How do you get / keep your chemistry at the right temperature

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by cleeo_wright, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. I'm about to re-embark on a journey to develop my own B&W film after 30 years away. When I did this previously I had access to a lab with a temperature regulated water supply. Now I will be processing my flim at home with the barest of essentials. I'm willing to try all sorts of things but don't plan on spending too much money.
    How do you get your chemistry to the correct temps and ensure that they stay there during use? As responses come I may ask some follow up questions. Any information would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks in advance.
  2. I use a freezer or a microwave oven to get my temps in the right range. This way year around I can use the tap. after fixing if the tap is cooler as in the winter I wash longer and if it is warmer as in the summer I wash a little shorter. Seems to work for me. The only extra thing I got was a water filter that screws on to the tap and I use that to mix chemicals and as a final dip before I use Photoflo.
    Works for me.
  3. I keep my chemicals at room temperature, and develop accordingly. The water temperature for washing is usually close enough to make little practical difference, with adjustments for season.
    The Tri-X and D76 I use most often, doesn't seem to produce wildly different results, so I don't worry about it the way I used to when I had a real darkroom, mixer taps, etc.
    Now I just do this for fun, so admittedly, I'm not so careful as I was for scientific record shots.
  4. Before I start, this may be anathema to some, but it seems to work for me.
    The most temperature sensitive black and white chemical is the developer. The stop bath and fix are relatively temperature insensitive.
    For the developer, I insure it is at 68 F (20 C) before I pour it into the tank with the film. For the film/developer combinations I use, the developer cycle is less than 15 minutes. In that short time the developer does not seem to cool off much; I do not worry about it. So far that works for me. (I use mostly Ilford Delta 100, PanF+, FP4+, HP5+, and Agfa APX100 in DD-X or Rodinal.) Since I dilute the stock developer solution with water, I use the water to set the temperature of the working solution. I wrote a program for my HP-48GX calculator that gets me q
    In the summer, the house is no warmer than 76 F and in the winter no colder than 68 F. So those are the maximum and minimum temperatures of the stop bath and fix. Winter or summer, when I test the leader of the film for clearing time, it is always less than one minute (in Ilford Rapid Fix). I fix for 5 minutes. The film I processed several years ago is still good.
    I wash in tap water, and adjust the temperature very approximately with the kitchen faucet.
  5. I mix developer 1:1 and measure the temperature of the straight stuff and then add water at the right temperature to bring
    it to the right temperature.

    Alternately, I fill the sink with cold or hot water (adding ice to the cold water if necessary) to cool or heat the chemicals to
    the right temperature. Only the developer is critical. The rest can be roughly room temperature.
  6. In the winter I start with two mason jars, one with water at room temperature and the other with hot water. I add hot water to the first jar until I get the temperature that I want. In the summer, I just add an ice cube to the room temperature water and remove it when the temperture gets to 68.
    Since I use Rodinal or HC-110, the quantities of developer are small enough that they have little effect on the final temperature.
    If the temperature in my basement is too warm or cold, I use a water bath to maintain the temperature while developing.
  7. If I'm feeling lazy, I'll dilute the developer stock (DD-X or HC-110) with tap water at a temperature to try and hit the right temperature. But that is a "cheat", since hot tap water has lots of dissolved oxygen in it, which will weaken the developer. Thankfully my cold water is rarely if ever over 68F, so I don't need any ice cubes.
    When I'm "doing it right", I water-bath it to the correct temperature. I put the developer in a stainless steel developing tank, and swirl that tank in a larger container of hot or cold water to pull the temperature. Stainless steel conducts heat pretty well, making this go rather fast.
    Lazy is what I'll do with a "tolerant" film like Tri-X or Verichrome Pan. "Right" is what I'll do with a fussy film like T-MAX (very sensitive to changes in developer temperature).
  8. This also helps.
  9. For tray development. If the temperature is too cold, I take a small amount out and microwave it, then add back in watching the temp change. If it's too hot, I immerse a ziplock bag full of ice in the tray and watch the temp. You have to stop/remove before the temperature gets to where you want it because it keeps changing for a degree or two.
  10. Thank you all for your responses. I'm fairly anal so I'll likely work at getting all of the chemistry the same temp but it does help to know that the developer is the real one to watch for.
  11. I have a very decent and effective method whether I'm going to heat up things up or cool things down.
    #1 Buy a small, plastic water jug with a wide screw-off top. About $9-$15.
    #2 have small glass containers for your chemicals. I use coffee drink bottles.
    #3 Keep a jug of water in the fridge and have access to hot water as well.
    #4 Add enough water to the water jug to cover the chemicals in the bottle. (not enough to float the bottle)
    #5 If you are cooling make sure the jug's water is 4-5 degrees (F) cooler than the desired final temp. If warming make sure the jug's water is 4-5 degrees (F) warmer than the desired temp. When the temps equal out to say 68 for B&W or 102 for C41 you're good to go and the water the glass jars are sitting in is a perfect temp for an agitated wash.
    Sounds complicated but once you get use to the system all other methods seem clumsy.
    Of course the best method for B&W is when the house stays naturally @ 68 degrees which is just a few weeks a year here in Texas. :) Just have everything mixed and ready to go!
  12. You all over think this... I found that Developer is King and even times over an hour don't matter I use Water Stop and the fixer is room temp.... I always use 15 minutes for fixing even in the summer.... Put water in the developer tank with the loaded film and your developer in another tank in hot weather. Let them both sit side by side in a freezer. Check the developer every now and then I find in mine 1.4 C every minute. And then dump the water from the film tank and add the developer.. all else is gravy.
    It is so simple a Hillbilly can do it. :)
  13. The critical one is developer. I have a 2-litre jug which I fill with water and then check its temperature. I then put it in the microwave to bring it to 20 C (68 F). I know that 1 minute in my microwave raises 2 litres of water by 3 C so I time it accordingly. As for stop and fix I use them at room temperature which is usually in the 15 - 20 C range.
  14. If you are really sort of not worried you can try Diafine.. Just don't let it go to far below 21C without doing the Larry method to it.
  15. If you use a water bath or the fridge or the freezer remember to take it out a little BEFORE it gets to the temperature you want because it will still be changing after you take it out from the temperature of the container. It's not that hard. I like water baths (as I said before) because everyone has a sink and usually access to ice and with those you can heat up or cool down the developer.
    As an interesting note, C-41 developing (which I have never done) is supposed to be almost as simple but people use water baths set to the right temperature to KEEP all the chemical temperatures from changing too much. With black and white, I get them to the right temperature and then forget about it. With C-41 you have to keep watching them -- or so they tell me. I probably should investigate C41 these days or maybe E6 processing given how hard it has become to find someplace to leave it. I have to ship the E6 out of town.
  16. I keep my darkroom at 68 F, winter and summer.
    I remounted my thermostat into my darkroom, my heating and cooling system run nominally keeping the darkroom at 68 degrees, the rest of my office 70 - 75.
  17. For B&W, it's a non-issue. B&W can be developed at a broad range of room temperature with no significant change in results -- Kodak developing charges offer time and temperature combinations from 65 degrees to 75 degrees. My darkroom is in my basement, where it's typically around 72 summer and winter. I do check the temperature before I start to develop, and adjust time up or down if it's say 70 or 75 instead. I usually use D-76 straight, but if I'm diluting it (or my Dektol) I check the temperature of the developer, then adjust the water from my darkroom sink faucet to match before I dilute.

    I've been developing B&W for 40 years now. While I like to be precise with time and temperature, I've found that Tri-X in D-76 can be very forgiving. I've known people who could judge temperature by sticking their finger into the developer and time by what felt right and they still got good results.
  18. The OP will have gathered that it makes a big difference whether your ambient temperature is above or below the range 18 to 24 degrees C. In either case a waterbath (like a paper developing tray) is the easiest answer, stand the tank in the tray, leave a thermometer in the tray water and add hot water or ice cubes to raise/lower the temperature.
    3 points:
    I would avoid bringing photochemicals anywhere near kitchen equipment.
    Recommendation has always been stop and fix within 5 degrees C of developer. You can get away with more, but being sloppy in general is not a good idea.
    I always use 15 minutes for fixing even in the summer....
    Rule is to fix for twice clearing time and no more. This means fixing times of 2 to 5 minutes with rapid fixer and 5 to 10 minutes with hypo. 15 minutes in rapid fixer is grossly excessive, will result in image bleaching and will make the film harder to wash free of fixer residues.
  19. Thank you again for your responses. I have a lot of food for thought and a number of techniques that I can try. Looking forward to getting started.
  20. I agree that the developer's temperature is the most important. However, bear in mind Ilford's recommendation: "For best results it is recommended that all process solutions are kept at the same temperature or at least within 5ºC (9ºF) of the developer temperature."
  21. Hello everyone. If I am using a developer that is "fussy" as to temperatures, I use a large Igloo cooler to hold all chemicals and the necessary amount of water to wash the film. Recycled pop/drink bottles work great A little bit of practise should enable one to get temps right at 68-70f without much trouble. If you do stand development in the 30-60 minute range, just having all liquids the same temp works as well, without the work of getting the temp up/down of the 68-70 range. Enjoy, Bill
  22. Thank you again for your help. I was able to keep the chemicals at a good temp with a temering bath. My negaives came out a bit thin but I think that had more to do with not down rating the film I was using than anything else. I'll attach a photo or two from my first shot.
  23. and again... One more...

Share This Page