The Beers Developer

Ian-Barber

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As I proceed with my reading of John Blakemore's book, I was wondering if anyone has tried this "Beers" developer he talks about.
 

Ian Grant

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Yes, I've used Dr Beers variable contrast developer with Ilford Gallerie paper, in fact Ilford used to publish the formula in the Data-sheet for the apaper at one time. But I preferred to keep Ilfod ID-3 (soft working) and ID-14 (contrast) developers on the shelf.

Using MG papers these developers become less useful and I no longer use them.

Ian
 
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David M

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I recall John demonstrating this technique. He was very, very picky about highlight detail and would vary the time in each bath to get what he wanted. As Ian G says, Multigrade (with colour heads?) seems to accomplish this kind of fine tuning now, although there may be room for both techniques for the exacting worker. This was a while ago when multigrade paper was considered to be not quite as good as graded paper. I think he was using Dektol but I don't recall the other.
I rather think the process is independent of the brands used, as it depends very much on inspection. The prints he rejected still looked like excellent prints to me.
 

Ian Grant

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Were these Ilford developers the equivalent of Kodak's Dektol and Selectol soft?

Alan

ID-3 and Selectol Soft are essentially exactly the same Metol only develoer formula, ID-14 was a Metol/Hydroquinone "Press" developer which gives a Contrast boost of around a stop compared to Dektol/D72 or Ilford PQ Universal depending on the paper used.

The grades of Ilford Gallerie are much wider spaced than the old Ilfobrom or Ilfospeed so a variable contrast developer gave you greater flexibility. Apart from Dr Beers there was a Defender (later DuPont) variable contrast developer and developers from nost companies could be used in combination.

Two bath development was common, some used a Contrast developer first followed by the Soft working developer, others the other way around - rather like split grade printing. In this case one developer for the softer highlights the other to boost contast in the mid tones and shadows. I saw John demonstrate this technique.

Ian
 

Alan Clark

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Ian, ID-14 sounds like it was a very useful developer to have when using graded papers. And the soft working ID-3. Are these developers still available?
I must admit that I do like the idea of using graded papers. The last time I used Galerie (not long ago) it reminded me of how much leeway graded papers seem to offer you. And they can give superb results. I had been struggling and failing to get just the degree of light and contrast on a rock in a stream, with Ilford Warmtone fibre paper. But when I switched to Galerie I had no trouble getting exactly what I was after. Doesn't always happen, of course!

Alan
 

Ian Grant

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ID-3 and ID-14 weren't available commercially, at least after WWII anyway according to my Ilford books. I suspect that Ilford Contrast FF was a Liquid PQ variant of ID-14, the closest now would be Phenisol but at £36.34 for 5 litres is too expensive to try :D

I did mix a PQ version of ID-14 a few years ago because it keeps far better in solution, it would be easy to make a more concentrated version.

Ian
 

David M

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My memory is unclear, but I think that the soft-working developer was first. Reversing the order would risk contaminating the soft developer bath with high contrast developer due to carry-over during a prolonged session. It did seem to offer very delicate control.
Have I read that a single developer with a water bath can also be used, or is this confined to film?
 

Ian Grant

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My memory is unclear, but I think that the soft-working developer was first. Reversing the order would risk contaminating the soft developer bath with high contrast developer due to carry-over during a prolonged session. It did seem to offer very delicate control.
Have I read that a single developer with a water bath can also be used, or is this confined to film?

Yes, by my initial way of thinking the Soft developer should be used first for the same cross contamination reason, however I had this discussion on another forum and it's more commonly used the other way around. In practice the level of carry over is too small.

The single developer/water bath steps, sometimes more than one, was often used for printing, works on the principle that the carried over developer exhausts quickly in the shadow areas but continues for longer in the highlights, thinking in those terms it then makes slightly more sense using the Soft working developer second.

Modern MG papers are so good many of these techniques are less useful but can still be important tools with tricky negatives, particularly with graded papers.

Ian.
 

Alan9940

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My memory is unclear, but I think that the soft-working developer was first. Reversing the order would risk contaminating the soft developer bath with high contrast developer due to carry-over during a prolonged session. It did seem to offer very delicate control.
Have I read that a single developer with a water bath can also be used, or is this confined to film?
Back in the days when I used graded papers and Dektol/Selectol-Soft, I always used the soft developer first followed by the "harder" developer. Therefore, into the Selectol-Soft tray first, then the Dektol.

I still use the main developer / water bath technique to this day, but only when contact printing on Azo-type papers in Amidol. It's a very useful technique for knocking back the contrast a bit. All enlargements, nowadays, are on MG papers; mostly Ilford MG Warmtone FB. Just love that paper!
 
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