Fixer dilution question

limr

Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
19,796
Reaction score
11,131
Website
moderndinosaur.wordpress.com
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Hello, darkroom gurus!

So I've finally made the leap and started developing my own black and white film. Don't ask me why it's taken me 20 years. I'm sure being a vagabond for a good 14 of those 20 years didn't help :er: Of course, I already have questions! But before I get to those questions, I just have to say one thing about my first self-developed roll: SO.FRIGGIN'.COOL!!!

Here's the short version of my question: What effect - if any - does fixer have on contrast in black and white film?

Here's the long version with background details and pictures:

Yesterday, my boyfriend and I successfully developed our first rolls of film (Kentmere 100.)

We used a fresh batch of Caffenol for the developing. Now, I know that there are not a lot of Caffenol fans around here, but I have my reasons for using it and I've done a ton of research. I used a recipe and procedure that was used many times (not by me!) on Kentmere 100 with good results. The answer to the question I'm about to ask is probably going to relate to the developer not the fixer, but there IS a little detail about the fixer that is nagging me, so I wanted to ask that here.

The film I developed yesterday came out well overall, but there was a lot more contrast than I am generally used to. Same with the roll my bf developed. I'm sure the developer has a lot to do with that, but the directions called for a 1+3 dilution of Ilford Rapid Fixer (which we used). Isn't that stronger than necessary? In all the reading I've done, I've always seen it diluted more than that. For my paper negatives I've done in the pinhole, it was a 1+4 dilution, and for film, the directions on the bottle and most websites I've consulted call for a 1+9 dilution. Could this have had any effect on contrast? And even if it doesn't affect contrast, is there a different issue that could happen from using fixer that is not diluted enough?

Here are some pictures to show what I mean. They're all from my K1000, same lens (Asahi 50mm) and same film (Kentmere 100). I tried to find the shots that were higher contrast anyway so you could see the difference.

Here are two pictures from a roll developed by our lab guys with traditional developer:

$Airplane Traditional.jpg

$Ford Traditional.jpg

Here are some from the roll I developed in Caffenol:

$Armchairs Caffenol.jpg

$Gateway Caffenol.jpg

$Girl on Bench 1 Caffenol.jpg

$Girl on Bench 2 Caffenol.jpg

I was bracketing for the last two shots and I attached them both in case they would generate any more information or opinions.
Edited: I mean, they're not terrible or anything; just different. The shots that are obviously overexposed seem much more blown out than they usually are, but I can still do quite a bit with them in post to bring up some more shadows and midtones. But I'm trying to sort out what parts of the developing process might need to be tweaked. If it's the developer, maybe I need to try a different recipe. If the fixer is too strong, maybe that will be the first variable I change. Just trying to get a handle on this crazy chemistry thang ;)

Any comments would be greatly appreciated :) Thank you!

(Except please don't try to convince me to ditch Caffenol and use a 'real' developer. I know it's not for everyone and I might eventually conclude that it's not for me either, but I have my reasons for using it and they're not random reasons, either, so I'm planning to stick with it for a while.)

One more edit: Here's the website I used with the recipe and instructions: http://www.starsignproductions.com/Caffenol.htm

Sheesh! One LAST edit! That first picture in the Caffenol batch is actually a shot of my pinhole camera taking the picture of the armchairs that I posted in this thread: http://www.thephotoforum.com/forum/.../338199-my-first-homemade-pinhole-camera.html
 
Last edited:

snowbear

Fuzzy, wuzzy Nanuq
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 9, 2006
Messages
16,535
Reaction score
8,286
Location
SoMD
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Nice shots - I really like the first two.

I've read that extended fixer times are not usually a problem, but some bleaching can occur. More likely a residue will remain that will be difficult to remove. I have personally not experienced either situation.
 

Ysarex

Been spending a lot of time on here!
Joined
Nov 27, 2011
Messages
6,754
Reaction score
3,273
Location
St. Louis
Can others edit my Photos
Photos OK to edit
Fixer isn't going to effect the contrast of your film unless you under-fix or massively over-fix. Fixer removes the un-exposed/un-developed silver halide. If you under-fix then light will fog the film and reduce contrast. The film base will not appear clear. If you used fresh rapid fix at a 1:3 dilution for 3 minutes you didn't under-fix. Over-fixing will eventually begin to bleach the reduced silver image but to do that you'd have to use it straight, heat it up and let it soak for a very long time -- like hours.

The directions you used for a quick fix at 1:3 are common and designed to reduce wash time. It's critical that all trace of the fixer be removed from the film during washing because years is enough time for even the slightest amount of fixer left in the film to eventually damage the reduced silver -- minimum exposure to strong fixer is easier to wash out that longer exposure to weaker fixer.

If you're working to tune the contrast response of your film look to your developer.

Joe
 
OP
limr

limr

Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
19,796
Reaction score
11,131
Website
moderndinosaur.wordpress.com
Can others edit my Photos
Photos NOT OK to edit
Snowbear, your avatar cracks me up :)

Thanks to both of you for your responses. They help a lot!
 

Most reactions

New Topics

Top