Monday, April 19, 2010

Jim Byers on Stand Development

Jim has been making some gorgeous images of Camellias in bloom, and I'm grateful for his permission to post some of them here, with his notes on development. I admire Jim's relentless persistence in his pursuit of excellence, and in bending his materials to his will, in service of his vision. Jim has really put 510-Pyro through its paces, using concentrated solutions and long, rotary development times to squeeze every bit of speed out of Tri-X, and using very dilute solutions with minimal and even full stand development to coax every delicate detail of a Camellia blossom out of Efke 25. I don't think the phrase, "Good enough" is one Jim uses often.

Jim's Notes on Stand Development

I found the Camellias challenging because it was difficult to capture the dark leaves without blowing out the highlights on the flower. If I increased the exposure to make the leaves more visible the flowers became too bright to show the highlight detail there.

So I needed to use a developing technique on the film to increase the development of the shadows while simultaneously limiting the development of the highlights. Fortunately “stand development” provides this benefit. By eliminating agitation for long periods of time the development of the highlights nearly stops since developer chemicals in the vicinity of the highlights become exhausted. In the shadow areas where development is much less, there are plenty of local developing chemicals in the vicinity and development continues strongly there.

Not all developers work for stand development. Using 510-Pyro I got great results using both semi-stand and stand development. For semi-stand I agitated for the first 30 seconds and then again for 10 seconds ½ way though development. I kept my development tank in a larger water bath to keep the temperature constant and the temperature differential between the top and bottom of the tank to a minimum. I got very nice results in the 35-40 minute range using semi-stand development for the Efke 25.

Encouraged by the semi-stand development, I next went for full stand development, - agitating for the first 30 seconds and then no agitation for the rest of the development. I went for a very extended full stand development time of 50 minutes. This is longer than I would have normally done and although it produced some overdevelopment on the edges of the negative I was able to get the result I wanted for this image.

I recommend people try semi-stand development with a 1:500 dilution and a time equal to 6 to 7 times the normal development time they use with 1:100/normal agitation. For full stand try 7 to 8 times normal development time. This is a fun technique to try and can provide very useful benefits. Experiment and have some fun with it!”

Main Photo information:

Film: Efke 25

EI: 25

Format: 4x5

Developer: 510-Pyro

Dilution: 1:500

Time: 50 min

Temp: 21C/70F

Agitation: Inversions for first 30 seconds then none for the remaining time. Place tank in water bath to keep temperature constant. Stir surrounding water bath occasionally to keep water a uniform temperature.

Presoak: 3 minutes water presoak

Fixer: TF-4

Information on close crop image:

This is a close up crop from the original image. If you click on the photo the image you will see has one pixel on the screen for each dot on the 2400 dpi scan of the negative. Note the very small fine grain and smooth transition of the tones. This is a much smoother transition of detail than I was able to achieve with Rodinal stand development.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this - yes, still looking at the rendition of the flower - quite amazing.

Jay, thanks for the formula and glad to see you posting again !!!

One question - for dilution at 1:500 - I wonder, what is the final volume you have for developing 1 sheet of 4x5? Is there a min. 510 pryo needed for certain square inches of film? Oh, I'd ask the same question even for 1:100 dilution - my first try of 510 pyro (1:100) for 120 film in 16 oz size of can produced very very faint image - almost non-existence image ... I wonder if I should have use the 32 oz size for 1 roll of 120?

And is there a temp requirement? it was probably a bit lower than 68F - probably around 62F...



PS - tried with my friend at his darkroom - it worked and we loved it - but now I need some help to make it work in my darkroom.

jdef said...

Hi PT,

The practical minimum volume of 510-Pyro concentrate is 2ml/Liter. The 1:300 dilution is a consequence of using 1ml of concentrate to develop one 35mm roll of film (1ml of 510-Pyro in 300ml of water, the minimum required to cover one reel of 35mm film in a standard developing tank), and the 1:500 dilution uses 1ml of concentrate in 500ml of water to cover one 120 film reel in a standard tank. 1 ml of concentrate in 100ml of water will develop one 8x10 sheet of film in a rotary processor, but I usually use a larger volume to assure even development.

Your thin negatives surely resulted from your low processing temperature. I usually develop at 70F, but sometimes 75F, never below 68F. Warm up your developer, and your problem will disappear. Good luck, and please let us know how things work out. Don't hesitate to post any questions or impressions, and we love to see images!


Anonymous said...

Hi Jay,

Thanks for the info. I will warm up the developer (working solution) and try again. If I get something, I will see if I can scan and post (should I scan neg or print?)

