard developer to get the 'bite' in the shadows. Usually about 20 - 30 seconds.

    Water Bath - sometimes, of about 1 min to let the D-73 max out. Other times just right into Dev 2.

    Dev 2: Selectrol Soft - home brew. A ratio of 9:1 for anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes.

    I find the hard developer in first position sets a deep black and will carry up into the greys as long as I want it to. The 2nd dev will bring the highlights down to meet the Black where I want it to.

    The system is entirely judgemental, proving once again there is no one way to make a print.
     
  20. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    Yes Bruce,

    That's the same way my 2 bath development as well.

    I had read in The Print (A.A) that he also used a 2 bath development every once in awhile, but he used Selectol Soft FIRST, then Dektol. So I thought, heck, if Ansel does it that way, I' should atleast give it a try. All I got outof the excercise were some pretty muddy looking prints, and that was from negatives that I had previously printed with great suscess using the harder developer as the first bath.
     
  21. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Just a couple of thoughts on the 2-tray or 2-developer system and other contrast-controlling techniques at the developing stage.

    The 2-developer system is a tried and true way of achieving intermediate contrast grades. The developers can be mixed to make one tray of developer with an intermediate activity, or used one after the other.

    Ansel Adams recommended using the softer developer first because he transferred the prints directly from one developer to the other without an intermediate water bath. The carry-over of Metol only to the more powerful MQ developer had no significant effect on the developer activity over a longer printing session. Also, the softer-working developer probably is less alkaline, again making the transfer from soft to hard developer insignificant whereas the reverse would soon "soup up" the soft developer by changing the pH and adding Hydroquinone to the mix.

    With a water bath between, I can see no reason why either one first would make a difference. However, I have always used the soft developer first (Selectol Soft, or the like, diluted 1:1 or more) for 1-3 minutes and then the harder develper second. I also transfer directly from one developer to the other. I don't need to waste extra darkroom time with an intermediate water bath that way. I have found that 30 seconds is about the minimum time in the hard developer (with vigorous agitation) to maintain even development. (It might be interesting to do some tests: hard first, soft first for the same times, with and without the water bath and see if there is indeed a difference.)

    As stated above, sometimes just the soft developer alone is the best solution. Again, in principle using the 2-developer method is just a way to alter the activity of the total development. There are also other methods.

    I have for sometime also been "tweaking" my off-the-shelf developer with the addition of sodium carbonate and/or benzotriazole or potassium bromide to increase activity and restrain development in the whites, respectively. I simply make 10% solutions of each and add them "by guess or by golly" to the hard developer. Carbonate to increase activity (this speeds up the paper a bit) and benzotriazole or bromide to restrain the development in the whites, thus altering the paper scale (and slowing down the paper). A mix of the two gives deeper blacks and holds back the whites a bit too, thus increasing contrast without greying the whites.

    A more concentrated developer will also give a marked increase in activity and, usually, more contrast (e.g. straight Dektol). The converse applies to diluting the soft-working developer. SS 1:3 with long developing times can really extend the paper scale.

    Many people believe that increasing development time will increase contrast. However, with modern materials, this effect is minimal, being only significant before the paper reaches full development or with extremely long times (10+ minutes). Just take a look at the published curves for most papers. What increased development time does best is to effectively speed up the paper a bit. I use it to put the finishing touches on my basic exposure time. Sometimes 10 seconds makes a marked difference in the finished print.

    All these techniques are fairly simple and, before the advent of VC papers, part of the arsenal of any good printer. They are still of most use to us few who prefer graded papers to VC. However, they are equally effective on VC papers, and prints made with split-filtration or lots of manipulations may even require them for optimum results.

    Regards, ;^D)
     
  22. William Levitt

    William Levitt Member

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    I never use a intermediate water bath when using my 2 bath development for VC (or graded) enlarging paper. I cannot see any reason for doing so. As far as mixing the two baths together in one tray, I think that would reduce the ability to contropl contrast and basically would defeat the purpose of using 2 baths. If the point is to creat an "intermediate" developer, for whatever reason, ok, but if it's tonal control you're after, then I say keep the two baths seperate.