Darkroom Digest: Stop Baths - Water vs. Acid
In this article, I thought it may be helpful to compare water versus acid-based stop baths and open up the conversation with others photographers.
I should first cover the basic function of the stop bath. It should be obvious, but I will cover it anyway. The function of an acid stop bath is to stop development as completely and quickly as possible.
There is a relationship between development times and the stop bath that should be briefly mentioned, whether we are discussing film or prints. In this article, I focus on black and white film development. The shorter your development time, the more critical the stop bath becomes. The longer the development time, the less likely it is for the performance of the stop bath to have a visible impact on your intended results.
STOP BATHS - WATER VS. ACID
There are advantages and disadvantages to acid stop baths that darkroom photographers should be aware of include:
On the other hand, when you use a water stop bath in place of an acidic stop bath, it can create a different set of circumstances that you should be aware of.
If you are interested in the information in this article, you will likely want to read my article: Exploring D-23 Split Bath Large Format B&W Film Development.
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Keywords: black and white photography, darkroom, dry plate, large format, large format photography, metering, silver gelatin
That's interesting Tim. It helps make sense of a comment by my lab, when they had to hand-develop a roll of the new Film Ferrania P30, that they would use a water stop bath "as it tends to hold back the highlights a bit".
When I dev my own fils, I use an Agfa Rondinax daylight tank. This is a continuous rotation system, and I think that might mitigate the first of your acid stop bath disadvantages.
One thing I haven't seen information on is how long to leave the acid stop bath in there. I've tended to use 30 seconds for no very good reason.
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