Gibbet Hill stands smack in the middle between Portsmouth and London. It’s the second-highest hill in the county of Surrey, and the last thing you need if you’re building a road between these two important cities. But a road was needed, and the first one went right over the top. Not great for horse-drawn carriages, and a bit of a notorious ambush point for highwayman and brigands. So in 1826 a new road was built, and this one swept around the hill and along the rim of The Devil’s Punchbowl, a large natural amphitheatre and beauty spot.
I first heard the name Devil’s Punchbowl years ago, through listening to traffic reports on the radio. As the only single-lane section of the A3, it was an infamous blackspot and the blight of commuters. Something had to be done, and in 2011 the Hindhead Tunnel was opened. This 1.14 mile engineering masterpiece bored straight through the hill. Great news for commuters. But even better news for conservationists, as it allowed the old road above to be reclaimed by nature.
The old A3 ran right through Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Common, splitting them apart. Now however, no such barrier exists. Grazing of the heathland by commoners ceased around the mid-1900s, and this allowed the spread of birch and bracken over the heather. But this invasion is now being reversed by a programme of active reclamation. Exmoor ponies graze the common, helping to restore and maintain these areas, and if you’re lucky you might just spot them. I’ve been lucky. And although they’re wild, they’re also friendly and rather curious. Of course, it helps if you have a couple of carrots to hand.
Exmoor Ponies Hindhead Common / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X / Semi-stand developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 mins
Note: Output on Short Stories is hardly prolific at the best of times. This website is where I keep the photos of things that I’m up to and things I like to document. But sometimes I’m just not up to much. Or if I am, they might not be the sort of things I should be photographing and sharing. But it’s going to be even quieter round here for the next month or so. As my latest work project reaches its peak, I’ll be embarking on a longer than usual period of travelling. But I will be taking a camera. And I may even get the chance to use it.
West Wittering Beach is a beautifully sandy beach located at the entrance to Chichester Harbour. On a unexpectedly sunny Sunday last week, we loaded up the car with and assortment of kids, dogs, and sandwiches and headed on out.
Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X / Stand developed in Kodak HC-110 1+160 for 45 minutes
I generally use just two films in medium format these days; Ilford FP4 and Kodak Tri-X. And this being Feb, my Yashica Mat was already loaded with Tri-X. I typically stand develop both those films in Rodinal with good results. However, blue skies on Tri-X with Rodinal was likely to show a little too much grain for my tastes. I therefore decided to use stand development with HC-100 instead.
This roll was developed for 45 minutes in a dilution of 1+160. I used 5ml of HC-110 in 800 ml of water, and developed for 45 minutes with one very gentle inversion at the halfway mark. I’ve often head it said that stand development is temperature agnostic, but for the sake of consistency I stick to 20C.
These frames don’t quite have the lemon-juice-in-the-eye sharpness of Rodinal, but the grain in those skies is less pronounced.
Daisy’s nearly 16 now. Her legs don’t really work like they used to and everything’s a bit harder than it once was. I know how that feels. But I’ve never seen her happier than when she’s on the beach.
There’s some great dunes at West Wittering Beach. I’m always reminded of 1968’s ghost story Whistle & I’ll Come To You, although that was filmed on the Norfolk Coast. If that means anything to you, you may find this interesting.
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 some stand development with HC-110.
What Is Stand Development With HC-110?
Thanks for asking. 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.
My dear friend Ella / Nikon FE (probably) / Kosmo Foto Mono / Stand development with HC-110 1:160
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. I thought it was worth taking a chance with.
Nikon FE (probably) / Kosmo Foto Mono / Stand development with HC-110 1:160
What Dilution Should I Use?
After some rummaging around online I decided to give it a go with a dilution of 1:160 for 45 mins. You normally require 300ml and 500ml of solution to cover 35mm and 120 films respectively. However, you also need a minimum amount of actual developer per film to make things work. It also helps to try and use some round numbers. I did some research, and settled on the following:
35mm: 3ml of HC-110. Top up with 477ml of water to make a total of 480ml.
120: 5ml of HC-110. Top up with 795ml of water to make a total of 800ml.
I’m not saying these numbers are definitive. I’m just saying that they’ve consistently worked for me.
Nikon FE (probably) / Kosmo Foto Mono / Stand development with HC-110 1:160 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.
What’s The Process?
It’s fairly straightforward. Bear in mind this is all about what I do and what consistently works for me. Other opinions are available, although clearly they’re incorrect….
Temperature – Once you mixed up your solution, you need to think about temperature. Some people say that this is irrelevant. However, I like to strive for consistency and predictability, so always go for 20℃.
