Factoral Development

Unlike the commonly accepted wisdom, development times for different papers and different photographs do vary.

This is for many reasons including the type of paper, the make, the grade (even with multigrade), and of course, the actual photograph itself. Basically, longer development will increase contrast (just as with the film) and shorter development will decrease contrast or flatten the image. As Ansel Adams pointed out, this phenomena can be used to our advantage to fine tune our print. He called it Factoral Development and you know something? It really works....

Test Strips

First, it's important to realize, that test strips are treated differently than our print. Because of the many variables of exposure, we have to standardize our test strip time. For the test strip we would always use 2 minutes development. I even use two minutes for developers that suggest less time (Ilford Multigrade developer for instance).
This is important because if we start messing with our test strip development time we will be changing the print density through development instead of through the correct variable at that point, the exposure.

Once the basic exposure of our paper has been ascertained from these test strips we can use the factorial method for finding the best developing time. This will achieve optimum results and is very easy to do.

Factoral paper development of your print

As your print develops, watch carefully for a detailed mid-tone to begin to show. As soon as you see it appearing note the time elapsed since you started development. You then must...