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  #1  
Old 6th December 2021, 04:51 PM
Terry S Terry S is offline
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Default To time or not to time

Again, during a YouTube video (just mentioned in another post) that I have just watched, the presenter suggested NOT using any timing device, to time how long a print remains in the developer. Following on from that, he said that he still used one for timing how long the print was in the fixer.

He had started doing it after a camera club associate mentioned it to him at a meeting.

Basically, he was told to keep the test-strip and then the print, in the developer, 'Until it looked right' to his eyes. And remember this is under red and so darker than usual, lighting.

I have seen videos of professional printers, who don't use a timer to expose the paper (e.g Robin Bell) but this comes after years of experience in the darkroom. But each one of these professionals, still used a timing devise, to time how long the prints are in the developer and fixer.

In my mind, it seems a daft thing to do, as the test-strip and the print could easily end up with different times in the developer and so potentially end up looking quite different in white light.

So, does any member on here follow this practice? If anyone does, I'm curious why you do it, but also how much experience in the darkroom had you had before you decided to adopt this way of working?

Terry S
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Old 6th December 2021, 05:49 PM
John King John King is offline
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Default Timing

This sounds as if the purveyor of the advice has either very little experience in the darkroom or has been on the 'sauce' for too long. He could of course be pulling a leg - quite deliberately!

You have to have a baseline where to work from and one of the base lines used is the time in the developer. It is known that in low light such as a darkroom safelight, eyes are less than efficient and can vary in that efficiency with the time you spend working under the safelight so just looking at the print is variable. Variables also tend to be unreliable!

So what was advise, probably given in good faith, seems to be a load of spherical objects.

The only way I can see this working is if you develop the paper to finality. Say the dev time for the type you are using is 1 minute, almost certainly tested by the manufacturer to strict constant times, but you develop for 3 minutes or 30 seconds (unmeasured of course) with the longer (unmeasured) time you are going to make sure all the sensitive silver does what it is meant to. But who wants to do this with every print or test strip. Take it to the extreme and you are going to get chemical fogging.

Does the 'adviser' say anything about temperature as well? It is all tied up with time. is that guesstimated as well?

Stick with the timer and you have a constant base for printing.

Oh yes I forgot, of course, it was on 'YouTube' so it must be correct!

Last edited by John King; 6th December 2021 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 6th December 2021, 07:17 PM
Mike O'Pray Mike O'Pray is offline
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Terry, is this the same video to which you refer in your other post on a video on test strips? Can you provide a link so I can have a look at it

Like John it sounds a bit flawed to me as well but I am curious

Thanks

Mike
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Old 7th December 2021, 01:29 AM
Molli Molli is offline
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I cut down on all variables possible. As far as I'm concerned, changing exposure time under the enlarger and contrast grade is plenty enough to contend with in the darkroom. Even then, my negatives have always been geared toward grade 2, so changing contrast is more a matter of seasoning than rescuing. I try to be as consistent with everything as I can - it makes figuring out at which point of the process I messed up 'this time' occurred!

Re: Robin Bell, I saw him printing in a YouTube video just a couple of days ago. Apparently it was the first time he'd been recorded doing so. Whilst doing so, he told the interviewer not to speak to him because he was counting. So, yes, decades of intense experience allowed him to gauge by eye how much time to burn or dodge each area, but he did still actually time it.
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Old 7th December 2021, 04:25 AM
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Uwe Pilz Uwe Pilz is offline
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For develop paper I have learned something form St. Ansel. I measure the time the print needs for the first hints of image structure. And develop five times this initial time. With this you are independent form older developer or dev with a different temperature.
I have a metronome in the darkroom which I use also for exposure counting.
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  #6  
Old 7th December 2021, 10:20 PM
JOReynolds JOReynolds is online now
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Default timing

