OK, so it probably looks like Bertie and Coco spend most of their time loafing about. But the truth is, this is the best chance I’ve got of a getting something in focus. I’ve got a stack of photos that consist of little more than a blurred tail leaving the scene.
I’ve been shooting a few rolls of HP5 lately, after years of mainly using Kodak 400 speed films. The contrast is a bit more subdued, and as such I had some good results on New Year’s Eve pushing it a couple of stops.
These ones didn’t come out too bad either. I think Bertie was rather pleased with his tonality, but Coco just rolled over on her back and wanted her tummy tickled. I sometimes feel she’s not taking it seriously.
Bertie (with added Coco) the working cocker spaniel puppy at 7 months / Nikon F100 / Ilford HP5 / Developed in HC-110 1+31
As I write this, it’s 1000 days since the UK voted to leave the European Union. And it seems fitting that I was wandering round a cemetery whilst considering those things I’d bury in my Brexit time capsule. You know how this goes. You gather the things that are important to you, and wrap them up carefully. Then you bury them in the ground, the hope being that some future generation will discover them, and marvel at the way we once lived.
We’ve come along way in the last few years. In 2015, front page news was a picture of then-Labour Party leader eating a bacon sandwich. By 2016, the country was on fire. Here are four things I’m going to miss and fear are gone forever:
Polite discussion on the internet
OK, this one’s not exactly new. Failing to tell someone you disagree with that you hope they die of cancer was made illegal by an Act of Parliament sometime around 1998. Nevertheless, things have got exponentially worse in the last few years. So I’m shoving this one in the Brexit time capsule.
All photos Brookwood Cemetery / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4 / Stand developed in Kodak HC-110 1+160 for 45 minutes
They say that satire is dead. Not true. It’s just that we no longer have the need for satirists. Politicians and public figures are now self-satirising. They’ve cut out the middleman. Take Member of Parliament Jacob Ress-Mogg, for example. Here’s a man whose idea of kicking back at the weekend is to wear a top hat and speak Latin. Who happily admits that even though he has six children, he’s never changed a nappy. Who since convincing the public to leave the EU has made seven million pounds by investing in funds in….er… the EU. Yet this multi-millionaire has managed to convince a significant number of people that it’s everyone else who’s the elite.
Or how about Brexit minister Stephen Barclay? He presented the government’s case for an extension to Article 50 in the Commons last week, saying it was for the good of the country. Then promptly went through the division lobby and voted against the amendment himself. But not to fear, this week he’s being sent to Brussels to argue for an extension.
So sorry satirists, you need not apply. Into the Brexit time capsule you go.
Shame / Honesty
These two go hand in hand. Because once politicians and pundits dispensed with shame, they realised they could lie without consequence. In days gone by, a person in a position of authority would have had to resign if they knowingly told the public a bare-faced lie. These days they can stand up and say the exact opposite of what they said before, without any recourse whatsoever. You can even show them the video of them saying it and they decry it as fake news. The truth has evaporated into steam.
We used to say that everyone was entitled to their own opinion. Now it seems that everyone is entitled to their own facts. And that’s whats truly terrifying; that the people believe the lies, in spite of all the evidence. I had to go back to my copy of 1984 and check exactly how Orwell defined Doublethink:
Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.
I think they call it cognitive dissonance these days.
You’ve probably come to some opinion on my political views from reading this. And you may well consider me either a hero or a monster, depending on how you perceive they align with you’re own. But in fact the only point I’m making is for people to be nicer to each other.
It’s possible to not be responsible for voting in the most shameful government in my lifetime, without being a supporter of the most incompetent opposition I’ve ever known. It’s possible to have views on our current political situation without being on one extreme on the other. Yet everything appears to be binary these days; black or white. You’re either a leaver or a remainer. A communist or a conservative. A traitor or a patriot. A libtard or a fascist. But there are very fine people on both sides. Well, OK, not always. And those people with sticky-out rather than sticky-in belly buttons are kinda weird, no?
I’m of an age that grew up without the Internet, and yet was quite an early adopter in my early twenties. I remember being very pleased when I had my first email address, before realising I didn’t actually know anyone I could email. That optimistic sense of a Brave New World seems almost laughable to be me now.
We used to say that a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its shoes on. These days, a hateful ideology can travel to the moon and back whilst common decency is still lolling around in its gingham nightshirt. I’m not hopeful for the future.
One weekend of warm sunshine in February is a surprise.; two consecutive ones is jaw dropping. Making the most of the weather, we took an eight mile walk along two national trails, the New Lipchis Way and the Serpent Trail. The latter is a is a 64 mile long path through the purple heather, green woods and golden valleys of the Sussex greensand hills.
This was another opportunity for me to play with stand development in HC-110, this time with Ilford FP4. I’m particularly pleased with the results of this combination.
This is the walk we did. Fancy Free Walks is a really good resource for walks in the South East of England. I’ve probably done about 30 over the last five or six years.
Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford FP4 / Stand developed in Kodak HC-110 1+160 for 45 minutes
St Mary’s in Chithust is an 11th Century church, probably built after the Norman Conquest. Chithurst has probably always been a sleepy place, but a note of high drama was sounded in 1757. The rector, Rev John Denham, was stabbed and murdered. A man named Aps was tried at Horsham and convicted of the crime. He was hung, with a contemporary report saying that he ended “his wicked life without the least sign of repentance”. We thought that’d be a good place to stop for lunch.
Just because I’m biased doesn’t mean that Coco The Cocker isn’t the world’s most beautiful dog. She hardly ever sits still, so a photo of her taken with a manual focus lens is a rare occurrence.
There’s a certain type of weirdo that enjoys cemeteries. I’m one of them. This little isolated cemetery was a final treat for me near the end of the walk.
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: