Stand Development With HC-110

Several years back I gave Kodak HC-110 a go for developing my 35mm films. Up until then I’d mainly been using D76. But HC-110 is very economical, and in it’s undiluted, syrupy form it stays usable for many years. As it turned out, I found it to be less sharp and less contrasty than D76, which is why I’ve still got most of the bottle under the kitchen sink. But I had thought that one day I’d try and do some stand development with it.

Stand development is the process where film is left in a very dilute developing solution for an extended period of time, with little or no agitation. The theory is that the developer exhausts itself in areas which require greater development, while remaining active in less-exposed areas. In other words, the highlights don’t burn out whilst the shadows develop a bit more detail. Not all developers are suitable for this, but I’ve been using this method successfully for many years with Rodinal. I’ve found that I only get satisfactory results with traditional grain rather than T-grain films, which is why I mainly use FP4 and Tri-X rather than Tmax and Delta in 120 format. For 35mm, I find Rodinal too grainy, irrespective of the method used.

I came across a roll of exposed 35mm film that I’d slung in the back of a drawer and forgotten about. It was a roll of Kosmo Foto Mono so I knew it couldn’t be that old. Nevertheless, I wasn’t sure what was on it or even what camera I’d used. But the very fact I’d forgotten about it meant it was unlikely to contain anything of consequence to rival the Zapruder film. So I thought it was worth taking a chance with.

After some rummaging around online I decided to give it a go with a dilution of 1:160 for 45 mins. I threw in a single gentle inversion at the halfway mark, so technically it’s semi-stand development, but it’s still development for lazy guys. I’m quite pleased with the results. Grain is very fine and contrast is well controlled but still punchy. Oh, and after seeing the pictures I think the camera used was my Nikon FE.

Camera: Nikon FE (probably) / Kosmo Foto Mono / Semi-Stand developed with HC-110 1:160

My dear friend Ella

Ah, double exposure. That’s Charles James Fox ( 1749 to 1806). Onetime local resident and the first ever British Foreign Secretary. Much like a more recent Foreign Secretary, he was an Old Etonian who had a reputation for being lazy, a womaniser, and having ridiculous hair. However, Fox was a passionate campaigner for abolishing the slave trade, which is not something I can imagine Boris Johnson wanting to waste his precious time on.

2018 is the year that racism has gone mainstream again. Apparently it’s now acceptable for senior British government members to have secret strategy meetings with a white nationalist like Steve Bannon. And nobody seems to bat an eyelid. I’m talking about you Jacob Rees-Mogg, Michael Gove and Boris Johnson. And yes, that’s the same Steve Bannon who says his supporters should wear the term racism as a badge of honour. The same guy who co-founded racist, misogynist blog Breitbart (I’m not going to call it a news site), a site that helpfully has a black crime section and headlines like ‘Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive And Crazy’.

I’m not proud of my country at the moment.

Coco the levitating cocker enjoying the beach at Camber Sands

Waston S T R E T C H E S

I thought it’d be interesting to see how this process handled a 400 speed film, and as it happened I had a roll of exposed Tri-X kicking around. These were shot on the Nikon F90X, and developed in exactly the same way: 4ml of HC-110 in 636ml of water to make a working solution of 640ml. That’s a ratio of 1:160. For a single roll of 35mm you only need 300ml of solution to cover the film in the tank, so I could probably have halved the amount. On the other hand, sometimes you need a minimum amount of developer per roll so any less than 4ml might not have been enough. To be honest, I can’t exactly remember how I hit upon these figures. Nevertheless, I’ve got the best part of a litre of HC-110 left, so at 4ml per roll that’s 250 films; I’m not running out anytime soon.

Camera: Nikon F90X / Kodak Tri-X / Semi-Stand developed with HC-110 1:160

My beautiful 1950s Franka Solida IIIe, with fantastic uncoupled rangefinder. This is the best implementation of an uncoupled rangefinder I’ve seen on an old folding camera. It’s bright and accurate, and you read the distance off a very large and clear scale on the top plate.

You get some weird looks photographing shopping trollies

The grain in the sky in these shots is very well controlled for Tri-X. This is the gym I go to, which is just 5 minutes walk from home. Because It’s important not to over-exercise.

These are the streets surrounding my home. When there’s blue sky they’ll always be an orange filter on my lens. It’s essential accessory for darkening skies and I have one for every single camera and lens I own. A step up ring is handy for cameras with obscure lens sizes, like the 43.5mm diameter of the Olympus Trip.

Daisy was dead chuffed to find out what great tonality she has when developed this way

So there you go. I’m happy with these. The price of D76 in 1 litre packs has shot up over the last year, so it looks like I might use up that bottle under the sink after all.

Useful links:

She Shoots Film: How To Develop Black & White Film The Lazy Way
J B Hildebrand Photography: Stand Development with Rodinal
HJLPHOTOS: An Introduction to Stand Development with HC-110

Found Film: SEM Semflex / Ilford FP3

February, and so far I’ve managed to keep at least one of my New Year’s Resolutions; I haven’t bought any any more cameras. I really have all the ones I need. However, I did spend some money getting one of my Mats and both my Mamiya 645s repaired, and as a result can wholeheartedly recommend Miles Whitehead.

The last camera I bought was towards the end of 2014, a SEM Semflex Standard II. There’s not a great deal of information available about Semflex cameras, and they seem largely unknown outside of France. That may have been one of the reasons why I bought it, but the main reason was that I’m a cheapskate and the price was low. An unusual TLR for £25 was just too tempting for me. Anyway, with the help of this page, I’m pretty confident I’ve correctly identified it as the Standard T950 Type 2, which dates it to 1950-1955.

Now, my life is empty enough that getting a camera that’s over fifty years old is very exciting. I can’t help thinking about all the pictures that it might have taken, the family events that have been recorded with it, and of course what circumstances led to it being abandoned and sold to me.

But there was more excitement to come….

What I hadn’t initially realised and couldn’t tell until I opened the back was that that there was a roll of medium format film inside. Fortunately, it was fully wound on to the take- up spool, and the sticky tape thingy (does that have a name?) had been stuck down. It turned out to be a roll of Ilford FP3, and a quick google revealed that FP3 was discontinued in 1968. So chances are the film was exposed before that. OK, now I was really excited, although when I thought about it seemed that the chances of any images surviving were remote. Roll film is a lot easier to ruin than 35mm, and who knows when in the last fifty years the roll was wound on to the take-up spool, and how many times the back may have been opened mid-roll before that.

Shot with Yaschica Mat / Kodak Tri-X

When it came to developing, it seemed obvious that stand development in Rodinal was the way to go. Who even knows what the standard development time for FP3 should be? And on top of that, this roll of film was at least fifty years old and had been shot in a meter-less camera, probably by an amateur with little skill at guessing exposures. Stand development is a technique I nearly always use for Tri-X in my Yashica Mat, always with excellent results, and it seemed like the best chance to get something out of this roll.

SEM Semflex Standard II / Ilford FP3 / Developed in 1+99 for 60 mins

Of the twelve potential frames, the above three shots were the only images I retrieved. The rest of the film was completely blank. It could that be only three shots were ever taken, but who knows?

Nevertheless, these three images are very exciting to me. It’s hard to say (and I’m certainly no expert) but I’d hazard a guess they date from the early sixties. I see a family resemblance and my guess is the first photo shows the parents and their son, and the second picture his wife. From the third photo, it would seem there’s some sort of sailing regatta going on. I have no idea where these photos were taken, (possibly France given the origin of the camera) but I’m sure that anyone who does know this place would recognise it, particularly from the background details in the first two shots.

What I find incredible is that the people, these moments, have for the last fifty years been neither real nor unreal, and now they’ve been brought fully to live. In my mind I think of them like Schrodinger’s Cat, and developing the film has collapsed the wave function and made them solid.