I decided to make up my own paper developer in the darkroom. It’s a warm tone development going back to 1932 according to Gevaert manual of photography. However it is most probably much older. This formula doesn’t contain the substance Metol which is what makes the blacks black. It’s a Hydroquinone based developer so more on the brown side especially with Potassium Bromide combination. Most modern paper developers will contain a mixture of both.
Tones are similar to that of Gevaert G 261, but exposure times are shorter. Which you’ll be thankful as you’ll discover later.
Greater dilutions produce warmer tones but beware on some papers in will go cardinal red in colour. Exposure should remain the same, but developing time increases. It’s old school but there nothing wrong with that. In fact it’s great way to understand chemistry. Furthermore a good primer to make your own Lith developer, which no doubt will be on the cards some time soon.
Now please note, that today’s papers, because of their formulation, do not respond well to warm tone developers. I had tried Kodak Polymax RC II it didn’t really tone even though this RC paper Liths and tones with Selenium. Maybe the solution needs further dilution but it did develop the image very nicely indeed.
You see the presence of a heavy metals is what gave older papers their warmth and make them Lith-able too. Heavy metals have been banned in photographic papers for decades now.
Hence the need for sourcing and forging for rare finds on the second hand market. It becomes a kind of Indiana Jones hunt for a large stash of antique papers in someone’s once darkroom cave! I feel that using these treasured papers somehow brings closure to the previous owner. Whose wishes are brought to fruition. Whether I am a good darkroom printer remains to be seen but the adventure is all the greater for it.
Developing with Gevaert G.262
The developer is mainly used with the dilution 1:6 ratio. That’s what folk seem to use it as. It takes about 90 seconds to see anything and about 5-6 minutes for full development. That’s my experience with the papers I have used. So quite slow of course, you can heat the solution to 25 C to speed things up. However I feel with older papers you’ve gained some more control at least in development. Do use a red torch/lamp to judge the results before fixing the print. Also wait until the print is dry after a day or two to decide if you need more development or less. Each paper will behave differently but that’s traditional print for you!
This recipe was included in the 1938 and 1958 Gevaert Manual of Photography.
The scans are a bit blue in colour in reality they are more darker and brown/black. I guess it’s the reflection of the paper to the scanner, anyway this analog and real prints can’t be captured well on digital without manipulating the image. I just hope you get the idea and try out this formula for yourself.
Gevaert G-262 Warm Tone Developer
Gevaert G.262, Special Warm Tone Paper Developer. The image tones tends toward red brown as the dilution is increased or as development time is extended.
- 750ml Water (125 F / 50 C )
- 70g Sodium Sulfite (anhy)
- 25g Hydroquinone
- 90 g *Potassium carbonate,
- 2g Potassium Bromide
- Water to make 1 litre
* For slightly less warm tones, 80 grams of sodium carbonate, monohydrate, can be substituted for the potassium carbonate.
Development times are between 1½ and 6 minutes. The relationship between image colour and solution strength is as follows:
*NOTE: I used 1:6 and didn’t see a change to red, so take this list with a pinch of salt!
- Undiluted, the image will be brown-black.
- Diluted 1:2, the image will be brown.
- Diluted 1:4, the image will be brown-red.
- Diluted 1:6, the image will be red.
Note: Some papers will react in unusual and inconsistent ways to this developer.
Also increase the Potassium Bromide up to 25g will increase the warmth however I have not tried that tweak yet.