Divided D-23

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for anyone interested....

After reading the article on Ed B's Web site I became curious about trying divided D-23. I had a roll of APX25 120 -- see my thread about reciprocity and APX 25 -- that I shot earlier this week in early morning light that I thought might make a good test subject.

For those who missed my earlier post, I shot the roll in a forest in early morning light. I normally rate APX25 at 12 and since the light was still not over the trees my readings were ranging from 4 to 8 seconds at f16. I ended up bracketting two shots at 4, 8 and 16 seconds and one other at 16, 32 and 60 seconds.

I mixed the original Kodak D-23 formula -- 7.5 mm Metol, 100 mm Sodium Sulfite -- and a 1% Kodalk bath. I gave the roll three minutes of continual agitation in the first bath and three minutes with no agitation in the second. This roughly corresponded to N - 2 as discussed on Unblinking Eye.

At first glance, the results were not encouraging. The negatives looked bullet-proof. But upon printing them this morning I realized I was wrong. The density is primarily from additional fog. With exposures of around 30 seconds for an 8x12 and 60 seconds for an 11x14 the results were perfect, exactly as visualized. The highlights, mainly sunlight through the trees reflecting off ice and water, were subtle, not too heavy, just perfect. The mid-tones are exactly where I wanted them when I metered the original scene. The shadows are full bodied, full of substance but dark enough to have some weight.

I know this is all based on early tests on negatives I had pretty much given up on getting anything useful out. I plan to try this on some of my other choice films - like Verichrome Pan.

Hopefully, if I can get around to reclaiming some space for my scanner, I'll scan some images and throw them up on my Web site if anyone is interested.

Anyway, if anyone else is interested or is working with D-23 or any of it's variants, let's hear about it.

-- David Parmet (david@parmet.net), January 08, 2002


I've been using a variant of Divided D23 for a while and I like it. Mine is maybe more like Divided D76H. Its from the Darkroom Cookbook and is based on David Vestals version of Divided D76. Basically what you're using diluted 1:1.(3g Metol, 50 Sodium Sulfite) The second bath I use is 50g Sodium Sulfite and some Borax. Seven minutes in the first and then three in the second bath. I mix by teaspoon measure. It is really nice with traditional films (HP5 or TriX) , newer films (TMax, Delta) - don't respond to my liking. The full strength version might cure this.

-- Henry Ambrose (henry@henryambrose.com), January 08, 2002.

Lately I played with a D-23D variant; it was D-23 1:3 followed by a Borax B bath. The idea was to see if it would tone down Fuji Acros' hot high end and see how it'd do with TMX.

Curves for N and N-1 turned out to be virtually identical to D-76H 1:1 or 1:3, or iow, the "magic" that divided development is supposed to do sure didn't occur with those films.

-- John Hicks (jhicks31@bellsouth.net), January 10, 2002.

You may want to try a compensating technique that I've been experimenting with lately. I came across it in an oldish book on developing, and it struck me as such a simple and elegant technique, that I can't think why it isn't more widely known and used.

Briefly: The technique is to use your favourite developer at your preferred dilution, (Ilfosol-s at 1+9 in my case), but cut the development time short by around 25 %. Replace the developer with distilled water, and give half a minute's agitation. Then simply let the film stand in the water bath, without further agitation, for twice the remaining development time.

Results so far are encouraging, in that there's a noticeable taming of Dmax compared to a normal development, while the shadow and mid-tones are still full.
The beauty of the technique is that it's immensely flexible. The time in the developer can be lengthened or shortened, depending on the degree of compensation required, and you can use any developer formula you like.
I've only been using it with T-max100 and Ilfosol at present, but I don't see why it won't work with any film/developer combination.
BTW; the reason for specifying distilled water is that the pH of tap water varies quite a bit, and tap water might give you slightly unpredictable results.

-- Pete Andrews (p.l.andrews@bham.ac.uk), January 10, 2002.


I've heard of this technique from various sources. More than once it's been suggested as a way to tame high contrasty scenes.

Regarding the distilled water bath. Wouldn't a 1% solution of Kodalk (balanced alkali) take care of the pH problem? I'm more than a bit rusty on my chemistry.

-- David Parmet (david@parmet.net), January 10, 2002.

I used D-23 for super high contrast night photos of industrial sites with great success. One such photo was of a refinery in winter. in a 45min exposure there was incredible shadow detail and the highlights (snow) retained stellar detail.

I was wondering if anybody has used D-23 with 35mm P3200? I shoot a lot of journalistic subjects where lights or long exposures are not an option. Most shots are indoors or at night and the contrast is not where I would like it. Any ideas?

-- Eric Bellamy (ebellamy@earthlink.net), March 25, 2002.

> D-23 with 35mm P3200?

The closest I came to that was D-23 with Delta 3200; horribly grainy, the highest "real" speed was 800 no matter what CI the film was developed to...all in all, a non-starter. I can get 2/3 stop more real speed, much less grain and a significantly lower CI (almost N- even) with DD-X.

Although I haven't used P3200 in quite a while, my experience with Delta 3200 and metol developers has been characterised by very low speed for the CI obtained or, to put it the other way, rather excessive contrast for the speed. I'd expect P3200 to behave similarly (and I might be wrong, of course).

-- John Hicks (jhicks31@bellsouth.net), March 26, 2002.

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