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  1. #1

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    Recommended reading about developers?

    Recently purchased yet another darkroom setup, this time mostly because my daughter wants to get into it. At the same time, she saved up her own money and purchased a chemistry set, the real deal - with alcohol burner and everything just came in the mail today.
    Long story short, I was thinking about trying to make some developers from scratch with her, but I know literally nothing about how to do that. My developing to date has been limited to: D76, Xtol, Perceptol, HC110 for films and Dektol for papers. In other words, prepackaged stuff and just add water.

    Is there some requisite reading - maybe a website, or I'll buy a book to share with her - that goes into detail about developers and what chemical does what reaction in the developing process? It might be a fun project for her and I to try and make one from scratch, and then compare it to a known quality like D76 on the same film. Just thinking out loud here...
    ...on that note, do you all think the "best" developers have already been made, or are there still secret combinations out there waiting to be unlocked? Thanks for any discussion,
    Jed

  2. #2
    Helinophoto's Avatar
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    Based on what I've read about the Darkroom Cookbook, it will explain the basics behind a typical developer and how to make one.

    But the area of "edible developers" is still a field of much research and debate:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum37/4...evelopers.html

    A little knowledge about chemistry seem to be needed when it comes to determine if a food substance can be a good developer ingredient.
    -
    "Nice picture, you must have an amazing camera."
    Visit my photography blog at: http://helino-photo.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    By far the best two books are Jacobson, Developing 18th Editition and Steve Anchell's Darkroom Cookbook 3rd Edition.

    Ian

  4. #4

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    Mixing your own developers can be rewarding and a lot of fun. It can be very easy - some of the simplest formulas have so few ingredients that it isn't much harder than mixing D76 from a packet. You do need some lab scales, though.

    The experts have been working on developers for many decades, so I doubt there are too many breakthroughs for the amateur to make - but as various chemicals become restricted due to Health and Safety or terrorist considerations (or hysteria ;-) there is a whole area of possibility to try and get somewhere near to what the traditional formulas did but with less toxic ingredients (or even edible ones!)

    My favourite book is C.L.Jacobson "Developing" - Focal Press ISBN 0 240 44770 0.
    I have the 17th Edition. I don't know how many editions it went to...

    It is long out of print, but you might find it second hand.

    Be warned, though, it is possible to get so engrossed in playing with developers that you have no time at all for any photography ;-)
    Steve

  5. #5

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    There are numerous recipes on the Digital Truth web site: http://www.digitaltruth.com/data.php?doc=filmdevs

  6. #6
    Mike Wilde's Avatar
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    I'll second the Darkroom Cookbook, as a good basic one to start on that gets you started with the understanding of the different 'ingredients' and how they interact.
    Jacobson 'Developing' I also have (18th ed I think) it is a very good second book.
    British Journal of Photography annuals also have formulae in them.

    As to the web, I think Unblinking Eye is one place worth a visit.
    Apug used to have articles , some of which dealt with developers from scratch, and might still have. I have not poked around there for quite some time.
    my real name, imagine that.

  7. #7
    Bill Burk's Avatar
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    Photo Lab Index has a concise explanation of each component and provides formulae.

    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/...e-edition.html

    No connection with seller but this is a valuable - and available now... resource.

  8. #8

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    Thank you for the replies. It would just be a fun project with her, and she is getting into the stage where mixing chemicals is "cool, Dad".
    I'll see about getting that Darkroom Cookbook then. Sounds like 3rd edition is the latest?
    Also, I was considering ordering Way Beyond Monochrome 2nd edition - I know one of the contributers on here wrote it, and I was thinking I may as well try to learn all this properly at some point. Does anyone know if it has good info on developers as well?
    Thanks,
    Jed

  9. #9
    BobD's Avatar
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    Anchell also wrote The Film Developing Cookbook which has even more info on developers than his Darkroom Cookbook

  10. #10

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    Do you have a good scale? If not, you might find out the cost of one before investing in the book.

    I don't mix from scratch, and others can help you with this, but just a thought.

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