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Polychrome development Part 2: alternative methods
Printing conventionally in one bath, it is impossible to render the correct tone value of negatives with too little contrast range. Only the papers Ilford MGW and Agfa MCC still give satisfactory results with a contrast less than 0.70 logD. For even more translucent negatives, not even such top papers (with real gradation 5) are a help. With 0.50 to 0.60 logD the tone values are too close to each other and have to be separated by using high contrast developers. Here two bath development with lith as first developer is a good choice. An alternative would be two bath development with separated developer and alkali solutions, or even the two options combined.




Photo: A.S.C.

Pola negatives (type 55) are very delicate when the positive appears somewhat correctly exposed. Only when the positive is too light because of overexposure, the density of the negative is correct. Rushed Professional photographers don't give much on this. Such a negative is often only a by-product of exposure control, which they keep just in case without handling it with much care. However, polas in general and those test shots in particular have their own special appeal. It is not uncommon that the follow up shots on roll film, despite or because of their technical perfection, cannot live up to the intensity - and the "authentic" impression of what the idea of the picture was - of such a pola negative with all its flaws.





As was to be expected, the print with gradation 5 is not satisfying. There are no deep blacks in the shadows and the light tones are gray.




Two bath development in lith and VGT using gradation 4.
Despite softer filtration, the shadows are black and differentiated.

1) Lith 1+10 for 3:30 minutes, Stop bath 30 seconds, Rinsed for 30 seconds
2) VGT 50 seconds, A 60ml, B 5ml, 500ml water
3) VGT alkali 2 minutes, C 60ml, 600ml water




Polychrome print, Paper Fomatone 132
1) Lith 1+8 3 minutes
2) Siena 1+4 without alkali 1 minute
3) Alkali solution (carbonate and ammonium chloride) 2 minutes




Toned print, MT4 Siena Polysulphide Toner
diluted 1+25 40 seconds and the print stayed in the first water bath for another 2 minutes for additional toning


Variations in preparing the working solution

An alternative in order to preserve the expensive second developer: if you use Glycine Developer without alkali, you can use it for many months. In order to prevent contamination with alkali coming from the lith developer, use a stop bath to neutralize and rinse in running water before taking the print to the second developer. Small amounts of acid are no harm to the second developer, because the pH value of the working solution (diluted with water) is between 7.8 and 8.0. A further decline is uncritical.

The concentrate is diluted between 1+4 and 1+8 with water. The emulsion only absorbs the developing substance. No significant development reaction should be observable.

Development only takes place in the following activator bath. When developing in separate baths, the activator can only work as long as developer substance is present. Using the suggested dilutions, this process is completed after about 1½ to 3 minutes.

The amount of developer substance absorbed cannot be increased arbitrarily by extending the duration of dwell. Once the water (from rinsing) is washed out of the emulsion, meaning no remaining incline in saturation, maximum absorption is reached. If more developing substance is to be absorbed by the paper, the concentrate is to be used less diluted.

The less developer solution you carry into the activator bath, the longer the activator bath will be useable. If you allow every print to drain thoroughly (around 20 seconds for a 24x30 sheet of paper) you can use it for an entire session.


Polychrome without Siena developer

In the absence of sulphite the developing substance of lith developer (hydroquinone) has the capacity to develop colourfully. In strong lith developer solutions the paper emulsion absorbs a sufficient amount of this substance. This means you can do without the second developer (Glycine), if only the higher colour intensity is to be achieved. A strong evocation of mid and light tones, comparable to what is typical for Glycine, is not taking place. If an increase in density of the highlights is wanted, you have to overexpose the print more than when using two bath treatment with Siena. However, mid tones and lith black will then emerge simultaneously, which makes it difficult to find the snatch point reproducibly.




First developer Lith 1+10
Retarded with 20ml Lith D per litre
Developed for 3 minutes
"Second developer" Activator 1+1+10 for 3 minutes
Photo: A.S.C.


Here I opted to use the carbonate solution of my Polychrome-Kit as alkali. It is also possible to use Lith B as activator, although the image tones will be less red. The colours of the shadows will also be less intense, because Lith B takes away some of the chromophoric oxidation products.