By the way, I noticed that there is a bit of crystal built up on the bottom of the 510 pyro stock I mixed - does that happen usually? if so, should I heat and mix it up before I make the 1:100 dilution for working solution?

Thanks again!!


PS - is it also possible to communicate with you via email?

jdef said...

Hi PT,

There should be no crystals in your concentrate. Reheating with stirring should get rid of the crystals, unless they are insoluble impurities, in which case, they will probably not have any effect on your working developer.

I can post scans of either negs or prints, as you prefer. Send scans and accompanying text to me at:

and I'll post them here. You can contact me at the above email address anytime. I look forward to hearing from you, and to seeing your results!



Jim said...


For surface area, one roll of 35mm = one roll of 120 = four sheets of 4x5.
So one 4x5 sheet will not require much working solution. Most 4x5 tanks however have pretty large volumes so you will not exhaust the solution with one sheet even at 1:500. My 4x5 tank holds about 1.3L so there is plenty of 510-Pyro there at 1:500 for 6 sheets.

I look forward to seeing your images.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jay and Jim,

Thanks for your information here. I have been a bit busy with my day job lately. Hoping to have some time next 2 weekends to test out the 510 pryo with neopan 400 and acros 100! Very much looking forward to it.

This time, I will make sure the temp is up! It is still cold in the garage here in the NW.


Will keep you posted :-)

Oh, by the way, have you used this developer with Ortho film?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim and Jay,

I thought I left a comment, but did not see it show up. Sorry, this is a late reply to thank you both on your information. My day job lately had been taking too much of my time ... hoping to have sometime in the next few weeks to do some test using the 510 pyro - the film I intend to try is Neopan 400 and Acros 100 for now. Once I have some result I will send an email.

Oh, this time I will make sure the temperature is 70F or higher!!

Much thanks!!


PS - just curious, I think I'd use the tank for 120 format, however, what would you use for semi-stand or stand development on sheet film? the tube or the tray or the hanger?

Jim said...

Hi PT,
For Large format I end up using a tank because that is what I have. It is a bit wasteful on chemicals for stand development because it holds 1300ml. On the other hand the solution is quite diluted at 1:500 so it is pretty economical even with the big tank. The tank works out pretty well because I rotary process the fixer so only use 290ml of that. Still if you were able to use something that held 300ml of developer for four 4x5 sheets you should have enough overall chemical

I look forward to your results.


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr DeFehr, I would love to experiment with your 510-Pyro developer and to that end I have two questions: (a) Although I seem to be able to find enough of the other ingredients, Pyrogallol is quite elusive here, is it possible to somehow produce it or a good approximation thereof "at home" using naturally available materials? (b) How long does the stock solution last, does the TEA become darker if the Ascorbic Acid contains water molecules and would that affect the stock solution's potency? Thank you, Egmus.

jdef said...

Hello Egmus,

First, where is "here"? It should be possible to get pyrogallol by mail just about anywhere, and shipping should be minimal. I would be happy to help you find a source for pyrogallol, if you can tell me where you are.

Without pyrogallol, you can make PC-TEA with the other ingredients.


ascorbic acid 9g
phenidone .25g
TEA 100ml
dilute 1:50

PC Tea is not 510-Pyro, but it shares some characteristics, and the procedure for making it up is identical, except for the omission of pyrogallol.

Regarding your second question; yes, water in the ascorbic acid will discolor the solution and impact keeping properties, to some degree. That being said, a dark solution isn't necessarily expired. Solutions made up in TEA will always darken over time, but last very long on the shelf. I have used solutions of 510-Pyro that looked like used motor oil that worked perfectly.

To make as clear of a solution as possible, that stays clear, put your dry chemicals in an oven for at very low heat for a few hours to dry it out completely before mixing. Heat your TEA above 212F to drive off any water, and let it cool to room temp before adding dry chemicals. Add dry chemicals at room temperature, and heat just enough to dissolve all the chemicals. Less heat and more stirring will make a clearer solution. TEA darkens at 140F. Store your concentrate in a bladder, like an IV bag, and draw solution out through a length of tubing with a measuring syringe as needed. This keeps air, and the water in the air, out of the concentrate.

The above will ensure the clearest possible solution, with the longest possible shelf life. I confess that I rarely follow these procedures, and I've never had 510-Pyro concentrate fail, but it does darken significantly over time. It only takes a minuscule amount of oxidized pyrogallol to make a lot of dye, and 510-Pyro is a very robust developer, so the darkening doesn't bother me. PC-TEA darkens, too, and it doesn't contain any staining agents, so the TEA must be contributing to the color change, as well.

Please let us know how you're getting along, and don't hesitate to contact us with any further questions or comments.