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  1. #1
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    Divided paper developer

    I used divided development exclusively for printing and have for many years. (See the article in The Chemistry Recipes section if you're interested in the benefits.) I was getting low on my Bath A developer so mixed up some fresh and tweaked the formula a bit. Here's what I came up with. It is a fairly neutral tone, gives a long tonal scale, and has good, deep blacks.

    Bath A
    2 liters water
    1 Tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon (16g) powdered ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
    1/4 teaspoon (.5g) Phenidone (dissolved in an ounce or so of 90% alcohol)
    2 teaspoons (6g) Hydroquinone
    10 ml. Liquid Orthazite (benzotriazole)

    Bath B
    2 liters water
    1/3 cup carbonate (Arm & Hammer washing soda or PhPlus)

    If you're into single solution developers, you can add an appropriate amount of carbonate to the developing agents. But trust me, divided is easier and much more consistent.

    15-20 seconds is all that's necessary in Bath A. No visible image will form.
    Develop to completion in Bath B. At normal room temperature, I've never needed more than 45 sec. to a minute in Bath B. Just let it go till it doesn't go any more. It will stop when fully developed (the carbonate can only activate the amount of developing agent soaked up in Bath A).


    Larry

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    Interesting. I'm surprised such a small amount of HQ will do the job, especially in the absence of sulfite. I've tried to make a two-bath developer with only ascorbic acid, and it doesn't work. I'm gonna guess that the main effect of AA in this one is to prevent aerial oxidation, but maybe one of the more knowledgeable people on the board can disprove me.

    Are you sure you need that much phenidone? I notice it's about a 1/40 of the combined amount of AA and HQ, but if the AA isn't doing much developing, maybe 1/40 of the amount of HQ is enough.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdef
    Larry,

    your recipe is similar to my Rapid Universal developer, which contains the same ingredients, with the exception of sodium sulfite, and in slightly different proportions. For what it's worth, my Rapid Universal developer keeps extremely well in a single solution, and I've been using the same jug and topping it up with used film developer since December 21. If you want to try your developer with film, try 3min. in A and 1 min in B for a start. Should be close.

    Jay
    I originally had sulfite in mine, too until Pat Gainer proved it's unnecessary with a Phenidone-Ascorbic acid mix. So I tried leaving it out and it works just fine without it. You're right about the keeping properties. It just goes on forever. Once during a very hot summer in Paris when the ambient temp in the darkroom was about 100F, I did have a partially-used jug go bad after three months in that heat. Other than that, it just keeps truckin.'

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by psvensson
    Interesting. I'm surprised such a small amount of HQ will do the job, especially in the absence of sulfite. I've tried to make a two-bath developer with only ascorbic acid, and it doesn't work. I'm gonna guess that the main effect of AA in this one is to prevent aerial oxidation, but maybe one of the more knowledgeable people on the board can disprove me.

    Are you sure you need that much phenidone? I notice it's about a 1/40 of the combined amount of AA and HQ, but if the AA isn't doing much developing, maybe 1/40 of the amount of HQ is enough.
    Someone with more than a seat-of-the-pants knowledge of chemistry will surely correct me, but I think that ascorbic acid is superadditive with both Phenidone and HQ (or vice versa). And I also think Gainer has established that any amout of Phenidone over a 40:1 ratio with Phenidone is superfluous. It is always amazing how little Phenidone is necessary in a developer.

    The HQ is necessary to give normal contrast in a paper developer. I've tried a variety of Phenidone/Ascorbic acid formulas without it, and produce only very low contrast results. I initially discovered this by simply dumping a couple of teaspoons into a jug of already-mixed formula without the HQ that had given me the usual low-contrast results, and suddenly it worked very well. So I don't know whether this is the optimum amount or not, but it works well.

    I think you may be able to make this slightly warmer-toned by using Pot. Brom. instead of Benzotriazole, but I like the slightly cool/neutral tone when using an inherently warm-toned paper like Agfa MCC.

