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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here are a few shots from my Mamiya 645 with Ilford FP4:
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: