PMK Workshop Report

Discussion in 'Black and White' started by magic|1, Sep 5, 2003.

  1. 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

    All in all, I highly recommend his workshops. The Formulary's
    facility is excellent also. Good lodging, great meals, and three
    large darkrooms.
  2. Thanks for the report, Steve. I hear the siren song of Pyro calling out to me...
    Did you guys discuss rotary processing with Pyro? Rollo Pyro, etc.?
  3. Yes, we did. He said constant agitation is actually preferable for PMK. He said that Jobos are now his preferred method and he recommended them. He no longer says to use the nitrogen fill method thats in his book "The Book of Pyro". It works fine without it just be sure you use enough solution.

    Constant agitation was one of the biggest changes I needed to make in my pyro processing.

    One thing he showed us sheet film users was a plastic tray with dividers & special holes to develop sheet film in. You would load your film and then drop the tray into a tray full of chemistry. The way the liquid would flow through the holes would hold the film in place. I had the most consistant results using it, ever. Bud at Photographers' Formulary is going to start making and selling them. I'm ordering one of the first ones.
  4. An any little tidbit for us smaller format users?
  5. Sure. Pyro is actually better for small formats by how it works. The silver grains are smaller due to the staining and tanning effect of the pyro. Therefore you will have finer grain and wonderful edge effects. I shot 4x5, 120 and 35mm for the workshop. Several of the other student were only shooting 35mm. Everyone was thrilled with the results, no matter the film size.
  6. I've read alot about Pyro but always in relation to contact printing LF negatives. By your referrence to developing 35mm and 120 negatives in pyro I assume you were making enlargements? Why doesn't anyone ever tell me about stuuff like this? :) Seriously, I had always connected pyro with contact printing on a paper such as Azo. How well does it work for negatives that will be developed? Is developing in pyro still worth the extra effort, even if you are enlarging the negatives instead of making LF contact prints?
  7. Especially if you are enlarging, since it gives smaller grained negs and good tonal range is good tonal range whether you enlarge or contact.

    After working with Gordon last week and can say without a doubt - Pyro is worth the extra effort (which isn't much).

    One of the most important things I pickup from Gordon (besides using constant agitation) was that if you don't use anything acidic in the process (besides the pyro) you don't need the alkaline rinse. In other words, use a water rinse instead of a stop bath, and use an alkaline fixer (he highly recommends TF-4 from PF) you don't need the rebath in the developer. The only purpose of that was to bring back the stain that gets destroyed by the acid.
  8. Steve,

    I thought constant agitation was supposed to inhibit the formation of edge effects. On 4x5, do you actually see any edge effects when using rotary processing? If you see any effects, at what enlargement level do you begin to see them? 10x? 15x? 20x?

    Also, I thought rotary processing in particular was supposed to create problems with oxidation of the developer which cause it to die before development completes. That was the purpose of nitrogen filling, two bath developer methods, and formulas such as rollo pyro. What's changed?

    I'm asking because I'm a Jobo user. I haven't tried PMK simply because it looked like it wouldn't work well for me. I *really* like using a Jobo...
  9. Steve

    You mention that "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. " has me a bit concerned.

    I am using Tri-X (4x5) and can now only buy the new version. I also use a Saunders VCC enlarger so that discounts using HP5 with pyro.

    What is Gordon Hutching's suggestion for a person in my situation that is not easliy able to buy films in my area other than Tri-X and HP5 Plus in the faster ASA range?

    Kind Regards,
  10. All I know is that Gordon recommends constant agitation and said that Jobos were wonderful with Pyro. You just need to adjust the time.

    He said on HP5. while it stained well, the color seems to mess with the varible contrast settings on the Saunders. Not that you couldn't adjust for it, just that we didn't want to have to deal with that varible in the workshop.

    On the new TriX, I had just heard someone else mention that it didn't stain as well (Gordon or I haven't tried it yet). I'm still working on a box of the old TriX Pro. My favorite film is Efke 25 which stains beautifully, and now Bergger 200 (at 100 ISO) which also stains well (very greenish stain). My only complaint about the Bergger is that in 120 (the only roll film size I shot it on) it curled alot. On 35mm I shot Ilford FP4 (at 80 ISO) with great results.
  11. Also, his other comment on HP5 was to watch out for base fog. If you are overdeveloping it shows up pretty quick.
  12. Regarding oxidation problems with PMK in a Jobo due to agitation, many folks use a benchmark of about 10 minutes as the point where oxidation becomes an issue. For dev times over 10 minutes, you can mix 2 batches of PMK and refill after half the time has passed.

    I have done this now for quite a while, and it seems to work. N-1 negs (for my film, etc) need less than 10 mins, N+1 need more. I split the developer for the N+ and everything falls into place quite nicely.
  13. Hi again Steve,
    Regarding the oxidation issue--I was under the impression that Rollo Pyro was developed to address this problem. Know anything about that?
    Also, you mention "a plastic tray with dividers & special holes". Is it similar to this one:
    Thanks again,
  14. Steve:
    Thanks for the report. Can I assume that the Rollo Pyro Kit from Bostick and Sullivan would be a reasonable starting point then given Mr Hutchins' preference for the Jobo? Or just a regular PMK kit? I just ordered some EFKE 100 and I'm anxious to dig in.
  15. Steve; did anyone at the workshop have experience of PMK with Fuji Acros?
  16. PMK is great, but understanding its drawbacks is important too. I never use PMK negatives with VC paper. I strongly suggest you try graded paper at least once and compare the result to VC (say a grade 2 graded print vs a grade 1 (or 1/2) VC. I find VC print's to be lacking in good overall contrast. To me PMK's greatest attribute is a sharp print. The standard dilution is probably a poor choice for N+ developments (or N for that matter). I use it at 10-20-500 for N and N+. Checkout how at normal dilution there is a shoulder whereas at 10-20-500 the characteristics' curves are more straight. FP4 with PMK and pyrocatHD
  17. Couple of answers to questions:

    No one was using Fuji. It was pretty much Bergger, Efke 25 (me) and old TriX.