Pour the solution into the film tank, and agitate well for 30 seconds. I then give the tank several good whacks with a wooden spoon on the top and sides, to ensure any air bubbles are dispelled.
You can then leave everything to develop for 45 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, I give the tank one very gentle turn upside down and back (don’t forget to whack afterwards), before leaving for the remaining 25 minutes. Technically, this is called semi-stand development. I’ve tried leaving for the whole 45 minutes, and I’ve noticed you can get some strange ‘halo’ effects on the edges of subjects. Apparently some people like this, but it’s not for me, hence the gentle turn mid-way
After the 45 minutes are up you pour out the developer. I never bother with a stop bath because the dilution of the developer is so low, and in any case it’s exhausted by this stage. Just give the tank a good rinse out under the tap.
Fix and rinse in the normal way.
Hang up your negatives to dry. This gives you the opportunity to prepare for the coming Zombie Apocalypse by watching the documentary Black Summer.
Waston S T R E T C H E S / Nikon FE (probably) / Kosmo Foto Mono / Stand development with HC-110 1:160
They’re great, in my opinion. Great contrast and tonality, with well-controlled grain. 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.
Daisy was dead chuffed to find out what great tonality she has when developed this way / Nikon FE (probably) / Kosmo Foto Mono / Stand development with HC-110 1:160
I’ve since tried this with medium format film, with equally pleasing results. I stick to traditional rather than t-grain films. These two were shot on West Wittering Beach with my Yashica Mat on Tri-X. These frames don’t quite have the lemon-juice-in-the-eye sharpness of Rodinal, but the grain in those skies is less pronounced.
Ella & Ewan / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X / Stand developed in Kodak HC-110 1+160 for 45 minutes
Daisy’s nearly 16 now. Her legs don’t really work as they used to, and everything’s a bit harder than it once was. I know how that feels. But I’ve never seen her happier than when she’s on the beach
Here are a few shots from my Mamiya 645 with Ilford FP4:
Coco, our beautiful working cocker spaniel / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4 / Stand developed in Kodak HC-110 1+160 for 45 minutes
Brookwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4 / Stand developed in Kodak HC-110 1+160 for 45 minutes
I hope you find this useful. This has now become one of the regular options in my development armoury. Consistency is always important, and when I stick to the guide above, the results are always predictably pleasing.
You might also be interested in some of my other how-to articles:
Run out of your usual black and white developer? No longer have a traditional film store in your local high street? Annoyed by people asking you rhetorical questions? Then pop in to town and pick up a jar of cheap instant coffee, some soda crystals, and a dash of powdered vitamin C. Mix with water and voilà : you have caffenol.
Here’s What You’ll Need
Instant Coffee: Coffee contains caffeic acid, which acts as the developing agent. Any old cheap rubbish will do by all accounts. I bought the cheapest and nastiest stuff I could find.
Soda Crystals: A developer needs to be alkaline to work, but coffee is fairly acidic. That’s where soda crystals come in. Adding them to the mix raises the PH and allows the development process to kick in.
One thing I found from my research that you don’t often see mentioned, is the different types of soda crystals. Most recipes you find online assume the soda crystals are anhydrous (i.e. water free). However, here in the UK the most common brand you’re likely to come across is Dri-Pack Crystals. These are not anhydrous, and people who are smarter and have more time on their hands than me have worked out you should multiply the amount by 2.7 to compensate for this.
Powdered Vitamin C: This considerably speeds up the developing time, making the process more practical. You should be able to pick this up from a pharmacist or health food store like Holland & Bollocks. Strictly speaking what I’m making here is known as caffenol-C. You can make plain old vanilla caffenol without the vitamin C – the only difference is you’ll be hanging around for a lot longer.
To make 1 litre:
150g Dri-Pak Soda Crystals
16g Vitamin-C powder
40g Instant Coffee
Water to make 1000ml of solution
I don’t think this stuff really keeps, so it’s best to mix only what you need. Here are the minimum amounts to process a single roll of 35mm and 120 in a paterson tank:
45g Dri-Pak Soda Crystals
4.8g Vitamin-C powder
12g Instant Coffee
Water to make 300ml of solution
90g Dri-Pak Soda Crystals
9.6g Vitamin-C powder
24g Instant Coffee
Water to make 600ml of solution
Fill the beaker with half the target amount of water. In other words, 300ml if you want to create 600ml of developer.
Add in the soda crystals and stir for a good few minutes until dissolved. This seems to quickly lower the temperature by about 10℃. If I had a clue about chemistry I might be able to tell you why.
Vitamin C next; make sure it’s properly stirred-in.
Repeat as above with the coffee. Things don’t look or smell too good at this stage.
Top up with water to the desired level; 600ml in this example. Mix.
It’s probably a good idea to let it rest for 5 minutes or so, just to let the bubbles settle. You can use this time to get it to the pre-requiste 20℃ whilst you’re waiting. Putting the beaker in a bowl of hot water is good for raising the temperature. To lower the temperature of my developer I always use the genius invention that is plastic ice cubes.
From here on you can develop as normal, at the usual temperature of 20℃. For this roll of Tri-X 12 minutes worked well for me. After emptying the developer down the sink, give the tank a good rinse with water rather than using stop (I rarely use stop these days), and fix and rinse as normal.
In was really surprised how well these pictures came out. I thought they’d be some compromise; that they wouldn’t be particularly sharp or perhaps too grainy. But this seems to work as well as any other developer. I don’t know how often I’ll be using Caffenol in the future, but I’ll certainly keep the ingredients handy in the cupboard in case of emergencies.
All photos taken with Yashica Mat on Kodak Tri-X. Developed in Caffenol-C for 12 minutes
Spending the afternoon at the Beach in West Wittering, it seemed fitting to take that archetypal holiday camera, the Olympus Trip 35. Millions were sold during its lengthy production run from 1967-1984, during which time there were hardly any changes made to the original genius design. No batteries required; a solar-powered selenium light meter measures the light, and even though selenium photocells don’t go on forever, mine still meters perfectly. If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember those classic commercials in the 70s with fashion photographer David Bailey.
Camera: Olympus Trip 35 Film: Fomapan 100
Coco The Cocker loves the sea
She may be 15, but Daisy still gets excited about going for a walk. The square format and the belly level perspective probably give away that this was taken with a twin lens reflex camera, in this case a Yashica Mat. If you’re shooting a meter-less camera and using sunny 16 to calculate exposure, then these sunny cloudless days are the easiest. You can set and forget. I’ve it said that in the UK full sun is never that bright and we should actually use sunny 11, but 16 always works out perfectly for me. Perhaps it’s different if you’re further north.
Camera: Yashica Mat 124G Film: Ilford FP4
When I step outside my home first thing on a sunny morning, this is one of the first things I see
Camera: Pentax KM Film: Kodak Tmax 100
And this is the view coming back after my morning coffee
This is not a great photo of The Copper House, mainly because it gives no sense of scale or location. Next time I’ll do better. It’s a statue of George III mounted on a plinth in 1831, atop of Snow Hill in Windsor Great Park. When I’m cycling round the park, this is my favourite pace to stop and have my sandwiches. On a clear day you can see the control tower at Heathrow and the arches of Wembley Arena.
My current home of Chertsey is one of the oldest market towns in England. Of particular historical note is Chertsey Abbey. Founded in the ungodly year of 666, it was sacked by the Vikings in 875, who burnt it down and killed all the monks. Bastards. It was later rebuilt in stone, although all that remains is a pile of several dozen bricks, and I’m not totally convinced of their provenance. Its former presence is evidenced more strongly in many local names however, for example Abbey River, Abbey Fields, and Monk’s Walk.
Monk’s walk is an enclosed footpath that apparently once started from the Abbey, but now begins several hundred yards further along in Ferry Lane. It runs for about a mile and a half and you emerge quite suddenly next to St Mary’s Church in Thorpe. The exact date when the Church was built is unknown, although in 1963 a Roman cinerary urn was dug up in the churchyard and subsequently dated to around 150 A.D., indicating that the site itself has been of religious significance for going on 1900 years. It seems likely that the church itself was built in the 12th century, and perhaps Monk’s Walk was indeed a secret route between the Church and the Abbey.
When I cycle along there now the first thing you notice, at least in the summer, are the screams. It runs along the back of what is now Thorpe Park, and through the wire fence you get occasional views of some of the rides. Despite the presence of CCTV and razor wire-topped fences, I think there’s still a few opportunities to sneak into the park, if you’re so inclined.
For fast 35mm film I tend to flit between Tri-X and Tmax 400. Tri-X is a classic, but Tmax has very fine grain for a 400 speed film. I’ve seen ISO 100 films that are far grainier than this.
Camera: Nikon F90X Film: Kodak Tmax 400
We went to pick our own at Durleigh Marsh Farm. I specifically voted to remain in the EU so we could continue to exploit East Europeans and I wouldn’t end up having to pick my own damn vegetables </sarcasm>