Photographic results of PMK (Not Toxicology)
Following on from Howard Bond's recent article, I notice that he makes no mention of which kind of paper he chose for his print comparisons. I have no doubt that unsharp masking can produce very fine prints that would be difficult or impossible to equal by just changing film developer. But one big issue with staining developers is that one chooses them with a paper in mind (e.g. graded or VC), or at least an approach to dealing with contrast distribution.
My suspicion is that just as Bond chose a film that seems to respond minimally to PMK, he has chosen a paper which also minimizes the effect that some of us find very useful with a staining developer. Or in other words, trying to match as closely as possible a D76 print is unlikely to lead to PMK showing its qualities.
My choice at the moment happens to be dilute pyrocat-HD and minimal agitation, but that's another story!
John, that is my choice as well (P-HD and minimal agitation). I can't agree more. It is all about matching the negative to the paper used.
I agree with your statements too. I will go a bit further then what you said. Howard Bond apparently feels quite strongly about the benefits of unsharp masking. No doubt it can be of certain benefit with certain negatives and in certain situations. In fact I use unsharp masking myself at times.
Is unsharp masking the "magic bullet" that Howard Bond would have us believe that it is? Not in my experience. Unsharp masking is a tool that proves beneficial under certain situations. It does not provide the optimum benefit in other situations.
The difference between unsharp masking and the proportional stain of a pyro based developer are apparent in the print results in very apparent ways. A pyro based developer will improve high value tonal separation in a way that very few other methods can. Unsharp masking works at compression of the negative density range so that a higher contrast paper or filtration can be implemented to affect local contrast. This comes at a price however. That price is a compression of shadow values beyond what the negative originally possessed. There is the additional aspect of an increase in apparent sharpness. This is attributed as being due to "edge effects". I have found that Efke PL100 developed in Pyrocat with minimal agitation also provides "edge effects.
So what Howard Bond, in the statement of his opinion, has effectively done is verbally compared "apples and elephants". That is not surprising since to do otherwise would be shooting the goose that laid Howard's "Golden Egg".
I know Howard. I have attended one of his workshops/print marketing efforts about 15 years ago. The price for the workshop was reasonable, as I recall. The information transmitted to the participants was in keeping with the price.
This is my opinion based in my experience...I expect that it carries about as much validity as Howards opinion.