Harvey's 777

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I'm interested in finding the formula for Harvey's 777, a developer popular in the 50s and 60s. Any suggestions?

-- Larry Price (m6ttl@aol.com), November 20, 2000


The formula was never published, but I think it is still available, although in gargantual quantities only, from Best Photo Industries, 2318 Watterson Trail. Louisville, Ky, 40299. It was used by Henri Cartier-Bresson in all those wild places he went and had to develop his films locally under all conditions. I would sure like to try it, if you should find a source, or make up a small quantity. Regards, Mitch.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), November 20, 2000.

I have searched these pages for about 6 months looking for some mention of 777. It was my standard for a few decades. I am determined to find some somewhere. I loved its strange but lovely characteristics. At one point when it was starting to dissapear, I did a lot of research on it and did see a formula for it. It was not something you would want to make. I just located some 3 1/2 gallon tanks and am determined to dedicate on to 777. I would love to share any info about it that can be found.

-- Fred De Van (fdv@mindspring.com), December 07, 2001.

One of the reasons (Harvey's)777, (it had other names like "panthermic") is so hard to find is that it's principal developing agent is p-Phenylenediamine (1,4-Diaminobenzene), which Ed B describes as being basically obsolite. I do know how this formula works and it should work best in silver rich films. It can work magic in the highlights and the deep shadows that I have not seen exibited with high repeatability in any other B&W developer. It was the workhorse of the NY studio croud back when B&W was in demand and the secret of the photojournalists who did the impossible. 777 certainly is a developer which had a look all it's own when used to its best.

777 seems to work best at 75F and above, and is best used in large quanities (big tanks). It changes a little after the first few rolls and a new batch should be ripened with a few unimportant rolls and it will then be stable for years. It really lasts well, even though it visually is not confidence inspiring in looks. Murky is normal. It is hard to mix, and the initial mixing is critical. Agitation is quite important. Do it the same every time.

-- Fred De Van (fdv@mindspring.com), December 07, 2001.

P-phenylenediamine is available from Photographer's Formulary for about $24 for 100g.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), December 07, 2001.

I'll look through some of my formularies from the 40's and 50's. I know there are some formulas that use p-phenylenediamine. I have no way to tell if any of them are close to Harvey's 777, but they might be interesting to experiment with anyway. We should pull Ted Kaufman into this thread, since he is a serious experimenter with home-made formulas.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), December 07, 2001.

I could not find any reference as to Harvey's 777 formula but I do have a couple of formulas with ppd if anybody wants them e mail me for the components.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), December 07, 2001.

Steve Anchell lists a couple of PPD formulas in his film developing cookbook. The claim, according to Anchell, for PPD is exceptionally fine grain. I tried one of the formulas from his book; I don't recall which, off the top of my head, but it might have been Edwal 12; whatever it was, it had PPD and glycin. How was it? Okay. Not great and not bad.

Jorge and I have batted around the idea of using PPD in some of my other homebrews, but never really investigated anything in depth. I did try it in one of my catechol formulas and was not pleased with the results. Basically, I just think there are better ingredients out there that are not so toxic. In fact, I wonder if 777's no longer on the market because of the toxicity of PPD? To my knowledge, there is no commercially offered formula which does employ PPD. I think, however, Kodak uses a less toxic derivative in their color negative chemistry.

Anyway, Harvey's 777 does sound interesting, so if anyone finds the formula, I'd like to try it just for kicks.

-- Ted Kaufman (writercrmp@aol.com), December 07, 2001.

Edwal 12 was close but no cigar, but it did have it's uses. Generally it was dissapointing, but if you had to photograph Times square at night from a helicopter and the top of a building using flash fill and street and traffic lights, Edwal 12 and a film with a good anti halation backing (and a bevy of assistants) was the ONLY way to do it. 777 was perfect for anything else. Extreamly smooth fine grain, totally flexable mystery soup. Shadow detail that dumbfounded folks, and which made those great long scale shots in smokey Jazz clubs possible, without ever burning out a highlight. Negatives that far outstriped the dynamic range of the papers of the time. (Almost unprintable at times on Kodabromide), really amazingly long scale with gently curving heel and toe but with a accutance and snap the boggled contemporary concepts of scale and depth. The only thing that worked to photograph thousands of pages in Brides magazine with the Ascor flash units of the era. The dresses simply always still had detail.

777 has a give away smell. It is a nice but very distinctive one. It was poorly marketed, and very expensive. It was originally only available as a mixable kit packaged on what seemed like a too large cylinder, with the components inside. It was hard to mix, and once mixed it was a broderline suspension that if you had never seen it before seemed like it was not mixed. It was sold premixed for a while, but this falling out of suspension problem disuaded most from ever buying the expensive and seemingly unstable (read bad) contents. A bottle of relatively fresh perfectly good 777 looks very funky. Putting 777 in a 500ml tank is asking for dissapointment. It is very soft working and is unpredictable when there is 250ml of solution attacking 80sq. inches of silver rich emulsion. (Edwal 11, 12 and 20 do this too)

W. Eugene Smith and I would make sure our friendly competors never discovered our secret sauce by giving them 16 oz out of out "ripened" 3 1/2 gal tank of 777. We knew they were used to things like DK-50, DK-60a, UFG, acufine, FG-7, Clayton P-60 and the like, and we would wait for the blue smoke, phone call that was sure to come a few days later.

Standard practice for changing overworked 777 was to dump 2/3 of what you had and adding fresh to the worked stock. Rarely, did any 777 addict mix a totally fresh batch. For us guys who shot everything from 35mm to 8x10, 777 was a god send. perfectly predictable, stable, consistant, do anything, at any temperture, magic stuff. It will work well (unlinear) from about 55f to over 100f. Dead on predictable and linear from 65f to 90f. It is hypercritical to agitation. Testing is the starting point. Not an endevour for the occasional user.

In the 50's thru the 80's social life for many like David Vestal, Bill Pierce, Nick Samardge, Guy Terrell, Aurtour tcholackian, Henri Kertez and a bunch of others was getting together at somebodys studio, The Tcholak Lab or the Pierce mill/home to chart out a new time and temp sheet for a new film and 777. There was a lot of inspection developing going on. The product of these get togethers, those hand drawn charts, were some of the closest held secrets in the photographic world.

-- Fred De Van (fdv@mindspring.com), December 07, 2001.

"but if you had to photograph Times square at night from a helicopter and the top of a building using flash fill and street and traffic lights, "

I would like to se THAT flash......:-))

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), December 08, 2001.

After some searching, we found a few cases of old big slow burn flashbulbs. We mounted a rig of 4 bulbs each into modified 24" and larger smith victor 1500 watt incondecent flood reflectors and fired them buy radio to Ascor 600 strobe units that fired photocells at the flashbulb units using car batteries as a power source. We had to light the Tower at 43rd St. evenly. It took weeks of planning and testing and a large number of people, and worked precisely as planned. The entire project ran as a 8 page ad for Allied Chemical in Life Magazine. I was hired because they wanted it to appear to be similar to Life editorial pages, and since I already worked for Life I got the job.

-- Fred De Van (fdv@mindspring.com), December 08, 2001.

From Fred's description, it sounds like Harvey's 777 has a lot of glycin, in addition to PPD. If you add enough glycin to a formula, it will form a cloudy suspension that will not dissolve no matter how much you stir it nor how long you let it sit. Left to sit, the suspension will eventually settle out clear with a layer of fine sediment. Also, glycin is a softworking, fine grained developer component which yields a unique glow to prints. So I'm sure this is one of the components.

Anyway, this sure sounds like some magic soup. I'd love to try it!

-- Ted Kaufman (writercrmp@aol.com), December 08, 2001.

Defender 5-D - Fine Grain Developer
Water (125 degrees F) - 24 ounces
Sodium Sulfite - 3 ounces
Paraphenylene Diamine (base) - 146 grains
Glycin - 29 grains
Water to make - 32 ounces
Use without dilution. Develop 20 to 30 minutes at 70 degrees F. Paraphenylene developers stain and irritate the skin. Keep fingers out of the bath. (DuPont had an ND-3 fine grain developer that is identical.)

Finegrain Formula (c. 1940)
Distilled water (125 degrees F) - 700 cc
Metol - 7.0 grams
Sodium Sulfite - 70.0 grams
Paraphenylene Diamine (base) - 7.0 grams
Glycin - 7.0 grams
Cold distilled water to make - 1.0 liter
Use without dilution at 65 degrees F. Developing times: 10-15 minutes. Replenish with same formula.

ppd-Metol Super Fine-grain Formula
Distilled water (125 degrees F) - 750 ml
Metol - 10.0 grams
Sodium Sulfite - 60.0 grams
Sodium Carbonate - 10.0 grams
Paraphenylene Diamine (base) - 5.0 grams
Potassium Bromide - 1.0 gram
Cold distilled water to make - 1.0 liter

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), December 08, 2001.

It's cold and rainy in Austin, Texas this morning. After posting those paraphenylenediamine formulas, I was driving off through the rain to get breakfast tacos and daydreaming. I thought: "That old Morris Germain really liked symmetry in his formulas--7 grams of metol, 7 grams of paraphenylenediamine, and 7 grams of glycin. *Ding!* 777. I'll bet that's it!

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), December 08, 2001.

Wow Fred, what a wonderful experience!

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (jorgegm58@prodigy.net.mx), December 08, 2001.

