Sunday, 30 December 2012

Fuji GW690III Overview-Review

These cameras were the last to bear the name Fujica. First released in November 1978 as a professional unit with interchangeable lenses that were subsequently updated to a fixed lens.  They came in several formats from 4.5x6, 6x7, 6x8 and 6x9. The GW 6x9 was first released in 1985 and came with a fixed lens. The video above gives a nice insight into a range of camera that became known as the Texas Leica.

 Like to thank Mike Thomas for his insight into this camera.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Print washing

Wash tray

For some time now I have been looking for a way to improve my print washing. This is more to do with how well they are washed when I have a batch of half a dozen or so processed prints. At the moment I use a homemade tray that is sloped, with running water coming in at the top and is dammed at the bottom to create a reservoir before flowing through holes that control the level. But this only allows me to wash a couple of prints at a time which needs to be agitated now and again by hand. The solution would be a slot style washer.

This has been a thorn in my mind for sometime, that now needs to be removed. So before I build a new one I should do some research. I started off by asking a question on the FADU forum about slot widths to get an idea of what the average size maybe but not necessarily the optimum. This led to a post by another member pointing me in the direction of Martin Reed's Mysteries of the vortex research (part 1 and part 2) on how slot style washers work. It is quite an illuminating read but was a bit heavy going in places.

First of all we need to go back a step to the fixing process, because what you do here has a big bearing on how well and quickly your prints are washed. I prefer to use a rapid fix which is a plus point but it needs to be timed correctly. Next it is a good idea to place the newly fixed print straight into a water bath and agitate for a minute before placing in the hypo clearing; which is a must for FB papers in reducing wash time. ( I no long use Hypo clearing because my new wash method has shown it's not needed) When it comes to RC papers I exclude the Hypo as the papers absorption rate is next to nothing.  No matter what paper I'm using they all go into a water filled holding tray until I have finished a number of prints. It just so happens that this is a good move. While the prints are in the water the Thiosulpate salts are being leached from the the papers.

It is a myth that it takes longer for the salts to be removed from the fibres of FB paper because it gets embedded. In fact it is the emulsion side that resists their release.  In most cases the fibre side is at archival standard long before the emulsion side. Another very important factor in ensuring well washed photographs is the flow of water. There is an optimum rate meaning less is quicker and more is slower. The water needs to be running fast enough to make a swirling motion this helps to wash the print evenly removing the salts from the  paper as a whole (a type of hydraulic agitation). If the water is running to fast the edges will be washed to archival standard and not the middle increasing the amount of time needed to complete the wash process, wasting water. It does not require a large quantity of water to wash your prints to a very high standard. You can achieve this just by rocking a tray of water backwards and forwards with half a dozen changes. Something I'm trying to get away from unless you have a rolling table that does it for you in which case all you would have to do is change the water.

When I embarked on this research I had not envisaged how complex the wash process was. I suspect not many others give it the consideration it needs either.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Out of date HP5+ develpoed in ID11

Lomo Fisheye two
Now that my brain is back in gear I can get on with developing that errant 35mm HP5+. Hopefully it should go without a hitch.

As far as I can remember (going by recent events that’s a bit dubious) this film is about seven years out of date. With this in mind you would of thought I should have picked a camera that allowed ISO adjustments. I didn't! Lomo's fisheye 2 was the camera chosen meaning that the HP5+ would have to be exposed at box speed (400 iso) Unlike a lot of people I don't have a problem with box speed and anyway it is in the best tradition of the toy camera cult along with Light leaking cameras, plastic lens, unpredictable focus and a lot of fun.

When it comes to box speed Ilford suggest that HP5+ should be developed for thirteen minutes at 20 degrees C. in ID11. From what I can remember of this all round developer it should produce negatives that are not very grainy. Normally I would have developed the film at the indicated time and be dammed. But something at the back of my mind said that fifteen minutes would do a better job and I prefer the negatives to be a bit on the dense side which translates to clear defined rectangles of tone. This must not be over done though as increasing the printing times could lead to over heating the negative making it buckle in the negative carrier of the enlarger. Leading to out of focus or soft pictures.

After all these years I still get the little bit of apprehension as I do a quick check of the film just before the wash stage. I need not have worried as I remove the reel from the developing tank I can just make out a line of rectangles along the film. The proof of the pudding will be when I print them.


I am very pleased with the way these negatives have printed. There is no sign of grain even though they have been enlarged to fit 9.5”x12” paper. I have used Silverproof matt paper at grade three and processed in Moersch 6 blue tone developer. Which produces a rich blue black that does not translate very well from scanned pictures.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Mistaken identity Agfa APX developed in ID11

Agfa APX negatives developed in Ilford ID11
This is not the post I was expecting to write. I recently made up five litres of ID11 so I could develop a roll of out date HP5+. An extravagance you may think but really it was the catalyst for me to bring back an old friend into regular use. 

The other day I processed a roll of 35mm monochrome film but there was something wrong with the results. For starters the negatives looked wrong they didn't have the round look you get with a fisheye lens.  I could not get my head round how the fisheye two from lomography could change the look and shape of the negatives so completely. I'm going mad! a senior moment! brain in neutral! I need help! Up to this point I had been completely convinced that it was the roll of HP5. Then I noticed a black film canister on my desk, opened it and found a reel of HP5!! What the ...! what was developed then?? It turned out to be a roll of Agfa APX 100, that I had forgotten all about and mistakenly processed as HP5. Now this is a first for me, get it wrong and land on your feet! this has got to be one of the jammiest balls up ever!

Now I'm over the shock, I do not know why I should be surprised that they are a good set of negatives. Film emulsion has a large latitude of forgiveness before it looses its temper.  I checked what the timing should have been for Agfa APX and believe it or not my notes say that APX in ID11 at ISO 100 should be developed for thirteen and a half minutes at 20C. I had decided to process the out of date HP5 to fourteen mins.
Agfa APX  Film ISO 100
Developed in ID11 for 14 mins
Printed on silverproof matt
Developed in Moersch 6 blue tone.

So this has turned into a post about Agfa APX 100 developed in Ilfords ID11 results!

The method used:

         I did not use a pre-soak. 

         Develop for 14 minutes instead of 13.5. It would not have made much difference to the quality of the negatives.

         Invert for the first thirty seconds and then for ten seconds every minute (which is about four inversions)

         stop, fix and wash as usual.

The main test of a good negative is when it is printed. Showing you how much detail there is to be coaxed out of the high lights and shadows by dodging (holding back) and burning in (extra exposure) to arrive at that stunning final picture. 

For a film I had mistaken for another make, the results are excellent, I have no complaints!... except one; check what's written on the film canister first!

Monday, 15 October 2012

An insight into making up ID11

Ilfords ID11
Ilfords ID 11 is the starting point for many a photographer wishing to develop there own monochrome negatives. It is one of the most popular pre-packaged powdered developers on the market along with Kodak's D76. The attributes of these developers are almost identical. Some photographers are put off initially from using these developers because it is in powdered form, but you needn’t be, they are straight forward to make up.

I have used both these developers before and for a long time almost exclusively when it came to processing my film. I recently exposed an out of date roll of 35mm HP5 film. I decided to make up a new batch of ID 11. I know how good or bad these negatives will be without having to do a test.

The kit: (to make up five litres)

    The mixing kit.
  • Measuring jug, that will take at least Four litres of fluid.
  • Thermometer.
  • Mixing stick
  • Five litre storage container
  • Bucket if you do not have large enough measuring jug for mixing.
  • Disposable gloves, Face masks if you think it is necessary.
  • Ilfords ID 11, in this case.

If you are new to making up ID 11 take your time.

Remove the two packets from the box and then tear or cut the box open. On the inside are the instructions for making the powder into a fluid. What follows is how I made up the developer from those instructions.

Adding packet A of the waterr
The box of powder I have purchased will make up five litres of stock solution enough to process fifty roll 35mm or 120 film (medium format). Once I have all the equipment in place, I warm the measuring jug and bucket with boiling water to stop the water loosing heat to the containers by conduction. Then bring the water to a temperature of 40 degrees centigrade (104 degrees F) making up 3.75 litres. Which I transfer to the bucket ( do not forget to remove the boiling water first) for mixing, checking to make sure that there has been no heat loss with the thermometer. I use this method because my measuring jug will only make up 2 litres at a time. Once the water is ready open packet marked A and pour in the powder slowly, while you stir, making sure that the powder does not clump together. Keep string until it is all dissolved (Always pour the powder into the water and not the other way round and add the powders in the right order) it will not take very long to add the contents of packet A. Now open the packet marked B and again add to the solution slowly stirring all the time this will take longer to add as it is a far larger amount of powder (make sure you do your mixing in a well ventilated room). Keep stirring after all the powder has been added to make sure it has all dissolved. Now stir in another 1.25 litres of water at room temperature making it up to the full 5 litres. With the help of a funnel I pour the developer into its storage container and allow it to cool.

Adding packet B of the developer

I usually make up my ID11 the day before. It will take an hour to cool ten degrees depending on what material your storage container is made of.

Pouring developer into storage container after the
Final  2Litres of water have been added.
I use this developer at 1+1 in most cases and as a single shot (use once and throw away) but it can be reused as long as you adjust the time to allow for it:

  • Two film add ten percent.
  • Three film add twenty percent.
  • Four film add Thirty percent.
  • Five film add forty percent.
  • Ten film add Ninety percent do not re-use above this amount.

Developer in storage container
coolling down before cap is
ID11 can be used with the following film from the Ilford range and many other makes besides: HP5+,Fp4+, Pan F+, Delta 100 Pro Delta 400 Pro, Delta 3200 Pro, SFX 200. It can also be used at three different dilutions: stock, 1+1 and 1+3. So the times for HP5+ exposed at 400 ISO, developed at twenty degrees C would be 7.30 minutes at stock, 13 minutes at 1+1 and 20 minutes at 1+3.

For more film makes, developer combination and times visit digital truthsmassive Dev chart.

How did the roll of HP5+ turn out? You will have to wait and see.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Paper fixing faults.

This post will be short, a sort of quick guide to paper fixing faults. They are listed in no particular order.
This picture shows the fix is ehausted

         Brownish areas: fix exhausted.
         Print becomes yellow after a while: Was not fixed for long enough and    or  washed for to short a time.
         Burnt out highlights: acid fix not diluted to the right strength. Left in the fix for to long. Not timed properly.
         Brownish spots, Lilac round the edges: Stop bath exhausted, incomplete fixing, forgotten to wash or use stop after the developer.
The blue stain shows that the stop is exhausted.
         Yellowish fog over the entire paper surface: Exhausted fix, developer contaminated fix, little or no agitation while fixing.


It is not unusual to be caught out by some of these faults. Even when you have years of experience.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Alternative way to check your fix is still fresh.

Here are two simple and easy ways of checking that the fix is not exhausted. The bottom line is if in doubt, throw it out.

  1. Take a drop of fix and place it on some blue litmus paper, if it turns red the fix is still active, if the paper remains blue it is exhausted. Rapid acting fixes by their nature will get exhausted more quickly than an ordinary one. When fixing paper you may expect to get thirty to forty 18x24 cm ( 8”x10”) sheets per litre.
  2. Take ten ml of fix and add ten drops of potassium iodide solution to the measuring jar and stir. If the milky solution does not clear after it has been shaken then the fix is exhausted and a new batch should be made up. If it clears the fix is OK to use. Make up your Potassium iodide solution from two point five grams of powder and add a thousand ml of water and mix. This method does not apply to rapid fixes.

These methods will work for your film fixes as well. But the milk test you do for film will not work with paper as you cannot see this stage with paper.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

A fixing question.

This is the second most important part of the process after development. Proper fixation ensures the longevity of your prints and negatives. Fix works by removing the unused silver bromide particles from the film or paper. If not done properly, over time they turn black ruining the image.

