I was trying out split development. I didn't have any Metol to and I remembered reading in "The Print" that dektol beyond 1:4 acts as a low contrast developer. So I mixed Dektol 1:2 for high contrast and 1:9 for low contrast.
What I found was that the 1:9 Dektol just acts slower but effectively reaches the same level of contrast given enough time. But the more interesting thing was that I got perfectly smooth tones where the same paper with the same exposure in Dektol 1:2 showed grain! This seems especially true with Zone III OR IV areas.
I haven't read about many people using Dektol 1:9 in this way so I wanted to ask around if anyone had similar experiences?
What development time do you use for 1:9 Dektol?
I'm getting decent contrast with 3 - 3.5 mins of development in 1:9 for Ilford FB Glossy.
In dektol 1:2 it takes roughly 1.5 mins to get a similar print.
Long time ago, I have used Dektol at 1:9 adding an ounce of acetone per batch. I don't think the amount of acetone is critical, particularly, because I believe that its function is to form sodium hydroxide from the sodium sulphite in the dektol, and whatever's left over doesn't seem to bother anything. If you feel the solution, it is very "soapy" meaning that it has become highly alkaline. I recall it's being quite a good developer, at least for sheet film, but since I haven't used it for a long time I can't give any particulars beyond what you've already read. I got this from Jack Welpott, in the mid 1960's. I think he got it from Don Ross.
My experience is also that Dektol 1+9 give similar contrast to Dektol 1+2, only more slowly. That is a very handy thing if you are working with big prints or anything where a little extra time would be helpful. For big prints, it's also cheaper.
To get lower contrast prints you need to overexpose the paper. It is the same overexpose/underdevelop routine as with film. It doesn't work as well with paper as it does with film as paper is designed to be developed to completion.
Overexpose to the extent that the print has decent blacks when developed for 2 minutes in the dilute developer.
The results will be decidedly muddy unless you are using a very contrasty negative.
The reason for the dilute developer is to give uniform development while still underdeveloping. If regular developer is used and the print is pulled before development completes - say with only 20 seconds of development - the print will be mottled.
This really just won't work for split developing, as you found out. Dektol 1+9 is just a slow working higher-contrast developer, not really a low-contrast developer. If you want to experiment with split developing (a technique I still use a lot on graded papers) get yourself some Selectol Soft or mix some Ansco 120 or the like for the low-contrast component. The Beer's formula that AA used works well too, but I tend to just vary times in the low-contrast and high-contrast developer to achieve the desired result (e.g. 1'30" in Selectol Soft, 1' Dektol).
Originally Posted by akshaydhavle
I can't explain the difference in smoothness of tones you observed. It might be interesting to do some experiments along this line... when I get back to my darkroom this next summer.