Yes, Jorge, in retrospect it is. At the time it was just another of a string of NUTS things I did with cameras after too many years inhaling Dektol fumes. It was a lot of work, and very rewarding because it was such a challenge.

Ed: It seems like you have it. Whispers from the deep reaches of my recolection, recall Germain coming up in one of the many discussions of the topic, but memory also says that there were more components in the Harvey formula. Buffering agent and/or a preservative and such, but the qualtities were infentesimal. Some of the discussion lent toward them being bogus components that did nothing of value but were there to obfuscate and confuse the curious. Chemical straw men. None of us had any interest in making it ourselves, but what was in it was a constant question. The differances in performance in small tanks and the way agitation changed the result always led to the question as to why. (when there was time to think of such otherwise unimportant things. We knew how to use it right)

Guessing from the formuli you supplied the anomolies in performance we noted were the product of the Metol (Elon) being thrown out of balance with the relatively low activity Paraphenylene Diamine and Glycin components, in small chemical to film surface area ratios and as agitation frequency was increased. What ever it was, it was very usefull, when you got the hang of it. Bewildering, if you were a noephyte.

I started at this stuff when very young and remember Defender 5-D. what It did to contrasty thick Ortho sheet film (which I developed by inspection in the stuff) had simularities to what 777 did to FP-3 and HP-4, as well as the Dupont and Ansco/GAF films that were still being made.

I was such a stickler on this stuff that I tested emulsion batches in my soup before I commited to use them. This resulted, on one occasion , in me missing a shoot. All my stuff was confiscated by British Customs when I appeared from NY with 1000 rolls and 500 sheets of Ilford film at London Airport. They said nobody would logically do that and I had to be smuggling something. 5 days later after many discussions and calls to the Time-Life photolab and Ilford, I got my clothes, cameras, lights and film, back with appologies.

-- Fred De Van (fdv@mindspring.com), December 09, 2001.

There's a possibility that the stuff is still available from a company named Bluegrass at (502)-425-6442 for $46.70 for 4 gallons. Ask for Terry Waddle.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), December 09, 2001.

Some random ideas regarding 777. I have a copy of the instruction sheet for 777 when it was being made by Harvey Photochemicals, Inc. in Newton, NJ. If I had a scanner, I'd put it on this site, but as it is, if anyone would care to have a photocopy, I'd be happy to send one out...postage would be nice, but not necessary.

My memory of Harold Harvey is that he was a Baltimore commercial photographer/Chemist. Supposedly 777 was the seven hundredth and seventy seventh formula tested, but I think Ed B's idea above makes a lot of sense.

For anyone planning to try the Germain formula, here are a couple of starting points for 777, all at 70 degrees. Adox KB-14 or R-14 rated at ASA (ISO) 24, 4 mins. EK Vericrhrome Pan, rated at 120, 15 3/4 mins. EK Tri X rated at 600, 12 mins.

I always used 777 in small tanks (8 to 32 ozs) and had very good results with it...perhaps I would have had even better results with large tanks, but I've never owned a tank larger tha 32 oz. I was always careful to be consistent about agitation...One inversion (Nikors which can be inverted) per second for the first thirty seconds, then five more inversions (each, one second long) every 30 seconds after that. I continued to use 777 until it became almost impossible to get at which point I switched to FG 7 (on W. Eugene Smith's recommendation?).

Harold Harvey's long article on Negative Development in the serialized "The Complete Photographer" in the late l930s is the best thing I ever read on negatives and developing. It taught me what little I know about the subject. My memory is that when the Complete Photographer was converted into the Encyclopaedia of Photography the Harvey article disappeared.

-- John Pazereskis (jpazereskis@csc.cc.il.us), December 19, 2001.

I contacted Bluegrass. They allowed as how they sell certain photo products to Calumet. I searched Calumet's site and found they sell "Zone VI" chemistry--paper & film developers, fix, hypo clearing agent. The film developer is described as: "Liquid concentrate to develop 32 rolls of 36 exp. 35mm film or 120 sheets of 4x5 film. Achieves maximum resolution from Agfa-Pan and other slow, thin- emulsion films." I don't think it is Harvey's.

-- Ed Buffaloe (edb@unblinkingeye.com), December 21, 2001.

After many months and help from Ed and Bill, I've acquired an honest-to-goodness packet of Harvey's 777. I' m now beginning to plot film curves for Tri-X, Delta 400 and Delta 100. I'll be happy to share results and sources. If anyone's interested, email me at m6ttl@usa.net.


Larry Price

-- Larry Price (m6ttl@usa.net), December 27, 2001.

I happened to be looking at the list of contents of a bottle of hair dye. I decided to keep my gray hair when I saw P-phenylene diamine. Probably not enough to make developer, but maybe I'll try adding some other ingredients. Maybe a little Vitamin C and----

-- Patrick A. Gainer (pgainer@rtol.net), January 07, 2002.

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