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Thread: Pyro Stain bane

  1. #1

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    Pyro Stain bane

    I've been making some negs for pt printing using PMK Pyro. The first neg I exposed gave me a pretty nice print at a 17 minute exposure. However, it lacked shadow detail and so since then I've been giving an extra two stops exposure to lay down some more information. The shadows have a good separation of detail now. Only problem is when I've been processing them they have a very heavy stain as a consequence of the additional exposure. I am also overdeveloping by 20% to build the contrast. I know this is a blanket thing to be doing to every shot and is in no way ideal to get the optimum results. The overdevelopment is obviously heightening the problem. It's worked well for a low contrast scene which has given a nice neg but the negs of scenes with more contrast look bulletproof. Luckily I've taken duplicate shots. So I'm wondering, when processing the second sheets should I just go for a normal development time or should I scrap using pyro and try using regular dev? I'm not post-staining at all. I'm wondering whether the TF-4 archival fixer is exacerbating it too. I think I've read somewhere that Hypam reduces the staining. I've got one last shot at these which are for a project so I'd really appreciate advice with this! Cheers
    Last edited by Jarvman; 03-23-2010 at 08:22 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Sounds like you're getting more "background stain" than you want, which is a characteristic of PMK. I'd recommend trying a different pyro developer that doesn't produce as much background stain like ABC pyro (my preference) or one of the popular Pyrocat developers (probably better if you use a Jobo).
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  3. #3

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    Yeah, definately 'background stain' I've actually got some Pyrocat but haven't got round to using it yet. Thanks.

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    I found PMK tricky to control stain density with accuracy and repeatability when making negs for pt/pd. At one point `the stain density seems to get out of sync with the exposed silver density and you get lots of base+fog stain density. On the other hand I found that developers like prescysol-ef and pyrocat-mc are a much easier to nail down the precise image stain without over staining the background. Also , building contrast/density is so easy that you don't have to resort to forcing the issue with a lot of "over-exposure" . I do like pmk pyro for "normal" silver printing. Just my experience ...
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  5. #5
    payral's Avatar
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    I had exactly the same problem and I stopped using PMK for ABC Pyro. I use it for more than 5 years now with very good results and I divided my exposure time by 5.

  6. #6
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    I use WD2D+, a developer formulated by John Wimberley.

    I buy it at Formulary, this quantity liquid:

    http://www.photoformulary.com/Deskto...ion=0&langId=0
    Bill Clark

  7. #7
    Robert Hall's Avatar
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    Question: Are you using your old developer as a rinse as once suggested by Gordon? He has found, as have others, that it only adds to the overall stain not to the (wanted) proportional stain from the PMK?

    This can add to your exposure times, but over development even by a bit can really add to exposure time.

    BTW, what film are you using?
    Robert Hall
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  8. #8

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    I am not surprised that your negatives are bordering on bullet-proof with the combination of two extra stops of exposure AND 20% more development. The combination is likely adding between 2-1/2 and 3 stops to your shadows and likely pushing the highlights toward the shoulder (translation – “bullet-proof”). The extra 20% development is like doing an N+1 development. This is appropriate for platinum or even carbon, but typically, film speed is increased, not decreased when applying N+1 development.

    If I understand correctly, your real dilemma is how to process the remaining negatives for your project. Since these negatives have already received an extra 2 stops of exposure, the only option in my mind to get a less dense overall negative is to use an ABC pyro formula for the balance of your negatives. The ABC formula contains no metol (which improves shadow density and film speed) and consequently, you tend to lose about a stop of film speed. This is exactly what you want to accomplish with these overexposed negatives. You may wish to still give them an extra 10-20% development. The ABC formula will yield a yellowish-brown stain, not green like PMK. I abandoned the ABC formula over 20 years ago in favor of John Wimberley’s pyro-metol formula purely because of the loss of film speed. The negatives looked beautiful, but I lost a full stop of film speed with ABC. This was long before Gordon published the PMK formula.

    Never use a post stain step and do not place the developed and fixed negatives back in a metaborate bath “to enhance the stain”. As you now know, stain is your friend, but it can turn on you and rapidly become your enemy in alt processes. Your choice of film will also affect how much stain remains on the negative. TMAX films stain very little. HP5, Tri-X, and Efke films take a good stain. Bergger BPF200 stains heavily. I do not recommend that anyone start working with any pyro developer on Bergger film. It behaves completely differently than other films and is difficult to get used to even for an experienced pyro developer. Also be aware that TMAX films react more to increases or decreases in development time than most other films. An extra 20% development for TMAX is a very large amount.

    If you take the time to get to know pyro, whatever formula you choose, you will find it can be very advantageous for moving between processes. I have routinely printed the same negative on Azo silver gelatin, platinum/palladium, and carbon with only minor adjustments in the printing. Except for the unique characteristics of each process, the images are almost identical.

    This forum is insufficient to cover all of the aspects of the various pyro formulas. However, you may be interested in visiting the “Writings” page of my web site – www.bobherbst.com. Since the 2nd edition of Dick Arentz’s book, Platinum & Palladium Printing, is now out of print, I have posted the appendix on pyro developers which I wrote for the book. Little has changed since it was published. You will also find the formula for a modified version of John Wimberley’s original WD2D pyro formula which I have used for 22 years with great success. John’s new formula, WD2D+ is an update to his original formula, and John recently published the formula in an article in View Camera magazine.

    Good Luck!

    Bob Herbst


    Quote Originally Posted by Jarvman View Post
    I've been making some negs for pt printing using PMK Pyro. The first neg I exposed gave me a pretty nice print at a 17 minute exposure. However, it lacked shadow detail and so since then I've been giving an extra two stops exposure to lay down some more information. The shadows have a good separation of detail now. Only problem is when I've been processing them they have a very heavy stain as a consequence of the additional exposure. I am also overdeveloping by 20% to build the contrast. I know this is a blanket thing to be doing to every shot and is in no way ideal to get the optimum results. The overdevelopment is obviously heightening the problem. It's worked well for a low contrast scene which has given a nice neg but the negs of scenes with more contrast look bulletproof. Luckily I've taken duplicate shots. So I'm wondering, when processing the second sheets should I just go for a normal development time or should I scrap using pyro and try using regular dev? I'm not post-staining at all. I'm wondering whether the TF-4 archival fixer is exacerbating it too. I think I've read somewhere that Hypam reduces the staining. I've got one last shot at these which are for a project so I'd really appreciate advice with this! Cheers

  9. #9
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wclark5179 View Post
    I use WD2D+, a developer formulated by John Wimberley.
    Me too. No stain.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  10. #10

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    Thanks Bob! I was actually reading your appendix in Dick Arentz book last night. I understand now that if I want to increase the contrast of my negs I should increase film speed because the shadows are receiving extra development too. I think I'm taking the adage expose for the shadows develop for the highlights a bit too literally, by neglecting that development has an effect on the shadows too! Do you think I will get away with using Pyrocat rather than ABC as I have none of the latter? Perhaps developing for normal time rather than N+1. That might result in some pretty flat negs though right? The other option was to develop them in D-76. I can't get ABC premixed in the UK. Suppose I could mix my own, there's a formula in the Darkroom Cookbook aint there.
    Last edited by Jarvman; 03-23-2010 at 11:25 AM. Click to view previous post history.

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