In my experience the benefits of Pyro are twofold. The first benefit is holding detail in the highlights. The second benefit is having "two" densities in the same negative, enabling me to print silver, and still having enough contrast for pt/pd. I have had my best results in the second aspect with PMK, but that is also the Pyro developer I have the most experience with.
I purchase pre-mixed liquid A&B solutions, and wear nitrile gloves. The primary hazard of pyro is breathing the powder, which is avoided with the premixed solutions. The secondary hazard is dermal absorption, which is negated by the gloves. Follow those two precautions, and handle and store Pyro responsibly as you would any chemical, and you will be fine.
In perspective- if you get a little on you, wash it off and be more careful. That kind of exposure isn't going to harm you. OTO using it repeatedly without gloves over time can damage your kidneys and liver.
Pyro is a tool, and requires certain accommodations to use it to advantage. If you understand it, you can use it. It isn't a magic bullet, you have to be prepared for what it can give you, and expose and process accordingly. Without that understanding, it can be finicky and frustrating.
In regard to highlight detail, here is a scan of an 8x10 contact print. The negative was processed in PMK. The sun is in the shot, but was not obscured by clouds or anything else. The causeway remains in the water, in which the barest detail can be discerned in the print but not in the scan were 13 stops down from the sun.
Last edited by JBrunner; 01-22-2008 at 08:28 PM. Click to view previous post history.