The "How I Develop Film" thread

Discussion in 'The Darkroom' started by terri, Sep 23, 2005.

  1. Rollei12

    Rollei12 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you as well for all that!

    Well here's how I'm currently working. As a side note, despite the photos, I've done no pushing yet. I've only developed as Ilford says on their website. I thought that would be the best place to start. 7 min for such and such? Let's start with that. Anyways, that's how I've been developing so far. So here's how I work...

    1) Put film in camera: 400 iso? Turn the dial to 400. Film says 3200? Turn the dial to 3200. (I thought 3200 was the film iso I was supposed to let my camera know).

    2) Shoot a scene making sure the landscape has a green dot or a red dot from my camera meter. This I was thinking was giving me a good exposure. The land with the exposure dot, not the sky.

    3) Develop it as Ilford's website says.

    Now, I can see my photos have an underexposed look going on. I want to fix that and try the two bath development. How do I go about that? For instance, if Ilford says 4 min on such and such a film, do I develop the film in, say, Ilfosol 3 for 4 min, dump that out, add water for 3 min, dump that out, put in stop bath for 1 min, dump that out then fix for 4 min?

    Or, if I'm going to do the two bath way, do I develop the film completely different with the development chemicals doing this 20% thing I've seen both in that Ansel Adams book and now here? How critical is 20%

    Also, if the film says 400 isn't that what you're supposed to put in your camera's iso? That's taking into consideration you're not going to push or pull though. That's what I've learned so far...


    edit: I have some filters: red, orange and yellow, polariser and ND filter.

    another edit: I do have Kodak Tri-X 400 film. For developer chemicals right now I have Ilford Ilfosol 3 and Ilfotec DDX. I want to finish what I have before buying another one.


     
  2. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I understand you totally, I went thru very similar motions in my early days of shooting and developing b&w film. I know the itch. That's why I am trying to slow you down a bit and explain, that film is much more personal, than you think. Film manufacturer info is only good enough to, in average conditions, get a printable negative. Printable doesn't mean good. Even, if they know better than that, they will not go into specifics as "specifics" might be different for everyone. Beside they know, that every serious photographer has own ways anyway. So do I.
    To understand the action of two bath developing method will be good, if you know something about developer composition and what each part has to achieve.
    Photographic developer - Wikipedia the free encyclopedia
    Wiki is good. With a lot of sublinks.
    Download and have look at this books by Henry Horenstein. This is much better for you, than AA books at the moment. Beside being an excellent photographer, Horenstein is a teacher.
    (This PDFs seems to be in public domain)
    http://lit.lzicka.eu/Black.and.White.Photography.(2005),.3Ed.(036373052).LotB.pdf
    http://kimmosley.com/workbook/BWWorkbook022705.pdf

    In meantime, sure, try some two bath system. In this thread you will find pics made by total newbe following my system.
    Few from metering practice attn. Timor Photography Forum
     
  3. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The best way to use your camera meter when metering a scene is to angle the camera down slightly
     
  4. Rollei12

    Rollei12 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks Timor for the info! I'm just starting here. I've only developed...5-6 rolls so far or so. Thanks for those books too :) Please let me know, if you want and have the time, anything else too as you see it.

    What are your thoughts on pre-soaking the film? Worth it or just something some people do?
     
  5. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I am happy, that you are interested in film photography. IMO it is much more personal art and if you will follow other film dedicated forums you will notice, that there is plethora of opinions, how to work with this medium. History is full of famous photographers and brilliant technician, almost magician of photography. Sometimes both talents came together. When you look at photographs of AA or HCB or Eugen Smith you will see, how all are brilliant, yet sooo different. However most voices you will hear on forums are proponents of "by the book" photography. No more. Worst, in high school text book for photography the whole subject of developing film was enclosed in one sentence: D76 is satisfactory. This was shocking, but I think author didn't want to go into that territory as schools do not have budget nor time to explore possibilities with film development. But if you look closely you will find out that there are thousands of formulas for film development. This says something.
    Quest for balanced negative is very old. It goes in parallel with methods for "automatic" negative development. One of the better know formulas comes from Stoeckler but commercially it is not available. I had to mix it by myself, to see, how it works. Today the best know formula is Diafine, but it is very expensive. In my method I am following advice of Barry Thornton and I am using some commercial, usually fluid concentrate, developer like HC110, Tmax Dev. or Polymax T as a first bath. For second bath I am using dilution of borax, never water alone as my first bath is usually quite diluted. Small changes of time in both baths afford me the contrast control. And yes, I am pre-soaking film for about 1min. That brings film to temperature of developer and ensure equal absorption of developer. Time in developer might be different depend on developer, but for borax 3 min is a standard.
    If you live in America borax is very easy to obtain in stores selling chemicals for laundry. But many other alkali will do, photographic or not, like TSP, found on shelves with paints. The only thing you have to remember: higher pH, more contrasty negative will be. Sometimes this is better, sometimes not, depends on subject and effect to be achieved. It is just good to read about this chemicals, to know, what to expect.
     
