4x5 Photography - Mixing your Chemistry

Continued from Part 2...

So now that I have all of my supplies (I think!) it is time to move on to getting my chemistry ready and making some photos!  

I decided to go with D-76 as my developer due to its low price and easy availability locally to myself.  I may change at a later date but while I am getting used to the developing process I know I will be wasting a lot of chemicals and would rather lose out on cheap stuff than the expensive developers.    For stop bath I am going to just use filtered water for the time being.  Nothing I will be doing for a while is that critical so this also cuts down on the costs a bit.  And after reading various articles, it seems that the differences between stop bath and using water are minimal.   For Fixer I went with Kodak Rapid Fixer with Hardener.

Darkroom Chemistry

Darkroom Chemistry

To store the chemicals, I am using empty red wine bottles.  I've read that the chemicals don't need to be kept light safe but I figure it wouldn't hurt.  So go get yourself some wine and drink it up and wash out the bottles.  Or if you don't drink wine, like myself, get your significant other to drink the wine and make yourself a whiskey coke!

The D-76 is very easy to mix up.  All you need is 3 liters of water at 122-131 degrees F.  But you should know that seeing as the instructions are right there on the bag!

D-76 Directions

D-76 Directions

Since the Developer is the most critical component in the developing process I picked up some Distilled water from Target to mix it up with.  This step can be skipped in some places with good tap water or if you are really lazy I guess.  But I went ahead and mixed it up the right way.

Distilled Water, Less than a dollar a gallon

Distilled Water, Less than a dollar a gallon

I used a measuring cup and measured out 800ml of water from the gallon and put it to the side, that way the remaining water in the gallon was 3L. So put your 3 liters of the water into a large pot on the stove and turn it on at a medium heat and get your thermometer handy so you can keep an eye on the water temperature.

Temperature at 120F

Temperature at 120F

Once your water reaches 122 Degrees F go ahead and dump your D-76 powder and mix it all up until you can no longer see any powder.  It takes quiet a bit of mixing so be patient.  I used a whisk to do this.

Dumping in the D-76

Dumping in the D-76

Stirring the Developer

Stirring the Developer

Once you finish stirring it up, you will want to return it to the Gallon of water before distributing it into your Wine Bottles.  If you remember on the package it says it makes one gallon but when you mix it up in the pot you are only using 3L of water.  That is why we set aside the 800ml at the beginning.  We will combine both of these now to make our full gallon.  I just used a funnel and put it back in the Gallon of water and mixed it that way.  

Don't forget to label your bottles!

Don't forget to label your bottles!

Unfortunately I didn't have enough Wine Bottles so I left some in the gallon of water and will be sure to use it first.  Make sure you label your bottles and put the date on them when you mixed them up so you know how old they are.  So now you have "Stock" D-76 developer ready to use.  When you actually use the developer, to make it last longer you will mix it 1:1 with water (Remember this step!)  Also when you mix 1:1 your develop times will be different so make sure you refer to the instructions for the correct time for your film.

Next up we want to mix our Fixer and get it in the wine bottles as well.   Once again refer to the instructions on how to do this.  For my particular Fixer it involved mixing the two bottles as well as distilled water while agitating.  I didn't really get any pictures of this portion but it isn't hard and you should have no problem doing it.  As last time, fill and label your bottles and move them to your darkroom area.

Kodak Rapid Fixer

Kodak Rapid Fixer

Next up we will look at loading holders and making the first photograph!