Cool/Neutral Tone DIY Developer for Warm Tone Paper: Magic Compounds?
I'd like to neutralise or cool down the tone of MGWT glossy fibre by means of a developer, which I could mix myself, followed by Se toning. I do not wish to use any other toners, such as gold, or other processes, for the time being. I am intrigued that there are two commercial developers that achieve exactly that, but which have unpublished formulae: Moersch SE6 and the discontinued Ilford Coldtone. I wonder if the collected photochemical brain-power at APUG could suggest what could be the magic compound.
I have started experimenting, and I have researched APUG, however, I am a tad short on time. All I read so far is that the magic component of a cold-tone developer could be thiourea, 1-phenyl-5-mercaptotetrazol, nitrobenzimidazole, or possibly potassium iodide. Have you tried those with MGWT? If so, would you be willing to share the proportions/recipe, please? Adding BTA and eliminating or reducing KBr is not enough.
These threads were useful:
So far, I have only managed to compare regular Ansco 130, mixed from fresh ingredients, with the Evan Clarke version, and I have also followed advice of nworth (post #17 on this thread) to mix it with 1g KBr and some BTA—I tried adding 0.1, 0.2, 0.3, and 0.4 benzotriazole to 1l of stock (2l of working solution). Developing at 20.5˚C (70F) for 3 min, I am afraid, that I have to agree with Michael R 1974 (post #19 on this thread), that this did not cool down MGWT sufficiently. Nonetheless, I can see that there is a cooling effect, but it seems confined to the emulsion that is activated by the high contrast filtration (blue/magenta). The other emulsions (green/yellow) stay stubbornly warm-tone, which leads to a slightly split effect in Se. In my case this means that images printed with grades 2.5 upwards (using Ilford 500H) are almost the tone I am looking for, however those printed softer, especially with larger areas of shadow, are too warm. I don't want to switch back to MGIV because I prefer the tonality, the surface quality, lack of UV-activated optical brighteners, and the feel of MGWT—but I will switch back if I cannot solve this quest.
I am planning to try ID-62, Bürki and Jenny, and Maxim Muir's Blue-Black (with NaOH) next, but I hope someone can help me skip to the front of the line. Thank you.
PS. I also wonder if by cooling down MGWT by focusing on the larger silver grain its tonality might be lost or spoiled.
Last edited by Rafal Lukawiecki; 03-04-2013 at 10:57 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: Added reference to KI
Rafal, this is complex so hopefully you'll get a response from PE. Other than that, I'm afraid the only thing you can do is try various formulas for yourself. Any other "information" you get will be anecdotal at best.
I only use warm tone papers and can control the degree of warmth very easily and that includes colder tones.
People forget that exposure and subsequent development time has a very great effect on image colour, slight under expose slightly and a longer development time gives colder tones and over exposure and shot times give greater warmth. This only works with papers containing Silver Chloride & Bromide and some work better than others.
Older papers (in terms of storage) tend to be less warm, this is certainly true of Multigrade Warm Tone, Forte Polywarmtone, older Agfa papers like Record Rapic and MCC.
Metol/Hydroquinone developers are colder toned than the equivalent Phenidone (or Dimezone)/Hydroquinone developers - unless Benzotriazole is added.
Ian, thank you for chiming in—I have been re-reading your various posts, and I was just about to mix ID-62 as per your recipe, except cutting down KBr to 1g and upping BTA to a total of 0.3g/l stock. I was wondering, however, if the dilution has an effect on tone. You recommended 1+3 dilution for ID-62, is that because of the longer developing time, or to maintain contrast? Someone else was suggesting that a more concentrated developer might work colder, I am a bit confused.
On another note, you have just pointed out that PQ works warmer than MQ, unless BTA is added. Do I take it that PQ+BTA is colder-working, in general, than MQ+BTA? I am about to go to the darkroom this afternoon, so I also have a choice of trying a variant of ID-62 or Ansco 103 (not 130), which is pretty similar but with metol.
Michael, thanks for your advice, I will write what I discover, when I'm through with all the combinations, there are just so many of them to try.
ID-62 is the improved PQ version of ID-20 PQ which was once commercially available, Ilford halved the amount of Bromide and added Benzotriazole because of customer complaints of colour shifts (warmth).
