Leaving Paper developer in trays overnight?
For the last 3 weekends, its happened each time. The kids and the wife head to bed and I head to the darkroom. Tonight I managed to spend 5 hours (of which half of that was used to clean the head of my enlarger, but thats a post for another thread at another time ).
Anyhow, I know that tomorrow morning when I struggle out of bed, I will probably spend quite a few hours more in there.
Being the ever diligent person I am, I have read the data sheets for the paper developer (Ilford Multi purpose) and have kept it for a "working day" (which in my language equates to 8 hours), which means a new batch at night and a new batch in the morning.
Am I being over the top? Should I keep the previous nights batch of developer and re-use the next day? Would it need to be bottled, or could I leave it in the tray?
Any advice would be welcome!
I haven't done any serious testing to see the actual life of the working solution, but I find it very pessimistic. Whatever you chose to do, don't leave it in the tray. Put it in a bottle. It will oxidise at a much slower rate, because of the much smaller surface that is exposed to the air. Washing the trays doesn't take that much, does it?
Two options I have used. Pour into a bottle or float cling-film (may be called something else down-under but you probably know the stuff I mean...) on top to keep the oxygen away.
I've seen the adjustable-volume (accordion thingie) bottles used at college darkrooms with excellent success.
Do NOT leave the developer out when it is not in use. It will start to noticeably oxidize in as llittle as two hours out with a U.S. Qt. size that I usually use (~950mL).
So the smaller solutions can even be poured in a bottle when you go on a break or are counting paper or processing film or something.
The more surface area (8x10" trays oxidize much more slowly than say a 16x20" tray with similar amounts of solution) and the higher the dilution, the quicker the oxidation.
Also, though, sloshing them around in bottles causes oxidation too, so don't make too many dumps back into a bottle either.
I always use a graduated cylinder for RA-4 tray processing, and dump the developer back in before it reaches capacity and replenish. Then I'll just use the bottom of a 10-L RA-4 Kodak kit, I think the part A bottle as a make shift floating lid.
A similar approach would probably produce just-as-consistant results with Dektol or the like, although it is time consuming if you are running a lot of prints through to have to constantly replenish.
I think I was using a 4-L Paterson cylinder, or maybe it was a 2- or 2.5L variety, I forget.
I have run tests to stress paper developers and find that many of them keep well for up to 24 hours with little use or an in-between time with some use due to the seasoning factor. Some developers will keep in covered trays for days at a time.
I have not tested your particular developer, but I have tried to design developers aimed at high capacity and long tray life and find that this is possible to do. The only way to find out if your developer will last is to do the open tray or covered tray test for a day or two.
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While I agree with PE that developers can last overnight, or even longer than that, I find it better to store them stoppered. While some will keep working with just a tray covering, there definitely is a level of exhaustion that is noticeable, and caused frustrating print exposure inconsistancies that ultimately just waste your time and paper.
If you have an adjustable volume bottle, why not use a method that will work consistantly every time (unless the damned bottle starts leaking which, of course, has never happened to me ;-) )?
How much developer are you mixing for a processing cycle?
I use a liquid concentrate (Sprint - mixes 1:9). 3 ounces of the concentrate gives me about 30 ounces of working solution - more than enough to cover a print in my processing tray, and coincidentally, enough to exhaust at about the same rate that I do. So when I get tired after 3-4 hours of printing, the developer is also starting to approach exhaustion and I don't feel at all guilty about dumping it.
I've had good luck floating plastic cling wrap, also , years ago I used to place sheet glass on my trays. Depending on how full your trays are, you can stretch the cling wrap over the trays. This works best with FRESH chems, I wouldnt do it if you plan on several days of printing. Now days I have bottles marked just for mixed (working sol)developer and return to the bottle when finished. I also keep track of how many prints I process and mark it on the label.
I would put the chemicals into bottles any time you don't use them !
Leaving it in the tray's causes a damp atmosphere in you darkroom: rust in/on your enlarger and fungus in your lenses !!!!
You can make use of "floating lids" on your tray's, this will prevent evaporation and detoriation of your chemicals.
I have used Ilford Mulitgrade developer for years and have left it over night in the trays several times without notisting any differens the day after. But I suppose it will be exausted sooner when I use it that way.
Now I have bought more trays at the same size that I have from before and uses them as floting lid. And thet works fine. I have used the same developer for up to tre days. (Sorry for my english)