Darkroom Digest: My Eco-Friendly B&W Film Developer Formulas

October 01, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

I have written about two different black and white developers that I use in previous articles (D76-Eco, D-23-Eco).  In this article today, I am discussing why and when I use these two different formulas. As many of you may know, I built my cabin and darkroom off the grid.  I have been searching for developers that meet my creative requirements and are environmentally friendly.  My D-76-Eco and D-23-Eco formulas meet all of my creative and environmental requirements making them a win-win for me.  

For my style of black and white fine art photography, I use four different substrates (sheet film, darkroom paper or calotype paper negatives, glass plates for silver gelatin dry plates, Kodak Ektascan B/RA X-Ray film). 

I use my D-23-Eco and D-76-Eco formulas for my silver gelatin dry plates and sheet film.

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When I am thinking creatively about the characteristics of each negative medium and developer, I am considering the type of negative I want to create and the resulting final print.  I use D76-Eco when I know that I am going to be making alternative prints like platinum because they require much higher contrast.  I also use D-76-Eco on sheet films when I have a low-contrast scene that I am photographing.  

I use D-23-Eco when I know I am going to be making darkroom prints because this developer creates a lower-contrast negative which I like for this type of printmaking.  I like to control my contrast for my contact prints using the Ilford split-grade method.  I also use D-23-Eco when I am photographing a high-contrast scene and I want brilliant highlights and open shadows.

The formulas for both developers are listed in the sections below for your reference.  

D-23-Eco Developer Formula – 1000ml

  • Distilled Water
  • Metol.....7.5g
  • Sodium Sulfite.....100g
  • Distilled Water to make 1 liter

Process 

  • Heat 500ml of distilled water to 52C/125F
  • Dissolve 7.5g Metol in separate distilled water – add to 500ml water
  • Dissolve 100g Sodium Sulfite in separate distilled water – add to 500ml water
  • Add ice water and 500ml beaker to make 1000ml at 20C
  • **Use for sheet film, silver gelatin prints, high-contrast scenes

D-76-Eco Developer Formula – 1000ml

Distilled Water
Metol.....2.5g
Sodium Sulfite.....100g
Borax.....2g
Distilled water to make 1 liter
** This is a Borax Accelerated Formula of D23-Eco

Process
Heat 500ml of distilled water to 52C/125F
Dissolve 2.5g Metol in 
separate distilled water – add to 500ml beaker
Dissolve 100g Sodium Sulfite in 
separate distilled water – add to 500ml beaker
Dissolve 2g Borax in distilled water – add to 500ml beaker
Add ice water and 500ml beaker to make 1000ml at 20C
** Use for Alt prints needing higher contrast, low contrast scenes

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You can view and purchase my limited edition Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine ArtTM gallery prints or my Platinum Histograph Heirloom MiniaturesTM from my online gallery. You can visit my Platinum Printmaking page to learn more about how I create my Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine Art Prints. 

Follow me on my St. Francois Mountain Platinum Histograph Heirloom Fine Art Print Project where I am photographing the St. Francois Mountains that were formed by volcanic and intrusive activity 1.5 billion years ago.  By comparison, the Appalachians started forming about 460 million years ago, and the Rockies a mere 140 million years ago.

-Tim Layton 

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Tim Layton
Darkroom & Large Format Photography
Platinum Histograph Heirloom Prints & MiniaturesTM
Video Workshops/eBooks/Guides: www.timlaytonfineart.com/workshops
© Tim Layton Sr. | All Rights Reserved

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