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  1. #1
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Water Bath for Negative Development

    I am reading Tony Warobiec and Ray Spence's book Beyond Monochrome: A Fine Art Printing Workshop, which is excellent, especially the section on different effects of split-toning. There is a couple of excellent chapters on alternative printing techniques and hand-colouring, something well worth reading.

    However, there is shorter chapter on negative development and I have a couple of questions regarding the water-bath technique. The water-bath technique is described as using one's regular developer (ID-11 is used in the example) and where the film is placed in the developer of 1 minute with constant agitation and the 2 minutes of water with no agitation until the film has had the required time in developer has been accomplished. Thus an 8-minute development time would take 24 minutes once the 8-cycles of 1-develop/2-water were accomplished.

    1) Have people had good success with this method of development as a regular method of development or should it only be reserved only for very "contrasty" negatives?

    2) I am shooting mainly 120 film: what is the effect of the development on normal contrast negatives. e.g. 12-frames on a roll, 7 with normal contrast, 3 of high contrast, 1 of low contrast and 1 of possibly blown highlights. Throw out the low-contrast frame (water bath should have little effect on it???) and what is the effect of the water-bath technique on the none-contrasty frames?

    3) For fellow Canucks, this is a more general question: I am looking for a supplier of photographic chemicals since there is no one in my little city who can supply these items. I am wanting to mix up my own developer and possibly some alternative processes but am having difficulties finding the raw supplies in Canada. Most are based in the US and will not ship cross-border. Any recommendations?

    Thanks everyone.

    Kevin
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  2. #2
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Kevin:

    I don't mix my own chemistry, but as I recall, Claire at JD Photochem gets a lot of recommendations here on APUG:

    http://www.jdphotochem.com/

    Matt

  3. #3

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    No experience with water bath development, but regarding chemicals I've been e-mailing Anachemia for prices. They are able to ship silver nitrate with just a photocopy or scan of your driver's license. I haven't asked about much else but if they'll do the AgNO3 then you should be ok with the more common developer ingredients. I'm going to investigate how good their prices are but for example with sodium thiosulfate the quoted me $40ish for 500g at ACS Reagent grade.

  4. #4

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    Kevin,

    Here are answers to your first two questions. I can't help with the third...

    1. I used to use water-bath development (with HC-110) for contractions for sheet film, mposty Tri-X, and BPF-200. I got up to N-3 using this technique. Many maintain that modern films, with thinner emulsions, do not respond as well to this technique (which is essentially a compensating development method) as the older, thicker emulsion films. This may be, as I have never used any of the really older emulsions. However, I found the technique viable for reducing contrast with the films mentioned.

    However, I now use other techniques (usually pre-development bleaching) for contractions as I lose less film speed that way. I would not recommend water-bath developing for "normal" development. Its main purpose is to deal with excessive contrast, and this at the expense of some film speed. To do this, one needs less "in-the-developer time" than normal contrast would require. Although one could simply give lots of cycles until one reached normal contrast, the compensating effect would be largely canceled, although you might gain a smidge of film speed. Most developers will yield excellent results with normal developing techniques, making the time and trouble of water-bath developing for normal-contrast negatives superfluous.

    2. You need to rethink this question: your premise is that water-bath development can somehow deal with lots of different-contrast shots on one roll. Things just don't work like that. I have posted here and elsewhere on my approach to exposure and development for dealing with roll film. Do a search on my name, and you will turn up a detailed description. Here, FWIW, is the short version:

    1: Find a "normal" developing time that leaves you lots of room to adjust contrast with paper grades. For 120 film, I recommend standardizing on grade 2 1/2.

    2: If you are using an averaging, in-camera, TTL meter, do tests on a normal-contrast subject to establish "N" development, making sure you have adequate shadow detail. Then just bang away. You need only make one exposure compensation: in the case of contrasty subjects, you need to overexpose one to two stops (depending on how contrasty the subject is). This will ensure adequate shadow detail. Contrast is dealt with when printing.

    2A: Metering option #2: You can place the shadows using a spot meter. In this case, the exposure compensation is really unnecessary, but you can improve shadow detail in low-contrast situations by overexposing one stop (i.e., placing the shadows one Zone higher than normal). This moves the shadows up a bit off the film's toe, giving better shadow separation. Again, contrast is taken care of in printing.

    Let me be clear: Unless you have an entire roll pictures that needs expanding/contracting, there is no advantage to using anything but a well-chosen normal development for roll film. Using a contraction scheme, like water-bath, will just underdevelop all the normal and low-contrast shots and cost you film speed in the process

    Best, and hope this helps.

    Doremus Scudder
    www.DoremusScudder.com

  5. #5
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Thanks for the links Matt and Justin. I will have to check it out.

    Doremus, thank-you very much for your reply. You answered my underlying question which is what effect would this technique have when I have a roll with different contrast situations; I am working on a series of abandoned farm houses and almost every roll has multiple contrast situations, particularly interiors which are lit by only by open windows. I tried using my different backs (one for N development, one for N+ and one for N-) but this lead to more problems of not enough backs since one conked out. Ideally, I would like to move up to a 4x5 which would make this question moot but can't afford it right now (soon!). The book implies (but does not state) that one can use the water bath technique without affecting normal contrast situations, which seemed odd to me; your answer confirmed my suspicions. Again, thank-you very much.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger

  6. #6
    wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin Kehler View Post
    3) For fellow Canucks, this is a more general question: I am looking for a supplier of photographic chemicals since there is no one in my little city who can supply these items. I am wanting to mix up my own developer and possibly some alternative processes but am having difficulties finding the raw supplies in Canada. Most are based in the US and will not ship cross-border. Any recommendations?

    Thanks everyone.

    Kevin
    If your looking for specifics like ID11 then try Darkroom Central, they are based in Winnipeg, shipping chemicals across provincial boarders are no different the shipping them across town, other then higher shipping charges.


    For raw chemicals, try a chemical supply company, I looked up Chemical Supply in Regina, SK and got several on Yellow.ca

    I would call a few of them, tell them what specific chemicals your looking for and see what they come up with. Some like Sodium Thiosulphate are generic enough that they probably have them in stock, for others they may need to order in. There is also JDPhotochem in Montreal. I would only use JDPhotochem for stuff I couldn't get locally though, shipping from Montreal, especially for something you need right away could get very expensive.
    Paul Schmidt
    See my Blog at http://clickandspin.blogspot.com

    The greatest advance in photography in the last 100 years is not digital, it's odourless stop bath....

  7. #7
    Kevin Kehler's Avatar
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    Thanks Wogster; the problem I tend to run into is if you say you need 1kg of XXXX, they ask at what molecular weight? What concentration is needed? Can we just substitute X with Y in a powder instead of a liquid? For example, I tried calling around to order metol: some knew what I was taking about but needed the type of information I could not provide (like that listed above), most did not and a number had a minimum order of a certain number of kilograms. I can understand problems with some of the restricted chemicals (I was trying to get stuff for a cynotype) but do not have a strong enough background in chemistry to fully understand what I am needing and how to order it.
    Once a photographer is convinced that the camera can lie and that, strictly speaking, the vast majority of photographs are "camera lies," inasmuch as they tell only part of a story or tell it in a distorted form, half the battle is won. Once he has conceded that photography is not a "naturalistic" medium of rendition and that striving for "naturalism" in a photograph is futile, he can turn his attention to using a camera to make more effective pictures.

    Andreas Feininger



 

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