High contrast situation, expired FP4+, which two bath developer?

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by Eugen Mezei, Apr 26, 2011.

  1. Eugen Mezei

    Eugen Mezei Member

    Jul 11, 2007
    Multi Format
    Following situation:
    Contre jour exposures (person in Canyon with sky in the background) with a point and shot (Yashica T1) on long (90s) expired FP4+. Most of the frames I exposed at 100 ASA, but also tried some at 50 and a few at 200.

    I have to fight 2 problems: high contrast and fog. As this is 35 mm film I would like fine grain too, so this is problem 3.
    A friend of mine used this same film (it comes from a 100 ft roll) and found increased fog level. (Haven't seen the negatives, he says contrast is reduced.)

    I thought best chances for the main problem, contrast, would be a 2 bath developer. But which to choose?
    DD-23, Stöckler, Thornton or D2D?

    To the choose between Stöckler/DD-23 and Thornton: Is FP4+ still considered a thick emulsion film or not?
    Which of them would give me the best reducing in contrast?

    As I understand D2D permits finer grain as it doesn't need sodium sulphite and has Na-ascorbate. Still this is subordonate to the contrast reducing problem. Would D2D give the same contrast?

    Also I read different opinions about reducing or increasing the time in the first bath. Most sources state if I want reduced contrast to take the film out of bath A after a shorter time. Other (fewer) sources say the opposite. If I understand correctly longer time in Bath A would further develop the shadow parts and that is one of the things I want. (It would be catastrophal if the face of the subject would be only a big black spot.)

    I wish to add a pinch of KBr to fight fog. Where does this go? Bath A or B?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 26, 2011
  2. el wacho

    el wacho Member

    May 12, 2007
    central anat
    Medium Format
    don't have a total answer for you but here are some facts;

    thornton's two bath ( i'll assume you're talking about the A bath with sod. sulfite 80g per litre and the B bath sod. metaborate 12g per litre) is very clean working for a two bath due to its moderate alkalinity. you'll probably lose 1/3 off box speed so i wouldn't bother with pot. bromide. regarding the A bath, i wouldn't develop anything below 4 minutes / inversions every minute because of the risk of uneven development and uneven absorption (you've got sky in your shots so they will betray any uneven development) . A bath will do alot of the work on its own with 80g of sod. suflite. The B bath definitely helps the shadows a bit but not enought to cause a problem with fog, the way, say, an A bath with phenidone and a B bath of sod. hydroxide will add fog.

    a diluted single shot developer will also do what you want very well. from d76 or microdol x at 1:3 to rodinal at 1:100... you establish your total time ( around 20 - 25 minutes for the aforementioned developers ), then you divide the total time by 4 ( 5 - 6 min ), then you agitate constantly for the first minute, then 5 inv. every minute, then let it stand for the total time ( 5min + 20 min eg ). i got this from andrew sandersen Night photography book and he credit William Mortensen as the source. it's very effective at getting normal shadows and midtones without bulletproof highlights. one caveat though, these all require testing to get the satisfactory results! hope it works out for you.
  3. archer

    archer Member

    Jun 29, 2009
    4x5 Format
    Dear Eugen;
    With out dated FP4 I prefer the Stoeckler formula with Borax second bath @4min. for both baths @68f and I use rotary development and have never had a problem with high contrast. As far as fog is concerned, I don't think it should present a problem and I wouldn't use any benzotriazole or KBr at all.
    Denise Libby
  4. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

    May 21, 2010
    Medium Format
    if the film is fogged, this should effectively lower your contrast--so the fog cures the contrast problem---if you're printing, then print through the fog---if there's too much fog, then use bleach---bleach will also increase your contrast by removing the fog though.....so if you like the contrast, deal with the longer print times--if you want more contrast, bleach it and you'll gain contrast bylosing the fog and have less print time.