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  6. unpopular

    unpopular Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    The best method I've found is to develop the shadows in rodinol and the hilights in microdol, switching the developer mid-way through the process. It's been forever since I used film, and I've long since lost that notebook. But with experimentation, you can get a good control over grain quality.
     
  7. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Continuing with OP deliberations about two bath systems.
    For that purpose I made a series of shots on film called Eastman Double X Negative, film for motion pictures shooting. Nominal speed is of ISO 250, my exposure was calculated for ISO 200 (just easier) using hand held incident light meter. It was pretty dark, bellow f4 by sunny 16 method, but that's OK, in soft light there is more half tones and in half tones grain is more visible. Film was developed in dedicated print developer; Factor One made by Alta Photographic Inc. (No more produced, sadly.) I used in tank 400 ml of working solution instead of required minimum of 290 ml, there was 10 ml of concentrate in this 400 ml of solution, ratio 1:40. The reel was lifted about 2 cm from the bottom of the tank for better flow of fluid during agitation. Time in developer only 5 min 45 sec. with moderate agitation every minute and the last 30 sec continuous agitation. After that second bath (no rinse inbetween) is solution of borax, minimum 10 g / 1 liter for 3 min. with no agitation. After that rinse with water (3x) but stop bath may be used as well, then regular fixing.
    Prints were made using the same developer on neutral tone RC paper.
    That is the outcome:
    small_1.jpg
    small_3.jpg small_4.jpg small_2.jpg
    This are too much reduced images to see the grain. This are cutouts from the full files from scanner:
    cut1.jpg cut2.jpg cut3.jpg cut4.jpg
    All prints were made close to 7x9.5.
    #3 and #4 is the same image. #3 is a full frame, #4 is a central part of it enlarged to total size of something like 15x19.
    All this to show, that despite I used cubical grain and not too slow film and developed it in developer, which under any circumstances can't be called fine grain developer yet I achieved grain usually obtained with ultra fine film developers with good sharpness and detail resolution plus not bad tonal range. All pictures made with #2 filter and no dodging or burning.
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
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  8. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I am not sure if all of this above actually work to show my point. If anyone want to see full files from scanner PM me.
     
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    My suggestions for you Rollei, are based on establishing sound fundamentals, so you can learn by experience, repetition, and build a strore of experience in film stock used; ISO/ASA/Exposure Index settings and how those relate to light metering; film developing time and temperature, dilution/strength of developer, and agitation methods and intervals used. In a word: forget two-bath development. Forget Ilford developers with Kodak film. Start over, with some basics, and KEEP the ingredients used consistent for at least six months. Again, leave two-bath developing to the experts like timor,and work on doing the basic, critcal things properly, in a systematic way, so you can see and learn what affects what.

    ISO 400 B&W film. PICK ONE stock. ONE. If it is a T-grain film, pick a developer that will work with it. If it is a "traditional" film, pick HC-110 Dilution B or D-76 Diluted 1:1 with water; this is enough compensating action if the development is at 68 degrees, agitate 20 seconds at start, then do 10 second agitations on the minute.

    ISO as opposed to Exposure index or E.I.: NO, you do NOT want to stick blindly to the film ISO number on the carton, not necessarily. If, the way YOU do light metering, with your camera, and that lens, with your working methods, and your exposures are as you say underexposed, then you MUST lower the E.I. setting!

    The title "How I Develop FIlm" is entirely misleading in terms of picture results for the beginner; it is not just about how the film is developed in chemicals, not nearly as much as the entire PROCESS used to get that film ready for the development stage. Choice of film speed and brand and "type"; exposure metering method; Exposure Index set; camera's lens and shutter accuracy/lack thereof; chemical strength; thermometer's accuracy; agitation method and duration; how the negatives will be turned into final images (scanner/condenser enlarger/diffusion enlarger/what paper grade for a normal neg,and so on?).