With Ilford MGlV in Multigrade dev, the recommended dev time is 1min at 20C. I give it 2min (the time after which the Multigrade 500H fan goes off) because I find that this is almost to finality - no further change takes place. Big paper is so expensive and awkward to handle that there is a risk of uneven wetting at the beginning of development. The longer the dev time, the less visible will be the streaks because development in the badly-wetted areas will have time to catch up.
I was taught to take a rinsed test strip or final to a white-light viewing area, because evaluating a wet strip or print under safelighting yields poor prints. I have demonstrated the error when teaching darkroom technique to schoolkids, who think they can 'get away with it'. But I have to acknowledge that the white light delays dark-adaptation when you go back into safelighting. These new bright-red LED safelights may partly resolve the problem.
The advice for timing the fix probably dates from when fibre-base paper was normal, where the longer the print stays in the fix, the longer the fix takes to wash out. For permanence, fibre-based prints should be washed forever. Well, until bedtime.
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Old 8th December 2021, 07:21 AM
John King John King is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JOReynolds View Post
I was taught to take a rinsed test strip or final to a white-light viewing area, because evaluating a wet strip or print under safelighting yields poor prints. I have demonstrated the error when teaching darkroom technique to schoolkids, who think they can 'get away with it'. But I have to acknowledge that the white light delays dark-adaptation when you go back into safelighting. These new bright-red LED safelights may partly resolve the problem.
It is the same with colour printing because not only does the density of the blacks change, especially with Kodak, but there will be colour cast imposed due to the emulsion being wet. I always used to wipe the test strips and then dry it with a hair dryer (my partner mustn't see this admission). Only then do I assess the colour balance and exposure.

But going back to B&W I have been known to 'paint' with a 1/2" brush, areas that have marginal under exposure with neat developer. Conversley if the exposure has been a bit too much half way through the development I used to take the print out of the developer and slide it into a dish of plain water then back into the developer after about 15-20 seconds. This technique has saved a number (not all)of my large prints from being scrap paper.

How this works is, on dark areas of the print the developer is more exhausted than lighter zones, so in plain water the development is virtually stopped in dark areas, but residual activity in the lighter areas allowed some development to continue.

On the latter method, timing went out of the window and I used to depend on my skill and visual judgement (sometimes it didn't work as well as it should)!

Last edited by John King; 8th December 2021 at 07:28 AM.
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  #8  
Old 8th December 2021, 09:45 AM
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skellum skellum is offline
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Time your development!
Fibre papers need not less than 2 minutes.
Time the test strip, never pull it because 'it looks dark enough'. Often the correct exposure looks too dark under safe-light anyway.
Highlights reach full development last so alway know you've given long enough.
Give the print the same time you gave the test strip.

In every part of the black and white process consistency is your friend. There are things like prewashing film, or incident Vs spot metering which divide folk on almost religious lines. Often what really matters is that you always do things the same way:
I always pre-wash film.
I always time my prints, and I always develop them face down without looking.
I always mix fresh fix for a printing session.

The more repeatable your process the less likely you are to be caught out by things like unexpected staining on a print, or development faults in film.
In my early days of darkroom work I was pretty slap-dash. What difference could a couple of degrees variation in temperature make? How important could tank agitation really be?? As a result some of my old negatives are absolute murder to print- too dense, too contrasty, too thin . . .

Just possibly someone who prints every day is so tuned in that they can work by instinct, but I bet many of us sometimes go for weeks without getting in some printing time.
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  #9  
Old 8th December 2021, 11:24 AM
John King John King is offline
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Default Develop to the max

I was advised by the late Bill Wisden FRPS that we pay for the silver that form the image so over develop a print by as much as double because then you are getting your money's worth.
I don't actually always subscribe to his ideas but I never develop for the minimum time.
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Old 8th December 2021, 04:41 PM
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Martin Aislabie Martin Aislabie is offline
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I time everything - just for the consistency of the process.

I develop prints for longer than Ilford recommend - to try and achieve finality in the process - so any area of the print which is slightly late getting in to the developer still gets sufficient x 1.5

I remember back to my days at University, there were a few people on the photography course that I was on - who were trying to be cool and interesting - would not time their processes - and on their whole their work reflected it (generally rubbish).

Martin
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