Two bath development questions
Hi there, I'm new on the forum. Have been lurking for a while and learning a lot but I finally built up some courage to ask a few questions. I have done my share of film development and printing back in college about 10 years ago. However, the progress of technology and speed of life had me sidetracked in the digital fantasy land. I've finally seen the light and have made the switch back to analog. So I've been collecting my gear re-learning a few things and I think I'm finally ready to develop my own stack of 120 rolls. Based on what I've read I'm leaning towards mixing my own developer based on Barry Thornton two bath method. So I wanted to pick your brains as to some tips and techniques you might have learned and would be willing to share. Here are a few of my questions but feel free to add any valuable notes you might have.
Do you adjust his basic method based on film type/speed? I mostly shoot Delta 100 and Tri-X 400 for now but his website states that the method is forgiving to variety of films and speeds. Is that so? Or should I make adjustments for each. He also mentioned develop for approximately 4 minutes in each bath. Any firmer number on that?
How should I handle prep and storage of the two bath solutions? Should I mix ahead of time and keep it for a prolonged time as a solution or is it better to make a fresh 1gallon solution batch each time and store the remaining bulk dry ingredient? It's cheaper to get larger dry quantities. I think I remember reading that I can reuse the baths for a number of rolls. Any experience on how accurate that is?
Do you adjust any other steps based on the two bath development, i.e. fix, stop bath, etc? Or should I just go with the standard methods. I'd like to keep the rest of the process simple so I don't get too bogged down since I'm just getting back into it.
Also, any opinions on which fixer, stop bath you like to use (or not use) would be helpful as the list of available products is quite extensive and I don't remember what I liked before. And it would simplify my already long list of items to pick up from Photographers Formulary here in Montana.
Someone here has a great FAQ page link on their signature that has been a great help, don't remember who that is but you ROCK! Thanks so much for the info!
Thanks for all your help! I'm sure I'll have more questions as the answers start rolling in but I really appreciate your thoughts.
I'd say it is fairly forgiving. I run Delta 100, Delta 500, and HP5 at the same times and in the same tank. The first bath does do some development (there is some detailed discussion here and on the Large Format Forum resources pages http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ on this and other divided developers), so extending the first bath time will have an effect. The second bath runs to completion, so 4-5 minutes will work.
This is actually a complicated developer if you want to try modifications - first bath time, second bath alkalinity, so stick to the 4:4 at the usual 20C. unless you really need to make a change. I assume you are using the normal sodium metaborate second bath. This developer will not push the film speed, so plan on using box speed or up to a stop lower.
I tend to be conservative on my capacity - it is cheaper to make up than the film! I mix around a litre of stock because that suits my tanks and the volume of film. Unless weighing is a real chore, don't make up solutions you won't use. It keeps, but the powders take up less space and weigh less. I have never driven the capacity to the limit. After a half-dozen or so films (35mm 36exp or equivalent) the volume has dropped enough that I start over.
Any standard stop and fix will work. I use Kodak indicator stop and Hypam fix at the moment. I have plenty on hand.
I feel, therefore I photograph.
If you want to get started with out the fuss of mixing your own chemistry, try some Diafine. Last night, I ran six rolls in Diafine that I mixed in May of 2010! I've put a ton of rolls through it, never replenished, and it still works fine. I'm going to add some new stock to it, though, just to be safe.
Water for stop, or a very mild acid stop bath, and rapid fix, which will help get the pink out of the TriX film base (but not all of it, no matter how long you fix it or wash it.)
For Barry Thornton's developer I mix up 1L of working developer one day before I want to use it. I then use it (undiluted) for 16 films and discard it (it is so simple, cheap, quick and easy to make). I only use Delta 400 and the time that works best for me is 4.5 minutes in each bath @ 20 C.
The following processing sequence has worked reliably for me for many many years and also for the people that I have taught. It is not any 'better' than any other but gives every beginner a very reliable sequence to follow. Adjustments can be made later according to your personal needs. The fix, wash and then fix again part of the sequence gives negatives completely clear of the pink dye caste that so many people seem to have a problem with. You will never have 'blocked up' - meaning unprintable highlights with this developer and using this processing sequence (irrespective of how much additional exposure you give your films to capture very dark shadow areas).
Fill a large bucket full with plain water @ 20C.
Pre-wash / Plain water from the bucket @ 20C.
Make sure that developers A + B are @ 20C.
Stopbath / (I use Plain water from the bucket) @ 20C.
Fixer / Dilute as per recommendation with water from bucket @ 20C.
Wash / Plain water from the bucket @ 20C.
Pre-soak into the developing tank.
Start the clock (and keep it running for this sequence).
Pre-soak for 2 minutes / four inversions in the first 30 seconds then 1 inversion every 30 seconds / tap base of tank after every inversion to release any air bubbles attached to film.
Empty tank 15 seconds before developer Bath A is due to go in.
At 2 minutes add Bath A / First 30 seconds constant agitation then 1 inversion per 30 seconds / tap base of tank after every inversion to release any air bubbles attached to film. My development time is 4.5 minutes (you may find you need to adjust this slightly to suit how your camera works, your way of metering and the type of enlarger you use (condenser enlargers require less development, colour/diffuser/multigrade light sources require more).
Empty tank 15 seconds before the end of the development time for Bath A (pour into a jug for future use).
At 4.5 minutes add Bath B / First 30 seconds constant agitation then 1 inversion per 30 seconds / tap base of tank after every inversion to release any air bubbles attached to film. My development time is 4.5 minutes (you may find you need to adjust this slightly to suit how your camera works, your way of metering and the type of enlarger you use (condenser enlargers require less development, colour/diffuser/multigrade light sources require more).
Empty tank 15 seconds before (pour into a jug for future use) stop bath is due to go in.
Add stop bath (I use plain water) / four inversions in the first 30 seconds.
Empty tank 15 seconds before fixer is due to go in.
Add fixer / First 30 seconds 4 inversions then 1 inversion per 30 seconds (Rapid fixer such as fresh Ilford Hypam etc for 2 minutes).
Open the developing tank, remove film and put into a jug with plain water at 20C (from the bucket) and vigorously agitate until until there is virtually no more pink dye in the film.
Return film to development tank and fix with vigorous agitation for a further 2 minutes (Rapid fixer)
Remove film from development tank and put into a jug with plain water at 20C
Empty the fixer from the development tank (and retain for later use) and then thoroughly wash the tank
Prepare four jugs with enough plain water from the bucket to fill the tank (this is for a reliable variation to the Ilford washing sequence)
Prepare another jug with plain water from the bucket and add wetting agent (this is the final rinse in the processing sequence)
Return film to tank and add first jug of water / Invert 10 times and then discard water
Repeat with second jug of water
Add third jug of water / Invert 20 times and then discard water
Repeat with fourth jug of water
Remove film from development tank and place in final rinse (jug of water with wetting agent) for 3 minutes with no agitation / movement of film
Remove film from spiral and attach drying clips (or pegs, etc)
Pour final rinse down both sides of the film (start by pouring at the very top of the film and then lower to middle of film)
Allow excess rinse to drain off the film
Hang films to dry in a clean dry space.
Enjoy your photography and I hope this post helps.
Wow, this is great help! Thanks guys!
Graham, yes I am using sodium metaborate as bath B.
Thanks David for a very insightful and detail step by step. I might have to print it out and use it as a guide since it is easier to follow then what I have written out.
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I just started to try out Thornton's 2 bath.
I've only done 4 rolls so far but I am impressed with the results and simplicity.
One thing I learned after the first roll was to not agitate in Bath B as recommended by some. I gave it 1 inversion followed by a good hard rap on the counter then let it sit until finished.
I have found around 4 minutes in both baths is just about right for Acros and FP4 in 120 format and a diffuser enlarger.
Also, I did not pre-soak as per instructions from other users.
Like Parker Smith said, use Diafine.
Excellent two-part developer, not at all sensitive to time or temperature, so it's very easy to use in a less-than-optimum processing situation.
I've used it for many different films over the years, and still use it for tray development of sheet film (Fuji Acros and Ilford FP4+).
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” - Plato
Hey Aleks, This is Ray. I have some Diafine in the cupboard when you get over to Missoula and want to give it a try.
Thanks guys, I might give Diafine a try one day. And Ray, it's good to know you have some as well if my mood strikes me to try it.
However, my goal is to get into mixing my own with some help from "The Film Developing Cookbook", "The Darkroom Cookbook" and some tips from a friend. The Thornton's method seems like an easy way to get into that with a simple three ingredient recipe so I'll most likely be going that route for now.
Last edited by aleksmiesak; 03-15-2012 at 08:45 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I love Barry Thornton's 2-bath and have used it for about 4 years now as my standard developer. I shoot Tri-X and TMY-2 400 exclusively, mostly at 400asa.
For push processing Tri-X or TMY-2 to 1250 or 1600 I use Diafine . I've also developed Delta3200 in Diafine with good results.
Both developers are close to foolproof and deliver excellent results. The nature of a 2 bath developer makes it next to impossible to blow out the highlights while delivering plenty of shadow detail.
Both of these are my preferred developers, although I will still use XTOL or DD-X in a pinch. Sometimes raw chemicals can be difficult to come by