At the moment I don't have access to a darkroom. I do however plan to build one in my basement in the not to distant future (I hope). In the meantime I want to continue to shoot black and white negatives. I am planning on using a cold light diffusion head and enlarge on vc paper. I also want to change the film developer I'm using. I'll be using FP4 developed in pyrocat-hd. Is there any way I can do testing of EI and dev. times without an enlarger?
You can test your film and development time without an enlarger by following the procedure that Ansel Adams proposed in The Negative.
All pertinant details and densities are listed. You will need to have a local lab read the film densities with a densitometer to arrive at accurate exposures and development times.
That sounds like a good idea. I wonder if I the unique characteristics of pyrocat-hd will require any adjustments to the densities in the book. Any thoughts?
That depends on what you are planning on doing with the negatives. For enlarging of Pyrocat HD negatives you will find that the negative densities will be more accurate if read on the blue channel of a color densitometer. Typically the proportional stain effect would be on the order of .15-.20 at a negative density of 1.20 above FB+fog if the negative was read on the visual or black and white channel. This stain effect will need to be considered or you will have negatives that are higher contrast then at first appearance.