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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