How I became a Pyro man.

Questions on using pyro (pyrogallic acid) for film processing.

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Crashbox
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How I became a Pyro man.

Post by Crashbox » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:23 pm

Back in the dark ages- circa 1980 or so- I was heavily into black-and-white photography. I had a thing for experimenting with different developing agents (still do) and so I picked up some Pyro at my local chemical supply house. I made up some ABC Pyro (AKA Kodak D-1) and also shot a test roll of Panatomic-X 35mm. Well, the old Kodak Publication J-1 "Chemicals and Formulas for Black-and-White Photography" said to develop for 12(!) minutes at 65 degrees Fahrenheit so I dutifully did so. Needless to say, the highlights were blocked something fierce! However, one thing I also noticed was that there was still quite decent gradation otherwise.



That experience hooked me on Pyro.



It may well be cantankerous (easy to get around that by mixing one-time-use developers) and definitely toxic, but I find its gradation to be well worth the hassle.



For the record, I've used catechol as well and it, too, has some unique and excellent qualities.

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JB Harlin
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How I became a Pyro man.

Post by JB Harlin » Tue Feb 02, 2016 7:30 pm

Began experimenting with Pyro developers about 10 years ago. We eventually chose Sandy King's PyroCat HD and have never looked back. Staining developers have a uniqueness all their own.

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sanchell
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How I became a Pyro man.

Post by sanchell » Thu Feb 11, 2016 9:50 am

I was first introduced to pyro in 1974 by large-format photographer Paul Van Gelder. Paul was using an 8x10" Deardorff. Prints from his Kodak Super-panchro Press, Type B thick emulsion negatives had the most lustrous highlights, open shadows, and long gray scale I have ever seen. I have never forgotten their beauty.



In the 70s, 80s, and increasingly in the 90s, pyro gained a cachet for being an exotic, hard to use and find, developing agent, that was capable of creating superlative negatives, even though Ansel claimed otherwise. To a degree Ansel was right, modern thin emulsion films that were already replacing the thick emulsion films in the '60s did not respond as well to the then available pyro formulas. This changed largely due to the efforts of Gordon Hutchings (PMK) and John Wimberley (WDHD) whose formulas were optimized for modern emulsions.



In Europe, largely due to the influence of Buetler and Windisch, pyrocatechin (catechol, catechin, pyrocat) were more popular. In my own opinion, and it's only that - not meant to be controversial - when properly formulated pyrocatechin is an even better developing agent than pyro. Sandy King's formula, Pyrocat HD, is one of the best I have ever used. The only suggestion I have is to increase the amount of working developer per negative to obtain the best results. Bill Troop has suggested as much as 1000ml per 8x10 and I won't argue with that as this will allow you to use intermittent agitation at one minute intervals significantly increasing acutance and edge sharpness (not so important with large-format as with medium and small formats).
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JB Harlin
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How I became a Pyro man.

Post by JB Harlin » Fri Feb 12, 2016 8:31 am

Steve, I have to agree that of all of the Pyro film developers we have used, the Sandy King PyorCat HD is the most stable, easy to use and our preferred film developer. Instead of going on and on here, if you are interested in what I have learned, drop by our BLOG and do a search for PYRO. . . http://jbhphoto.com/blog/

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Harald Leban
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How I became a Pyro man.

Post by Harald Leban » Sat Apr 09, 2016 1:10 am

My story goes back to the 90`s when I made my first photo trip to the scottish west highlands with my Wisner 8x10 Technical and Ilford HP5 film and a group of deer-hunters around me…I used the chance to be a traveling member of this huntsmen to get deeply into the highlands (I never hunted , just shoot photos!)

When back in my darkroom I knew that these 8x10“ negatives would need a special treatment - because light situation was so special there.



My first tests with Pyro were not satisfying but fortunately I found the Hutchings PMK formula as the best working and most stable.

My intent was to get proper dual negatives for platinum/palladium and silver enlargements.



But for my work „PMK“ didn´t release the right intensity in rotation and so I decided to modify it for own purpose - I increased the concentrations and added ascorbic acid for preventing aerial oxidation - Voilà, „ABC+PYRO“ was born or „ROLLO PYRO“ as it was named by Sullivan/Weese later!

From that time on I developed nearly every large format negativ in this „soup“

Years later when I also changed more to medium format and 35mm I found the Rollo formula not the best choice for. I explored my interest to photograph at night and in low light situations and for that a very special film treatment was necessary.

