I set up my home darkroom for the first time last weekend, mixed my chemicals according to the directions, and started printing. Everything seemed to be going well. I made about four or five 8x10 test prints and about five 11x14 prints before I had to take a break. I closed the door to the bathroom, turned off the light, and after a couple hours came back and started working on another print. That one came out well. The one after that didn't want to develop at all. Only a very faint image appeared in some spots; the rest of the paper remained white. I assumed I had left the developer (Ilford Multigrade) sitting too long and decided to try again today, this time without any interruptions.
Once again, after about five 11x14 prints, the developer seemed to be exhausted. I mixed up a bit more to see if I could stretch it out, but the addition of the new mixture didn't seem to make it work, either. The temperature of the developer was 65 degrees F, and it had a very slight yellowish tinge to it. I purchased all my chemicals last week at a local camera store. Judging by the way the guy at the register acted, not very many people buy chemicals from this store. I looked on the bottle to see if I could find an expiration date, but all I found was a batch number.
Is it possible that I just purchased an expired bottle or is something else going on? The Ilford stop and rapid fixer I purchased along with the developer seem to be all right. I'm very careful about avoiding cross-contamination; all my trays and tongs are clearly marked.
In the future, where is the best place to get developer?
hello dally alice, and welcome to apug... i usually get my developer at a local shop, just to make sure they carry some products... last time i went they didn't even have d-76 :(, and their film section was a consolidated down one more section of shelves... anyway... i buy all my film at bh photo, and now my chemicals too (next time i order, the camera store always had a 40% mark-up)... i would buy from adorama to, but find bh photo check out more convenient (paypal)... also many like freestyle, and i've visited the store when i was in LA, and they were EXTREMELY friendly even though i walked in 5 minutes to close. i don't know if your in the us though... but i've typed it all out, so there you have it.
You don't specify quantity of chem used to process the 11x14's. I don't use the same chems as you, but when I print 11x14 I use two liters of developer in my tray. My soup of choice is Ethol LPD, which is replenishable. I purchase my chems frm either Adorama, B&H, or Freestle depending on what else I need at the time and who has it.
I used 2 liters of developer each time. I'm still new at darkroom printing - is Ethol LPD a good developer for a beginner to use?
Originally Posted by Rick A
Yes it is. The initials stand for "long lasting paper developer". It has an incredibally long life in trays and in bottles between uses. It can be used as a replenishable developer as well, and comes in powder or liquid(most prefer powder). The great point is tonal control via dilution without changing developing time. Mix 1+3 or 4 for warm tone or 1+1 or 2 for cool tone.
Originally Posted by Daily Alice
Thank you so much for the tip (especially the dilution recipes)! I'll try some Ethol LPD next time I'm in the darkroom.
Hi, Daily Alice!
There's nothing wrong with your current developer.... You just need to be aware of how many prints you are making per quantity of the solution. In tray, it degrades pretty fast. Uncovered, it'll be basically gone in 24 hours even unused. If you cover it with saran wrap, making sure the wrap is making full contact with the liquid (not taut over the lips), it'll actually last for a few days. Making 11x14, it's easy to get carried away (and I do the same!) and start exceeding capacity.
I mostly use Dektol but I've noticed, adding concentrate after exhaustion doesn't really do the same thing as tossing bad and making a fresh working solution. I really don't know why.... So when I start seeing problems, I either call it a day or start over with a fresh mix.
Though 65 isn't really cold it is at the threshold of where I've had issues before. I like to print 68+f now, or warmer.
If you mixed from powder for this session it would probably have to be really, really, really old to be an issue.
Each developer has different capacity so consult the Mfg's info.
LPD is great, I'd heartily recommend it.
That said it would probably be hard to find a bad developer off the shelf.
I'd make sure you are a bit warmer and try what you have again.
20C/68F is the minimum temperature you should aim for; the developer will start to fail (poor blacks) at 18C/65F. Aim for more like 25C/77F; with the bonus that it keeps your hands warmer. It will oxidise and die faster though.
Multigrade, like any dev, can oxidise but it doesn't seem to do too badly in the bottle. I have a decade-old 5L bottle of it that I scored for free and it's dark apple-juice yellow; I use it at 1+6 instead of 1+9 out of conservatism and it works perfectly. Since your developer is only pale-straw then it should be totally fine.
Stated capacity is 100 of 8x10 per 1L, which means about 100 of 11x14 in your 2L assuming RC paper. Half that for FB. Either way, you shouldn't be running into capacity issues.
My guess would be cross-contamination despite your care or oxidation in the trays; it only lasts a few hours. Try giving all the trays, graduates, tongs, etc a really good scrub in hot soapy water, and make sure you have one specific tray that is dedicated for developer use.
I usually do about 10-14 prints at 11x14 with 2 liters of Ilford Multigrade with no issues. From start to finish is maybe 5 hours. I start with water that's about 68-70. It might cool off some, but not much. If you post the batch code or send it to Simon Galley (he's Ilford's face here), he might be able to tell you how old it is. If the bottle was still sealed, though, I wouldn't think it would go off that fast.