I think I've been doing it wrong...for 40 years

Discussion in 'B&W: Film, Paper, Chemistry' started by gary in nj, Jan 3, 2018.

  1. gary in nj

    gary in nj Member

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    I've been using Dektol for paper development for 40 years. I was taught to, and have always used it, straight without dilution. A typical exposure for me is 4-6 seconds at f8. If I dilute at the recommended 1:2, do I adjust my exposure time or do I allow for a longer development time (which is usually around 30-60 seconds). From what I've been reading, the 1:2 working ratio will allow for deeper blacks and contrast. Is this correct?
     
  2. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Old habits die hard. If you like the results you have been getting for 40 years, why change now?
     
  3. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    I use Dektol 1:2 and develop "to completion", usually 3 minutes. this gives me solid blacks on any paper I've used. It also shows up any fog on old paper or poorly stored paper.
     
  4. BradS

    BradS Member

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    gary in nj

    gary in nj Member

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    I don't think I necessarily get deep blacks, more like dark grays. There is opportunity for improvement. If simply going 1:2 with a longer development period yields better blacks I'll be happy that I've made the change.
     
  6. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Hah! I was just about to edit, my exposure times are often 30 to 60 seconds to allow for burning & dodging, especially with 8x10 contacts. It's possible with a lower wattage bulb in the enlarger, and I like to use my enlarging lenses at 5.6 as diffraction comes in at f:8 on most of mine, which are a rather motley assortment leaning heavily to uncoated Wollensaks. Yes they do a remarkable job being Aviar types, very very sharp.
     
  7. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Try it. I use Dektol at room temp., I could maybe shorten the time, but you can't really overdevelop paper.
     
  8. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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    My problem was a bit different than yours. While I used Dektol at 1:2 dil., I would yank the print when it looked right, to me, under the safelight. Sometimes 30 sec., sometimes 1 minute. I was visiting a professional friend (a graduate of Art Center in Los Angeles) in his darkroom printing one of my negatives and developing the print in Dektol 1:2, yanking the print as I usually did. When the pro. looked vat the print, he said:" you might have a good print there if you left it in the developer until it finished developing". I made another print, left it in the developer for the recommended for 2.5 minutes. After the print was processed, I looked at it under the white light and was dumbfounded. It was beautiful. Rich blacks, everything was there. I have been using 2.5 to 3 minutes ever since. If I had not had the error of my ways pointed to me, I might still be yanking under-developed prints from the developer for the past 50 years......Regards!..I did adjust the exposure time to better match the new development time by making test prints.
     
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2018
  9. oldtimermetoo

    oldtimermetoo Subscriber

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  10. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    I can't think of anything more satisfying than watching the image appear in the developer.
    Why would you want to shorten the fun :D?
    Longer development times aid in ensuring uniformity.
    It probably isn't completely accurate to call it development to completion, but development until there isn't much changing any more is a great target.
    It helps to pay attention to how long it takes for the image to appear. Search on "factorial development" for a technique that makes use of that information.
     
  11. WilmarcoImaging

    WilmarcoImaging Member

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    gary, have you played with contrast grades, either with paper or filtration, as an element in your process?
     
  12. chip j

    chip j Subscriber

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    Dektol always gave me a ugly greenish color to the paper. I loved Aga & now Ilford developers.
     
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    gary in nj

    gary in nj Member

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    Yes, I have an old Kodak set and a newer Ilford set that I use with multi-grade paper. I generally "fully develop" the paper, not removing it from the tray until it's no longer progressing. I'm going to give 1:2 a try and expose the paper so it requires a 3 minute bath. My son suggests using a recently printed photo to do a comparison of the old technique vs the one discussed herein.
     
  14. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    gary in nj,

    Are you familiar with f/stop printing? Gene Nocon explains it well. I want to recommend it to you as the next step after you start using 1:2 and 3 minutes.

    I like to make test strips in 1/3 stop increments...

    You should alter your exposure of the print and standardize the developing time.

    If you guess at exposure time and develop to look like what you think you want, it will be harder to get it right.

    Yes, watch it develop to enjoy the experience, but don't "yank it out when it looks right" - in the dark, and wet, it's hard to know exactly what will look good when it's dry.
     
  15. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    Selenium toner got rid of it (Portriga Rapid 111 and Ilford Gallerie, both graded) for me. I used Dektol 1:3 for 3 minutes.
     
  16. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    Undiluted Dektol should give slightly more contrast than the 1+2 dilution - if you're not getting 'proper' black values, I'd suggest checking that your safelights are actually 'safe' for the papers you use before getting into selenium toning etc.