    Larry

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    AFAIK, AA is not superadditive with HQ - in fact, I think I read that they interfere slightly with one another, but your experience tells another story.

    When I said earlier that I had tried to make a two-bath developer with only AA, I forgot to mention that I also used phenidone. I think the reason it doesn't work is that its reaction products are acidic.

    I managed to make a one-bath developer with only AA and ph as developing agents, but it needs to be activated with a mix of sodium hydroxide and carbonate to produce a satisfying black. I don't want to deal with that kind of stuff on a regular basis. Strangely, Agfa Neutol Plus uses only AA and carbonate, and it works fine. I wonder how they do it.

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    I'm interested in the idea of 2 bath developing. Just wondering if the short dip in bath 1 will be enough for FB paper, or is it not important that bath 1 totally soaks the paper, although I find larger sheets of paper easier to handle when totally soaked - perhaps after at least 60 secs. Am I being thick!. I'm thinking of giving 2 bath a shot, any good tips? I'll be doing 20x24 fb using Ilford multigrade and Forte polywarmtone. Apart from the keeping qualities and that attractive 'stopping developing' ability what am I likeley to see different in a print? Cheers.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jdef
    Larry,

    you're right about sulfite being unnecessary in a PC developer, but your developer also contains hydroquinone, and a small amount of sulfite is necessary to effect the synergy of the PQ pair. It need not be much, 100-200% of the amount of hydroquinone is adequate. Look at the amounts and proportions of these chemicals in my Rapid Universal developer:


    Jay
    Jay, thanks for these formulas. I'll try your suggestion of adding a bit of sulfite and reducing the amounts of the Phenidone and Vitamin C. No point in using more than I need.

    As I say, I'm not entirely sure that Ascorbic acid is superadditive with HQ--it might be the other way round. All I know is that when I put it, Phenidone, and Vitamin C together, I get a good paper developer.

    Larry

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    Quote Originally Posted by richard littlewood
    I'm interested in the idea of 2 bath developing. Just wondering if the short dip in bath 1 will be enough for FB paper, or is it not important that bath 1 totally soaks the paper, although I find larger sheets of paper easier to handle when totally soaked - perhaps after at least 60 secs. Am I being thick!. I'm thinking of giving 2 bath a shot, any good tips? I'll be doing 20x24 fb using Ilford multigrade and Forte polywarmtone. Apart from the keeping qualities and that attractive 'stopping developing' ability what am I likeley to see different in a print? Cheers.
    Richard,

    First question: I use only FB paper, so the answer is yes, the short dip in Bath A is enough. It's only the emulsion that holds the silver that needs to be developed. So the latent image will only soak up as much of the developing agents as the exposure under the enlarger demands. This happens very, very quickly--certainly within 15-20 seconds.

    In fact, RC paper does not work as well in divided development. Don't know why, exactly, but I think it has something to do with the thinness of the emulsion and the fact that the base doesn't absorb any of the developing agents to allow full development to take place in the second bath. I just never get the deep blacks with RC, so I don't use it at all.

    Using a divided developer will make you a better printer, because apart from using different formulas for Bath A (e.g. a less contrasty or more contrasty formula, or warm vs. cool tone formula) there is nothing you can do in the development stage to affect the look of your print. All your work must be done under the enlarger. This may seem limiting, but in fact you will become a better printer as a result of it. You will never over or under-develop a print again. Time/temp variables are eliminated, so any ambient room temp within reason will do just fine.

    Absolute consistency from print to print is a given. If you need to make four prints of a given neg, each one will look identical if you give it identical treatment under the enlarger.

    Try it, you'll like it. But be prepared to have to work better under the enlarger initially if you've been depending on your developer to save a poorly exposed print for you. Whatever light you put on the paper under the enlarger is what is going to determine your final outcome. With divided development, your soup will develop what's there and no more.

    I've found that I prefer doing split filter printing in combination with divided development and that this gives me an even greater measure of consistency and flexibility. But that's another whole story in itself.

    Larry



 

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