B&W film developing questions

Discussion in 'Darkroom Developing and Printing' started by G.T., Jan 5, 2008.

  1. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Ah, cool, thanks for the clarification.
    Thanks for the tips. I could maybe do it in my kitchen but I'd have to
    cover a lot of windows, the kitchen is open to the small living and
    dining area. And the bathroom, no, I barely have room to stand in it.

    G.T., Jan 7, 2008
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  2. This company makes vertical print processing equipment. You can develop
    prints in a very small space with one.

    If you are handy with plexiglass and glue, you could probably make a
    cheap one from an aquarium. Without a lot of effort, you would have
    to lift it up and turn it upside down to empty it, but it may be
    good enough.


    When I was a teenager, I had to work in a windowless bathroom.
    The trays went in the tub, and the enlarger sat on the toilet.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jan 7, 2008
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  3. Just a small nit: HCA doesn't "neutralize" fixer, it sets up conditions
    that make it easier to remove it. As you said, Richard K. can supply all
    the gory details.
    David Nebenzahl, Jan 7, 2008
  4. G.T.

    Rob Morley Guest

    As long as there's somewhee to stand the enlarger that's all you really
    need - expose the paper, load it in a drum and then process it in the
    kitchen in normal light.
    Rob Morley, Jan 7, 2008
  5. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Can you point me to daylight print processing equipment? I've been
    doing a little Googling but haven't found anything definitive yet, and
    when I do, I still won't know what workflow works best.

    If I were to use a drum what would I need? Is it similar to processing

    Print, load in drum, fill with developer, agitate, empty developer, fill
    with stop and agitate, empty, fill with fixer and agitate, empty. Then
    hypo clear, wash, and dry?

    Would the last paragraph be considered the one tray method?

    G.T., Jan 7, 2008
  6. It depends. The simple ones are drums that are like daylight tanks
    for stainless steel reels, they have a light trap at the fill end
    that does not depend upon a reel.

    You stuff the print in it in the dark, close it up and and develop.
    Simple drums get rolled on the table, more complex systems have
    rolling machines.

    Normally they are used for color because consistent agitation and
    temperature control are necessary.

    There are all sorts of drums for the rolling machines including one
    that holds sheet film in an interrupted spiral. You would use it for
    small prints if you want to develop several at a time.

    Look up Jobo.
    Since the steps after printing can be done in daylight with no special
    equipment, you may not want to use the drum for them.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jan 7, 2008
  7. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Ok, at what step can I switch to daylight equipment? Do I have to stop
    and fix a little before switching to daylight? Or can I do the stop and
    fix in daylight?

    G.T., Jan 7, 2008
  8. No, you do the stop and fix in the dark and switch to daylight
    for rinse (first wash), hypo clear and wash.

    Geoffrey S. Mendelson, Jan 7, 2008
  9. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Thanks. I'll have to start putting a list together and approximate cost
    to put this all together.

    G.T., Jan 7, 2008
  10. G.T.

    jch Guest

    My first darkroom in Vancouver, Canada was the same; a windowless
    bathroom. I would place two rubber padded 2x4s on the bathtub, and put
    the enlarger on it. The trays (11x14 was biggest size i could do) would
    sit on the counter by the sink. To do exposures i would sit on the
    toilet lid facing the bathtub/enlarger. I second the idea of using a
    drum plus motor base. You can easily make your own drum(s) from 4 inch
    black drain pipe and develop/stop/fix/wash prints that way. Use a large
    O-ring in the center of the drum to stop it from rolling itself off the
    jch, Jan 7, 2008
  11. G.T.

    Andrew Price Guest

    That would be Lloyd Erlick:


    The rest of his site is also well worth a visit.
    Andrew Price, Jan 7, 2008
  12. Just take a small scrap of the film and soak it in
    water for perhaps 2 minutes. Then drop in some of the fixer
    and swirl it around. Measure the time it takes to be
    visually clear.
    What is the problem with setting up to print? There may
    be a way around this. It is much more satisfactory to do
    your own printing so its worth exploring ways to accomplish
    Richard Knoppow, Jan 8, 2008
  13. My darkroom pretends that is a kitchen much of the time.
    Quite small but Peter Gowland, in one of his books, says
    that a darkroom can be too big. I agree with this, it must
    be small enough so that things are within easy reach.

    Fiber prints (the support should really be called
    unprotected paper) does soak up hypo. The use of a wash aid
    helps to dislodge it from the paper but the washing is not
    by simple diffusion as it is for the emulsion because some
    of the hypo gets bound up with the paper fibers mechanically
    (Ilford points this out in their paper on accelerated
    washing). As a result wash times are much extended.
    Actually, the emulsion will wash out as fast as RC paper but
    the support does not. Also, the "baryta" layer under the
    emulsion tends to bind hypo as well. A sulfite wash aid will
    break the bonding of hypo and fixer reaction products to the
    emulsion and the baryta layer and, to some degree, with the
    paper fibers but it is not as effective with the fibers as
    with the emulsion and baryta layer. So, even with a wash aid
    treatment fiber prints take 10 to 30 minutes to wash out. RC
    paper even when fixed in acid hardening fixer will wash out
    in about 4 minutes. Because a very small residue of hypo has
    been found to stabilize the image silver against oxidation
    wash times for RC should not exceed the recommended 4 or so
    minutes and times for fiber paper or film treated with wash
    aid should not be extended. Of course toning provides much
    more effective protection and should be applied to prints
    especially but, nonetheless, one can wash too much.
    The substrate of RC paper is also plastic. In fiber
    paper the substrate is one or more layers of very hard
    gelatin with a suspension of barium sulfate (baryta) in it.
    Barium sulfate is one of he most reflective materials around
    which is why it was chosen. The substrate of RC paper is
    plastic with a suspension of titanium dioxide in it. TiO is
    even more reflective than barium sulfate. Because the TiO
    tends to emmit an oxidizing gas which attacks both the image
    and the plastic layer RC papers have had problems with
    having short lives in the past. However, for at least ten
    years all RC papers have been made with anti-oxidants and
    oxidizer scavengers built in so they no longer have this
    problem. The scavengers are supposed to be self-regenerating
    so the protection should last as long as the print is
    The difference in the substrate may have something to do
    with the difference in appearance of the two types of paper
    although I find that when other than glossy surfaces are
    used its very difficult to tell them apart.
    Richard Knoppow, Jan 8, 2008
  14. G.T.

    Rod Smith Guest

    In several years of perusing various online forums, this is the first I've
    heard of a myth of Rodinal being a fine-grain developer. Maybe such a myth
    makes the rounds through (non-electronic) word of mouth or some other
    means, but online, no discussion of Rodinal seems to elude prominent
    claims of it being a NON-fine-grain developer.
    Rod Smith, Jan 8, 2008
  15. G.T.

    Rod Smith Guest

    Note that fixing and clearing times vary greatly, both from one film to
    another and from one fixer to another. Personally, I generally use rapid
    fixers (based on ammonium thiosulfate rather than sodium thiosulfate),
    which fix films in about two minutes. In fact, the fixers I use often
    clear films in 30 seconds or less. The general rule of thumb is to fix for
    twice the clearing times (some people say three times for T-grain films),
    but I err on the side of the longer time if I get, say, a 30-second fixing
    time and the product documentation recommends a 2-minute time.

    A 10-12 minute fixing time sounds very long to me, but you might well get
    into that range toward the end of the useful life of a fixer based on
    sodium thiosulfate.
    Rod Smith, Jan 8, 2008
  16. G.T.

    Rod Smith Guest

    Experimenting with products is fine; however, since you're just starting
    out I'd like to caution you against going wild with all the films and
    developers that are out there. You'll learn most quickly if you stick to
    just one or two films and one developer while you learn. If you try a new
    film/developer combination with every roll or two, you won't learn how the
    two work together or be able to optimize your developing techniques. Learn
    your basic techniques first and THEN start playing with different
    Rod Smith, Jan 8, 2008
  17. G.T.

    Rod Smith Guest

    I suspect that there's some miscommunication going on here -- or maybe I'm
    just misreading/misjudging peoples' posts.

    When using the traditional open trays for B&W enlarging, the dry-side
    printing, developer, stop bath, and beginning of fixer steps should be
    done in the dark or under safelight conditions. Normal room lights can be
    turned on once the print's been in the fixer for a few seconds. (You might
    even be able to get away with this with the print in the stop bath, but
    I've not tried that.)

    When using a print processing drum, the room lights can be turned on as
    soon as the print is in the drum and the drum is sealed up but before you
    begin processing the print. The developing, stopping, fixing, and washing
    can all be done in normal room light, just like film processing in a film
    tank. (The print is of course still in the dark, just sealed inside its

    Drums are frequently used for color processing, but they work fine for
    B&W. Some online retailers might list them under color paper processing
    equipment. Another option is known as an "orbital processor." This is
    basically a covered tray with provision to pour chemicals in and out.

    I've heard of people using two-room setups for print processing. For
    instance, you could set up an enlarger in a bedroom or a large closet and
    then, using a print processing drum, do the actual processing in a
    bathroom, kitchen, or laundry room. Personally, I think I'd prefer a
    compact bathroom setup, using the bathtub as a place to hold the trays and
    putting the enlarger on a cart or balancing it on the toilet or sink.
    Vertical slot processors can also be handy in space-constrained
    situations, although they tend to be pricey.

    Concerning light-proofing a room, note that this is easier if you're
    willing to restrict your darkroom sessions to night. A light leak that
    would fog paper in the day might be harmless at night.

    If space is limited, you'll need to select an enlarger carefully. A few
    models fold up, sometimes into suitcase-style boxes. These could be handy
    in cramped quarters. With a little more storage space, an enlarger on a
    wheeled cart might be better.
    Rod Smith, Jan 8, 2008
  18. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    I forgot to ask one question. What is the effect of fixing for too long?

    G.T., Jan 8, 2008
  19. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    I don't know if that all was explicitly stated before but I did understand
    those points.
    With the drums can I agitate manually or is it too inconvenient to agitate
    it myself? Do I need to get a roller, too?

    G.T., Jan 8, 2008
  20. G.T.

    G.T. Guest

    Basically, for good or bad, I'm using Tri-X 400 (I have also used some of
    the current Arista 400 film but for film right now I'm sticking with the
    Tri-X), and on just my 2nd developer, the Rodinal, the 4 oz bottle. I'll
    finish this Rodinal up and try some Xtol. I won't be trying any other films
    until I get a feel for the differences of the Tri-X in the Accufine, the
    Rodinal, and then the Xtol.

    Is that reasonable?

    I'm fortunate to live a short subway ride away from Freestyle.

    G.T., Jan 8, 2008
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