souping tmax for highlights
Any tips on developing tmax films to avoid blowing out highlights?
I would recommend a two-bath developer as this will ensure that you never get blown-out highlights. For the past ten years I have used Barry Thornton's Two-Bath as it is both cheap and very easy to make:
Thornton's Two Bath
Soduim Sulfite - 85 gr
Make up to 1 liter
Sodium Metaborate - 12gr
Make up to 1 liter
For Part A, dissolve a little bit of sodium sulfite (1-2 grams) first, then the metol, then the rest of the sodium sulfite. Having your water pre-heated to 30-35C will help (but let it cool to room temperature before using it).
For Part B, the temperature doesn't really matter, as sodium metaborate is quite soluble.
Developing times are 3.5 minutes in each bath (with no water/stop between Bath A and Bath B) for slow speed (ca ISO 50) films.
Developing times are 4.5 minutes in each bath (with no water/stop between Bath A and Bath B) for medium speed (ca ISO 100) films.
Developing times are 3.5 minutes in each bath (with no water/stop between Bath A and Bath B) for Fast speed films (Ca ISO 400).
The capacity of Bath A is approximately 32 rolls of film. The capacity of Bath B is approximately 16 rolls of film. Therefore, re-use Bath A for 32 rolls of film and use Bath A for 16 rolls of film and then discard and make up another litre of Bath B and use for a further 16 rolls of film.
In practice, you simply meter to ensure that you achieve adequate exposure in the shadow areas and then process the films in the two-bath developer.
I personally use Delta 400 but, as a tabular film, it has similar characteristics to T-Max (although without the strange upper mid-tone response of T-Max). All of the images on my website were made with Delta 400 (rated at an EI of 200), exposure based on the minimum required to retain detail in the important (this is variable upon how you like your images to look) shadows and then developed for 5.5 minutes in Thornton's Two-Bath. Many of the images were shot in situations with extreme brightness range where the combination of required shadow exposure and where this meant that the bright highlights fell would require (in Zone System terms) a N-2 development. However, in the two-bath developer normal processing was given with no (never) blown-out highlights.
Best of luck with your photography.
Are you using T-Max 100 or 400? They behave differently, so it's helpful to know which you have.
Originally Posted by brianentz
It would help to know if OP is talking about a high contrast subject or not. The TMax films are no more prone to blown out highlights than any other film. Any general purpose developer will be fine.
It is also worth mentioning the definition of "blown highlights" needs revision, badly. The naive approach is to consider high densities blown highlights. This is incorrect. Actual blown highlights are densities that have low or no local contrast. Not the same thing at all.
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T-max 100 in Rodinal 1+50 should help. Higher dilution gives even more compensation.
PMK or Pyrocat-HD.
How's this for not blowing highlights? tmy2 in PMK:
What is that supposed to show about not blowing highlights?
agitate less and more gently. as simple as that.