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Discussion in 'How To' started by gainer, May 13, 2009.
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Borax Project - Borax Project
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Glad to see that the article finally made it into the articles section. Could you do us a favor and show us all of the prints with the same amount of filtration? There is no way to tell the difference between the prints in a meaningful way if you give us different prints. It's like doing a study on plant growth and trimming one plant more than the others, a bad practice in scientific testing.
Ordinarilly I would do that, but the purpose here was, given that there was indeed 10 times more borax than standard, could a reasonably good print be made from a negative developed as if the D-76 were standard. That negative was the only one on which I used any printing filtration. Trust me, you don't want to use that much borax without adjusting the development of the negative! It doesn't even give a useful film speed increase unless you don't care about the shadows.
PS: Reminds me of the old bawdy joke about the marriage between the circus midget and the lady giant:"Nose to nose his toes were in it and toes to toes, his nose was in it." That's about how it would be with highlights and shadows of that negative without very low contrast paper. No joy.
It is my understanding that Eastman long recommended up to (something like) eight or ten times the normal level borax for D76 in certain applications.
Nice piece of work. There are a lot of theoretical objections to practical matters voiced in this forum, but in the mantra of the experimentalist, "if it happens, it must be possible".
Would you consider examining non-photographic sodium carbonate and bicarbonate in a similar fashion? I'm pretty sure that the hot-tub and kitchen grades are rather pure; it has been stated (with authority but not necessarily accuracy) that anything but reagent grade contains chloride and is unsuitable for photography. Since I don't make up my own developers that often, I don't have a dog in the fight, but I've always wondered what the facts of the matter were.
In these days of home pools and hot tubs, there should be a reasonably cheap and accurate test for chlorine. The water in Newport News, VA had much chlorine. I used it for photographic work I did for the Norfolk and Peninsula Symphonies and the Old Dominion University Ballet without problem. I didn't realize how bad it was until I had been here in rural WV where the worst thing my well water contains is calcium, and went back to my old house for a night or two. The chlorine in the drinking water was so strong I didn't want to wash my face in it. Chlorides are a different matter and are certainly to be avoided in certain photographic activities, but my experience
at trying to use sodium chloride to reduce grain a la Microdol (they say) was that it took quite a lot to make a difference in practical photography.
There is certainly a version of D-76 that uses 8 g/l each of borax and boric acid as a buffer. What I tested here was similar, but 2.5 times as strong. With borates, the buffering capacity may be cranked up a lot more than the pH by such combinations. The pH certainly did not rise with my 20-20 combination over that with plain borax, but may have been stabilized.
The heavily buffered version is D76d.
You might want to look at the Wellington Borax MQ formula that is said to be the developer D76 is derived from. It;s a clean working, long lasting relatively fine grain developer according to the Pritish Journal of Photography.
Wellington Borax MQ Film Developer
Sodium Sulphite (cryst) 23g
Water to 1 litre
Wellington & Ward were a British manufacturer of film, plates, papers etc who were bought by Ilford in the late 1930's.
Very interesting. I shall have to try it. Is there a British measure of weight that makes the weights come out 1, 10, 10 and water to 1 quart or gallon?
The onset of my interest in purifying borax was instigated by the assertion, made by PE and Kirk Keyes, that the 20 Mule Team borax from the supermarket is not pure enough for photo work, even though many of us have been doing so for years.
Yes the formula is published in metric & Imperial so it was 10grains/100grains/10oz. Interestingly the ratio of M:Q and quantity is very similar to D76b.
Interesting work. Thank you for the effort and for sharing the results.
I am curious about the concoction with 10x borax. Why would this result in increased contrast? I would not have expected this. Does the pH increase that much with the additional Borax? I would have thought (I am no chemist) that after a point additional Borax would have very little effect on pH.
Does the addition of the 20grams of Boric acid bring the initial pH back to around 9.25?
I have many questions about the purification process too...but...it seems completely un-necessary to me? Perhaps to you too? Would the stuff straight from the 20 Mule team box not work just as well?
Perhaps, a direct comparison of the purified to the non-purified is in order? Or, even, between reagent grade and straight 20 Mule Team?
Thanks again for publishing.
