3 step dev for zone system

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Does anyone out there have any knowledge regarding a "3 step" developing method that I believe is useful for zone system users. I understand that Mark Citret (?) devised it and that it involves using very dilute developer. Has anyone used it? If so, can they give me some instruction!! All I know is that Rodinal is diluted 1:149. Can it be used with other developers?? Thanks in advance Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), July 08, 2000


Hi. I saw the article in View Camera that you are refering to. Its not a 3 step development but an extreme minus development. The Film Developing Cookbook talks a little about this in section about low contrast developers. Citret is highly diluting his developer to try to slow down development of his highlights and try to have the shadows catch up. You could do this with Xtol(1:3 or higher). You can also try it with Rodinal (1:100 and I've heard of 1:200). You will have to than find a new speed rating. With PMK Pyro you can reduce contrasty scenes with Hutchings' Minus X development(overexpose by 3 stops and reduce normal development in half). You could also dilute PMK Pyro with more water(do not reduce the developer solution) as a way of reducing contrast. However the stain can give you detail in the higher zones(VII and up) with normal development.

-- David Payumo (dpayumo@home.com), July 08, 2000.


There is a view camera article there which talks about his method in brief. One of the things to note is the placement of shadows higher up in the scale.

Ultimately you'd have to test it yourself of course for your own system.

-- K H Tan (kahheng@pacific.net.sg), July 09, 2000.

Because he is using an extreme dilution to get N-3 development he has to boost the shadows considerably because they will not separate adequately without the added silver halides being activated. He is almost using the stand development process where all the silver is used. His work is beautiful. Because of the high dilution rates you must make sure that you have enough developer to work on all the silver that is available. Rotory processing is out because of the agitation schedule he is using. Because of the high dilutions the developer is completely used up in the highlights while the shadows, due to the limited amounts of activated silver halides available to be developed, continue to use developer. And precisely because of this, and because he gives so much extra exposure to the shadows, he is able to get incredible detail and separation in the shadows. Try it sometime. I have a shot looking out the door from the inside of a building in Bodie in late afternoon where it is really bright outside that has all kinds of detail in the deeeeeep shadows and still retains detail and texture in the snow drift coming in the open door from outside. And there is even subtle highlight separation in some of the high bright values outside the door. The scene had a subject brightness range of 9 when I exposed the film. Tmax 100 4x5 sheet film, Rodinal 1:200 25 mins 60*f, water stop and fix no hardener w/ selenium toner on Polymax Fine Art FD surface. James

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), July 09, 2000.

also check out AA "the negative" for more info. good method/s with hc- 110 and others. I used his method and have full shadow detail inside a church with full highlight detail in the white silk robes worn by a member of the church who was in full sunlight. That was with plus x and hc110

-- mark lindsey (lindseygraves@msn.com), July 09, 2000.

What is "full detail"? With this method, the higher contrast and full exposure of the shadows should give full detail there, but the lower contrast in the highlights, will make them duller, with poorer separation of tone. I don't see how higher contrast in the shadows and lower contrast in the highlights can both be called "full detail."

I am curious how steep a shoulder one gets with this method. I use N- 4 and N-3 development in my Jobo processor with D-23 1:1. With HP-5+, this developer produces a gentle shoulder that starts around Zone VII, while it increases contrast in the shadows.

I feel highlight compensation can be overdone. Would not one normally want to keep the curve close to a straight line? Some highlight compensation is good outdoors to compensate for the lower contrast in the shadows caused by flare, but too much compensation muddies the highlights.

-- William Marderness (wmarderness@hotmail.com), July 10, 2000.

> I feel highlight compensation can be overdone. Would not one normally want to keep the curve close to a straight line?

I think so too; some of the muddiest prints I've seen were from negs developed in strongly-compensating developers. There may have been lots of density in the light tones but there sure wasn't much detail.

A recent plot of TMX in Rodinal 1:100 shows a gentle shoulder beginning at Zone X; below that is dead straight. Extending the out (in my imagination) I'd expect it to go almost flat around Zone XVII, or the neg would be "blocked," but that wouldn't have any effect on what we can print. Going to more dilution would just make it block lower.

I'd want to go for the straight line.

Somewhere along the way I vaguely recall a tidbit about Sexton using T-Max dev at high dilutions to get a strong contraction without tremendous loss of speed and blocking; maybe that's something worth exploring. I suspect Microphen or DD-X may behave similarly.

-- John Hicks (jbh@magicnet.net), July 11, 2000.

I would rather have shadows with some detail and highlights that while muddy at first are capable of being something in the end than blocked up highlights that are nothing more than blank white. I have lots of negatives that have wonderful shadows and great separation in the midtones and nothing but blank white in the highlights because I worried about muddy highlights. There are many post exposure and post processing tricks that will recapture those brilliant highlights from the mudhole that some fear. James

-- james (james_mickelson@hotmail.com), July 11, 2000.

I would suggest that a better approach is to use a low-contrast developer, Kodak Technidol or POTA. I have read that POTA has a capability of capturing 20 stops on film, but I have not gotten that far with it yet. I have done 13 stops, and am still working. When using such developers, there is a problem in determining exposure and development. I treat these problems in my website www.vsta.com/~alrob.

Al Robinson

-- Al Robinson (alrob@vsta.com), November 22, 2000.

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