    He (Gordon) said that PMK was fine with Jobos, there was no need to switch to Rollo, but that your time, ratio, and film speed may need adjusting. That everyone needs to test. Also to run the Jobo on the slowest speed possible. He also mentioned using a standard motor base with the Jobo drums as something people have had success with.

    No that isn't the tray that he brought with him. His was more of a plastic basket with dividers.

    As to PMK with VC paper. That's what we were using. I don't think a single sheet of graded paper was used all week. That was of special concern to me and was the reason I was using WD2D+ (for a different color of stain). The PMK developed neg were printing beautifully at grade 2 1/2 (and that was without fine tuning the development process - just PMK 70F, 1-2-100 dilution, Bergger 200 (shot at 100 ISO).

    We were using Photographers' Formulary liquid PMK kits. I'm a little biased in that I built their website for them, but even before (and certainly after) I've been very happy with their products and service. They have a Thioria toner that puts any other toner I've ever used to shame. It has an incrediablely rich chocolate color with Forte, Ilford and Bergger papers.

    I'm going to be putting up video snippets from the workshop up on the website soon (hopefully this week). Hopefully you'll check them out.
  18. Steve,
    Did you discuss processing in individual, BTZS-type tubes? I've shied away from Pyro because it seemed to me that you would get mottled stain on the back of the neg where it contacts the tube wall. I tried a couple of things, such as a porous liner - but just got stain in the pattern of the liner.
  19. Steve, can you let us know what time and temperature you're using for Efke 25 with PMK, and what formats you've been using? I plan to try this combination soon.

    I developed my first roll of Classic Pan 200 with PMK yesterday and the stain was very distinct. I haven't looked at the negatives under a magnifier yet, but I'm happy with the appearance.
  20. Steve,

    I was under the impression that the second bath of depleted PMK was necessary as a "normal" part of the PMK development process, guess I need to read that section in the book again as I have had it wrong all year. I've been using it with good results, but do not have acid in any of my steps. I use a water stop and TF4 for fixing. All this time I've been adding too much stain and reducing contrast? Arrgh! Will have to do film tests again and see where I am. Perhaps I'm not getting good results yet, but they do print easily on grade 2 VC and sure look right in the print. I must be missing contrast at some level in my prints. Will retest and post again when the smoke clears for Efke 25.

    Many thanks for sharing your experience with us.


    Efke 25: asa 12, 7:00 @ 68f with PMK and adjust from there if highlights aren't bright enough. (Note: this is with the -SECOND- PMK bath as a normal step, but all bets may be off on these numbers after reading the above posts)

    1) Be sure to use distilled water for development or times will vary wildly.

    2) I use minimum exposure for maximum black based on the unexposed film edge as my baseline.
  21. This is with 4x5 film and a Yankee type (agitank) development with 15 second agitation cycles. Will work well also with 35mm in an inversion tank.

    Note: Fill tank first and then load film into the tank all at once. I tried pouring the PMK into the tank for a while but got some uneven streaks until I dropped the film in place in one motion, better. tim
  22. Tubes are fine. You don't stain the poly base so contact on the back of the tube shouldn't make difference. Ditto on my time for Efke (as the posting above, except I process at 70F.)

    Interesting thing on J&C Classic 200. I had a box of it at the workshop so I loaded one side of 6 holders with it and the other side with Bergger 200. I shot the same scenes with each (identical in every way). Its the same film! down to packaging, exposure, development and look.

    I second the filling the tank with developer and then drop the film holder in. I have an HP Combi tank and was getting streaking and stops till I changed to that method.
  23. I have been using the new Tri-X with PMK for the last several months and (for me, at least) it stains just the same as the old Tri-X. I have used the same same development times as I always did (8-3/4 minutes at 70 degrees), a water stop bath, and non-acid fix. I stopped using the afterbath of used developer as it doubled my exposure times with no obvious advantage.
  24. Point of clarification. Do you mean FP4 PLUS and HP5 PLUS? According to the Ilfords' website, these are the only ones available.
  25. Hey Steve; very glad to hear your feedback, as this was and still is one of my "wishlist" workshops.

    Re: the J&C/Bergger film thing, it's the same with their Classic Paper/Forte paper. They're one and the same, even though, oddly enough J&C's web-site says to that you should use Bergger paper as a comparison point.

    As for the multiple sheet developing tray that you mention Gordon using, it sounds like the one that's offered by Steve Peterson at Summitek. He's got a few very nicely designed items on offer.

    Regarding the comments made by some who are worryied about (PMK) pyro's inconsistent staining, etc; I had one single roll of 120 with edge streaks, which was permanently remedied by changing/improving my agitation technique. I've yet to encounter any difficulties with my 4x5, which until I purchase the "cradle" from Summitek, is all single sheet development, using a "Rubbermaid" 8X8 rigid clear-gray sealed-lid container. Slosh-on dude!!!

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