I there are two aspects of pH. Two developers may have the same initial pH, but one may have a greater resistance to change of pH. The reaction of silver halide to development produces the halide acid as well as metallic silver. The acid then acts to reduce the local pH of the solution, more where the exposure was greater. The reduction of pH thus reduces the local activity of the developer. That is what we count on in stand or semi-stand development to produce "compensation", allowing density to build up in shadow areas at a somewhat greater relative rate than in the highlights. The initial effect of the boric acid I added was to bring the initial pH to around 8.6, but also to reduce the local dynamic change of pH.
interesting....I cannot pretend to comprehend all of this, but it is very interesting.
I'm unclear about one thing though, if the increased contrast is expected (at least partially) due to the solution's greatly increased buffering capacity, would we not also expect increased contrast in the solution with both borax and boric acid? That is to say, wouldn't the solution with the excess borax and boric acid also have much greater buffering capacity than the nominal...and therefore also exhibit less (localized?) compensating effect?
Clearly, it is complex.
I decided to illustrate my bawdy joke. These two prints were made to show what happens when I use the same printing contrast, same negative, but printing one for the highs and thr other for the lows. Development of the negative was with 10X borax timed as for ordinary D-76.
That might have happened were it not for the lower initial and therefore lower average pH.
It is also 1:1:10:10:2000 if one assumes an Imperial gallon is 4.6l - in fact 4.546 litres.
Somethings wrong with your maths Murray
2.3:2.3:23:23:1000 works out as 1:1:10:10:434.78
Sorry - quite right, Ian. I was confusing the 2 formulae - a silly mistake.
A 'seniors' moment.:rolleyes: That .78ml would be hard to measure, but.
I tried it last night and I think I'm going to like it after I learn it. 8 minutes @ 65 F gave higher contrast than I usually look for, but a simple change of paper grade was all it needed
That should have been 68 F. Here is a scan of the print to show gradations. That is my 2 1/2 year old great grand daughter, Daisy. She saw me setting up and insisted I take her picture.
The 1947 British Journal Photographic Almanac says it's "A very excellent developer, which for some reason seems of recent years to have suffered eclipse". It's a developer that would probably al;si be ideal for making negatives for alternative processes.
I can't pretend to understand more than a quarter of what you wrote, but is the point of this to decrease activity in the highlights to try and get the developemnt of the highlights and shadows to become fairly even, to render lower contrast and higher tonal tetail?
If you don't understand it, then I did a poor job of writing it.
Borax has a number of uses in photography, but if you buy developers ready-mixed or in powder form ready to mix, you may never handle borax as such. If that occasion arises, you may wonder if the borax you buy at the supermarket laundry section is suitable.
There are two problems one can encounter when measuring out a precise weight of borax powder. One is impurity of various kinds, and the other is variation in weight due to water of crystallization. Borax will crystallize with either 5 molecules of water or 10 attached to a molecule of sodium tetraborate. The dry powder is likely to be amixture of the two forms, and the proportions may change over time due to humidity in the air when you do the weighing. High priced analytical grade borax may be guaranteed to be nothing but sodium tetraborate and water, but the easiest way to assure that you are measuring out the intended amount of the borate is to make a solution that is saturated at a certain temperature. Then at any higher temperature, the weight of sodium tetraborate per unit weight of solution will be constant and can be expressed as either the decahydrate or the pentrehydrate (different numbers, of course). For most of our uses, the weight of borax per unit volume of solution will be constant above the saturation temperature. At 20 C, a saturated solution of borax is 4.71%.
As to purity, the process of crystallizing borax from a 100 C solution at or near saturation will leave most of the soluble impurities, including colloidally suspended particles, in the solution at 20 C. That solution is then discarded, The process may be repeated, each time with a loss of 47.1 grams per liter of discarded solution. When you are satisfied that the remaining borax is sufficiently pure, it my be left in the bottom of a container of pure water which will become a saturated solution whose borax content will be known.
Is it worth the trouble? Probably not if all you want borax for is to make a batch of D-76 or the like. I and I'm sure many others have used 20 Mule Team borax from the grocery store for many years.
I'm sure you will all be happy to know I have saved Photographers Formulary from ruin. I just purchased my lifetime supply of photo quality borax---5 pounds. Actually, considering I'm in my 82nd year, I may have some left to leave my heirs.