The way the fix works on the emulsion is to chemically convert the remaining silver bromide into complex argentothiosulfate an insoluble  and unstable compound which after a few seconds can be seen on the film  as a milkiness (not visible on prints) this should be allowed to continue until it has disappeared otherwise the negatives will turn black. As the process continues the fresh hypo from agitation turns the insoluble into soluble sodium  argentothiosulfate which can be washed away in water. The fixing of the image is quite quick, it is turning the by products into a water soluble compound that takes the time.

The darkroom practitioner needs to be carefully when choosing a fix as some cause staining when being used with paper. There are three types: alkali, plain, and acid.

         Alkali are the most modern and efficient with today’s emulsions. They are the easiest to wash out of papers and cannot be over fixed.

          Plain is a mix of Hypo (thiosulfate) and water that should be used as part of a two bath system, then only as a second one as it can cause staining and other problems.

         Acid fixes are known to be quick and should be timed carefully as they can cause bleaching. Hence the reference rapid.

Some fixes come with hardening and should not be used if you are thinking of toning prints. Otherwise it is down to personal choice.

Film Fixing.

A lot of people ask how long will the fix stay fresh and how many rolls it will process. I mix up  1000 ml or 1200 ml  depending on how many rolls of 35mm and or 120 format I think will be processed at the same time. ( I  use a different fix for paper) I keep the fix until I have developed a mix batch of between twelve and fourteen rolls. Which can take some months to achieve.

The film has a milky look after one minute in the fix
There is a more scientific way of being sure what the limits of the fix are for yourself. It can only be done with a fresh batch of fix. After the film has been in the fix for a minute you open the process tank, checking to see if the milkiness has cleared. If it has then give the film a further three minutes this will also establish the time the film needs to be fixed for. You will need to do this check  with subsequent films until the clearing time is double what it was when the fix was fresh. Having kept a check on how many films you have processed this will give you a safe number per litre for the future, hence removing the need to check each time. There are other method for checking fix life which will be posted later.

Paper fixing.

There are two methods to choose from.

         Two bath method. This where two lots of fix are made up and set side by side. The first bath does all the work, with the second bath removing any argentothiosulfate that have not  been converted to sodium argentothiosulfate in the first place, making for a more complete final wash. Once the first bath is exhausted (which you will need to test for), the second bath becomes the first and a new one is mixed for the second. When the second now first bath is exhausted both should be ditched and two fresh fixes made up.

I use this method occasionally If I'm toning. To get round all the testing you need to know how many prints you can get out of the fresh  bath and the partly used second, for each of the sizes you print most often. It is a lot of work to start with.

         Single bath. Is a fast acting concentrated fix that takes one minute to do the job. This method needs to be timed exactly; to leave it longer will negate  its advantages. Most of the fixing is done in the first fifteen seconds, to leave it longer than one minute will allow complex compounds to build up making them difficult to wash out.

I use this method most of the time partly because I do not have a lot of time to spend when printing and the other is I do not do a lot of toning.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

To be sharp or not, how is the question.

Fg 1.
Film FP4+ developed in ID11 printed
on Ilford MG RC gloss.
A subject that is talked about by all photographers. No matter how you like to label it DOF or boken I am surprised that depth of field can be expressed by some in the terms of good and bad. Surely it is subjective and down to the person who has composed the picture.

So what is depth of field and how does it work?

Depth of field relates to the area of the image that is sharp. So the subject  you focus on in the view finder will be in the middle of the sharpness. How much this extends in front of or behind it, is dictated by the aperture you use. Small F number (large opening) very shallow, large F number (small opening) very wide. The other factor to have a bearing is the focal length of the lens used.  For example, with a wide angle 28mm lens you would not require the focus to be exact because the depth of field would be quite considerable in front of and behind the point of focus even at small f numbers (large apertures). But with a Telephoto lens of 200mm the point of focus needs to be precise as the depth of field is quite narrow even at large f numbers (small apertures).