    My feeling, looking at your first works is that you are grossly UNDER-exposing almost all scenes, mostly likely because of the way you are using your metering, but other factors come in too. A camera with a 60/40 in-camera meter with a wide-angle lens can "see" brighter sky enough to inflate the readings; the lens diaphragm might close down a bit too much for the f/stop settings, especially common at smaller apertures!; unless you know how to do close-up readings, many times the in-camera meter will relay wayyyyy to "bright" a light value, and you'll end up, basically, under-exposing the most-critical shadow and lower mid tones, and then the negatives will have no shadow detail; combine that with these delicate, 2-bath developing processes, and your negatives look thin, and poor. Again....you're putting the cart before the horse with this two-bath development and skipping around from 400 to 3200 film, and so on.

    Try ONE film, one fairly mild developer (HC-110 Dilution B), at 68 degrees, agitate 20 seconds at start, rap the tank hard, then start agitating gently 10 second every 1 minute, water rinse or stop bath: fixer: wash: photoflo: dry. Chart your development times. Number the rolls, and keep the records. It seems extremely likely to me that your fundamental issue is using too high of an E.I. for your metering methods and your developing. The ISO rating is only a starting point. but you MUST realize that you need to get some shadow exposure, and I can almost guarantee that you are not getting that with the "green dot, overall scene" light metering procedure you mentioned. Lowering the "ISO" is a starting point to getting more shadow exposure.

    You would probably do far better metering the palm of your hand, and then over-exposing 1 to 1.5 stops for light-toned objects or 2 to 2.5 stops for the purest white scenes like snow, or UNDER-exposing by 2 full stops for a black dog in sunlight, 3 stops for a black dog in open shade. Your ISO and exposure settings need to be tailored to your working methods. Pick one film, one developer, and stick with it and work out how to get some visible information in the shadows by lowering the E.I. or by metering in a very different manner.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2015
  10. timor

    timor Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    :1247: Ha ha, Maybe I really overextended the topic. My point was to show, that whatever the old wisdom is telling, it is old and actually hurting the possible quality of the image. Modern films long time ago got forward of still prevailing ideas with roots in 20-ties. In this case: fine grain developers are not needed anymore and things like D76 should be put in coffin long, long time ago.
     
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  11. Rollei12

    Rollei12 TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for that. I do like Ilford. I'll stick with their stuff.

    So you're thinking I could get away with "over exposing" and then "under developing" correct? If it takes such and such a film 4:30 min to develop (what it says on the box) I could go perhaps 3:00 or 3:30 to get a better exposure, no? That way I can get a good exposure for the lower tones and the shorter developing time won't harm the upper tones -- they won't "over expose". I remember that whole "expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights".

    I'll keep trying this out.

    Be kind though. I haven't even been at this for a year. Still, I'd like to keep learning!
     
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  12. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Yes, Ilford makes much sense...they make everything you could need in film, developers and fixer, as well as B&W printing paper. You are right about the old idea of, "Expose for the shadows and develop for the highlights," based on using a lower-than-factory-suggested Exposure Index for the film, such as E.I. of 250 on a 400 ISO film, making SURE that the exposure will create actual detail in the shadowed areas, and then developing the film with what would be called "Minus development". The overall effect of this is a delicate negative that has less grain, and also less-dense highlights, and which is not so salt-and-peppery as a film that has been developed more traditionally.

    I would like to make a comment here though about short development times, like the 4 min 30 second time you mentioned; my experience is that any developer that is that strong, and that works in that short a time frame, is a BAD developer choice. That is such a short time that even minor variations and minor variables can have a big impact on results; a development time of a baseline of 8 minutes or so is a much better starting point. When development times are really short, like 4:30, the developer is obviously, quite vigorous, quite strong, and results can easily be inconsistent, so standardize on a developer with a standard time of at LEAST 7 minutes at 68 degrees Farenheit.

    It's possible to fry a couple eggs on medium-low heat and not botch the job, even with kind of lax attention to the process; try and cook the same two eggs on High heat, and the most minor of timing errors, and the eggs are simply awful.
     

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