Baku is the capital of Azerbaijan, the largest city on the Caspian Sea, topped and tailed by Russia and Iran. The name Baku is derived from the original Persian name, Bād-kube. This broadly translates to the rather catchy ‘Place Where Wind Is Strong And Pounding’. Which is fortunate, as when I was there it was consistently above 35℃. The breeze definitely kept things bearable. In the winter it can get quite severe.
Baku was part of the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991. Russian is still spoken by a proportion of the population, and there’s definitely a slight soviet flavour. But the city also has both a European and a middle-eastern feel. If Paris and Dubai had an illicit fling, and the love child was shipped off to a Russian Uncle, then that’s Baku.
Baku / Fujifilm X100T
In spite of what the title says, I actually spent five days in Baku. But most of the daylight hours were spent working at the airport, and consequently I had just a single afternoon to look around. Ideally, I would’ve liked to take my Nikon F100, but I knew there’d be few chances to use it. And I didn’t want to put my film through at least two x-ray scans without even having used any. Instead, I took my compact and perfectly formed Fujifilm X100T.
The X100T was given to me as compensation a reward for 10 years service with the company. I don’t normally get on with digital cameras, especially compacts. I don’t even like using my smartphone for pictures. I assume they chose it based on its vintage styling. But Fuji’s camera has many of the things you normally don’t get in a compact. A viewfinder, for one thing. And ‘real’ controls; an aperture ring and a shutter speed dial. Best of all for me, it shoots natively in black and white, and crucially, the photos rarely need any editing. I shoot it much the same way I would any film camera and don’t need to spend hours editing in front of a computer. Just like film, all the choices are made before and not after I press the shutter. Oh, and it also features a fixed 35mm (35m equivalent) lens, the same focal length I use on my Nikon F100. I feel right at home.
I see that some sources refer to it as the Democratic Republic of Azerbaijan, but my visa just said the Republic of Azerbaijan. Democratic in a country’s name is always a bit of a warning sign. Yep, I’m looking at you Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Anyway, I’m not going to make any comment on the state of Azerbaijan’s democracy. But it’s worth mentioning the 2013 election, where the incumbent Government won with 72% of the votes. The one problem? The results were accidentally released via a mobile app the day before voting started. In the words of one of our greatest philosophers: “Doh!”
Go and visit Baku. It’s warm (in the summer), the food’s great, the people are lovely, the city is safe, and the atmosphere is relaxed. And even though the driving’s vaguely disconcerting, it still only scores about 5/10 on the Cairo Brown Trousers scale.
There’s loads of information out there on stand development with Rodinal. But rather than just regurgitate what everyone else has written, I wanted to concentrate on my own personal experience. So whilst this is no way a detailed guide, it does have the benefit of being my first-hand experience.
Ella in the garden / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
West Norwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
What is Stand Development?
Stand development is the process where the 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 with Rodinal for many years.
Exmoor ponies in the rain on Hindhead Common / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Kodak Tri-X / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
What’s The Process?
It’s simple, really. Bear in mind this is all about what I do and what consistently works for me. Other opinions are available.
You mix up a solution of Rodinal and water in the proportion 1+99. So to create a working solution of 500ml, that’s 5ml of developer and 495ml of water.
Temperature – some people say that the temperature of the solution is irrelevant. But because I strive for consistency and predictability, I 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 60 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, I give the tank one very gentle turn upside down and back (don’t forget to whack afterward), before leaving for the remaining 30 minutes. Technically, this is called semi-stand development. I’ve tried leaving for the whole 60 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 60 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.
Whilst you’re waiting for the negatives to dry, kick back and listen to some fantastic music.
William / Yashica Mat with Rolleinar No. 2 Close-up lens / Kodak Tri-X / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
When To Use Stand Development
When the forums on Flickr where a lot more active than they are now, I used to marvel at the things people did with their films. It’d start off with someone saying “Yeah I always shoot at 80% of box speed and then underexpose by 1/3 of a stop” and then escalate to “Well I drop my film in a bucket of peanut butter and then develop in a homemade concoction made from Irn Bru and lard. It seemed to become a bit of a dick-swinging exercise in the end. (And yes, it did mainly seem to be men).
I don’t mind the odd bit of experimentation here and there, but the pictures I’ve shot are important to me. What I’m really looking for is consistency and the ability to be able to predict my results. So when I find something that works, I tend to stick with it.
What I’ve found is that stand development works best for me with medium format films. I don’t know why this is, but I don’t get the same results with 35mm. It can be done with 35mm, and indeed I’ve had some success with HC-110 instead of Rodinal. But to me, the look is inferior to developing in the normal way.
Similarly, through a process of trial and error, I’ve found I get the best results with traditional grain, rather than T-grain (i.e. Tmax and Delta) films. So FP4, Tri-X, and Fomapan (and therefore Kosmo) in 120 I always stand develop. Those have now become my go-to medium format films.
Snow Hill, Windsor Great Park/ Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
What Are The Advantages of Stand Development With Rodinal?
Longevity – Rodinal lasts for years. Quite literally. Even though it may change colour and consistency, it never seems to lose its efficacy. I’ve previously had a bottle for over 5 years with no problems. There are even reports out there of people successfully using bottles that have been kicking around for decades.
Economy – Currently a 500ml bottle of Rodinal is £13.98 at AG Photographic. If you were developing in the conventional way, you’d dilute Rodinal at a ratio of 1+24 or 1+49. For stand development I use 1+99. To develop a roll of 120 film you need 500ml of liquid, so that works out at 5ml of Rodinal and 495ml of water. That’s 100 rolls of film per 500ml bottle, working out at about 14p each. Pretty cool, right?
Queen tribute band, Windsor Races/ Yashica Mat/ Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Grain / Tonality – Rodinal is renowned for its distinctively high level of grain. Many people love this, but I find using this method the grain is more restrained, which I prefer. I also love the tonality I get from this method. But that’s very much a personal opinion.
Exposure – Old cameras don’t always have accurate shutters. I’ve found that stand development seems to compensate for small exposure errors.
ISO Agnostic – You can (and I often do) develop films of different ISOs in the same tank for the same amount of time.
It’s easy! Sure it takes longer, but you’re not hunched over the sink having to agitate every 60 seconds for ten minutes. Instead, just sit down and marvel at how much better life used to be in the ’70s when we were growing up. Or not.
Stand Up To Racism, March & Rally, London, 18 March 2017 / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
World Zombie Day, London 2014 / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Stand Up To Racism, March & Rally, London, 18 March 2017 / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Lonely diner, London / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Walton Bridge / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
West Norwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Brookwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Hampton Court / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Middle-aged ladies sunbathing, Margate / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
My Mum in her living room / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
London/ Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Stools in the office / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand development with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Kurdish protester, Trafalgar Square / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X/ Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
James, Windsor / Yashica Mat / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Quick fix by Big Ben / Yashica Mat 124G / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Scooter enthusiasts, Hampton Court / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4+ / Stand developed with Rodinal 1+99 60 minutes
Hey! Too much time on your hands? Why not check out my other guides:
Saturday was the hottest day of the year (so far) in the UK. As things cooled down in the evening, we headed to West Wittering Beach with Coco The Cocker, sausages, marshmallows, smoothies and sun cream.
As you can see I’m back on the Tmax 100, but there’s a couple of rolls of Delta 100 in the fridge for the next sunny day. In this country, that could be some time away.
West Wittering Beach / Nikon F100 / Kodak Tmax 100 / Developed in D76 1+1
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?