Brush development - some thoughts
I've exposed and processed six sheets of 12x20 FP4 so far, and here's a short report.
I am developing in Ilfosol S diluted 1:14 (more on that later...), in 16x20 trays. 9.5 mins @ 68-70ish deg. f., one sheet at a time.
First sheet had tremendous underdevelopment in the center of the sheet, so I decided to go straight to the brush.
I am using the Richeson 'Magic Brush', 2-inches wide and was brushing in random patterns all over the film for the entire development. After looking at a few sheets I went to brushing for a minute, resting for a minute, until the development was done.
I have no scratches at all, and the development is very consistent, complete and most importnat of all, it is even in all regards.
I am wondering if anyone has a different technique to share or any thoughts on why I would brush continually vs. alternating brushing/resting? Frankly I just thought my arm could use a rest, so I went to the brush/rest technique.
The negatives are being rated at ISO 50, which I believe might still be a little fast.
The negatives when developed are generally quite flat, except in areas of extreme overexposure, such as bright sky from inside a potato-cellar (very dark). My best exposure, straight late afternoon sun, high diffused clouds, moderate contrast range, still looks very soft & flat.
I am using Ilfosol S because it is the developer that Ilford recommends with FP4. I am using the 1:14 dilution in order to fill the entire tray. I am thinking that the 1:8 dilution might be a little punchier for the development.
Short of PMK, which I am tempted to jump into anyway, are there other developers and times which might result in a slightly contrastier negative?
Just looking for some general feedback about the brushing development technique and maybe some ideas about rating the FP4 and development.
Oh...no prints yet, sorry.
Well, look a Pyrocat HD instead of PMK - I think you'll have better luck with it as far as even development is concerned, especially with such large sheets of film.
I use brush development for 8x10. I use a 2" hake brush - I think the bristles are softer than the Richeson and there's no need to keep them together as there is when coating an emulsion.
I brush in a pattern - horizontally from top to bottom, then vertically from left to right, then horizontally again from bottom to top, then vertically again from right to left. I don't know if this method is any better than any other, but I've never had a negative that's unevenly developed.
I second the pyrocat suggestion. I am now using pyrocat-p as it is easier to mix. Otherwise they are about the same. You should be able to get more speed also. I shoot Fp-4 at 100. If you are going to do intermittant agitation, start with ten min 1:1:100. I am now doing semi stand 1.5:1:200 agitatation once half way thru. 23 min @ 72. 1.6 DR
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I say get a larger hake brush, it's what i use for brush developing my 8x10 (I use a 3" for that). No reason to waste a "magic" brush on developing your negs when a $5 of whatever hake brush will suffice.
Let's see what I've got in the magic trash can for Mateo!
I've been using PMK and Rollo Pyro with FP4 for MANY years. PMK when the light is harsh and Rollo when it's soft. I develop up to 3 sheets of 12x20 or 14x17 at a time in a tray. Face down, shuffling from the bottom to the top. I tried a quick side-by-side test with Pyrocat HD vs. Rollo using FP4 in soft light. The Rollo was the clear winner for me, although it was a just one-time test. I've had such great results with PMK and Rollo, that if it ain't broke...
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I don't know what process you are developing for, but even it is for Pt./Pd. you could get plenty of contrast even in very low contrast scenes with a non-staining developer like D-76 1:1. Getting the right contrast involves nothing more and nothing less than understanding the necessary ES of your printing process, and how long you need to develop a given film in a specific developer to get the required density range.
Originally Posted by Michael Slade
In other words, you don't need to switch developers, at least not at this point. You just need to increase time of development, or use a stronger dilution of the developer. It is really that simple.
Also, do you have a lot of experience with brush development? If not, it really does not make much sense to me to be experimenting with a new method of development at the same time you are working with a new, and very large, format.
For processing 11x14 it's come down to using Pyrocat HD @ 1:1:200 semi stand in three separate trays with a 4" .99 cent foam paint brush although I hear a 8" Hake brush is better. The brush development was the best way I could keep from scratching the notoriously soft Efke film. I'm using night vision goggles during all this so a single tray is probably what you'll want to stick with.
I am in complete agreement with this. I am getting a handle on the accuracy of the shutters, the development times, and just the basic physical operation of the camera. Lots to learn in a short time, but I feel I have a good grasp of it after 2 weeks of shooting. Quite a bit different than the 8x10, but mostly in terms of the physical 'grunt' it takes to get the camera operational, and the bit of a stretch it takes to focus.
Originally Posted by sanking
It is interesting to have to move around to the front of the camera to make any rise/fall adjustments and then move around to the back and see if you like what you did. Much different in that regard from the 4x5 I learned view camera movements on!
Right now I'm developing for silver prints, but with the goal of pt/pd, VDB, carbon, etc... I want to establish a 'baseline' of comfort with all of the equipment, film and developing before I make my final tweaks for the negatives for different printing techniques.
I'm not really sure that you need to have a lot of experience with the brush development to make it work well. The soft brush and gentle random brush strokes are giving me perfectly even development. Other than changing out the brush for a hake brush (I can't even find a decent hake brush in Rexburg, Idaho), I wouldn't change anything about the technique, or even second guess doing it in the first place.
Originally Posted by sanking
The results w/out the brush were disasterous, and I don't feel it's worth the risk of ruining more negatives just to try to get the agigation in the tray to work. Hake brush purchase coming up later today now that I'm back in Salt Lake for the weekend.
Thanks for the feedback about the staining developers. I'll get some of it and prepare to use it in a while.
I made two more views last night driving down yesterday evening. Photographed the Red Rock Pass where ancient Lake Bonneville drained northward into the Snake River valley. Should be a nice addition to my Great Salt Lake project.