Your last sentence is the premier advice for anyone contemplating a business - the best idea in the world won’t make you a dime if no one knows about it and buys the product or service.
When you have a minute, either in this or a seperate thread, I’d like to hear more on the subject of minimizing grain in the darkroom that you touched on, such as monitoring PH in stop baths, etc.
Thanks for your comment. Here's the drill on my processing method. There is nothing exotic or expensive involved. I adopted the system in that it immediately proved to yield better results with finer, tighter and more uniform grain and better acutance. The theory is based on avoidance or reticulation, emulsion swelling and shock caused by temperature differentials from one chemical bath to the next, excessive wet time, too vigorous agitation, excessive acidity in the stop bath, violent reactions between acid to alkaline solutions, over-immersion in hypo clearing agent and unnecessary prolonged washing. Also- some quality is lost due to impurities in the water used to mix and dilute the chemicals.
I mix all my chemical with distilled or decriminalized water- this eliminates certain minerals that can react with chemicals in the developer and cause various issues including stains, deposits, pin-holes and retardation of development action. This also extends the life of developers and replenishers in that it retards oxidation to a certain extent.
Then I simply pretend I am processing color transparency film where the temperature tolerances must be maintained + or - 1 degree in ALL the chemical baths. I try to stick with 68 degrees (F). A water jacket in the darkroom sink can easily keep the temperatures constant. If for some reason the temperature is slightly higher, that's OK as long as all the baths are ALL the same.
I don't pour the solution in and out of the tank. I have a separate tank for each bath.
I process up to five roll at a time in a cylindrical tanks. I used to use the tall Patterson ones but I decided to make my own tanks out of 4" PVC drain pipe.
DEVELOPMENT- I lower the reels into the tank and gently agitate for 1 minute at the onset of the first developer and the agitate for 5 seconds every 30 seconds with a very gently up and down and twisting rotation motion at the same times VERY GENTLY- NO "martini-shaker" agitation!
STOP BATH- I mix it exactly according to the manufacturers recommendation. If you do that the don't need a hydrometer to monitor the pH. Some folk ten to under-dilute the acetic acid. Gentle agitation for 45 seconds in enough and go right into the fixer. DO NOT USE THE STOP BATH FOR A "HOLDING BATH" Same agitation technique but do it continuously. With thin emulsion films- plain distilled water can be used withou acid.
PS- if your zone system adjustment requires a pre-soak- use distilled or decriminalized water at the same temperature.
FIXER- Rapid fixer is OK- use the same agitation method but do it continuously and fix for exactly twice the time it takes fr the film to clear. Again- mix it exactly as instructed. If it fails to clear in the prescribed time, within in a tolerance of 2 minutes longer that usual, discard it and mix a new batch.
NEXT- is clear water for 1 minute before it goes into the clearing agent. This avoids shock due the reaction of the acid in the fixer reacting with the base in the clearing bath.
Negatives produced with is system will print well with tighter, finer grain withou "clumps" even in a condenser enlarger. The will scan exceptionally well.
Nostalgia- My favorite film was Verichrome-Pan in medium format. Made basically for amateur use, it had incredible latitude and was very compatible wit the zone system. The grain structure was beautiful and it had incredible tonal gradations. Being an "amateur" emulsion, it had no retouching surface which reduced the appearance of "tooth" or grain even more- no sweat- I use retouching dyes not pencils! 30x40 prints from this stuff were unbelievably sharp and virtually grain- less! Acufine @ ISO 200 .
It's the only material I truly miss!
CLEARING BATH- VERY CRITICAL. The function of the clearing bath is to neutralize the acid form the fixer and soften the emulsion sufficiently to enable more efficient and rapid removal if latent chemical from the emulsion in the wash water. Over-immersion will cause swelling of the emulsion and minor reticulation. Use the clearing bath exactly as instructed as to time and maintain temperature and constant gentle agitation.
NEVER use this a a holding bathe- go right to the wash.
WASH- This is a bit difficult. If you don't have a temperature control valve on you sink you will need on of those thermometer wells to monitor the temperature. It takes a bit of doing but if the film is properly "hypo" cleared you will only require a 5 minute wash in rapidly changing water. DO NOT, HOWEVER, allow the water to to spray directly on the film. A hose from the bottom of the talk moving the water upward is best. If you can use an in-line filter- all the better. A 5 minute wash should be sufficient.
WETTING AGENT (Photo-Flo) Maintain temperature and no longer that 45 seconds to 1 minute to avoid softening. A very sleight agitation at the onset and no further agitation.
SQUEEGEE- Never use a rubber squeegee. I keep 2 clean viscose sponges in a Tupperware container with distilled water and Photo-Flo. I wring them out and very gently squeegee the film.
NO HEAT DRYING. Clean air drying or gently filtered forced air in a cabinet.
I have successfully used this system with many different film and developer combinations. It works well on 35mm, medium format in reels and sheet films in hangers.