This technique was designed to dramatically reduce negative contrast with a minimal loss of shadow detail. It works best with sheet films because it assumes that there will be enough developer saturated into the shadow areas of the emulsion to allow them to continue developing after the highlight areas have exhausted their developer.
It should be noted that, in an effort to improve sharpness and reduce grain, film manufacturers have reduced the thickness of most modern 35 mm film emulsions to a point where water bath development no longer works as well as it once did with roll film.
The basic technique for Water Bath Development is as follows:
1. Agitate your film in the developer bath continuously for thirty seconds.
2. Quickly transfer the film without draining it to a bath of water and let it sit without agitation for one minute.
3. Repeat these steps three times and then process, wash, and dry your film normally.
Any standard developer will work with this process, but see the web site http://www. digitaltruth.com/store/formulary_tech/01-0190.pdf for information on the use of this technique with Amidol, one of the classic developers from the era of Edward Weston.
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