When I came across the work of Willy Beutler I had the idea to combine his theory of balanced surface development with my pyro philosophy.

It was in 2008 when I finally released the „new kid on the block“ and called it „BEUTLER PYRO“ in honorable remembrance.

I implemented a new additive that I knew was used in reverse development - Ammoniumthiocyanat (ATC)- that acts as a very intensive prevention against aerial oxidation but also as mild pre-fogging agent.

It ended in a developer with high balancing power, good gradation and amazing increase of film speeds.

As years brought many new inventions, for us photo people digital technology brought the massive impact, it was clear that many fellows will follow the „digital negative“ path - good to hear that „BEUTLER PYRO“ negatives are good for digital scans , too.



Some years ago I did some modifications on it - for a friend of mine, he´s the only diving large format photographer who works on 8“ rollfilm!!! underwater and develops in the tailored „PYRO MARINE“ formula.
Sincerely

Harald Leban

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Mon Apr 11, 2016 8:35 am

Greetings, Harald. Thank you for sharing your story. While I am familiar with "Rollo Pyro" I an not familiar with your Beutler Pyro formula. Would it be possible for you to share it on this site?



Perhaps you may wish to post an image created from a negative developed in BP?



Thank you.
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Harald Leban
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Post by Harald Leban » Tue Apr 12, 2016 8:51 pm

Hi Steve and thank you for your welcome!

While "Rollo Pyro" was born in the "golden" time of LF and ULF photography and alternative printing and was first explained by me on the alt-photo-process list (the primary source for alternative thoughts in that time), "Beutler Pyro", the logical conclusion for the whole bandwith from 35mm to ULF had not such a start - time and needs have changed! Also because there are some other great formulae on the market.

But in it´s formulation it is a unique combination!

I mean that also in the digital inkjet negative aera, it can have good advantages because of its behaviour in "dark light photography" when sigle shot digital photography fails and HDR can´t match and transform the visual appearance of the scenery...

Even in backlight situations it can simulate the classic two-bath development very effective.

I´ll give the original formula and example in my next posting.



allthebest
Sincerely

Harald Leban

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Harald Leban
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How I became a Pyro man.

Post by Harald Leban » Wed Apr 13, 2016 11:31 am

Here is the original formula of "Beutler Pyro" together with sample image from the cycle "dark light photography".

The developing times are recommendations only, and the Efke-IR film is no longer available.

The two working dilutions are for dual purpose ws1 is for enlarging/digital scan and ws2 for alternative printing.

The sample image was exposed on Ilford Delta 100 (5x7") developed in ws1.
Sincerely

Harald Leban

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Mon Apr 18, 2016 9:26 am

Greetings, Harald. Thank you for sharing the formula. It looks promising and I am anxious to give it a try. You may finally wean me from ABC!



That is also a very fine image. Please post more!
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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Sat Nov 12, 2016 9:13 am

I can attest to the value of Harald's Beutler Pyro formula. It is one of a small handful of developers that has delivered box emulsion speed for me on the Fomapan 100 and 400 films, and does so with very pleasing tonality and sharpness. It performs well in Jobo rotary tanks that are not full to the brim. I've been using it since 2008.



A question Harald: You mention the formula above, but I don't see it in the post? Removed attachment?
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Harald Leban
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Post by Harald Leban » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:45 pm

I´m sorry about the missing formula, I didn´t remove it , maybe steve knows why it disappeared.

here is a link to it :

http://www.academia.edu/8592722/BEUTLER ... _Developer



thank you for your approval



Harald
Sincerely

Harald Leban

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Tue Nov 22, 2016 2:06 pm

I was wondering about it myself. Not a clue where it went.



I will say this: I am not at all happy with this forum platform, PunBB, but I don't have a clue how to move the forum to a better platform. If there is anyone out there not completely in the dark (room), pun intended, that is able to assist with this I would really like to change.
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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:45 am

Good to see Harald. Speaking of which, I see on your academia site an interesting-sounding formula, Ferro C. Would love to see your explanation of it (though it ought to be on another thread).
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:58 am

Steve, moving this would probably require exporting the SQL database and then importing into a new forum system. There might be a service out there on the Web that can do that for you (to do it by hand is pretty geeky). If you find one, check out it's security reputation first though. If I see one I'll let you know.



I see good things about phpBB as a front end. Might be worth a private test. It looks like it should import whatever punBB would export.



