Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Fomatol PW paper developer.

Fomatol PW paper developer.
This small pack of paper developer has been sitting on the shelf patiently waiting for me to use it. I'm told it will produce some very rich brown looking prints. I think the time has come to try it.

The information on the packet:

Same size different amounts.
The developer is a slow working Hydroquinone that will produce warmtone images that verge on brown when used with Fomatone papers. This varies depending on manufacturer. You can get a bit more information about the developer 
from the Foma web site.

Mixing instruction: Dissolve big bag first in approx 750 ml of water at 20 c with continuous agitation. Then add small bag while continuing the agitation.
This makes no sense as both bags are the same size!!?

Figure 1
Ilford multigrade RC paper, developed in Multigrade.
Development: 2-3 minutes at 20 C depending on dilution. The more dilute the developer the stronger the image tone will be. The developing time is dependent on how many more parts of water you add to the stock solution. I.E Stock 2-3 mins, 1+1 4 to 6 mins, 1+3 8 to 12 mins. To keep the results consistent the developer should not be stored for the longer term.

Capacity: One litre of developer should develop 2- 3 sq meters of photographic paper. This translates to approx 210 sheets of 8 x 10. The number of pictures produced is dependent on the types and makes of paper used e.g. resin coated and or fibre base.

This little pack of powders makes up a stock/working solution of a litre. Which will mean for larger sheets of paper you may need to use two packs or dilute 1+1, this will extend the developing time and increase the tone of the final image.

Figure 2 Ilford multigrade RC paper,
 Developed  in Fomatol PW

The only bit of controversy with this developer is to determine which is the smaller of the two same size packs. If you lay the packs side by side it is easy to see which of the packets in fuller than the other or to be absolutely sure use a scales then there are no doubts. They could quite easily mark them A and B.

Making the developer up is straight forward:

Fill a mixing jug up with 750 mls of water at 20 degrees C. while mixing in the larger of the two packets make sure you constantly stir it. As you mix it in it will have quite a gritty feel to it turning the water white, this is normal. It will start to go clear as you stir in the the smaller pack. The gritty feel to developer will start to disappear as well. Once both the powders are mixed together add a further 250 ml of water making it up to a litre. Keep agitating the water until all the powder has dissolved. You should now be left with a clear slightly tan tinted liquid. This is classed as the stock solution and is ready to use as it is. You can if you wish dilute it 1+1 or 1+3 for greater colour.

Large pack of powder
added first.

I'm going to compare Fomatone PW against a semi fresh Ilford multigrade developer already in the slot processor. I am curious to see how much tone, different makes and types of photographic papers would show at stock strength. I poured the developer into a tray ready to use.

 I set the enlarger to grade 3 and the lens to F8 after exposing two sets of test strips the base exposure was set to twenty two seconds with a further forty seconds of burning in. I should have chosen a more straight forward negative for this comparison.

Figure 3 Adox MCC FB paper developed in
Fomatol PW for 5 Minutes
The first paper into the soup was Ilfords multigrade RC gloss into the slot process ( Fig 1) for comparison. Figure 2 went into the tray of Fomatone PW. Would the developer tone this paper? Resin coated papers can be difficult to tone.

Fomatone PW is billed as a slow working toning developer and at stock strength it was suggested that the image would take two to three minutes to reach full exposure. The Ilford paper was near enough spot on to the second of three minutes and has a warmth to it. Don't forget that RC papers tend to reach full development far quicker than it's FB brother.

Figure 4  Adox MCC FB paper developed in
Fomatol PW for 12 Minutes.
So I upped the stakes with Adox MCC FB paper this would really test how long the image would take to appear. Figure 3 shows what happened when I took the paper out after 5 minutes. I should point out that MCC is not a warm tone paper and yet here it exhibits a light chocolate brown colour.

I changed tactics for figure 4 it is the same paper as 3. FB paper can be manipulated far more than RC papers. So for this print I doubled the exposure time by adjusting the aperture to 5.6. I could shorten the developing time by pulling the paper out early. It should mean that the blacks in the image appearing more quickly. As it turned out it took twelve minutes for the image to be fully produced. If I had not increased the exposure I suspect that it may have taken a further twelve minutes to reach the same point of development. Of all the pictures made this is my favorite as it comes closest to what I had in mind. So far PW has demonstrated it is a very slow developer and a test of how long I can stand still rocking the developing tray. It is a shame that my darkroom is not big enough to allow a chair. How slow the developer can be I'm about to find out.

Figure 5
   Fomatone MG classic matt - Chamois 542 11 
Developed in Fomatol PW for 20 minutes 
Being this is warm tone developer I am about to see how it enhances a warm coloured paper. I chose Fomatone MG classic matt - Chamois 542-11. The papers base colour is cream to start with so what would a warm tone developer do.? Twenty minutes later - yes you read that right! - it is still under developed for my taste, all though it is richly toned. (Fig 5) Even with the red light on the colour was striking. 

Figure 6 is the same paper developed in multigrade to show how much tone the Foma PW has added. I must admit I prefer it in it's natural state.

Figure 6 Fomatone MG classic matt - Chamois 542 11 Developed in Ilford multigrade

 Things to note:

  • When mixing the developer up it will turn the water white.
  • It does not matter that the pack is out of date. In this case by four years! Powder chemicals have good keeping qualities.
  • It will significantly stain the tray you use.
  • It is a very slow working developer and will require patience.

I like the tone that the Fomatone PW has produced and think it gives the paper a more contemporary warmth.

The developer will clear when
the smaller of the two
packets are added.
Figure 6 with 5 over laid to show tonal difference

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