Fg 2.
Kodak colour plus negative. scanned
 from print.
In understanding the way depth of field works you need to know that when you focus on the subject it is at that point the reflected light arrives at the focal plan as fine points of light (sharp). The subjects closer to the lens do not resolve as sharp until they are beyond this point and those further away reach pin sharp before they arrive, because of this they arrive as discs known as circles  of confusion. The larger the circles the softer the images appearance. By making the aperture smaller (large F number) you reduce the circles of confusion giving the picture the appearance of full depth of field. (sharp from front to back). The eye considers points of light as large as 0.25 mm diameter as sharp. The same applies to the dot pitch of a computer screen. When it come to the manufacturer of lenses for 35mm format cameras this figure is much smaller 0.08, this is because the maker has worked out  that on average a 35 mm negative will be enlarged by twenty times (a print size of 10 x 8.)

The good thing about using a film camera is that  you can check on how heavy the points of confusion will be by pressing the depth of field preview button. The advantage I have is I know what to expect from my lenses at particular apertures. This allows me to compose the picture with the amount of soft focus  I think will enhance it.

For example the three pictures included with this post.

         Fg. 1 The main reason for the cats paw being out of focus is to add depth and a sense of being very close.

Fg 3.
FP4+ developed in ID11 printed on
Iford MG RC gloss
         Fg. 2 The main reason for blurring the background is to exclude a large group of people walking towards me. They did not add anything to the picture I had in mind. By adjusting the aperture to a lager one (small F number) they have been removed making for a much better shot.

         Fg. 3 The depth of field in this picture is very narrow. It took a bit of time in making sure that the whole of the ball was sharp and nothing else.

When taking a picture I consider the 'out of focus' as important as the area to be sharp.


Sunday, 26 August 2012

The perfect print; possible?

It is still one of the most talked about subjects Visit any forum to do with photography digital or traditional and you will find threads relating to the perfect negative or capture. What developer to use, how to manipulate the raw file, what does a well exposed negative or histogram look like and so on. But this post is not about our digital friend or for that matter the negative it is to do with the photograph - the positive end of the process. I cannot get there without some negative chat first though!

After the recent deluge it is nice to be sitting back in the garden office writing this post and enjoying the late afternoon sun with my friend the cat. It is quite surprising how peaceful it can be in such a built up area. Not as negative as you thought but I digress.
It was Ansel Adams and Fred R. Archer that gave us a proven method of producing a properly exposed negative every time with the zone system. They divided the black and white negative up into eleven sections if you include zero from pure white to full black. Adams then said that really there are only nine zones if you are in pursuit of the perfect negative and then only seven of those will give texture. This is all well and good if you are using a plate camera but most of us don't. We use cassette and or roll film where all our carefully exposed negatives get a one time fits all development. In a round about way Mr Adams is saying that film sees the world in a more limited way to us. So we have all engineered ways of finding our perfect negative. What do I look for? A negative that has detail from high light to shadow and a good density above base clear in other words defined rectangles of tones the length of the film.

The day was very bright that the light
meter read a six stop difference
between the house wall in the background
and the shadow cast by the barn. I
over exposed the negative by two and a
half stops.
We all strive to produce the perfect negative but it was not until recently that it dawned on me that it does not necessarily translate to the perfect print. So what is the perfect print? One that is easy to print but what do they mean by easy to print? One that does not require a lot of dodging and burning. A single exposure success wouldn't that be the perfect print! With the way the negative sees the scene in front of it and all the variables in its path is it not inevitable that you will have to manipulate the image projected onto the base board of the enlarger to produce the perfect print? 

Recently I came close to my interpretation of the perfect print, one that does not require a lot of manipulation. By placing the test strip in such a way that the area that needed burning in was exposed to several different timed exposure segments this allowed me to add the extra time for that area to the first print. With experience the hit or miss aspect of the test strip process is lessened. It still doesn't take away that bit of a buzz when it all falls into place. Something I've never had with digital.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Stop not buffer.

