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  1. #1
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    I've read quite a bit about Pyro development but only used it a couple of times having recently purchased a kit in the UK. I have to admit to having had a degree of scepticism when it began to gain popularity a few years back. However, having printed a few pyro negatives for clients and on workshops and printing demonstrations during the past year or so I have been impressed with the results. I would like to ask a few questions of those who use pyro. I have ordered Hutchings Book of Pyro.

    I understand that there are different types of pyro dev, if so what are the differences.

    I shoot a lot of 35mm in my documentary photography and have to deal with extremes in lighting and contrast. I know of pyro's ability to control contrast but have heard that it can increase grain.

    Would you share your reasons for using it and your formula if you mix your own.

    Thank you.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Les,

    My contribution in the traveling portfolio is from a Tri-X/PMK neg. Let us know when it arrives!

    I like the look of Tri-X in pyro. Right now I'm using PMK for negs to be enlarged (4x5 and smaller) and ABC in Michael Smith's dilution for negs to be contact printed (8x10" and larger). PMK produces more background stain, which has something of a grain masking effect, while ABC is pretty grainy, but that's not so important for contact prints. With both, the image stain is proportional to the silver density of the negative, so it extends the scale somewhat. With PMK, there is a contrast control effect on VC paper, due to the yellow masking, that Hutchings discusses in the _Book of Pyro_.

    I haven't decided whether I like it better than Delta 400 in Perceptol, which, like Tri-X/PMK, is good at rendering delicate highlights and has a nice scale, but Delta 400 is only available in 35mm and medium format, and I'd rather stick to fewer film/developer combos than more, just for greater tonal consistency across formats.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  3. #3

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    I develop 4X5 and 8X10 negatives with ABC pyro. I tray develop by inspection (with green lensed safelight) in the same manner that Edward Weston among others did. I have found that the negatives developed with this developer have better tonality then those which I developed with other developers such as HC110. I purchase my chemicals in the individual componants and mix these myself. Pyro should be handled with precautions it is easily absorbed through both the skin and the lungs. I wear a respirator when mixing it and I always wear latex gloves when developing. I would imagine that the PMK variation would better serve the needs of the roll film user. ABC does not exhibit the strong overall stain that PMK does unless the Bisulfite gets some age to it. The overall stain can actually reduce the contrast range on the negative. I have not found the grain to be a problem...in fact some have stated that the stain will actually mask grain. I hope that this is some help to you in your considerations. Good luck and have fun.
    Art is a step from what is obvious and well-known toward what is arcane and concealed.

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  4. #4
    Aggie's Avatar
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  5. #5

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    Les, I moved this topic from the Color to the B&W forum.

    PMK as the name implies uses metol in conjuntion with pyro to develop the film and take advantage of the supperadditivity properties of these developers. Other pyro formulations, like ABC use only pyrogallol as the main developing ingredient. As such their qualities and problems are different, IMO ABC pyro yields a greater tonal scale than PMK and the stain is somewhat different than that produced by PMK. OTOH PMK has the good quality of being capable of film expansion by time instead of having to add extra activating solution (Carbonate) to produce greater contrast as you have to do with ABC.

    ABC oxidizes much faster both in the bottle and when developing, thus when used in developing strenght it can cause uneven staining (this is peculiar to most of the formulas which use pyro only as the main developer). With PMK this is not a problem as the solution does not oxidize as easily.

    PMK lasts in the bottle a good six months, most pyro only formulas do not, I would say 3 months would be the max. PMK is much cheaper to use, you mix the stock solution and use it in1:100 ratio, while ABC and others are used in a 1:7 to 1:20 ratio.

    As stated by Donald, PMK is a great developer for enlarging, and ABC and others are mostly better for contact printing. Your fellow countryman Barry Thorton has a very interesting formula based on pyrocatechol, another staining developer, but he has chosen to make his formula proprietary and frankly is way too expensive. If you have more interest in these formulas, look up the formulas Ed Buffaloe has compiled in his site unblinkingeye (there is a link for it on our home page) there you will find formulas based on both pyrogallol and pyrocatechol as well as many variations of the most commonly used formulations.


  6. #6

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    Wow,

    Jorge, that was the most comprehensive overview of pyro developers I have seen. As we know, Gordon is all about PMK as Michael Smith is all about ABC, so it's hard to see both compared.

    This is fascinating; what else can you share? And Aggie, what more can you share from the Hutchings workshop? (And Aggie, I just went to the Smith workshop, so we should REALLY compare notes and get into a fisticuffs&#33

    dgh
    David G Hall

  7. #7
    Les McLean's Avatar
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    Jorge

    I was given a sample of Diaxtol by Barry Thornton but the results were appalling and I followed the instructions to the letter. I know of other photographers who had the same experience. However and in fairness I have spoken to photographers who swear by it.

    I'm getting lots of good and encouraging replies in this forum and it seems as though PMK is coming out tops. I'll give it a try when I get the chemistry. Thanks for the tip about Ed's web site.
    "Digital circuits are made from analogue parts"
    Fourtune Cookie-Brooklyn May 2006

    Website: www.lesmcleanphotography.com

  8. #8
    lee
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    I have used PMK for about 3 years now. I try to leave and go to a different combo but I keep coming back. I do get full flim speed from PMK. It might be too grainy in 35. I don't shoot that format so I don't know. ONe other thing, start the mix at the ratio of 1:2:100 I usually do 1 ml 2 ml and 100 ml. I mix them all together as the last thing I do before the lights go off. I used to resoak for 2 minutes in spent PMK but don't do that anymore. You will see the stain get more intense in the wash water. One last thing, just wash the film for 20 minutes or so. The hypo clear will reduce the amount of stain at least that is the common theory. One less step so I just do it that way. The negs might be a little on the thin side but according to Gordon that is ok just print them. Densitometers without a blue channel will have a hard time reading the densities because of the stain.

    good luck,

    lee\c

  9. #9

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    </span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Les McLean @ Jan 30 2003, 05:58 PM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>
    I was given a sample of Diaxtol by Barry Thornton but the results were appalling and I followed the instructions to the letter. I know of other photographers who had the same experience. However and in fairness I have spoken to photographers who swear by it.

    I&#39;m getting lots of good and encouraging replies in this forum and it seems as though PMK is coming out tops. I&#39;ll give it a try when I get the chemistry. Thanks for the tip about Ed&#39;s web site. </td></tr></table><span class='postcolor'>
    Les, was this the two step or the one step procedure you tried? I have heard the two step is very unreliable and that most people just went and settled for the one step. I have not tried it, and at the prices the stuff is selling for I probably never will.

    David, There really is not much more to it, as with most developers you have to experiment a little to get the results you wish. After most of the experimenting is done I find I am back to the same original stuff I was using. One thing is for sure I never would go back to a "regular" developer for my films.

  10. #10

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    lee,

    Do you do the spent-developer thing after the fix with the PMK, or just rely on the wash to intensify the stain?

    I found that the spent-developer thing increases ALL the stain, not just the image stain, so I can&#39;t determine whether it&#39;s worth it or not. I do, however, use an alkaline fixer (f-4 from Formulary) so that I don&#39;t have to use hypo clear and erase stain. Works great.

    dgh

    David G Hall

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