You might try these export instructions:



https://wpengine.com/support/exporting-database/
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Sat Nov 26, 2016 8:59 am

Part 2:



And if you like the sound of phpBB for this forum you could use the import instructions on this guide:



https://www.phpbb.com/support/docs/en/3 ... or-domain/



That was all a quick search and you may find better things, but that may get you started.



Enjoying the new edition!
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:03 am

Better yet, here's some extensive info from phpBB users on how to migrate from punBB. You could probably find similar info for migrating to any new BB system installed on your server:



https://www.phpbb.com/community/viewtop ... &t=2162312
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Mon Nov 28, 2016 4:27 pm

phpBB was my first choice but I couldn't figure out how to set it up. PunBB was much easier to install.



This forum is so bad I can't even find a way to subscribe to a topic. I have to login to find out if there's any activity.



Would you please check that last link? I went to it and received an error message that looks like the attachment.



Thank you.

Attached files
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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Wed Nov 30, 2016 7:24 am

Hi Steve. I'll try putting the link on a PM to you. Maybe that will work better. And I shoulda PM'd all this off-topic stuff anyway...
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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:09 am

I posted a note of satisfaction about Harald's Beutler Pyro formula above. Here's a sample:



Arista/Foma 100, 2X3 sheet in a handheld Pacemaker 23 Speed Graphic, shot at 100 and developed in Beutler Pyro for 10 min. 1:1:100 at 70F, small tank, 3 inversions per 60-sec. Nikon LS-8000 scan.



https://www.flickr.com/photos/76004407@N06/30550399843
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Thu Dec 01, 2016 10:57 am

Perfesserkev, can you upload that on this site? I don't have a Flickr account and really don't want one. :-)
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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:14 am

Here it is. I also fixed the permissions on the link above so that it is public. No account required.

Attached files
Beutler_Pyro_01.jpg
Beutler_Pyro_01.jpg (84.55 KiB) Viewed 2704 times
Last edited by perfesserkev on Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:21 am

That's a fine image, beautiful mid-tone gradation. Thank you for sharing.
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perfesserkev
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Post by perfesserkev » Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:01 pm

I became a pyro man thanks to Steve Anchell and Bill Troop.



After about 20 years of only working professionally in color, the last eight of those in only digital, I realized in about 2007 that I missed the darkroom. I also deeply missed the change of view that different film cameras offer when compared to the homogeneity (straight off the card at least) of almost all digital images. I missed the off-the-clock peace, the hands-on craft, the smells, the burble of washers below the jazz station on a beater radio. I missed the screw-ups, the disasters, the late nights... I had grown up in my father's darkroom and it was truly home.



So I set up a makeshift darkroom in one of my condo bathrooms, bought one 4X5, then another. Tuned up the Rolleiflexes and bought a copy of the Film Developing Cookbook to try things beyond my familiar array of Kodak packaged soups. I was very intrigued by descriptions of pyro and catechol. I tried ABC, PMK, Tanol, Beutler Pyro, 510, Finol, PPTEA and others. I fell in love with the edge-of-chaos finesse that SD-1 required.



There's just something about using crazy, old, rare, poisonous and risky stuff that makes a darkroom even more fun. And when all ducks are in a row the images are much more beautiful than from other developers I use.



Now I have a permanent darkroom, stocked not only with my gear, but with my father's.
"You compose, you decompose." -- Ernst Haas

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sanchell
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Post by sanchell » Sat Dec 03, 2016 12:39 pm

A great story and testimonial. Thank you for sharing.
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Re: How I became a Pyro man.

Post by andynguyen » Tue May 09, 2017 11:50 pm

Dear Harald,

https://books.google.com.vn/books?id=xU ... &q&f=false

I was wondering about the role of ATC & I found the above link. It says that ATC, at the concentration you gave (1g/L) would actually increase the developer potential (I interpret this as increase in EI as well as activity), other than preventing oxidation. Have you made some comparison using some different concentration of ATC? for example: 0.5g/L. The link also said that >1g/L concentration would likely cause fogging, so let's rule that out. The change in activity vs ATC concentration is of interest to me, however.

I, in fact, have been toying with Pyrocat-HD. I added Vitamin C & it seems to increase activity& reduce grain, but I seem to be getting some fog along with it. I wonder if I cut back on the V.C & add a wee bit of ATC I would get the same activity boost and less fog...

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