Before starting development I arrange the following articles upon my table:
At the left-hand of the bench, as far removed as possible, is the dish containing the hypo. Laying beside it is a plate lifter, which is, of course, reserved for hypo only. In the center of the bench, right opposite the lamp, is the developing dish and graduated measure. Slightly to one side is a large box lid, which stands on end. Its use will be explained later. Close to it are my solutions, labelled " No. 1 " and " No. 2. " The "No. 1" bottle is nearer to hand than the " No. 2" one, because it is often necessary hurriedly to add some of the No. 1 to the developer, if the negative image is coming up too quickly; whereas there is always plenty of time to judge if it is coming up too slowly, and needs No. 2. Therefore I put No. 1 closer than No. 2. But whichever you do, always put them in exactly the same relative positions, so that the hand can find them instantly even if the light be poor. And as soon as you have poured some solution out of them, always return them to their proper place.
To the right of the bench stands a cup half filled with clean water. In it are a flat, broad camel's hair brush, and my second plate lifter. This plate lifter is reserved exclusively for developer. Whenever it has been dipped in the developer it is at once put back into the cup of water, where it soaks. The developer would dry on to it were it merely laid down on the bench. With the hypo plate lifter this does not matter so much, but the developer lifter should always be kept as clean as possible.
When all is ready, developer made up, etc., I turn on the faucet of my sink. It is kept running the whole time of development, but of course with only a slight stream of water. Then I rub a little toilet lan-oline on my fingers, especially round the nails. This prevents them from staining, and keeps the skin from becoming chapped through being immersed frequently in cold water. In winter its use is especially recommended.
The red light is now turned on. The dark slide is opened and the plate lifted out, care being taken not to touch the film. Throughout all the operations the film of the plate should never be touched, as the lano-line might come off on it and make an oily patch partially impervious to chemical action.
I do not dust the film before placing it in the dish, but gently puff upon it to blow off possible dust and specks. The plate is then put (dry) into the dish, which is held in the left hand. The measure-glass is held in the right hand, and the developer flooded on with one sweep, though not with such a strong rush as to spill any over the edge of the dish. As a matter of fact, a drop or two are almost sure to be spilled at some point of the proceedings, and for this reason the bench should be kept clear of all articles other than those in use. For instance, the dark slide should be put on a shelf or in one's pocket as soon as the plate has been taken out of it. It should never be put down on the bench lest it be wet.
The instant the developer has covered the plate, the-dish and measure glass are put down on the bench, again. I take the flat camel-hair brush from the cup,, and, having flicked the water out of it, I pass the brush gently but firmly in parallel, overlapping strokes across the film of the plate. The object of this is to detach any air-bells which may have been formed on the film. The film is swept first lengthwise and then crosswise with the brush, which is then returned to place in the cup, where it soaks until required once more. Air-bells on the film are often so tiny as to be practically invisible; but the brush is a certain re-mover of them all. In any case, air-bells should never be detached with the finger, as some workers do. Al-ways use the brush, and always keep it standing in a half-cupful of water while not in use.
If in doubt as to whether all the air-bells have been, detached, pour the developer back into the measure-for a moment or two, and inspect the surface of the-film by holding it at a slight angle to the source of light. Any large air-bells will at once be visible. If any are noticed, the developer should be flooded on, again, and the film brushed once more, though as a matter of fact, the mere flooding on of the solution will probably burst the air-bell.
The dish is now rocked gently to and fro. As little developer as possible should be used. Pour off all superfluous developer, leaving only just enough to cover the plate with a thin film of solution. Plenty of air should get at the film during development, though, needless to say, no part of the film should be left uncovered long enough to cause it to dry at all. If it is desired to increase the contrast in the negative, a good plan is to keep pouring the developer constantly in and out of the dish.
It is hardly necessary to go into the question of over and under exposure. Obviously, if the image appear too rapidly, pour off the developer into the measure-glass and add some restrainer to it as quickly as possible. If it comes up too slowly, add accelerator. I use pyro-soda developer, and in the case of under-exposed. snap-shots I usually put a little dry metol into my solution, with a little extra dose of the "No. 2" (accelerator). But it is always necessary to see that the-dry metol is thoroughly dissolved before pouring it on to the plate. Sometimes it cakes into tiny undissolved blobs in the measure-glass; but if thoroughly shaken for a moment or two, these disappear.
I recommend beginners to develop their plates one at a time, finishing each one before another is begun. Personally, I always have too many to develop to be able to afford the time to do them thus, so I develop two at once. As soon as one of them is fairly started, and I see that it is not coming up too quickly, I place a second one in a dish, pour developer on it and brush off air bells as in the first case. But previous to doing so, I place the dish containing my first plate a little to one side, so that it is in the shadow of the box lid Which I mentioned at the beginning of these notes. This box lid stands upright on the bench, and casts a broad shadow. In no case should the dish be allowed to bask in the rays of a red lamp, however safe these may be supposed to be. After the solution has become a little discolored, the danger of fogging the plates is less; but even so, it is inadvisable, and really quite unnecessary, to leave it right in front of the lamp. As soon as plate number two has started off I take a look at number one. Then back to number two again; and so on, until one or both are finished.
A good way to judge whether a negative is sufficiently developed is to look at the back of the plate. All the outlines of the main objects should be distinctly visible through the glass on the back of the film.
When this is the case the plate is lifted, by the aid of the plate lifter, which is immediately afterwards returned to its cup, from the dish, rinsed for a moment or two under the running faucet, and then placed in the hypo. I at once wash my fingers under the faucet and dry them on a towel before returning to the development of another plate. It pays to be scrupulously clean. The fingers of a really clean worker never show a stain of any chemical.
I find a mixing tank more useful than a dish, and I can strongly recommend it to those who wish to develop a number of negatives at one time. When two negatives are developed almost simultaneously, as described above, one of them is almost sure to be only about half fixed when the other is ready to be put into the hypo. For this reason, two or more dishes of hypo should be prepared if the worker does not possess a tank.
My tank is an ordinary cheap, tin one, and a rack to hold six plates fits inside it. Better still is a porcelain tank, but I find these too heavy for traveling, so use a tin one. Of course, a quantity of hypo solution must be made up and bottled for use. It can be used repeatedly. A further advantage of fixing plates in a tank holding six or a dozen, is that there is no fear of removing them from the hypo solution before fixation is complete, as sometimes occurs when it is necessary to fix one plate after another in a single dish. Curly films, too, are much more satisfactory in a tank where they can be stood upright than in a flat dish, where their edges often rise out of the solution.
When fixing is complete, the plates are transferred one by one, to the washing water. Each one is rinsed before being placed in the water. This is to remove any dirt or grains which may have become deposited on the film in the hypo. When the hypo has been in use some time it becomes muddy, and is apt to deposit a scum on the plates. If the plate is thoroughly rinsed under the faucet before being washed, this scum is at once removed; whereas it clings with wonderful tenacity if the plate is merely soaked.
A WASH Up.
As soon as the operations are completed, the dishes, measure glass, tank, brush and plate lifters are carefully washed and set aside to dry. The tank, after being washed, should be stood upside down to drain.
The main points to note in development are: Keep every object in its accustomed place on bench and shelves. Do not attempt to develop too quickly or to fix too quickly. Do not touch the surface of the plate. Rinse the fingers between each operation. Keep plate as much out of the reach of the light as possible. Be clean and systematic.- "Photo American."