One of the most popular over the counter acid stops.
Made from citric acid with colour indicator.
Stop is the second part of the development process, but how many of us give it a second thought. Most of us when we come to developing our first film tend to do what the manufacturers, friends and teachers suggest without delving into what the relationship is between these elements in the process. There is nothing wrong with this approach we are all eager to get on and see those all important first images. With success, we continue settling in to a way of doing things that produce good results. It's not until we start printing that some faults with the negatives rear their heads. Dust and hair marks being the most common but then there are those odd black spots appearing in the skies here and there. This is when the controversy about how we stop the development process comes to the fore.

There are two main categories. The more aggressive with chemicals and the gentler water stop. The later is not a stop and it is misleading to call it such.   It dilutes the developer to the point where it no longer has an affect on the emulsion this can and does lead to unevenly developed negatives and I cannot understand why it is recommended (for film only) other than to increase the longevity of the fix, a buffer or as a way of creating a certain style to the negative. 

Have been processed using a citric acid stop.
I personally prefer the more aggressive chemical route, when the stop go's in, the developer is stopped in its tracks producing a clean crisp negative but you need to be careful.

A popular choice in the make up of developers is Sodium carbonate, an alkali. When this comes into contact with an acid based stop it produces carbon dioxide gas that leads to blistering of the more sensitive film emulsion,( not the case with enlarging papers). It manifests its self as a pinhole in the denser areas of the negative. There are ways around this by using developers that are formulated from mild alkalis either balanced or borax which do not produce the damaging over heating or gas when used with acid stops.

A reflection of St Pauls in London.
Processed and printed using all Ilford products
Stops are made from several different acids the most popular is acetic with a pH dye indicator. The others are citric and boric. You can also use a simple solution of sodium bisulfite. Be careful which stop you choose as some produce green staining with some enlarging papers. Another precaution is to use the stop bath at a lower working temperature to the developer; I know this is a controversial move but I have used this method for years without any of the problems suggested by others.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

Sinkings in the Orkneys

German Fleet at Scapa flow
It is a grey day as a young lad stands near the cliff edge on Hay one of the Orkney islands. He looks out over Scapa flow that is crowded with ships. The German fleet has been interned. He has heard that the war is over and that is why they are all here at the Navy’s most northerly base and guard to the North Sea.

While the boy is sat a top the cliff eating a bread and dripping sandwich, his eyes are drawn to some flashing lights, it looks like all the ships are winking at each other, little does he know that this is the order from rear admiral Von Reuter to his commanders confirming orders to scuttle the fleet. He looks on day dreaming about what life may be like now that the war has ended. He suddenly notices that all the ships he can see are flying the Imperial German Ensign from their main masts. While he looks on there are lots of small boats moving between the ships, if only he had a telescope he would be able to see what is going on in more detail but he still hasn’t got enough pocket money saved.

Whaling boat stranded on Battle Cruiser Moltke
The German sailors had been preparing for the scuttling for some days by  drilling holes in the bulk heads to help the passage of water through the ships. Once the order was given sea cocks and flood valves were opened, internal water pipes were smashed and all water tight doors and portholes left open. It was not until midday that  the scuttling was noticed.  Friedrich der Grosse was seen listing heavily to starboard. What remained of British naval forces at Scapa flow navel base sprang into action, but they were limited in the force they could take since the leaving of the fleet the day before . It was not until twenty minuets after midday that Admiral Fremantle on manoeuvres with the fleet  received a message that the German fleet was sinking. He immediate turned round and steamed back at full speed to Orkney. He radioed ahead to order all available boats to try and stop as many ships sinking as possible. By the time Admiral Fremantle returned it was only the large battle ships that were still partly afloat. The last ship to sink was the battle-cruiser Hindenburg at five o'clock.
Battle cruiser Seydlitz

The young boy up on the cliff had lost all track of time it was getting late, he would be 'for it' by the time he got home, with a clip round the ear from his mum. He had resigned himself to it but had a great story to tell his friends when he got to school the next day. On his way home he wondered what those faint popping sounds were. The tragedy of those sounds were that nine Germans were killed and sixteen wounded when the British boarded their ships to stop the sinking's. 

