darkroom based photography

Barry Thornton’s Two Bath Developer

I have always been a fan of Barry Thornton’s two bath developer – such a good performer in high contrast situations.

I recently found an undeveloped roll of HP5 Plus (120 format) in a draw, which I think I had taken using my Mamiya Folder. I could not remember what the pictures were of, and so I thought I would develop them in my home-made Barry Thornton 2-bath developer. The beauty of this developer is that it is very tolerant to exposure or contrast problems.

Here is one of the pictures:

HP5 Plus in BTTB developed for 4 minutes 30 seconds in both baths. Scanned from negative.

Quite a high contrast scene. The developer has done a good job here.

Here is the recipe that I used:

Bath A
Metol 6.5g*
Sodium Sulphite 80g**
Water to 1 litre

Bath B
Sodium Metaborate 12g
Water to 1 litre


  1. Austin Welch

    Thanks for sharing. I hadn’t heard of this two bath development so I’ll plan to give it a try with my next roll.

    • Sidewayseye

      It’s a ‘wide’ condition developer that does a good job if you are uncertain about developing strategy

  2. Vance Dixon

    How long in each bath?
    Thank you

    • Sidewayseye

      4.5 minutes in each bath is a good starting point.

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