Would Diafine Help Me Out

I Messed Up With Exposure
I visited a local church which I usually make photographs of because I knew that on this particular day it was going to be open or a short period which gave me the opportunity to make some photographs of the interior.

To try and get the exposures made as quickly as I could without getting in anyone way, I decided to use some FomaPan 35mm film in the Pentax Spotmatic.

Normally when using the Pentax I just take an incident light reading using my Gossen Lunasix light meter but on this day, I had my Sekonic spot meter with me so I thought it would be an idea  opportunity to use the zone system.

As I usually do, I took a reading of the darkest area I wanted density on the negative and then took a reading of the brightest area of the scene just to establish the subject brightness range.

For all the exposures I made, the subject brightness range was roughly the same which was 6 Stops.

This meant that placing the shadows on Zone 3 would put the highlights on Zone 9. I knew this wasn’t going to be ideal for a  darkroom print but as these were going to be scanned then having the high values on zone 9 wasn’t going to be an issue for the workflow I use when scanning.

6 Stop Brightness Range

I Forgot To Stop Down 2 Stops.
Without even thinking, I simply made the exposure based on the light meter reading I got from pointing it at the shadow area.

For the shadows the meter indicated 1/2 second at f/8 and that is the exposure I used. As I moved around the church, I did exactly the same thing, I made the exposure from the what the light meter indicated as I pointed it at the shadows.

By doing this meant that in reality, I was placing the shadows on zone 5 and the highlights were now +6 stops higher on zone 11.

Zone 11 Highlights

Choice Of Developer
When I arrived home after realising what I had done, I now had to make a decision on how to try and develop these negatives. Knowing the shadows were sitting on zone 5 wasn’t really concerning me because we can always darken them, it was knowing that the high values were sat on zone 11 which was the worrying bit. 

They were a concern because I know my scanner’s dynamic range doesn’t go that high and if I developed them normally, then I run a high risk of loosing them. If this was a clear sky, it wouldn’t have bothered me but I knes the highlights were going to make up parts of a stained glass window which had detail which I wanted to see.

Three Choices
The three choices I had with the developers I have to hand was to either use Pyrocat HD as an extreme minimal agitation (EMA), Kodak HC110 as Semi Stand or Diafine 2 Bath.

Pyrocat HD was a good favourite because I have already had good experience using that in an N- development. 

Kodak HC110 semi stand may have worked but I have always found it to compress the mid-tones when trying to compress the highlights.

In the end I decided to go with Diafine mainly because this is what the developer was designed for and unlike the Pyrocat EMA process which is 30 minutes, Diafine is only 5 minutes in Part A and the same for Part B and to be honest, the exposures I made were not ground breaking and the location was close to home so I could easily go back another day.

Straight Scans From VueScan

FomaPan 200 35mm Diafine
FomaPan 200 35mm Diafine
East View
FomaPan 200 35mm Diafine

Overall I was very impressed with how Diafine managed to do a great job on retaining detail in the brightest stained glass window which if you recall were sat on zone 11.

How I Use Diafine
I put both bottles A and B into a water bath and bring the temperature up to 20 degrees centigrade.

Part A (Developer)

  • Pour A into the development tank
  • Agitate slowly for 30 seconds
  • 2 inversions at 2 minutes and 4 minutes
  • Total time 5 minutes
  • Pour A back into its bottle for next time

Part B (Accelerator)

  • Pour B into the development tank
  • Agitate slowly for 5 seconds
  • 2 inversions at 2 minutes and 4 minutes
  • Total time 5 minutes
  • Pour B back into its bottle for next time

Water stop bath, fix and wash as normal.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *