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  1. #1

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    Developer temperature control: how important is it?

    Hi All,

    First of all the good news is that I've completed my second darkroom printing session in my bathroom. Results are not too bad at all!

    At the moment my focus is to get understand exposure and contrast control.

    What I'm worried about is the temperature of the developer. I mixed the developer at 23 C degrees. After 2 hours I measured the temperature of the developer tray, and it was 16 C. How to understand exposure and contrast if the developer temperature is not constant?

    The prints look fine, anyway. Some people say that temperature deviation can be corrected by development time, but I haven't found any chart about this. I use Ilford Multigrade IV RC paper and Multigrade developer, I develop for 50 secs.

    What is the truth?

  2. #2
    Kevin Caulfield's Avatar
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    Print development temperature is not too critical. 23 C and 16 C are both fine for printing. The hotter the faster. But you don't want to go too hot or too cold.

  3. #3

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    If you are printing by inspection and not watching the clock then the temperature of the print developer is not that important. This of course is based on how hot or cold your darkroom becomes. But I have printed at anywhere from 60F to 78F without problems. Unlikefilm development print development is said to go to completion.
    Last edited by Gerald C Koch; 12-18-2013 at 05:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  4. #4
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    As long as the print developer is within + or - a few degrees room temperature I would ignore it and concentrate on what the prints look like.

    “The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”

    Francis Bacon

  5. #5

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    Start off with the idea that with prints (as opposed to negatives) you print to completion - avoid the temptation to "pull" a print because it appears too dark. If that is the case, give less exposure and develop the print. Having said that, 16 degrees C is pretty cold for developing and, with some developers may not result in sufficient activity to produce a convincing black (as opposed to a "veiled" dark gray. Two minutes (at 20 degrees C) is recommended by quite a few of the manufacturers... developing longer usually shifts the image somewhat but isn't wildly noticeable and isn't really practical. Find a time/temperature and agitation (based on the manufacturer's recommendation) and stick with it and you will quickly find yourself producing good prints! "Pulling" prints, ignoring temperature and agitation and you will waste a lot of time and materials to produce mediocre prints.
    Joel

  6. #6

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    Most developers have a consistent relationship between the time the shadows just start to appear, and development being complete. With RC paper this is usually pretty short. With Multigrade Warmtone fibre in Multigrade Warmtone developer, I would expect the shadows to just appear after 30 seconds, and completion around 6x that - 3 minutes.

    So if you have the factor for your materials at the correct temperature, you can extend the overall time as the temperature drops.

    But, and it is a big but, this assumes that your exposure is right(ish) and that the temperature is still high enough that the development process continues.

    A drop of 7 degrees C. is a bit large (must be a chilly room). Why not put the developer into a heatproof jug (Pyrex or stainless steel) and stand that in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes until the temperature comes back up? Then you can dodge the effects of large temperature swings.
    I feel, therefore I photograph.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ponysoldier View Post
    16 degrees C is pretty cold for developing
    The old conventional temperature for developing was 65F (18C).
    A rock pile ceases to be a rock pile the moment a single man contemplates it, bearing within him the image of a cathedral.

    ~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

  8. #8

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    I use two trays when the house is cold the larger with water from a kettle to temper, a thermometer in the dev.
    16C is not comfy to work in.
    Hydroquinol slows a lot at 14-15C?
    I tend to snatch so dev for time if it is at 17 I dev for longer pro rata.

  9. #9

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    If you have a few dollars to spend just do what Xmas says with two trays, and add an aquarium heater to the larger tray. Set the smaller developer tray in the larger heated tray of water. That's what I do for both prints and sheet film and the temperature remains constant. Its a cheap effective solution. I prefer the metal heaters so there is no risk of breakage, and of course make sure to use a GFI.

  10. #10

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    I'd follow Wayne's advice as above ^^^.

    I'm not obsessive about detail, but I believe in keeping under control, where possible, as many of the variables in photography. There is latitude in most processes (otherwise we'd never produce anything !) But I think that controlling those variables which you are able is a good start if you aim to do the best quality work you can.

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