Dilution does have an effect on image colour with warm tone papers. !+3 was Ilfords recommendations for a dev like this, 1+2 or even 1+1 will give greater contrast and colder tones.
It's a case of fine tuning the vaiables of choice of developer, dilution, exposure and development time that affects image colour with warm tone papers and they are very flexible.
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Many thanks Ian. I'm following your advice that MQ may be cooler working than PQ, and so I've mixed Ansco 103 as per Anchell, with 0.6g KBr/l stock and 0.25g BTA/l stock. I diluted it 1+2 and will report the results later on today or tomorrow. Next in line I'll try PQ as in ID-62 and/or or a BTA enhanced DS-14, to try something different that also has claims to being cooler working. Fingers crossed.
A lot depends on the specific paper, but most VC papers will go cooler if you work mainly with the high
contrast (blue-sensitive) layer, and develop to completion, so the silver particles are large. So you start
with a slightly soft neg. Some cold tone developers simply go greenish. For example, my favorite cold
tone tweak for Polygrade V, which created a blue-black, will not create the same tone in MGWT. Rather,
I actually achieve a cold tone using a relatively warm developer and then gold toning. But you've asked
for no toner. Using benzotriazole instead of KBr might or might not cool the image. Just depends on the
specifics. Not only is each paper different, but changes in developer, developer temp, and even exp light will have an effect regarding warmth/coolness. I don't find this fact frustrating at all, but part of
a broad suite of potential tools to fine-tune the final effect.
Drew, that is also my experience with MGWT: the high-contrast, i.e. blue-activated emulsion responds fairly well to cooling attempts, but it is the other one that is far more stubborn. Just shifting printing to use higher contrast for the sake of tone is not appealing to me too much as it does make smooth highlights, clouds and skies, a bit too grainy for my liking.
Ian, thanks to your suggestion to head the MQ way. I may have some good news, although I still need to do a like-for-like comparison, I run out of time for that yesterday. It seems that a modified Ansco 103 (not 130), with 0.6g KBr/l stock and 0.25g BTA/l stock has given me cooler-to-neutral tones, not blue, on MGWT than my previous attempts with BTA/less KBr modified Ansco 130. The jury is still out, though, as I have to do a comparison on a soft image, since I printed a normal and a higher contrast image in this developer, last night. I followed by 1+9 21C (70F) Se, fairly used up KRST that had some 40 sheets of 11x14 through it so far, for 2 min–2 min 30 s. The look is pleasing to my eye, and very much what I was looking for, but it is not vastly different, like in Ian's thiourea experiment. I suppose I should do some scans one day... I am not yet sure about the modified Ansco 103 consistency as far as the tone is concerned, sheet-to-sheet, but I should know more after the weekend's printing.
So at least for some images I may have cracked it, and I just hope it would also work for softer ones. If not, I will work my way through the other developer combinations, and perhaps I stumble on some further magic. I will be testing ID-62 and DS-14 with BTA modification at some point.
I have also exchanged a few emails with Ryuji in the last few days, and he pointed out that 1-phenyl-5-mercaptotetrazol (PMT) may be a bit inconvienient for my purpose, as it would exhaust sooner than the developer, and hence would require constant addition after each print, to maintain it. Not to mention this could lead to inconsistency. He also mentioned that the commercially used additives, that lead to the cool tones, may simply be inaccessible to a regular darkroom worker.
For those who are interested, the formula that I have used for this developer, following Anchell's modification suggestion, is:
Ansco 103 modified for cooler tones:
Water 750ml at 50C (122F)
Sodium sulfite anh 45g
Sodium carbonate anh 67g
Potassium bromide 0.6g (6ml 10%)
Benzotriazole 0.25g (25ml 1%)
Water to 1l. Diluted 1+2, and used at about 20.5C (69F) 2 min 30 s for MGWT glossy fibre.
An issue with capacity and image colour will be the build up of Bromide as the developer will be exhausting slightly as well taht compounds the effect.
The coldest tone I have ever seen was with an Agfa developer called Neutol Plus (not Neutol WA or NE) with Forte paper. I don't know what was in that though but the developer may be worth a look.
Rafal, I have to say that I wish more people would do as you have and actually research their question before asking it. Well done. Thanks for providing the links too.