Donnington Castle was a comfortable fortified and decorated manor built in 1386 and owned by, amongst others, Thomas Chaucer, son of the poet. All until war broke out in 1642 between Charles I and Parliament. The Royalists seized and held the castle and built the fortifications that you now see as grass slopes, with cannon all around. Much was destroyed in the ensuing siege. This hardly counted because the real action took place in the neighbouring fields and villages where the Royalists lost in two Battles of Newbury. After their victory, Parliament voted to demolish what remained of the castle, leaving only the gatehouse, so you have to mentally reconstruct the body of the castle from the walls and small rooms that peep up from the grassy platform.
Donnington Castle / Mamiya 645 Pro TL / Ilford Pan F / Semi-Stand Developed in Rodinal 1+99 60 mins
Prior to this pandemic, thanks to Brexit and the ensuing culture war, Britain has been engulfed in political turmoil for three years. Each day seemed to bring a new political calamity, which was then promptly forgotten when the next one happened 24 hours later. Weeks felt like months, months felt like years. I really regret not keeping a simple note of events as they happened, just so I could look back and try and make some sense of it all.
So during this period I’ve decided to sum up the weekly events that have struck me the most, from the deadly serious to the absurdly ridiculous. If my tone seems flippant at times…well, we all have our own way of getting through this horror.
Senior Special Advisor Dominic Cummings admits breaking lockdown and driving 30 miles to a local beauty spot with his wife and child, explaining he was testing his eyesight to see if he was fit enough to further break lockdown by driving 260 miles to London. British public hears: ‘The dog ate my homework’
Cummings behaved ‘responsibly, legally and with integrity’ says Boris Johnson, refusing to sack him. British public hears: ‘Do as I do, not as I say’
Cummings press conference: “Don’t believe everything you hear on TV”, says man on TV
Cummings press conference: “It’s all the fault of Islington Media Types and the Metropolitan Elite’, says man who lives in Islington with wife who works in media, was educated at private school and then Oxford University, whose parent’s estate includes its own woods, and whose father-in-law is called Sir Humphry Wakefield and lives in an actual castle
#Cumgate does not got viral due to Twitter’s anti-porn filters
112184047 60+ Tory MPs call for him to be sacked
Junior Minister resigns over PM’s refusal to sack Cummings
Meaning of Government Stay Alert slogan becomes clear: watch out for visually impaired drivers on Motorway
Gibbet Hill stands smack in the middle between Portsmouth and London. It’s the second-highest hill in the county of Surrey, and the last thing you need if you’re building a road between these two important cities. But a road was needed, and the first one went right over the top. Not great for horse-drawn carriages, and a bit of a notorious ambush point for highwayman and brigands. So in 1826 a new road was built, and this one swept around the hill and along the rim of The Devil’s Punchbowl, a large natural amphitheatre and beauty spot.
I first heard the name Devil’s Punchbowl years ago, through listening to traffic reports on the radio. As the only single-lane section of the A3, it was an infamous blackspot and the blight of commuters. Something had to be done, and in 2011 the Hindhead Tunnel was opened. This 1.14 mile engineering masterpiece bored straight through the hill. Great news for commuters. But even better news for conservationists, as it allowed the old road above to be reclaimed by nature.
The old A3 ran right through Devil’s Punchbowl and Hindhead Common, splitting them apart. Now however, no such barrier exists. Grazing of the heathland by commoners ceased around the mid-1900s, and this allowed the spread of birch and bracken over the heather. But this invasion is now being reversed by a programme of active reclamation. Exmoor ponies graze the common, helping to restore and maintain these areas, and if you’re lucky you might just spot them. I’ve been lucky. And although they’re wild, they’re also friendly and rather curious. Of course, it helps if you have a couple of carrots to hand.
Exmoor Ponies Hindhead Common / Yashica Mat 124G / Kodak Tri-X / Semi-stand developed in Rodinal 1+99 for 60 mins
Note: Output on Short Stories is hardly prolific at the best of times. This website is where I keep the photos of things that I’m up to and things I like to document. But sometimes I’m just not up to much. Or if I am, they might not be the sort of things I should be photographing and sharing. But it’s going to be even quieter round here for the next month or so. As my latest work project reaches its peak, I’ll be embarking on a longer than usual period of travelling. But I will be taking a camera. And I may even get the chance to use it.
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: