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  1. #1

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    Archival aspects of negatives developed in pyro developers

    Does anyone know of information on the long-term archival aspects of negatives developed in pyro? Does the stain deteriorate? Does it lighten, darken, become denser, or break down chemically? Does the stain eventually have harmful effects on the silver, gelatin, or substrate of the negative? Use of pyro developrs was widespread in the late-19th and early-20th centuries, and I would think there would be studies of the present nature of these old negatives. I assume many of those were glass plate negatives so a different set of issues might apply. I am thinking of moving to Ilford FP4 Plus developed in Pyrocat-HD or Pyrocat-MC. Some of my negatives are going to an archive for long-term use so that's why I am wondering about the stability of negatives developed in pyro developers versus negatives developed in non-pyro (MQ or PQ) developers.

    Thanks,
    Wayne
    Wayne Lambert
    Santa Fe, New Mexico
    www.waynelambert.net

  2. #2
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    "These dyes like all dyes change with time" is a quote from Kodak color data on each box of film and paper. It is a truism that dyes are less stable than silver. There are those that argue against my comments here, but the answer is "we don't know". No one (AFAIK) has ever done tests on pyro negatives. I'm sure that they fade, but by how much and at what rate IDK.

    PE

  3. #3

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    It's hard to tell from the historical record. Not all pyro negatives are or were made with staining formulations. I think PE has the crux of it.

    Peter Gomena

  4. #4
    EASmithV's Avatar
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    This is exactly why I decided to stick with traditional developers.
    www.EASmithV.com

    "The camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera."— Dorothea Lange
    http://www.flickr.com/easmithv/
    RIP Kodachrome

  5. #5
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    It is also probably why no major film manufacturer makes a pyro type developer other perhaps than the toxicity of the developing agents involved.

    PE

  6. #6
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    So...worrying about situations after you are long dead might be folly...

  7. #7
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    I've been using Pyro toners for B&W prints for around 35 years, and more recently Pyro film dvelopers, the stains formed are remarkably stable. There's never been anything written (except speculation on this site) to suggest that the stain fades to cause any significant degradation.

    There has been evidence produced that there is a very slight intial change in the dyes the first time negatives are printed from which while just measurable has no impact on printing and that then the negatives are stable.

    We need to remember that all negatives tend to suffer slight deterioration over time, sometimes silvering out or affected by air-borne pollutants.

    Ian

  8. #8
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    It's worth remembering that all the major manufactuers made Pyro developers for many years and Kodak used Pyrocatechin in HC110 for a while so they were well tested by time.

    Pyro dvelopers went out of favour because photographers began working in a different way with the advent of more modern emulsions and finer grain developers which was spurred on by the introduction of 35mm cameras. Before the mid-late 1920's plates and films were processed to very much higher contrasts and densities and papers were made to match those negatives but to get the best from smaller formats lower densities/contrast were require to get finer grain and better sharpness.

    Ian

  9. #9
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    All dyes fade, period! Even if there are no tests to the contrary, this is a true established fact.

    It may take 10 - 100 years, but they fade. The problem is that no one has run tests to determine how fast and under what conditions these dyes fade.

    You spin the wheel and you take your chance.

    PE

  10. #10

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    I intend to enjoy using pyro developers as long as I'm alive. Not that many people care about my pictures now, so I don't anticipate any great clamor over the original negatives once I'm gone. I do my best to store them in polyethylene sleeves in a dry, dark space, so fading from light exposure is not an issue. I expect they will be just fine 50 years from now if anyone cares.

    Peter Gomena

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