WD2D+ Pyro Developer problems

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cmaxwell

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Hi there

I have been using 4x5 size FP-4+ for quite a while, developing in BTZS tubes using Xtol 1:1, all has been well. But I have wanted to try the pyro based developer WD2D+ for a project I'm working on. I would have to say that I have been less than pleased with my results. The most noticable problem I'm encoutering is "pinholes" on the developed negatives. I'm using a acid stop bath and Ilford Rapid Fix, all per John Wimberly's instructions. Any ideas to slove the "pinhole" problem would be most appreciated. Thanks
 

Jorge

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I am surprised Wimberly recommends acid stop bath. Pyro developers are more alkaline than mosts and usually react unfavorably with acid stop baths. Try using water, I think this will take care of your problem.
 
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cmaxwell

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Hi Jorge,
Thanks for the reply and advice, I too was thinking of a water bath stop, but upon reading the instructions again I was kind of surprised as well. I'm looking at the instruction sheet for WD2D+ from Photographers Formulary as I type this. The instructions specifically recommend an Acid Stop and a standard Fixer (sodium or ammonium thiosulphate), and he also states that if one uses a water stop along with an Alkaline fixer, there is the risk of aerial fog appearing on the film during the wash, which he kindly gives instructions for avoiding.

Also, and this my be totally unrelated, on the negs developed in WD2D+, I noticed some very small specks of, for lack of a better term, "crud", almost looks like they imbedded in the emulsion upon inspection using a loupe and there seems to be some splotchy looking areas in the very low density areas of the negs. Similar sheets of FP4+ from the same shoot and emulsion that were processed in Xtol 1:1 in BTZS tubes exhibit none of these deposits or splotches, the BTZS negs were perfectly clean. All of my developers are mixed using distilled water, while I use filtered water in my darkroom to mix my stop and fix and to wash the film.

SO, is anyone else out there using WD2D+, and are you having any problems?, or do I need to make some type of offering to the Pyro deity to make this curse go away ?.

Thanks, and any advice will be most appreciated

Craig Maxwell
email cm@craigmaxwellphoto.com
website www.craigmaxwellphoto.com
 

Jorge

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Ah well, I an going to speculate and make an educated guess here, so bear with me and let me give you my reasoning.

If you mix and alkali and an acid you make a salt which can precipitate, this could be the stuff that you are seeing on your negs.

I dont know what is aerial fog , I know that aerial oxidation is a common problem with pyro developers and are the cause of streaking and uneven development, but I thought Wimberly added EDTA as a sequestering agent to prevent this in his new formula. Aerial oxidation only happens to the developer and it affects the negative only at development time, if you can get a "fog" after development by fixing that would mean the film is being chemically fogged and you still have a very sensitized negative, which in my opinion would make for a piss poor developer. And it certainly has nothing to do with the "air". OTOH "rapid" fix is nothing more than ammonium thiosulfate as opposed to sodium thiosulphate, which is chemically less active than the ammonium salt, so I can see how you can get chemical fogging by using a rapid fix, but I have no idea how you can get "aerial" fogging by just using plain water stop bath and fixer.

I have tried almost every tanning developer there is and even made some of my own, and what Wimberly and PF are saying runs against all my experience and that of many other people. As always this is free advice and you might place whatever worth you like on it, but I would bet my last dollar that if you use a plain water bath and sodium thio as fixer you will not see pinholes, crud or "arerial fog" whatever that is.........
 

Robert

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Aren't pinholes and a carbonate developer the standard result when you use an acid stop bath? Or does WD2D+ not contain the carbonate that plain WD2D does?
 

Jorge

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Robert said:
Aren't pinholes and a carbonate developer the standard result when you use an acid stop bath? Or does WD2D+ not contain the carbonate that plain WD2D does?

Exactly! The only difference between the old and new formula is the addition of EDTA and change in the ratio of components (this admited by Wimberly himself) so carbonate is still the activator for the new formula and most likely the cause of the pinholes.
 
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cmaxwell

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Hi Guys,,,

OK, before I turn in for the evening, one more post. I tend to agree with all of the above, and was quite surprised to read the instructions from Photographers Formulary regarding WD2D+, but I decied to follow the instructions to the letter since I'm definitely not a Pyro expert and I decided that John Wimberley knew a bit more about this developer and all the varios chemical reaction permutations than I did. So a quote from the instruction sheet, #106.

"Note: Unlike some other pyro developers, the dye mask (stain) of WD2D+ is fully formed during development, and isn't sensitive to pH variations after development. For this reason, it's not necessary to use a water bath and and alkaline fixer to eliminate the possibility of dye mask reduction by an acid stop bath and fixer.
If a water bath and alkaline fixer are used, it is recommended that the wash time be limited to 10 minutes and the water flow rate to the minimum necessary to fill the washer in 2 minutes. Otherwise aerial fog may appaer during the wash"

SO, I'm not ready to give up on Pyro quite yet, I will try the suggestions of a water stop and plain Hypo fixer with WD2D+. BUT, I may also try a different from of Pyro, quite possibly PMK, although the convenience of the liquid concentrate WD2D+ was one of the reasons I wanted to work with that particular developer. I'm also wondering if the splotches I'm seeing are actually remnants of the anti-halation dye backing. Although from using the BTZS tubes, I'm pretty certain I know what those type of splotches should look like and these splotches on the WD2D+ negatives are quite different.

