Experimenting with different films, chemicals, and developing techniques is great fun. And over the years I’ve probably tried most things. But I’ve come to appreciate consistency and the ability to predict the results I’ll get. These days I’ve whittled down the films I use to just a handful. The flip side of this is that I can’t always remember why I might have rejected one film in favour of another. So I thought it was time I let Ilford Delta 100 have another crack at the whip.
As the so-called Saharan Bubble heat wave drifted across Europe this week, France recorded it highest ever temperature of 45.8℃. In England we generally prefer to be a little more understated, but the temperature did top out at 34℃ on Saturday. And as things heated up on Friday, we took our team meeting out of the office and into the park.
It’s not particularly sensible to make any judgement based on one roll of film shot under one set of conditions. That’s not going to stop me though. These photos clearly have a different look than the photos I shot last week of Brompton Cemetery on Kodak Tmax 100. Both films are incredibly fine-grained, but Delta 100 doesn’t have the biting sharpness and contrast of Tmax 100. Delta has a more traditional look, by which I think I mean more old-fashioned. But I like it, and I’ll be keeping a few rolls in the fridge from now on.
There are changes happening in my country and others at the moment. Attitudes that I thought were history are now resurfacing. I work for a company that has offices in over 190 different countries. Looking at these photos of my colleagues and friends, I’m very happy that I’m surrounded by people who speak Italian, French, Tamil, Spanish, Punjabi, and Portuguese, amongst others. There are 500 people in my office, representing 36 different nationalities. I feel very proud that all of these intelligent and highly educated people have chosen to come and work in London.
Nikon F100 / Ilford Delta 100 / Developed in D76 1+1
Brompton Cemetery is the third of London’s so-called Magnificent Seven Cemeteries that I’ve visited. I’ve previously been to Norwood and Kensal Green (twice), but Brompton has been the most enjoyable of the three.
Brompton was built in 1840, and it’s as much a nature reserve as a cemetery. Because it’s surrounded by a wall, a distinct area of Victorian flora has been preserved virtually intact. There are over 60 species of trees, of which the limes date back to 1838. Snow drops and bluebells are amongst the flora that appear seasonally, and because the land was once used as a market garden, it’s not unusual to find wild cabbages, asparagus, and garlic sprouting amongst the graves. There’s loads of animals too. Foxes, bats, and some incredibly tame and Instagram friendly squirrels.
Nikon F100 / Kodak Tmax 100 / Developed in D76 1+1
Most people tend to view Brompton Cemetery as park that just happens to have some gravestones. And in fact it’s actually maintained and managed by The Royal Parks. I came across sunbathers and picnickers, cyclists and joggers, dog-walkers and scooter riders. Even a teenage dance troupe having a practice session. Because, as nobody will ever hear me say, jazz hands always make the world better place.
Brompton Cemetery has been an attractive place for filmakers over the years. Indeed, there’s a bit of a James Bond thing going on. The chapel was used in GoldenEye, the outside standing in for the church in St Petersburg where Izabella Scorupco hides from the evil Janus
And the colonnades above the catacombs are used in the far more realistic spoof-Bond film Johnny English, where Rowan Atkinson plays a twit.
Of the many famous residents of Brompton Cemetery, in my mind the most significant is British Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst. Time magazine clearly agree, because in 1999 they named her as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century, stating “she shaped an idea of women for our time; she shook society into a new pattern from which there could be no going back”. Unfortunately her gravestone was in deep shade, shrouded by numerous trees, so I didn’t take a photo. However, below is the rather grand memorial of boxer John “Gentlemen” Jackson, winner of “Champion of England” in 1795. I believe this went untelevised.
Lead an empty life with far too much time on your hands? Then why not check out my other Magnificent Seven photos?
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:
I’ve visited and written about Kensal Green Cemetery previously, about how its atmospheric, Gothic nature made it an ideal filming location for a key scene in Vincent Price’s 1973 schlock-horror movie Theatre Of Blood. It’s the stirring of those childhood memories of Friday and Saturday nights, wrapped up in bed in the dark and watching camp horror films on a black and white portable, that makes Kensal Green my favourite of London’s grand old cemeteries. Pentax KM / Kodak Tmax 100 / Kodak D76 1+1
After having the film for more than a year, I’ve eventually got round to shooting some Film Ferrania P30 Alpha. This is a reincarnation of Ferrania’s legendary 80 iso motion picture film. Developing info is a bit thin on the ground but I finally decided to go with D76 (stock) at 9 mins, 3 gentle agitations per minute. That seems to have worked out well. I don’t shoot a great deal of medium speed 35mm film, but I’m really pleased with this. Contrast is…..erm…..contrasty. Grain is virtually non-existent. Ferrania says the next batches will be up in the shop in the Autumn, after which it should become permanently available. I hope the day will come when it’s available in medium format.
Nikon FE / Film Ferrania P30 Alpha / Developed in Kodak D76 Stock for 9 Mins Brompton and Brookwood Cemeteries