This section is from the book "Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography", by J. B. Schriever. Also available from Amazon: Complete Self-Instructing Library Of Practical Photography.
The Best Developer. We are often asked what is the best developer. This question can only be answered relatively, as it depends on for what purpose the negative is to be used. For instance it would not be advisable to use the same developer for fast focal plane shutter-exposures, and for the development of copies from line drawings. In the first instance all the detail possible is wanted, and in the second, all the contrast. Pyrogallic acid is probably used to a greater extent than all other developing agents combined, as it can be easily modified, which is an advantage, but only in the hands of an experienced operator, and it should be used immediately after mixing. Most other developers have better keeping qualities and can be used repeatedly, but each time a developing solution is used it not only loses some of its activity but it also takes up chemicals from the plates developed, which will make it work slower, and with more contrast, besides making it liable to work injuriously to the plate in other ways. (See note at end of Developers.)
568. The best advice that can be given is to adopt some standard Cramer developer for regular work, become familiar with its action under various circumstances, and stick to that formula. When undertaking special work, use one of the formulae recommended for that purpose, and always keep a ten per cent, solution of bromide of potassium in your dark room for use when needed.
Dry Plate Don'Ts. Don't blame the plates for fog until you know that your camera, shutter or holders, do not leak or reflect light, that your lens is clean, the interior of the tube and the diaphragms dead black, that your dark room is light tight, your developing light safe, your chemicals fresh and pure and in proper working condition, water pure, trays clean, developer not too warm or too strong, and that it contains sufficient bromide of potassium to make it work clear, and until you know that the plates have been stored on edge, in a cool, dry place, free from fumes of illuminating or other gases, and are not too old.
570. Don't blame the plates for excessive contrast until you know that your lighting is not too harsh, that the exposure is sufficient, your lens clean, that your carbonate of soda is of the best quality, that your developer is not too concentrated or too strong in carbonate of soda, and that your other chemicals are pure and fresh.
571. Don't blame the plates for being thin and weak until you know that you are buying pure carbonate of soda, and using a sufficient quantity of it. That your hydrometer is correct, that you are not over-exposing and under-developing, that you are not lighting too flatly, that you are using your developer strong enough and warm enough, and using enough bromide of potassium to keep it working clear.
572. Don't blame the plates for lack of speed or detail until you know that your skylight and lens are clean, that your shutter works as it should, that your diaphragm is not too small, that your lighting is not too weak or too harsh, that your carbonate of soda is all right, and that your hydrometer is correct, and also that your dark room and developer are not too cold.
573. Don't blame the plates for being yellow and stained until you know that your sulphite of soda is pure, fresh and strong enough, that your hypo bath is fresh and slightly acid, that the developer is fresh and cool, and all the chemicals pure and thoroughly dissolved.
574. Don't blame the plates for softening and frilling until you know that you are using a fresh acid fixing and hardening bath, that the plates have been left in the bath until the plate is hardened way through, that the temperature of the developer and fixing bath were not too warm, and that too much carbonate of soda was not used in the developer.
575. Don't blame the plates for insensitive spots, streaks or blotches until you are sure that your developer is not too old or too dilute, particularly when you are using hydro-quinone.
scale from water pipes, bottles or trays, dry pyro or undissolved chemicals, iron scale in water, dirt in camera or holders, water containing organic matter, or a dirty or too stiff dusting brush.
577. Standard Formulae for Cramer Plates: -
Pyro - Acetone Developer.
Works quick and uniform, without frilling; can be used in warm climates without ice, and does not stain the hands.
Cramer's Dry Sulphite Soda.
(Or 20 ounces Sulphite Soda solution 48 degrees hydrometer test.)
Cramer's (Liquid) Acetone..
For use take:
Water............ 8 to 12 ounces 240 to 360 c.c.m.
For Double Coated plates use A 1 ounce, B 2 ounces, water 18 ounces.
For Tank Development use A 1 ounce, B 2 ounces, water 30 ounces.
Cramer's Dry Sulphite Soda.
(Which will test 60 degrees by hydrometer.) If negatives are too yellow use more sulphite, if too gray use less.
-Pure water........ ........
Cramer's Dry Carbonate Soda
(Which will test 40 degrees by hydrometer.)
For softer effects use less Carbonate (weaker solution).
Mix for immediate use in the folio - wing proportions.
. 15 parts
♦The quantity of water may be varied from 10 to 20 ounces, 10 ounces for more contrast and density, 20 ounces for less.
In One Solution :
Bromide of Potassium........
Cramer's Dry Sulphite Soda..
♦Cramer's Dry Carbonate Soda
1 1/2 ounces
For use mix 1 part of this stock solution with water 1 to 2 parts for winter use: water 2 to 4 parts for summer use, according to density desired.
♦9 ounces Cramer's (Liquid) Acetone ........ 270 c.c.m.
can be substituted for 1 1/2 ounces dry carbonate soda.