I always thought that when I retire from commercial photography I should teach a class entitled "Photography Made Difficult" with a follow up master class with the title "Photography Made Even More Difficult"

As always, thoughts, comments and suggestions are most welcome and appreciated. Thanks for your interest.

Regards

Craig Maxwell
email cm@ craigmaxwellphoto.com
website www.craigmaxwellphoto.com
 

sanking

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I read John Wimberly's article in PhotoTechniques (or was it Photovision) and if memory serves he did not recommend the use of Rotary process for WD2D+

That said, I have tested WD2D+ t several times developing in BTZS type tubes and have not seen any pinholes or any of the other the problems you describe. I typically use a an acetic acid stop bath with pyro developers, but I cut the strength to on-half or even one-quarter of normal. There is nothing wrong with a straight water stop bath but using the dilute acid bath is faster.

Sandy
 

magic823

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Do not use a acid stop bath or an acid based fixer. Acid is the enemy of stain. In fact, if you don't use anything acid you don't need the alkaline (or used developer) bath after the fixing stage. It was only used to bring back stain that was destroyed by the acid.

Gordon also recommended pretty continueous agitation. So Jobos or tubes are fine (he actually recommended Jobos)

I used to use WD2D+, but after taking his workshop I've changed to PMK.
 

Donald Miller

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"PMK Workshop Report

I had the great opportunity of attending Gordon Hutchings' Pyro Workshop at Photographers' Formulary in Montana. All I can say is if you ever get the chance - DO IT!

Gordon is a wonderful teacher. I learned so much! Not just on Pyro, but on printing, exposure, filter, photographic seeing, etc. He had on lecture (on photographic seeing) that was worth the entire workshop for me. I'm totally sold in Pyro now (and I'm changing to his PMK formula). I took one picture of the sun through some trees. We ended up do an extreme enlargement of the sun and you could see branches and leaves across the face of the sun. We laughly called it Zone 100. Pyro is amazing stuff! If you haven't tried it - what are you waiting for. Bergger donated film and paper for it, so we mainly shot that all week. Good stuff, especially the paper (although it was awefully slow stuff - it required double the exposure time + 10% compared to Ilford VC RC paper)


Now for the answers to some of the questions people wanted me to ask.


No, he doesn't have times for the new Tri-X. He mainly shoots Bergger 200 and is in the process of replacing his darkroom (so no opportunity to test).


Yes, changing the dilution ratios A,B, Water is something you can do to adjust contrast. You mainly just change the amount of the A solution (pyro). Its normally 10, 20, 1000 but we played around with using 15, 20, 1000 to add contrast. It was a little too hot for my process and film.


Certain films don't stain very well. Agfa was one of those he mentioned. I guess the new TriX doesn't stain as well as the old. Ilford HP5 stains excellent, but the color can mess with the Saunders VCC enlargers so he recommended we not use that for workshop.


All in all, I highly recommend his workshops. The Formulary's facility is excellent also. Good lodging, great meals, and three large darkrooms.

-- Steve Allen , September 05, 2003; 11:22 P.M. Eastern"



I found this post regarding PMK to be interesting. I found this on Photo.net and the poster goes on to say that Gordon has eliminated the nitrogen burst in his recommedations for rotary processing.

Of particular interest was his comment regarding the effects of PMK stain on the Saunders VC enlargers. This bears out my opinion about the effects of general stain and the particular stain color which is exhibited by PMK.
 

magic823

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That was my report on photo.net. I took Gordon's workshop the last week of August at the Photographers' Formulary site. Gordon say that he do longer recommends the nitrogen burst for the jobos and that PMK is fine in them. I specifically asked him about it.
 

magic823

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I thought Gordon was great. I really enjoyed the workshop.

I'm planning on hitting one of the two weeks that Vestal & Weber are going to be at PF next summer.
 

sanking

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The issue of acid fix versus plain-water fix for pyro developers, specifically with WD2D, may deserve a bit more attention.

Wimberley himself says that an acid fix is ok. In the March/April issue of Photo Techniques, p. 36, he writes:
"Myths abound concerning the correct stop bath and fixer to use with pyro, but it's not a critical issue. Either an acid or plain-water stop bath may be used, and any standard or rapid fixer is acceptable."

Based on my own work and testing of several pyro formulas, including PMK, ABC Pyro, Rollo Pyro, WD2D and Pyrocat-HD I am in general agreement with Wimberley regarding both the stop bath and fixer, with the caveat that if one does use an acetic acid stop bath it should be used at 1/4 to 1/2 of normal strength. What I have found in my own work is that if the acetic acid bath is used diluted at 1/4 to 1/2 normal strength there will be very little if any loss of image stain with any of the developers mentioned above.

In any event I think we should conclude that if John Wimberley recommends the use of an acid stop bath with WD2D it is ok to use one. After all, he has been using WD2D for over 25 years and pinholes caused by the combination of acid/carbonate were a problem I think he would have discovered the problem by now!!

Sandy
 
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cmaxwell

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Hi Sandy

So, any idea what caused my pinholes, could it have been using the acid stop bath at the normal recommended strength ??? I plan on processing some more 4x5 Ilford FP-4+ negs in WD2D+ in the day or two, I will try your recommendation of using an acid stop bath at a diluted strength, most likely 1/4 strength. I will report back to the forum on my results.
 

Jorge

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sanking said:
"Myths abound concerning the correct stop bath and fixer to use with pyro, but it's not a critical issue. Either an acid or plain-water stop bath may be used, and any standard or rapid fixer is acceptable."
Sandy

Well then there is a direct contradiction between his article and the instructions given by PF. In the quote he said it does not matter and in the instructions that come with the developer they/he specifically mention acid bath and fixer to prevent aerial fog, whatever that is.

As to the pinhole problem it is a well documented occurence when using acid stops baths in alkaline developers. Chemically is very easy to explain, when you mix sodium carbonate and acetic acid soultions you get sodium acetate and carbonic acid, which then breaks down to carbon dioxide and water. In the carbonic acid/CO2 formation it fizzels and forms tiny bubbles which have a very low pH, those that deposit on the film make the pinholes.

We dont know that he has not seen this problem, perhaps he has seen it in such small numbers that he considers it negligible, I have no idea but the problems described by cmaxwell are typical of acid baths in alkaline developers, both the pinholes and the crud.
 

sanking

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Craig,

Even though the acid/carbonate combination is probably not an issue in general for the use of WD2D I still believe that in your particular case it is the most likely cause of the pinholes. This could be because of a greater than normal range in the pH differential between the alkaline developer and the acid stop bath, perhaps because one is stronger than it should be, or there may be water purity issues involved as well.

What I would suggest for your next text is this.

1. Pre-soak your film for 3-5 minutes. (Wimberley recommends this by the way). I was not able to determine from your first post if you pre-soaked.

2. Use distilled water for both the pre-soak and to mix the working developer.

3. Cut the strength of your acetic acid bath to 1/4 to 1/2 of normal strength.

Let us know if these actions eliminate the problem.

Sandy King
 
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cmaxwell

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Thanks Sandy


I will develop some more 4x5 Ilford FP-4+ this weekend following your advice using a diluted acid stop and share my results on the list. I did pre-soak the negs in distilled water, although I used only distilled water and did not add any other chemicals which are suggested by Wimberley to assist in removing the anti-halation backing. Although I may try your Pyrocat HD developer after reading the favorable comments on this list as well as on Unblinking Eye. Although I won't be able to get over to the chemical supplier over in Berkeley until early next week to purchase the raw chemicals.
 

john_s

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You don't need a very alkaline fixer to gain the benefits of non-acidic fixers (minimal odour, faster washing, stain retention.)

Agfa FX-Universal is primarily aimed at colour processing, but is a neutral fixer very suitable for B+W work and is pH=7.2 approx when diluted 1+6 for B+W negs and prints. It's also reasonably priced. Look in the colour section of the photo shop: you might have never been there before!
 

Black Dog

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Re Agfapan and staining devs, APX 400 does stain very well-this is true of faster films generally
 

johnwimberley

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Pinholes can indeed be caused by gas bubbles during rapid pH shifts in the film. However, although I've developed tens of thousands of large format negatives in pyro, I've never seen them. Modern thin emulsion films like FP4+ just don't (again, in my experience) have the emulsion thickness to trap a bubble that breaks the emulsion and creates a spot. If they do appear with acetic acid stop baths, I think it would be better to use citric acid, rather than to excessively dilute the acetic acid which would limit its capacity. These days I use a citric acid stop bath (water: 1 litre, citric acid: 15 grams). Also and very importantly for those who spend a lot of time in the darkroom, it is far less irritating to mucous membranes.

I recommended an acid stop bath with WD2D+ for some very good reasons. First, as pointed out in the instructions, it isn't necessary to keep the film in an alkaline state (as with PMK) in order to intensify the dye mask (stain) during the wash. Also, an acid stop makes it possible to develop for more precise times. But the main thing is that if plain water is used in place of a stop bath, reduction of silver does stop because the pH is lowered sufficiently, but dye formation continues. This can result in an uneven dye mask if the washer doesn't produce an absolutely even flow of water over the surface of the negative. The acid stop halts dye formation instantly. Then it's only logical to use an acid fixer, because an alkaline fixer like TF-4 will have it's pH lowered by the carry-over of acid stop bath and lose effectiveness. I personally use Zonal Pro Rapid Fixer and have never encountered any problems.

To validate these recommendations I've done extensive testing, using an X-Rite 810 color densitometer to check results.

I hope this information helps.
 

jim appleyard

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I've actually had blisters form when using FP-4 and D2D (NOT WD2D) dev. from "The Darkroom Cookbook" and an acid stop bath. The stop was Kodak Indicator and it was mixed per instructions. When I went to a water stop, the blister problem disappeard.
 
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