Battleship Bayern listing heavily

I know you are probably thinking what has this got to do with photography. The funny thing is this was all sparked off by an article in Black and white Photography magazine about post cards. Which lead me to a box of  cards that was given to me by my Gran. In among them are a collection of twenty pictures of ships, of these fourteen show the sinking of the German fleet at scapa flow at the end of the Great War. The photographer who took these shots probably used 127 or 120 format film in a box Browne or fold out camera of the time.

For more information on the Sinking of the fleet.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

The masking frame

Also called an easel they come in different sizes. It is a good idea to pick one that is larger than your current needs therefore not limiting the proportions of your enlargements. The main reasons for using a masking frame are to hold the paper flat, to reconfigure the composition, allow the margins to be adjusted to the various format sizes you wish to use and to crop out some of those bits that creep in at edges, that you didn't see before you pressed the shutter. 

The frames come with two or four independently adjustable blades on a yellow or white base. I have noticed that some blades are not set at right angles to each other so it is a good idea to check them at various settings with a set square to make sure they are true. Also make sure that the edges of the blades are not bevelled under. This will reflect the light and produce a thin black line around the edge of the picture. It can be a nice affect but one you should have control over. The light colour of the baseboard is so you can see the projected negative, enabling you to frame the image before you put the photo paper in place.

When using single weight papers on a white baseboard, it is possible for the light to pass through the paper and be reflected back, changing the value of the exposure. You can stop this by laying a dark coloured card on the baseboard with the light sensitive paper on top.

The most versatile of the masking frames is the four blade, it allows you to mask the image by only having to move the blades of the frame without having to re-a line the whole easel each time. It also gives better control over how big or small you make the margins and in some cases gives you the ability to produce borderless prints. The versatility of these frames makes them quite expensive to purchase.

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Adox in PMK Pyro results.

Test stips at twenty and ten

The results are in! This has turned out to be one of the most exasperating tests to date. There have been problems all along the way from getting the exposures right to developing the film. Having said that there have been some surprises.

As with the Agfa test the film was exposed at box speed ISO 100 in the Nikon F5. This is where the process changes apart from the test method. The PMK Pyro used was one I made from raw material that did not include EDTA disodium in the mix and a reduced amount of Sodium Metaborate in solution B.

Sequence of development:

         Pre-soak - it makes no difference with this film. It is not prone to air bell/bubbles sticking to the film.
         Developer - to be made up immediately before use at 21 degrees C.
         Development times - for this test were 5, 10, and 20 minutes respectively.
         Tank inversions - continuously for the first minute and then once every fifteen seconds.
         Stop, Fix and wash - as normal.
         After bath - was not used and would have made little difference with this mix.
Adox CHS 100 PET 35mm is not like other black and white film it has a noticeable thinner film base which is coloured blue. The cassette this film came in was not light tight which almost ruined the test. I only discovered this after the film had been exposed, when removing the film from the cassette it fell to bits. I have read a forum thread saying that the 120 roll film has the same problem. Adox you need to up your game! It is appalling quality control.

Pre-soak water after use
If you use a pre-soak the water will come out blue.

The ten minute development time is the one suggested by Digital truth, which made it the reference time the other test strips were to be judged against.

All the test strips including the one thats a no show.
The test strip to show the best density of negative is the twenty minute one, having said that they are still a bit on the thin side. This does not take away from the fact that they are fully toned and well defined. There is no sign of grain when enlarged to 485 mm (19”) by 340 mm (13.5”). When printing the negatives I'm having to use grade three, normally I would expect to be using grade two, this could be due to the lack of EDTA in the mix of Pyro used. I'm also disappointed that the five minute test strip shows no negatives at all, from previous experience the shorter/half development times have a faint out line. In this case I can only put it down to the faulty film cassette. The ten minute test strip is very thin when compared to the Agfa test strips it is thinner than the half development time. Which suggests that normal development in this case should be greater than twenty minutes.

Over sized enlargment

With all the time and effort put into this test the last thing I was expecting was to be let down by bad manufacture. Of the thirty six exposures on the film around about  ten frames are unaffected by some light damage luckily the majority of these are from the test exposures that put in an appearance. If there was going to be any question marks I was thinking it would be from the developer but it did not disappoint, the only thing to note was when i poured it from the developing tank it was a lovely pink rose colour.

