Q: Are there advantages when your girlfriend goes on holiday without you?
A: Duh Yeah! You get to look after the puppy for a whole week
And much of that week was spent chasing him round the garden with a Polaroid, trying to get him to stay still.
Bertie the working cocker spaniel puppy at 11 weeks old / Polaroid SX-70 Sonar / Polaroid Originals Color SX-70 Film
The Impossible Project – now called Polaroid Originals – has had remarkable success since its inception in 2008. When Polaroid announced they would stop making film, the IP founders had a Victor Kiam-esque moment and bought the company. Well, some of the machinery at least.
And as much as I’ve admired them over the years, I’ve avoided resurrecting my own Polaroid SX-70. The early formulations of the film were quite flakey, and the price continues to be expensive; roundabout £17 ($21) for 8 shots. (NB I can’t quite believe 17 quid currently only buys 21 bucks).
I’m sure I’ll have more to say when I’ve shot all eight frames. That could be a little while yet though because, at over two quid a pop, I’m a little bit selective about when I press that shutter button.
It’s ten years since I first picked up my Olympus Trip 35 in a charity shop for next to nothing.
It was certainly a camera I’d heard of, thanks to a very popular 1970s TV ad campaign with British photographer David Bailey.
What I didn’t know is what an incredibly capable camera it is. That f/2.8 Zuiko lens has a great 40mm focal length and is super sharp and contrasty. And the battery-free auto-exposure system is a work of genius.
I’ve spent the last year whittling down the cameras I own to the ones that get regular use. I wanted to avoid having more than one type of camera in any category. But there was never any doubt that I’d keep the Olympus Trip 35. When you consider price, image quality, usability, and simple good looks, it’s the best camera ever invented in the point and shoot department.
I’ve picked out ten of my favourite Trip photos taken over the last ten years. Tellingly, I can remember taking every single one of them.
My Olympus Trip 35, shot with the Yashica Mat with rolleinar 2 close up lens / Ilford FP4 @ 400 / Developed D76 1+1 for 18 minutes
This was from the first roll of film I shot with my Trip. It may even have been my first photo. It’s certainly one of the pictures that got me hooked. I was walking through an alley in Windsor and came across these characters right in front of me. I was able to focus and click the shutter before they’d even noticed I was there.
One of the great things about the Trip’s zone focus system is that each setting has a very positive click on the lens barrel. Once you’re familiar with it, it’s possible to set the focus without even looking. Perfect for when you have to fire off quick street pictures.
I shot this with Fomapan 100. That’s unusual, as most of these photos are shot with Tmax 400 or Tri-X. I generally recommend using a 400 speed film for the Trip. That means smaller apertures and a wider depth of field, handy if you’re not so good at judging distances.
I darkened the deep blue sky by using an orange filter. The Trip takes obscure 43.5mm screw on filters, but these are rare, and if you find one it’ll cost you. Save some money by buying a 43.5 step-up ring and using a standard size filter. And because the filter covers the selenium cells, the metering stays spot on.
I sat opposite this thoughtful looking woman on the train and wanted to grab a quick candid. She was probably only about two feet from me, closer than the Trip’s three(ish) foot minimum focus. However, shooting her reflection in the train window managed to keep things sharp, with the added advantage of looking like I was shooting the scenery.
It’s said that you’re a true cockney if you’re born within earshot of Bow Bells. Those bells belong to the church of St Mary-le-Bow in the Cheapside district of the City of London. There’s been a church on this site all the way back to Saxon times, and it was last rebuilt after the 1666 Great Fire Of London.
It’s always quiet here at weekends. I was looking at the stained glass windows, and turning around was surprised to see Marge in the pulpit, apparently having a bit of a moment. Click.
When I came across this stand in Covent Garden I stood there hoping something would fill the empty frame. Almost immediately a large stomach came in to view. Shortly followed by a man.
I was walking through Trafalgar Square and saw a small protest in support of Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi. This was in 2010 just before she was released from prison. It’s the expressions on all the faces that I really love about this snap.
Another one taken in Trafalgar Square, this time on the plinth of Nelson’s colum. I rested the camera on the plinth and clicked the shutter. Et voilà – Attack Of The Giant Pigeons.
Another clever Trip feature is the inability to take a poorly exposed photo. If the meter doesn’t detect enough light, a red flag pops up in the viewfinder and the shutter release locks.
This photo was taken at a Voices Of Cuba gig in London. The red flag was probably right to tell me there wasn’t enough light across the whole scene. But I knew there was enough to light the musicians.
The Trip automatically chooses one of its two shutter speeds: 1/200s or 1/40s. But if you move the aperture from A to a specific aperture, the camera will default to 1/40s. It will also open up as wide as necessary, but not wider than the aperture you’ve chosen. Whether or not that means a good exposure depends on the circumstances. For example, set the aperture to f/5.6 in bright sunshine, and the camera will still stop down to something like f/22. At 1/40s, this may still result in overexposure. Set the aperture to f/11 for example, and the camera will not open wider than that, even if there’s not enough light.
The reason to set a specific aperture is when you’re using a flash, but it also means you can partly override the auto-exposure. In this case, I moved the aperture off of A to f/2.8, as the red flag was raised and the shutter locked. So this photo was shot at f2.8 (probably) with a shutter speed of 1/40s. Success
A testimony to the Trip’s fiendishly clever design and success is the fact that it was produced continuously from 1967-1984 with virtually no changes. It’s hard to imagine a smartphone or a car being sold unchanged for 17 years.
This was one of the many times I’ve been crammed into a tube train as it’s stopped between stations for no apparent reason. Like the Trip, the London Underground sometimes seems like it’s remained technologically unchanged since its inauguration in 1863
I was strolling through Greenwich on a summer evening, having just been to The Royal Observatory. The Camera Obscura there completely blew me away. I was intrigued by these three couples each in their own seperate worlds. But looking at the guy on the left, it looks like I lingered just a bit too long.
One final point on the red flag. I’ve seen many people suggest that if you find a Trip, you can test if its meter is still working by seeing if the red flag pops up and the shutter locks in low light. But having come across several Trips over the years, I can say that this mechanism is one of the weaker parts. This feature can be broken but the meter still be fully working. The real way to test is to turn the camera around and look into the lens. Press the shutter halfway down and see if the aperture responds appropriately in different lighting conditions.
Oh, and this is a good time to mention that pressing the shutter halfway locks the exposure. This means you can potentially have some control over exposure by locking the meter on something other than your subject.
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