Pre-Development Bleaching

21 May 2010

Sometimes, reducing contrast is something that a printer wants, and for one reason or another cannot obtain easily. For example, using a graded paper, or having only a high contrast developer available. When this is the case, it’s possible to reduce the appearant contrast to any grade below the current value.

Interestingly, pre-development bleaching acts completely opposite to how post development bleaching works. Pre-development bleaching will affect the shadows first, and the highlights are left to last. This has one major advantage, in that allows you to have low contrast shadows, and high contrast highlights. Because of this, it’s useful for use on VC papers as well.

How To: Pre-Development Bleaching

  1. From a 10% stock ferri solution, create a 0.1% “substock” (10ml:1000ml)
  2. From the substock, create a working solution. Working solution should be somewhere between 10ml to 100ml substock to 1000ml water (0.01%-0.001% solution). A good place to start is somewhere between 10 and 30 ml substock.
  3. Expose print normally
  4. Insert print into working solution and agitate continiously for 1-3 minutes (be sure to use consistent times). You may need to experiment with different times and dilutions as papers act differently.
  5. Discard working solution. This is a one-shot solution.
  6. Develop, stop and fix normally.


  • Each type of paper will respond differently to this process, and differently to different times and different dilutions, so you may need to experiment to find what works best with your paper.