Will I be using the film again? Yes! only because I have a roll of 120 on the shelf if the negatives show any light damage then I will not use it again. How can I say that when I use a lot of out of date film? With out of date film at least you know that the results could be iffy. You don't expect it from new in date stock.
Used PMK Pyro.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Making up PMK Pyro from Raw.

This is the first time I've mixed a developer from scratch. I find when  preparing for something that is new, it seems to take an inordinately long time to set up. This has been no different and I can understand why more people do not mix for themselves.
Before you start.
If you have just purchased new scales it is a good idea to check how accurate they are. First thing to do is place the scales where you plan to make up the mix and zero them.The table that follows is a simple and affective way of checking the accuracy.

These weights came from the royal mint:

Coin test
        ●         1p – 3.56 grams.
         2p – 7.12 grams.
         5p – 3.25 grams.
         10p – 6.5 grams.
         20p – 3.0 grams.
         50p – 8.0 grams.
         £1 – 9.5 grams.
         £2 – 12 grams.

An alternative to using scales is the Twenty P mix. This is where twenty p coins are used as a counter balance to weighing out the powders. While talking about alternative ways of measuring out you can use measuring spoons. This could be a more reliable way of ensuring that each mix is consistent. If you measure out the chemicals with number of spoons it will not matter that the powders have changed in volume by absorbing moisture or drying out.

With the checks out of the way what next? How much are you going to make up as stock solution? I know from previous use that it will keep for a very long time, even years. I personally prefer only to have small amounts of developer on the shelf ready for use. This is partly because I use several different film and paper developers.  Anchells Darkroom Cookbook  suggests that you make up part A at 750 mls and part B at 1400 mls; well that is a large amount for a first mix not only that what happens if you get it wrong  or heaven forbid it does not work. Luckily Trevor Crone has published the weights for a smaller amount:

Solution A to make 250mls:
         Metol 2.5 grams
         Sodium metabisulphite 5.0 grams.
         Pyrogallol 25.0 grams.

Solution B to make 500mls

         Sodium Metaborate 125 grams.
Stock solution should be made up with distilled/de ionised water. EDTA-disodium is an optional ingredient It adds gold tone to the silver of the film.

Trevor suggests a reduction of 10 grams for solution B to help combat separation when mixed. He has also said that to his knowledge it has not affected the quality of his negatives.  I can confirm the drop out is reduced but I think this is mainly due to the reduction of powder. Although these quantities are more reasonable  I made my batch up at half these weights.

Other bits
Paper cup cake holders are a good idea for pouring the powders into when it comes to measuring out but they will only cope safely with small weights. You can get plastic cups to do the job which maybe a better route to take if you plan to mix all your own chemicals.

Common sense should prevail when it comes to measuring out these powders. Gloves and a breathing mask should be the minimum safety precautions taken. If the powder gets air born it will irritate the lining of your nose. Also if you get it on your hands it  will irritate or burn your skin. So please be sensible.  

Adox CHS 100 Pet ISO 100 35mm flim.
Developed in PMK Pyro,
Printed on silverproof paper,
Developed in Ilford warm tone.
Having purchased all the ingredients to mix it myself, is it more cost affective? The over the counter premixed price of PMK is about £9 for 10 litres. The cost of all the ingredients is around £39. The batch that I made up  was equivalent to ten litres and saved about 50p. Taking every thing into account scales, time, safety etc. etc., it may not be worth all the trouble and money as a one off. There are advantages to this method such as the flexibility of making up the quantities of developer, stop and fix you require and being able to try out other developers you would not normal be able to get from the mainstream. The main purpose for me was to ensure a ready supply of PMK Pyro. Now that I have started down this road as my stop,fix and other developers run out they will probably be replaced with powdered formulas.

Acknowledgements and Thanks to the following:

Paul C, for the royal mint weights. 
Mr S. Nichols for the 20 P mix.
Trevor Crone for the reduced PMK Pyro mix.